Is This the New Breed of Vanity Publishers?
A few weeks ago, author David Mamet announced he’ll be self-publishing his next book through his literary agency. Some think this is big news, some don’t, and some wouldn’t call David’s plan self-publishing at all.
Regardless, this news means we’re seeing the second wave of self-published authors. While the first wave was comprised of early-adopting, independent authors with an entrepreneurial spirit, this second wave is a mainstream movement where the authors are used to being part of traditional publishing team.
Understandably, they’d like some help, some hand-holding, some “I don’t have a clue what I’m doing—someone just tell me what to do!” direction. Many early self-publishers are stepping in to provide that help with how-to books and workshops.
Unfortunately, so are others…
A New Breed of Scammers?
In the old days of traditional publishing, scammers in the industry were easy to spot. Newbies heard the advice: “Money always flows to the author. If they want you to pay out-of-pocket, run.” That advice worked to protect newbies from unscrupulous agents attempting to charge a “reading fee,” as well as from vanity publishers charging authors for everything imaginable.
In fact, that advice stuck so well that many traditionally published authors initially looked down on self-publishing for no other reason than because they couldn’t understand how self-publishing was different from vanity publishing. Most now understand that self-publishing is an entrepreneurial undertaking and thus incurs upfront costs: editing, cover design, etc.
But the increasing numbers of self-published authors have also led to increasing numbers of companies claiming to want to help these budding entrepreneurs. And that’s where things get complicated. *smile*
Opportunism at Its Worst?
Companies are rushing to tell those nervous traditionally published authors, “Don’t worry. We know you liked the support of a team in the traditional publishing environment, and that doesn’t have to go away. We can be your team now.”
These companies offer to help authors format their ebooks, upload their files to the different retailers, provide assistance with cover design and editing, and sometimes even handle social media.
In short, they can look like a godsend to overwhelmed and intimidated newbies. But as I’ve written before, we need to watch out for many (if not most) of these epublishing service companies.
David Gaughran exposed how many agents are starting their own “self-publishing arms” with similar offerings. (His list of agencies using a questionable epublishing service company is like a round-up of many of the biggest names in the business!) He then went on to expose how many traditional publishers are doing the same with various extensions of Author Solutions, long known for their vanity publishing scams.
Are ePublishing Service Companies the New Vanity Publishers?
I think we first have to specify what made the old-style vanity publishers “bad.” To be blunt, they were scammers that took advantage of authors, often while selling the idea that authors needed these expensive options because they and their book were oh-so-special. They overcharged, under-delivered, and in some cases, locked up rights.
In these new cases, we have the Argo Navis company of David Gaughran’s post taking a permanent cut of 30% for simply uploading ebook files. No formatting, editing, or cover design. Just uploading to retailers like Amazon, Barnes & Noble, etc. Thirty percent. Ongoing.
Uploading files is arguably one of the easiest aspects of self-publishing, or if necessary, could be outsourced to someone for a flat fee. So I’d call that ongoing 30% “overcharging.”
The publishers’ approach isn’t any better, as Penguin now owns the biggest vanity press around and plans to expand its reach. Their Author Solutions subsidiary is made up of a dozen different logos and brands for each of the traditional publishers looking to offer their own self-publishing arm.
Author Solutions is known for such poor editing that they create more errors than they fix, and they’re currently being sued for breach of contract (such as for failing to pay out royalties). I’d call that “under-delivering.”
Or let’s take a random epublishing service company called easyepublish (I’m not linking to them on purpose—feel free to Google). They format and upload the ebook files to retailers. But that means they own the files (and don’t share with the author), and they own the ISBN (which means the author must start over with rankings and reviews if they don’t want to use (or pay) the company anymore).
Are the authors who sign up with companies like these even self-publishers? The authors are, to some extent, locked in and dependent on them for passing on the income from sales, less their ongoing 15% (or more) cut.
