December 03, 2008
POD SECRETS REVEALED: Hot Air on Some POD Publishers' Websites By Angela Hoy, co-owner of BookLocker | printable version
At BookLocker, we are frequently contacted by authors who say they are surprised by our candor. We never tell authors their book might become a best seller...because it probably won't (most traditionally published books never become best sellers, either). We don't twist our words around to make it appear an author's book will be stocked by "25,000" bookstores. It won't. And we don't publish verbiage that makes an author think we do something we don't. We just don't do business that way.
Authors appreciate our honestly because they have read so much confusing blurbage on other POD publishers' websites.
Here are a few examples of what we believe is "hot air" on some POD publishers' websites. Of course, this is our opinion. You can form your own.
"Why Are We Different? With Xlibris, you retain complete control of your work. We are nonexclusive, which means you can self-publish with us and still offer your work to agents and publishers. We're not interested in taking your rights away from you after all, we didn't write it."
(None of the reputable POD publishers, including all the major ones, takes rights from authors. Xlibris isn't "different" in this way at all.)
"Get our group discount when you advertise in the New York Times Book Review section, read by almost two million readers."
(Two million readers are not going to read that small blurb about your book. Your small blurb will be surrounded by small blurbs from other authors' books...which are actually part of an ad for AuthorHouse itself, promoting its publishing services (so anybody reading the entire ad will know the authors in the ad paid to have their books published). We have yet to hear from authors who have purchased this service...who then made their $2650 back from it. No, that isn't a typo! That small blurb costs $2650! This is just a small example. AuthorHouse has a variety of services that can separate you from your money.)
IUNIVERSE.com (Owned by AuthorHouse.com) says:
"What sets us apart from other self-publishing companies is that our services are developed and managed by industry veterans."
(There are plenty of industry veterans working at other POD publishing firms.)
New York Review of Books Ad - $875
(Just like AuthorHouse, they charge authors for a tiny ad that also promotes their own company, thus telling anyone who actually reads the ad that you paid to have your book published.)
"Once your book is published, we will make your book available for order online and in more than 25,000 retail outlets worldwide."
(No, your book will NOT be stocked by 25,000 stores! Read it slowly once again. Your book will be available for special order from bookstores, but it won't be "IN" those bookstores.)
"Authors! Your book can be published in a manner that is affordable..."
(Trafford's "signature" package is $6497!)
"...take the book world by storm..."
(Do authors really fall for this stuff?)
"Since its inception in 1995, Trafford has lead (sic) the independent publishing revolution."
(Trafford is not considered the POD industry leader.)
"...most publishing services for independent authors will have a range of distribution capabilities based on how long they have been in business, how many titles they have in their catalogue, and their clout in negotiating favourable distribution terms for their authors (for instance, smaller publishers are sometimes charged a larger trade discount than bigger ones, which eats away at your royalties). Trafford's agreements with Lightning Source Inc. (a subsidiary of Ingram Book Group) and Amazon enable us to provide our authors (sic) one of the most extensive distribution network (sic) in the world of independent publishing."
(All the major POD publishers have accounts with Lightning Source and are distributed by Ingram!)
"A professional positive review lends a great deal of credibility to a title and provides valuable material for your marketing campaign. Trafford Publishing has teamed up with ForeWord Magazine in order to streamline the process of securing respectable book reviews for those authors who have completed the publishing process."
(When people find out you paid for that book review, you will LOSE credibility!)
"You'll be amazed how inexpensive it is to self-publish a paperback book..."
(For services comparable to other POD publishers, you'll be "amazed" that Lulu is NOT the least expensive POD publisher - far from it.)
"...and how quickly your 80% of all creator revenue can add up."
(80% "creator revenue" does NOT mean 80% of the list price! Not even close!)
"Set your own price..."
(Lulu recently raised their prices, surprising many authors.)
"one-time setup fee of $499 - no hidden costs"
(Except...if you want Ingram distribution - considered imperative for most online and brick and mortar bookstore sales - you must pay an extra "extended distribution" fee of $149, which is a small link not appearing on their homepage. So, the cost is actually $648. For many POD publishers, Ingram distribution is automatically included in all their packages, even the least expensive ones.)
