Rather than go for your full-service publishing program, I signed up for your DIY program at BookLocker.com, hoping to do the work myself to save money. But, after seeing an ad from a firm that promised 5-day turn-around and really cheap prices on cover design and interior formatting, I decided to have them handle those tasks for my book. It’s now been 40 days and there’s no end in sight to their excuses.
I believe they send their work overseas, and act as a middle-man with the authors. I learned my lesson and will not go the easy route on the next books I write (two are currently in process).
What do you suggest I do to hurry them along?
You may get lucky and they may finish the job this week. If they don’t, you might consider threatening to expose their poor practices online. That might get them moving faster. There’s the unfortunate possibility that they may never finish the job at all. It’s not unusual for a contractor, who’s in over his or her head, to bolt, and stop responding to the person who hired them.
We’re seeing this more and more since we launched BookLocker’s DIY Program over a year ago. There are lots of “cheap” cover and formatting services available online. And, you’re right. Many of them subcontract work out overseas where the labor can be very inexpensive. But, the language barrier alone can cause problems, especially when authors are requesting editing changes to their interior file and cover text.
When an author allows us to format their book, and to design their cover, we usually get a book to market in less than a month. Authors who hire outside designers (who often have hidden fees) usually end up paying more in the end and the books are almost never ready in a month. Furthermore, those files almost always arrive with numerous errors. We must then send the author a note with a list of the formatting and cover errors. This results in another round of delays, and another, and another. And often, the “cheap” firm charges the author for the corrections even when the errors were not the author’s fault. They may even threaten to stop work until additional money is paid. If an author had paid a few hundred dollars, they’ll likely risk paying a little more in the hopes they won’t lose their entire investment in the end. I’ve received numerous complaints over the years of designers, artists, editors and others holding an author’s files hostage until additional money is paid.
Sometimes, the files designed by third parties arrive at our company perfect the first time but that is rare.
We try to warn authors up-front about hiring third parties they stumble upon online but there are lots of folks on a budget and I understand they’re trying to save money.
Unfortunately, if you hire a person who may have a pretty website, but who ultimately don’t know what they’re doing, you can end up paying far more to publish your book then you originally planned, and your book may be delayed by several weeks or even months while you wait for them to try to get the job done right (or get it done at all!).
When you’re considering using a cheap service to work on your book, ask them for a list of names of books they’ve worked on. Don’t ask them for a list of references. They’ll likely be fake references – a list of their family and friends who will lie for them. Rather, take the list of books, find them on Amazon, Google the authors’ names, and try to find those authors’ websites.
Write to the authors directly, on your own, and ask them how their experience was. You might find out that the service was more expensive than they claimed and that their book was published after significant delay. Worse, you might find out that service never worked on that book at all. Or, you may learn that the firm did excellent work. Don’t contact just one author. Contact several.
You can read about BookLocker’s DIY program (and others) here.
You can read about BookLocker’s Payment Plan Program here.
If you want to have your book printed yourself, and if you’re looking for a good firm that produces quality covers and interior files at a reasonable price, check out our PubPreppers.com division.
As always, whenever an author uses one of our firms, they retain ALL rights to their files. Most publishers do NOT give authors all rights to their files. Even some designers, formatters, and artists retain rights, which forces the author to hire them again, and again, and again each time they want to make changes to their files. It’s an abhorable practice but it’s become the norm in the industry.
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