The Line between Self-Publishing and Vanity Publishing
The lines between self-publishing and vanity publishing have gotten blurred and wavy over the years. (After all, Amazon’s print-on-demand CreateSpace lists itself as publisher and uses their ISBN for extended distribution.) That makes it harder for us to know whether a service provider is friend or foe.
However, we might have uncovered a scammer if…
- their name is listed as the publisher
- they own the ISBN
- they own copies of the book above and beyond what’s authorized by the author
- they can sell or distribute the book in a place or time against the author’s wishes
- they set the price of the book
- any rights to the book transfer away from the author
- they want to dictate any aspect of the editing, formatting, design, distribution, or sales process
- they demand any kind of exclusive
- they require the author to sign on for a minimum period, or the author isn’t free to cancel at any time
- they charge by ongoing percentage of sales rather than by flat fee
- they provide their list of charges and services only in a nebulous, easily changed TOS (terms of service) statement instead of in a contract
- they receive the revenue from retailers and pass on the money only after their cut
- sales figures from retailers go to the service company and not the author
As noted above, Amazon’s CreateSpace fails on the top two bullets, so this isn’t a smoking-gun list. Instead, it’s a list of what should make us look more closely at the situation. What’s being offered, what’s being required, and what’s in it for us? And especially, what are they doing for the money that we couldn’t do ourselves or pay someone to do for a cheaper/flat fee?
Some authors might decide an epublishing service company is perfect for them. And as long as they fully understood all the pros and cons going into the situation, I wouldn’t necessarily say they were being scammed.
But I’m afraid too many authors don’t fully understand and/or are intimidated by the self-publishing process and thus too eagerly accept help without doing their due diligence. Self-doubt can hurt us.
Even if a wanna-be self-published author finds a “good” service company, they might find that using those services erases many of the benefits of self-publishing. Self-published authors usually enjoy the ability to make changes to the content, ebook files, metadata, and pricing of their work. Depending on another company can slow down updates or make them unworkable due to additional fees.
That said, I’ve never been one to say that one publishing method is “better” than another. We all have our own goals, and that means we can have different paths. My hope is that we continue to share information so we have the right knowledge to figure out what’s best for us. *smile*
Do you think epublishing service companies are the new breed of vanity publishers? Where do you see the line between vanity publishing and self-publishing? Can you think of other red flags to watch out for? Do you consider those who use epublishing service companies self-published or not? Do you have any experience with these types of companies?Pin It
Great post Jami–and I am so glad you did! There are so many scams out there right now taking advantage of the new, inexperienced soon-to-be self published author. Truly, the process is so easy and definitely something a person can handle themselves. However, for some, they may not want to learn formatting, so they outsource. They need fresh eyes and hire an editor (thank goodness–a smart move). They hire an artist to create the cover–completely understandable as the right cover sells and the wrong one drops a person’s book into obscurity. Uploading is by far the simplest part of the package, and I can’t even begin to understand who someone would pay someone else to do it, but that’s me. It is okay to hire out for these services should the author wish to. What is NOT okay is companies who change an ongoing % for any of these things, and that includes agents. Especially when the author is being charged for these services up front as well as being hobbled with giving away % earnings. A flat fee yes, provided is it competitive and reasonable, and the agent or company has valuable knowledge of SP and the elements needed to successfully self publish. Anything else, and I would definitely be worried. It is rather disgusting how Author Solutions and some other SP arms at traditional houses are taking advantage of authors. More disgusting still is how no one is really holding them to task. I would like to see… — Read More »
Hi Angela, Thank you so much for chiming in! I haven’t self-published, so I was hoping as I wrote this post that I wasn’t sticking my foot in my mouth. LOL! Yes, outsourcing to a chosen vendor is fine. Most of us can’t do everything. 🙂 It’s the handing over of control with many of these services that worries me. Most well-known agents have been in business for a while, or their agency has been in business for a while, so there’s a track record of them paying out the proper royalties and written information about their skills. In contrast, most of these epublishing service companies are newer than most small publishers! There’s no track record for them paying out honestly, and there’s no high-visibility way to expose the bad or incompetent ones. Authors signing up with them have no reason to trust that they won’t mis-report sales and earnings. The Author Solutions scam is another problem. All their names and backdoor feeder sites make it hard for authors who know to avoid them recognize who they’re dealing with. David Gaughran’s post talks about their FindYourPublisher site (along with others) that funnels authors to Trafford, AuthorHouse, Xlibris, and iUniverse–all owned by them. And that doesn’t even count the publisher-specific branches they’ve started: S&S’s Archway Publishing, Harper Collins’ West Bow Press, Harlequin’s Horizons, Hay House’s Balboa Press, and Writers Digest’s Abbot Press–again, all owned by Author Solutions. They know many authors are on to them, so they just keep expanding by… — Read More »
Yes, David’s post was very helpful in outlining what’s happening and just how deeply embedded AS is. I recommend everyone read it.
