When choosing a Self Publishing Company with whom to entrust your work, there are a few key factors to take into account. The obvious one might seem to be a simple cost comparison, however that is singularly misleading.
Start from this seemingly self evident question; “What do I want to achieve?
If the answer to that question is simply, “I simply want a copy of my book printed for my own pleasure, plus a few for friends,” then POD (Print on Demand) is probably best for you. The costs per book are too high for wholesale supply chain but for your own few copies this is probably the best way forward. Companies such as Create Space or Lulu are perfect for this.
On the other hand, if you want to be a successful author and sell in quantity through Amazon and retail shops then a different set of criteria apply. Firstly, forget royalty levels! Any company can offer really high royalty levels simply by upping the retail price of the book. But if the retail price is inflated, nobody will buy it and your royalty level is then completely academic.
The most important question is the net retail cost of the book after allowing for printing, listing fees, wholesale discounts (usually 55%) and shipping. It’s no good going with the cheapest Self Publisher if the price of your book means it won’t sell because then all you have is a pile of very tidy scrap paper! Most readers will not pay over £9.99 ($13.99) for a paperback these days. A simple test is to do a search on Amazon checking out the price the books retail at for any publisher in which you might be interested.
How many free copies of your book will the Publisher provide? You will certainly need a good supply for local promotion work such as book signings and small shop distribution, local newsagents etc. You do not want to be paying for lots of extra copies of your own work! Anywhere between 50 to 100 copies would be a sensible amount to hold.
Who will design the cover of my book? In these days of internet marketing an eye catching cover is critical. In the days of bookshops then the spine was the all important part, but not now. Browsing on the virtual shelves of the internet brings up a vast array of covers. If yours does not stand out with a very clear message within three seconds (that’s all you get!) then it will be passed by. Good cover design is science as much as art. Many of the self publishing companies charge extra for the cover. More ideas about cover design here.
What about the quality of your book? What might seem like a good deal in terms of cost effectiveness might turn out to be poor quality in the hands of a potential purchaser. The old saying about not judging books by their covers is actually quite untrue. A badly manufactured book is simply going to stay on the shelf.
Presentation on Amazon. As Amazon is likely to be your most important shop window you need to give your book the very best chance possible. Does the publisher you are considering present their books in the best way on Amazon. Is there a good description with the book? Is ‘Look Inside’ available? Is there a Kindle version available? Are the ‘Tags’ correctly set? Are there any reviews? Again, do a check of the company you are contemplating and see how they present their products in the largest shop window of the world.
Author Websites are crucial to the successful marketing of your book. Some Self Publishing companies will provide these free but with others they are an extra cost. This needs taking into account.
How do I avoid the Scam Self Publishing companies?
The best place to check is Predators & Publishers. A fantastic resource by the Science Fiction Writers of America. Just scan down the list to see if there are any bad reports about your intended publisher. If your publisher is not on the list that is generally a good thing!
Here’s an example of how to compare companies. This is only a small collection of some of the best known self publishing companies as a guide to the things to look out for.
These figures are supplied by independent researchers and are intended merely as an example. You will need to check for accuracy prior to making a decision as prices and offers constantly change.
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I filled out an online form for AuthorHouse, out of curiosity, some time ago. The next morning they were on the phone to me – an international call. Having dealt with, and researched, publishing by that time, it was clear to me that the agent, or firm, was going to make a lot more money out of my work than I was, judging by the speed of response. I declined to get involved. But when legacy publishers never return your work or respond to your mailed submissions, I can see why some people try any avenue. I’ve gone my own way, my works are now up on Kindle.