"You set your price..."
(Most reputable POD companies allow you to "set your own price", provided it's above their minimum. Contrary to how you may interpret this statement, this does not mean you can price your book at any price you want.)
"Upgrade your book to our Pro Plan"
(They'll give you a slightly higher royalty rate and lower book costs...if you pay them an annual fee. Is that weird or what? Why don't they just give all authors the higher royalties and lower book costs? If it's something they're charging for, you can bet it's benefiting CreateSpace in the end!)
"Creating your Book is easy with no setup fees!"
(In our opinion, this is a classic marketing maneuver. Bait the customer with something "free" and then upsell them on services later. Their file requirements are technical and confusing for the layperson and they then upsell you on design services offered by BookSurge, which charges hundreds to thousands. Not surprisingly, BookSurge and CreateSpace are part of the same company.)
Here just a sampling from CreateSpace's specs pages:
Any images you include on your book's cover may be tagged with your choice of CMYK or RGB profiles or left untagged in a generic color space.
Minimum Cover Width: Bleed + Back Cover Trim Size + Spine Width + Front Cover Trim Size + Bleed. Minimum Cover Height: Bleed + Book Height Trim Size + Bleed
Open Acrobat Distiller
Go to the Settings dropdown menu
Choose High Quality as the job option
In the top menu, go to Settings in the menu and choose Edit Adobe PDF settings
Under the General tab:
Set Compatibility to Acrobat 5.0 (PDF 1.4)
Under the Images tab:
Set all compression settings to Bicubic Downsampling and set the resolution to 305 DPI.
Under the Fonts tab:
Check Embed all fonts and uncheck Subset fonts...
Deselect the option Do not send fonts to Adobe PDF
"35% Royalties on Retail Sales of Trade Paperback Books"
(What they mean is sales on Amazon.com (Amazon owns BookSurge). BookSurge books are not included in Ingram's database - considered imperative for most online and brick and mortar and bookstore sales. In fact, it appears BookSurge/Amazon may make it difficult for some bookstores to order some books. Other bookstores are Amazon's competitors, after all. One author's story is HERE. If you want your book in Ingram's system, you'll need to pay to publish/print your book...through another company.
"On-Site Printing Facility for Exceptional Quality Control"
There are plenty of complaints posted online about BookSurge's poor quality control. Read THIS ARTICLE for examples.
"Keep 100% of your royalties"
(The definitition of royalty is "an agreed portion of the income from a work paid to its author", so you would naturally keep all of "your" portion. Confused by this statement, we dissected Outskirt's contract for clarification. Their contract actually calls it "royalties profit." It says: "Royalties profit is defined as the difference between the Base Price and the Wholesaler's Price." What is the Base Price? Is it the List price? What is the Wholesaler's Price? Is it the Outskirts price or the distributor's price? Do you understand what any of this means? Neither do we. It later states, "Outskirts Press set the Base Price"...but that price is based on the book type, length, etc. Why don't they just tell authors up front how much they'll earn on a book priced at a certain dollar amount, along with the minimum list price for all book lengths? Why does it have to be so confusing?)
"Only Outskirts Press supports authors before, during, and after publication."
(All reputable POD publishers do this! This statement is beyond ludicrous.)
"If you have published multiple books with Outskirts Press, the back page promotion gives you an opportunity to promote your previous book within the pages of your upcoming one... Only Outskirts Press offers this promotion opportunity."
(This is also a ludicrous statement. Any reputable POD publisher will allow an author to include a marketing page about past books in their current book. And, they won't charge you extra for it like Outskirts does.)
You can read more opinions about Outskirts here:
Don't be fooled by fancy marketing verbiage that appears to be saying one thing but that can mean something entirely different. Just because somebody publishes something online doesn't mean it's true. Some companies will say or write just about anything to get your business. When in doubt, get on a writers' forum and ask questions. You'll get plenty of insight about the company, often from their present and past customers.
You can read previous installments of this series HERE.