Yes, so many divisions that we’d assume were affiliated with this brand we trust are instead being run completely by AS. It’s virtually a bait-and-switch. *sigh* Thanks for the comment!
Knowledge is power and a writer needs to be informed about the options before making a decision on whether to use an e-publishing service. This post goes a long way to providing needed information. The problem with drawing the line between “vanity” and “self” publishing is that with each the author believes that she is good enough to be published. In traditional publishing, someone else has said she is good enough. So I think the difference may be that in self publishing, the author retains direct responsibility for building or connecting with her audience. When an author abdicates that responsibility, she may fall prey to scammers.
I agree, but virtually all authors abdicate responsibility in some way (even if it’s just trusting Amazon to report and pay accurately 🙂 ). So a broad statement like that essentially means that all authors are vulnerable to scammers. They are, of course–and I hope this post gives more specifics of what to look out for. 🙂 Thanks for the comment!
Also, it’s also fair to point out that no one writer, no matter how business savvy they are, can guard against EVERY issue that comes up.
Honestly, if we don’t want to be jaded hypocrites about this issue, we need to give ourselves a break, if we can’t console ourselves to some degree, we’d be far more off-kilter than most non-writers already think we are! (LOL)
If we REALLY want push the “Nobody’s Perfect” mantra like we dedicated writers say we do, we need to live it ourselves, not just model it for others.
I’m not saying to just jump into any ole thing blind, but I speak from personal experience when I say that it’s all too easy to move from “Healthy caution” to “Delaying your dreams/goals by worrying in unhealthy ways.”
The line between “protecting yourself” and “Worrying over nothing” isn’t always as clear as we’d like it to be.
I agree. It’s way too easy to let ourselves be paralyzed into doing nothing. I take the attitude that I assume I’ll get scammed about something at some point in this process, and I just hope that with my knowledge, it’s only a small-scale scam. 🙂 Thanks for the comment!
Okay, let me just say this one last time and nothing else- NOT ALL RISKS ARE BAD! I felt scared to comment here at first, since in many ways, what we write and our approach to writing is so different, but yet we learned to have more in common than I personally thought. In this instance, the worst that could happen was we didn’t have much in common, but we did, and even inspired each other to write blog posts that helped our readers, and ourselves, that we might not have written otherwise, part 3 of my Storytelling series was a prime example- http://talkinganimaladdicts.com/when-is-a-great-story-not-about-the-writing-part-iii You and our mutual friend, Janice Hardy, made the post so much richer than it would’ve been otherwise, both from what Janice and I talked about last year (She was so kind to let me share some of what we talked about in private, it made it more inclusive and not just a rant from me), and knowing how you try to balance being professional about your goals without taking the fun for you away. Thanks for your comment, BTW, I know my long posts aren’t friendly to busy parents and the like, but I’ve come to accept that detailed and emotional is who I am as a blogger, and that can’t always be contained in 500 words (Exaggerating only LOOSELY here) All I was trying to point out was to be kinder to yourself. That’s different from being “scammed.” Period. This might be a good… — Read More »
I absolutely agree that not all risks are bad. Heck, starting up a blog is a risk and yet it’s been (mostly) nothing but good for me. 🙂 And you’re right that taking on risks doesn’t automatically lead to getting scammed either.
