February 02, 2011

POD SECRETS REVEALED: SHIPPING COSTS - Giving Authors the Run-around Instead of Firm Quotes?! | printable version

You did it! Your book is finally in print! After months of sweating over details like editing and cover colors and even the final list price, you're ready to start that marketing campaign! You've even figured out that you can make more money buying copies at your author discount and doing your own fulfillment at appearances than you would if you sent potential readers to your publisher's website. But, wait...

You just tried to place an order for 100 copies of your book...and discovered that your publisher is charging you around $1 per small, paperback book for shipping and handling! Say what?! That blows your budget right out of the water!

Recently, a new author approached several POD publishers, and asked them how much they'd charge to ship 100 copies of his 248-page, 6 x 9 paperback to a specific address. He gave all the publishers the exact same specs and address, and said he'd like the books shipped via UPS Ground.

THE RESPONSES

BOOKLOCKER - $62.37
BookLocker.com is owned by the author of this article.
BookLocker personally responds to all inquiries, and does not spam authors, nor add them to any marketing list, nor mail unwanted, unsolicited materials to their home, nor even request any contact information from the author at all. (We detest junk mail and spam as much as you do and we don't play games with authors in that fashion. Many authors have thanked us for not slamming them with junk email and mail like "the other guys" do.)

TRAFFORD - $70.64
DIDN'T ANSWER AUTHOR'S QUESTION. AUTHOR HAD TO PLACE DUMMY ORDER THROUGH THEIR SITE.

  1. Trafford responded by sending the author a marketing email that didn't answer the author's question, nor even mention it.
  2. The author wrote back, repeating his request for a shipping estimate. As of this writing, they have not responded.
  3. Trafford then spammed the author about a "special" three days later...but still didn't answer his question.
  4. The author had to place a dummy order through their site to get the cost above.

IUNIVERSE - $70.64
DIDN'T RESPOND SO AUTHOR HAD TO PLACE DUMMY ORDER THROUGH THEIR SITE.

  1. The author submitted his question twice through their online form, five days apart. No response as of this writing.
  2. The author had to place a dummy order through their site to get the cost above.

AUTHORHOUSE - $71.23
DIDN'T RESPOND SO AUTHOR HAD TO PLACE DUMMY ORDER THROUGH THEIR SITE.

  1. The author submitted his question twice by email, five days apart. No response as of this writing.
  2. he author had to place a dummy order through their site to get the cost above.

LULU - $87.49
DIDN'T ANSWER AUTHOR'S QUESTION. AUTHOR HAD TO PLACE DUMMY ORDER THROUGH THEIR SITE.

  1. Lulu sent the author an automated reply saying they'd reply within two days.
  2. Lulu then sent a marketing email, thanking him for registering, and then giving him instructions on how to register. (???)
  3. They never answered his question.
  4. The author had to place a dummy order through their site to get the cost above.

XLIBRIS - $114.50
DIDN'T ANSWER AUTHOR'S QUESTION. AUTHOR HAD TO PLACE DUMMY ORDER THROUGH THEIR SITE.

  1. Xlibris sent the author a marketing email saying they are mailing the author something...but didn't answer his question, nor even mention it.
  2. The author had to place a dummy order through their site to get the cost above.

CREATESPACE - ???
DIDN'T ANSWER AUTHOR'S QUESTION; SENT AUTHOR DOWN CONFUSING, USELESS PATH INSTEAD.

  1. CreateSpace sent the author an automated reply saying someone would respond within one business day.
  2. They then sent an email saying they don't provide shipping quotes because "rates will vary based on the destination, package weight, and shipping method." (The author had already provided the book size and length, quantity, address and shipping method to CreateSpace.) The rep told the author to place an order through their website to get a shipping estimate. However, would require the author to register with CreateSpace, which he was not willing to do. The author was going to try to place a dummy order through the site, to see if shipping costs would be provided before a credit card number was requested, but he couldn't even find any CreateSpace books for sale on the CreateSpace homepage, nor a link to their authors' books, making it impossible to get a shipping estimate. He assumed this meant the rep was telling him to register his own book with them just to get a shipping estimate. He wasn't willing to do that, either.
  3. You can read complaints about CreateSpace's shipping and shipping costs HERE.

You, too, should demand to know exactly how much your shipping costs will be before you decide on a POD publisher! Sure, while shipping costs do vary based on the economy and even fuel prices...they shouldn't vary a great deal from one publisher to another. And, remember, most of the big POD publishers use the same printer, which ships their customers' orders from the same location.

NOTE: Some POD publishers use overseas printers, or may even be located overseas themselves. Authors of these often get sticker shock when they see their shipping costs.

Any firm that refuses to answer a question as simple as shipping costs, that insults you by sending you spam instead of answering your question, or that avoids your question by sending you on a confusing wild goose chase should be avoided at all costs.

Next Week - List prices vs. royalties vs. author discounts. We'll try to make sense of the financial side of self-publishing for you.

Angela Hoy is the Publisher of WritersWeekly.com and co-owner of the POD firm BookLocker.com. WritersWeekly.com is the free marketing ezine for writers, which features new paying markets and freelance job listings every Wednesday. According to attorney Mark Levine, author of The Fine Print, BookLocker is: "As close to perfection as you're going to find in the world of ebook and POD publishing. The ebook royalties are the highest I've ever seen, and the print royalties are better than average. BookLocker understands what new authors experience, and have put together a package that is the best in the business. You can't go wrong here. Plus, they're selective and won't publish any manuscript just because it's accompanied by a check. Also, the web site is well trafficked. If you can find a POD or epublisher with as much integrity and dedication to selling authors' books, but with lower POD publishing fees, please let me know."

Angela's P.O.D. Secrets Revealed Series can be found HERE.

Got questions about Print On Demand and Self-publishing? Ask Angela.

Have a POD Book with another publisher? See if BookLocker can give you a better deal. (BookLocker offers "disgruntled author discounts" to those who want to move from other POD services.)

See BookLocker's publishing packages.


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