POD SECRETS REVEALED: How Much Do POD Publishers Profit from Those “Distribution” Fees? Hmmm… – Angela Hoy, co-owner of BookLocker and WritersWeekly.com

Previous installments of this series can be found HERE.

POD Publishers that use Ingram’s printing division to print their books incur a $12 annual fee for each title/ISBN. They call this their “Catalog Fee.” Ingram’s catalog fee provides: “Access to our worldwide distribution channels (the largest portfolio of wholesalers, distributors and booksellers worldwide).” Basically, this means they send out an automated feed to bookstores that includes all the available titles and it costs $12 per year to keep a book in their feed.

Most POD publishers pass this fee onto their authors but under a variety of names. While it’s common to mark up a fee a small bit for a variety of reasons (administrative costs, their own file hosting expenses, etc.), some POD publishers take “marking up” to a whole new level.

At BookLocker, we, too, have our books listed with Ingram and, thus, in the online bookstores so I can tell you how this works. We pay Ingram $12 per year, per book, to keep a title in Ingram’s distribution channel. It has always been $12 per year. This particular fee charged by Ingram has not gone up, nor down, in over a decade. We charge authors $18 per year for this and we call it a “POD file hosting fee” because it covers not only Ingram’s service of hosting a book in their catalog but also our expenses for hosting files on our servers, making minor book page changes/author updates, etc., as well as the administrative expenses associated with the incoming (from authors) and outgoing (to Ingram) fees themselves.

Like I said, other POD publishers call this fee by a variety of names and they mark it up in a variety of ways. For example:

XLIBRIS – $499 up front – No annual fee…means you pay for 41 years up front!
They call this their “Channel Availability & Distribution.”
Setup fees: $1972
Yes, that $499 up front is like paying Ingram $12/year for 41 years. Ludicrous! But, that’s not all! Their contract also states, “Xlibris reserves the right to charge an annual fee for online distribution.” We can’t find that amount anywhere on their website.

Many other POD publishers charge annual or “distribution” fees as well…but not quite as much as Xlibris. Here they are:

BOOKLOCKER (owned by the author of this article) – $18
“Annual POD file hosting fee” (Print only. Does not charge any annual fees for ebooks.)
Setup fees: Only $517 $675 (Includes annual fee above; deduct $200 if submitting your own cover)

IUNIVERSE – $25.00
“Title Maintenance”
Setup fees: $999

“Annual Storage Fee”
Setup fees: $699 – Their cheapest package that offers full distribution.

LULU – $75 one-time fee + cost of ISBN
“globalREACH Distribution”
Setup fees: $1131

INFINITY – $199 extra to get into Ingram’s system (they recently increased that price by $50!); no annual fee
“Extended Distribution”
Setup fees: $698 (includes “extended distribution” above)

TRAFFORD – Included in their enormous setup fees
“Worldwide Book Distribution” – Don’t be fooled. This does NOT mean bookstores are going to stock your book.
Setup fees: $1324.
Their cheapest package is $999 but a package comparable to what other firms here are charging is $1324. So, while they don’t charge an annual fee, authors are paying quite a bit for that distribution (and more) up front!

AUTHORHOUSE – Included in their enormous setup fees
“Channel Access Fee”
Setup fees are $1517.
They used to charge a $20 annual “channel access fee” but the fee is now included in their high setup fees. For packages comparable to other firms listed here, AuthorHouse charges $1517.

***Setup fees above are based on the least expensive package offered by each publisher on similar offers targeting U.S. authors. Fees include interior formatting (based on a 200-page book), original cover design with up to 5 images, print proof, ebook creation, up to 25 interior photos/graphics, an ISBN, barcode, a listing on the publisher’s website and distribution by Ingram, all within 6 weeks.

NOTE: Many companies offer perks that others don’t, some try to upsell authors on extraneous services, and a few even claim ownership of files the author has paid them to create. Study each publisher and contract carefully before making your choice.

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.

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