I guess me saying that I expect to get scammed at some point is less about risk-taking and more about me setting the foundation in my own mind that I shouldn’t beat myself up too much if it does happen. 🙂 It’s like my inoculation approach again–getting used to the idea so it’s not as shocking if it comes to pass. That’s just part of how my brain works, not me being fatalistic. LOL! Thanks for the comment!
Okay, I was just concerned you were headed for an emotional meltdown, given how you described what you were going through, sorry I reached too much into that.
I just hate to have missed an opportunity to put a feeler out, like my writer friends have done for me when I needed it.
I too try to condition myself, but my problem is not so much shock when things go wrong (Not they don’t sometimes, of course), but rather having a FAR slower recovery than I’d like.
So, I learned to avoid certain things I know will send my blood pressure up, emotional often more than medical, though they are linked to a point, as well…
And thank you for reaching out. 🙂 I really appreciate that! But yes, I’m okay. LOL! Thanks for the comment!
Good post. I don’t understand why traditional authors who couldn’t sell, turn to agent-assisted publishing, which isn’t really self publishing, because the agent, even if they are taking the financial risk of editing/cover design, are taking their percentage of profit…forever. When all of that could be a flat fee. I understand agents are trying to make money, but that’s not really truly putting their client first. But many authors seem fine with it. **shrugs**
My ideal agent would collaborate with their authors on each book project to figure out if it would do better traditional or should the author self publish – even if they pay the agent a flat fee to help. This agent would fight against non-compete clause and first option clauses and be willing to walk away b/c that’s not good for the author who wants to self publish too.
Right now. I know only two agents who do this. Kristin Nelson and Jane Dystel. And the privilige of having this kind of agent only goes to the top sellers. If there are others, I haven’t heard of them or their deals.
I agree completely. And I haven’t heard of other agents doing a good job with this either.
Courtney Milan (a client of Kristin Nelson) has a great series of posts about that agent/publisher conflict of interest and why, if agents do too much for clients, they are publishers, whether they use that term or not. She then also explains how her agent handles things differently.
Courtney has a law background and she knows her stuff. I’d recommend any author tempted to sign up with their agent’s publishing service to check her posts. Thanks for the comment! 🙂
You wouldn’t give your gardener a % of your house because he kept up your lawn. Now, you might provide rooms for that gardener for as long as you want to keep that person as the gardener, but it’s your house. Your call on whom to hire. Your call on when to hire them. Your call on when to fire them.
A lot of these % folks are the equivalent of someone saying, “Okay, I’ll mow your lawn this weekend and maybe sometime in the future, when it really needs it…but you have to give me somewhere to live for the rest of my life.”
For some reason, some writers just don’t seem able or willing to see that.
Exactly! No matter what people might think of his “never use an agent” attitude, Dean Wesley Smith is right on with that gardener analogy. 🙂
In that same article, he talks about what makes a good or bad epublishing service company. Essentially, he says to avoid anyone who wants a percentage of your work, or wants money funneled through them. People don’t think about this, but giving away a percentage usually means you’re giving away some rights. (Would that percentage holder be happy with you if you pulled your work from all retailers–leaving them with nothing? Or would they try to keep your work for sale against your wishes so they can get their cut?) Not a good situation. Thanks for the comment!
