POD SECRETS REVEALED: Tempted by “Free” Author Copies Offered by Your POD Publisher? Don’t Be Fooled!

Last week, we discussed how most POD publishers’ websites not only do almost nothing to promote their authors’ books, but also tell everyone their authors paid to have their books published. This week, we’ll look at those ridiculous “free book!” offers.

I am often asked by authors how many “free copies” of books they’ll receive if they publish with Booklocker.com, which I co-own. I then have to explain to authors that, when a POD publisher offers “free” copies, those copies are anything but free. The cost of those copies are usually grossly inflated, and they’re built into your setup fees, often without your knowledge. They may even be priced higher than if you’d purchased them separately! That said, calling them “free” is, in my opinion, false advertising.

Here’s how it works. When a POD publisher is trying to sell their services to a new author, they offer a bunch of bells and whistles up front, hoping to lure the author into their clutches. Offering “free” copies may look like a great deal. But, what you’ll likely find is that not falling for that “free copies” deal will probably save you a LOT of money later. The POD publisher wants you to fall for the “free” copies offer because, while they HOPE you’ll buy copies from them after your book is published, there’s really no way for them to FORCE you to do so, other than to offer “FREE” copies. If they offer 5 “free” copies, or even 40 “free” copies, yet you’re paying hundreds to thousands in setup fees, you can bet they’ve built the cost of those “free” copies into your setup fees, thus FORCING you to buy those 5 or 40 copies.

Let’s look at the cost of these “free” copies at the major POD publishing houses:

NOTE: Setup fees below are based on the least expensive package offered by each publisher on similar offers targeting U.S. authors. Fees include setup, original cover design, print proof, basic 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. Book prices below are based on a 248-page, 6 x 9 paperback with black and white interior and a full-color cover.

Xlibris – $1972.00 Setup
(NOTE: This company is owned by Author Solutions, which also owns AuthorHouse, iUniverse and Trafford below.)
Includes 5 “free” copies. If you compare this to Booklocker’s setup fees below, you can see these 5 “free” copies from Xlibris are ENORMOUSLY EXPENSIVE!

AuthorHouse – $1517.00 Setup
GOOD NEWS – No “free” copies on the “cheap” package above. If you want free copies, you’re going to have to order one of their really expensive packages, priced up to $1999.00.
BAD NEWS – Their fees are so high it really doesn’t matter anyway. AuthorHouse does not publish its author discounts online and one new author in particular had a dickens of a time getting this information out of them. To see why we don’t know exactly how much those 5 copies will cost, read THIS ARTICLE.

Trafford – $1324.00 Setup
GOOD NEWS – No “free” copies on the “cheap” package above.
BAD NEWS: If you want to get upsold on “free” copies, you’ll need to buy one of their really expensive packages, priced (are you sitting down?!) up to $7199.

Lulu – $1131.00 Setup
GOOD NEWS – No “free” copies on the “cheap” package above.
BAD NEWS – If you want to get upsold on “free” copies, you’ll need to buy their “Laureate” package, which is $4729.00!

CreateSpace – $1022.00 Setup
GOOD NEWS: Does not try to lure authors in with “free book” verbiage.
BAD NEWS: Their setup fees are still WAY too high!

iUniverse – $999.00 Setup
Includes 5 “free” copies. If you compare this to Booklocker’s setup fees below, you can see these 5 “free” copies are QUITE EXPENSIVE!

BookLocker.com – $517.00 Setup (deduct $200 if submitting your own cover).
Includes one print proof. No false promises of “free” copies. You can buy copies if you want or you can instead ask your readers to order your book directly from their favorite online or neighborhood bookstore.

Here’s my take on this “free copy” business. If you want to buy copies of your own book, that’s fine. If you don’t want to (or can’t afford to) buy copies, you shouldn’t be forced to do so by paying inflated setup fees up front. At Booklocker.com, we don’t force authors to buy copies of their own books by masquerading them as “free”, while inflating their setup fees. We just don’t do business that way.

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.)

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