Well, Dean’s approach isn’t for everyone, particularly if you weren’t raised to be a “ruthless” entrepreneur. If I tried to follow his council, I’d have gone off the deep end emotionally, maybe I just don’t find his delivery of “facts” all that helpful or straightforward. Maybe that’s just me. Jami, I’m not self-publishing either, though I’m not against the idea I was once, but it doesn’t change the fact that I don’t have the money to do it the way I want, as apart from others who do it in non-shady ways, Even so, I sometimes feel we forget that if no one ever took risks, so many good things in the world would never have happened, so I’m torn with this whole topic, not just for myself, but other writers I know. Besides, if you’ve tried traditional (Non-shady scam) avenues and got nowhere, and quitting’s not an option, the answer isn’t as cut and dry as what others commented above. I don’t think the answer is ALWAYS to just “Write a new book” or “Study craft for then next 50 years.” When I say that, I’m speaking from the mere fact that we’re aren’t going to live forever. There’s sheer MORTALITY involved in this issue, not just childish impatience. Am I just spouting nonsense, Jami? I know I have the habit of taking things too close to heart, but I just feel that way on this matter, I can’t help it. But I feel it for YOU and other… — Read More »
Hi Taurean, I understand. I usually don’t agree with everything someone says, but just like when I get beta reading feedback I don’t agree with, I ignore that stuff and focus on what I do agree with. So you’re absolutely right that just because I point out some advice I do agree with doesn’t mean I’m in line with everything they say. 🙂 One of the reasons I can do these big analytical posts is because one of my strengths is pulling out the nuggets of useful information. Sometimes it’s hard for me to remember that others might not have that strength and thus get overloaded or confused by the original source. Thanks for the reminder! 🙂 Great point too about how whatever we do involves risks. As I mentioned to Kathryn, I think all paths to publishing involve risk, and it’s not my place to say that no one should ever do “abc.” I’ve seen proposals for what’s sometimes called co-op publishing, where the partner does get a percentage because they’re taking on much of the financial risk, and I can definitely see the appeal of those arrangements. In the best cases I’ve seen, the author retains control over many decisions (cover design, etc.), and they consciously decide to give up X% for Y number of years (not the “forever” clause of many scammers) in exchange for no out-of-pocket expenses. There’s potential with those situations, but I’ve also seen some scammers attempt to call themselves a co-op publisher, so… — Read More »
Glad my last reply came off as I meant it, at least to you, Jami. Whatever path a writer takes, I was really making the point that some risks are GOOD. Like your deciding to blog in the first place, while not everyone got your point about FSG, many did, and while I didn’t comment on that particular topic, I agreed with you, and as someone who’s trying so hard to BE ME, not imitate someone else, it’s why I have harder time with playing the “comparison game” with my writing, envy of authors in my genre aside. I want to succeed on my own merit, not riding off someone else’s literary coat tails, but when you go from writing to SELLING your writing, that mindset does change, and while some writers are competent here (Or even find it fun, like Serena in her replies to your earlier posts this week) it’s like pulling teeth for me. Yes, we should know as best we can what we’re getting into, but I also wanted to make the case for some risks aren’t BAD, they can lead to GOOD things, too. I wouldn’t have conntected with you or other writers on their blogs had I not made the effort to put myself out there a little. I may not have lost tons of money if we didn’t connect, but aside from some damage to my “public image”, emotional stakes are just as serious, and relevant as any financial mistakes we can make.… — Read More »
Oh, so true! We risk ourselves to some extent every time we “put ourselves out there,” but that’s the only way to connect with others.
As for myself, I’m currently debating that whole writing-to-selling mindset change. And honestly, I don’t want to change. I want to just keep doing what I’m doing and if people buy, great, and if they don’t, oh well.
Note that’s what I said I want–whether that’s how it will end up is an entirely different matter. 🙂 But like you, I hate that aspect. I forget to tweet my own blog posts half the time. LOL!
I can definitely empathize with your struggles there, possibly more than you’d guess. Yes, I’m outgoing, but salesmanship? Ugh, shoot me now. 😉 Thanks for the comment!
Personally, I HAD to change my mindset, Jami.
That said, keep in mind, we don’t have to do a “Jekyll and Hyde” style 180° to change our mindset, try to keep that in mind.
This is what I had to do both to not let the things I’m not good at (Query letters and synopses) devalue what I AM good at (Being personable and setting high standards for what I AM good at)
That said I don’t have to be a “corporate blowhard” to do the business parts of writing.
You don’t have to, either, you know.
It’s clear to me you’d quit if you had to, and I’m being a tad extreme to prove a point.
Very true! And I don’t intend to. 🙂 I hope to do what I’m doing now with my blog–concentrating on content and doing “just enough” promo that there’s awareness, but not so much that I feel icky about it. I’d quit promo’ing if that was for the best in a heartbeat; I wouldn’t quit writing unless it was close to a matter of life and death. LOL! Thanks for the comment!
If you putter about Dean’s blog, you can actually find us sometimes having…discussions in the comments. We usually end up realizing we’re saying the same thing, just defining some words differently. There’s nothing necessarily wrong with hiring someone to help you out. There isn’t even anything necessarily wrong with giving someone a percentage to help you out with something you don’t know how to do, don’t have the ability to do, don’t have time to do, or just don’t want to do. For example, ACX has some contracts wherein the narrator and the text author each get a percentage, but it ends after 7 years. The percentage owed to the author as a defininite ending. I personally would have no issue with a percentage contract wherein the other person received a total of $X or Y years’ royalties, whichever came later, preferably with an option to buy out the contract at $X times Z—to protect both parties. Courtney Milan has a good post covering some other details about how an ideal percentage arrangement would work, regarding her agent’s self-publishing assistance. The problem is that most of the percentage schemes out there take a percentage for life with no limitations. I’ve seen some terrible, terrible rights grabs in contracts…including a claim to be taking all non-exclusive rights that effectually captures all “first rights”, and a non-compete clause that would’ve banned me from publishing anything remotely related to the subject for the rest of my life. (Those two things weren’t in the… — Read More »
Fantastic example! Yes, it’s the percentage forever and/or letting them receive the money on your behalf and “promising” to pass along your percentage that are more “smoking gun.” 🙂
Those options are like what I touched on as far as the non-scammy version of co-op publishing in one of these comments. I’d love to see that publishing method take off because there are many self-pub’ers who would love to do a great, professional job but don’t have the funds to pay for everything upfront. A limited term revenue-sharing model would allow for the work to be done, the service to get their money, and no one to be indebted forever. Thanks for sharing! 🙂
The post by Dean Wesley Smith is exactly what I was thinking about when reading this post. I’m glad you found and included the link, since it saved me the time of searching for it 🙂
Happy to! 🙂 Thanks for the comment!
Great post Jami!
One thing to note about Createspace. If you provide your own ISBN, then you can list whatever publisher you like. Their service is fantastic. I’ve been using them for 3 years.
Yes, great point! I didn’t get a chance to explain that very well (the post was already long 🙂 ). My understanding is that if you want CreateSpace to do “expanded distribution,” you have to use their ISBN, but authors not interested in that service could use their own. Please correct me if I’m wrong about that. 🙂
I think that fact is why some self-published authors use both CreateSpace and Lightning Source. They use CreateSpace (and CS’s ISBN) for Amazon listings and Lightning Source (with their own ISBN) for everything else. I hope I didn’t completely muck up that explanation. 🙂 Thanks for the comment!
Interesting post, but I have to quibble with one statement: that authors who go this route do it because they need “some help, some hand-holding, some “I don’t have a clue what I’m doing—someone just tell me what to do!” direction.
There’s a bias there, intended or not, implying that any author who chose this middle ground is basically stupid. I will offer another scenario from my own experience. I had four 90,000-word novels to write to contract last year. When I had a holiday novelette I wanted to get out, I jumped at the chance to have someone take it over.
Not because I was too stupid to do it myself. Not because I needed someone to hold my hand. Not because I didn’t have a clue what I was doing. I freaking DIDN’T HAVE TIME. I would rather spend my time writing my novels and fulfilling the terms of my contracts than formatting, hiring editors and artists, and marketing.
I’m planning to do one myself this summer if time allows. But there is a valid market for this service from legitimate agents. Plus, no one is forcing authors to use these agent-driven services. Okay. Off my soapbox now. Gotta write.
Absolutely! The latter part of the article focuses on how many of these service companies are scammers, which could lead to the impression that anyone who wanted help was stupid. However, that wasn’t my intention at all!
I very much understand the desire for all kinds of help–whether that’s the hand-holding type, the informative type, or the “I don’t have enough hours in the day to do it all” type. And as I said at the end of that quote, many good people are stepping in to provide that help.
My issue isn’t with people wanting/needing help (heck, I’d take some 🙂 ), but with the scammers who take advantage of those who are just learning the ropes for this new publishing path. I’m sorry if that wasn’t clear!
In fact, in my post I linked to from last year, I pointed out just how needed I think these services are, and that I’d wondered if I should ask one of them to guest post here to provide information about the options authors have. (I found out the company I knew was, in fact, one of these scammers before moving forward with that idea, luckily.) But yes, I absolutely agree with the need for help. The question is whether those helpers are taking advantage of us.
I hope that clears things up! 🙂 Thanks for the comment!
LOL, no problem. I’m having a knee-jerk reaction left over from RT, I think, where traditionally published authors were getting slammed at every turn. I came home with frostbite and a complex! And you’re right about the scammers–they’re rising faster than zombies at the apocalypse.
*whew* Thanks for the opportunity to make that clear. 🙂
Honestly, I hope someone chimes in with some positive experiences with an epublishing service company so we can start sharing recommendations for the good ones. 🙂 Thanks for the comment!
The publishing world is becoming a scary place to navigate. I don’t want to self publish, but some of these small presses are on the par with vanity presses. It truly daunting.
It can be scary, and that’s why I think it’s so important for us to share notes. Like the old Schoolhouse Rock songs I grew up with: Knowledge is Power. 🙂 Thanks for the comment!
As a self-published author, it was really overwhelming initially to sort through all the various options out there. I’m pretty internet savvy, so I spent quite a few weeks and months reading everything I could find about self-publishing, and bringing myself up to speed on the industry so I could make my own decisions.
One of the best things for me about self publishing is getting access to the sales data, and the royalties paid directly to me. Nothing another company could offer would make up for that! I do outsource some parts of publishing (like editing), and I can see how others might need to outsource others (cover design, formatting etc), but the uploading isn’t hard, and in the end, it means you retain control over your book yourself.
I guess, as you said, it comes down to what your reasons for publishing are, and what your goals are. If you’re happy to see your book out there, and get a little money, then you might be content with one of these companies. But please find one that charges a flat fee and lets you make changes! (I’ve heard of companies who are charging again to correct typos or change listings.) It’s sad (but not unexpected), that there are companies out there willing to take advantage of people like this.
Yes, I’ve heard of companies charging to correct typos they introduced, charging to tweak metadata or pricing, etc., etc. As I said, those charges erase some of the pros of going self-publishing, so I’d question what the author was receiving for their money.
Thanks for sharing your experience and for the comment! 🙂
I’m sleepy, so I might not be coherent or digesting all this efficiently. My first thought when I saw the breakdown on his site of what the author would get (41.something%) was that it was a better percentage than they would’ve gotten if they’d traditionally published, or gone with an ePublisher. So, if the epublishing service company is doing editing, cover, promo and uploading (which is what an epublisher or trad pub would do), it’s actually a better deal. Many of the things you listed as signs of a vanity publisher are aspects of publishing in general, not specific to vanity. My epublisher gets paid first, they set the price, sales figures go to them, etc.
Nope, but I understand the confusion. 🙂
The typical epublishing service company will take that cut for uploading the files only. Editing, cover design, etc. are all extra charges. Also, other than the bad press about Author Solutions and their divisions (which hasn’t forced them to go away even after years of complaints and lawsuits), most of these other companies are so new that they have zero track record. I’m not even aware of a forum topic on AbsoluteWrite for the whole category of epublishing service companies, so there’s no place for people to share their experiences.
I hope that clears up the difference. 🙂 Thanks for the comment!
It’s so disheartening to read about all the ways that people take advantage of writers’ dreams to see their words in print. I guess that no matter what medium it is, there will always be scammers out there looking to take advantage of the latest trend.
Booooo to people that prey on artists!
Boo, indeed! That’s why our best defense is sharing information. 🙂 Thanks for the comment!