I read a book a couple of weekends ago. I feel it has the utmost potential. To be clear, this isn’t a book from my book review service. I read this book on my own time from an author I do not know. I enjoyed the testimony; I loved the cover, and I can relate to much of the information.
Unfortunately, the book was in such terrible need of editing and formatting that it was troublesome to get through, which broke my heart. I am not usually ultra-sensitive to typos and such when reading a book for leisure. I am only irritated when the errors are so bad I can’t enjoy or understand the story.
I could tell very little money went into this book’s production just from reading it.
That is when I knew what I wanted to write to you as we enter this new month.
I know because I have been here. I have published books written in a Microsoft Word Document, turned it into a PDF, and uploaded it. I have not only removed a lot of my earlier works, but I have risked book reviews taking books down to revise them for this reason.
As many of us do when we enter Self-Publishing, I learned the hard way that authoring a book takes more than uploading a Microsoft Word Document or PDF to Amazon’s Kindle Direct Publishing or Lulu. The hardest pill to swallow is that it doesn’t have to cost an arm and a leg, but it’s essential for new authors who choose to Self-Publish to be aware there are costs involved. Self-Publishing is not the easy route if pursued the right way. It requires both time and financial investment.
What Happens Traditionally:
I found it is helpful to understand what happens when someone publishes a book traditionally.
Traditionally, a publisher offers an author a contract. The author signs with the publisher who prints, publishes and sells the book through bookstores and other retailers. The publisher is buying the rights to the book and pays the author royalties from the sales.
Since this isn’t my area of expertise, I will leave it here. That’s the gist of it, but to learn more on Traditional Publishing steps, click here.
The most crucial part as it relates to this post is that the traditional publishing house “takes on the responsibilities and costs of designing, printing, distributing, and marketing the book.” (McLachlin)
Vanity Publishing, the center of much controversy in the Indie world, is a publisher who publishes a book provided the author can pay for services. If the author doesn’t want to do everything independently and can afford to spend thousands of dollars to publish this book, a Vanity Publisher will gladly publish them.
Vanity Presses can look like Traditional Publishers to the untrained eye, but there’s a significant difference. The Vanity Press does not get paid royalties from the sale like a Traditional Publishing House. The Vanity Press gets paid money upfront from the author to publish them. The author is paying to get their book published. As you now know, this is not how traditional publishing works. After the Vanity Press publish the book, some allow the author to own the book and keep the profit from sales, but some Vanity Presses do not.
Why VP’s charge
Newbie authors get excited to be “signed” with Vanity Presses under the presumption they are like traditional publishing houses. They are not. VP’s charge authors to publish them because, without paying for services, there are no services. Vanity Presses have a bad reputation for outsourcing to mediocre editors and designers, so authors spend thousands of dollars (sometimes upwards of $5,000+) to receive poor editing and crappy formatting and graphic design.
Take Rocket Science Productions / RSP Marketing Services, for example, where “Phase One” of this publishing scheme involves a $595 payment for copyright registration and an ISBN. (ALLI)
Self-Publishing companies that promise you can keep “100% of your copyright” promise the new author something they already own because the work is under copyright from the moment of creation. If the author wants to go the extra mile and register it, they can do that for $45, according to the .gov copyright website here.
ISBN’s are expensive, but you can purchase a block of TEN from Bowker (US) for $295.
That’s TEN ISBNs for TEN separate books (or multiple versions of the same book) as opposed to paying almost six-hundred dollars for ONE.
Morgan James Publishing is another example, a vanity press that profits by selling books to their authors rather than readers. (ALLI)
Author Solutions and anything under Author Solutions and Xlibris are also Vanity Presses to watch out for.
The only people who get paid in this situation are the publisher or company offering the services. There are tons of people making six figures off green Self-Publishers. If I charged eight thousand dollars per author, I’d be a millionaire too.
The primary way to identify a Vanity Press is to understand one simple fact:
A traditional publisher pays the author, not the other way round.
But the traditional publisher also owns the rights to the book, which is why many choose to Self-Publish.
With Self-Publishing, you pay to produce, market, distribute, and warehouse the book. This investment can get expensive, which is why I understand why writers fall for vanity presses. Suppose you pay $2,000 to get a book edited (which is not out of the ordinary for skilled, professional editing depending on the editing needed) and still need a decent cover and everything else. Why not pay $5,000 for a team of professionals to do everything for you?
The problem is that the books these “professionals” publish are low in quality, and sometimes the author doesn’t maintain the rights to their book even after paying so much to get it published. If you charge someone $5,000 to publish their book, it should look like it, and the author should own the rights to the book. There is no excuse for charging this much money to upload a poorly edited and formatted text with a generic cover to Amazon’s Kindle Direct Publishing and then call yourself a publisher.
Why Self-Publishing Can Be Free But Isn’t If You Do It Right
With Self-Publishing, you do not sign with a publisher, so there is no one to cover the cost of book editing and cover design. You are the publisher, so the financial responsibility is yours.
It will cost you nothing to upload a manuscript to Amazon’s KDP or Kobo or iTunes or whichever platform you’d like to use. You can take your Word Document or PDF and create an account with that platform and upload it. You can also go wide using Draft2Digital to make your book available on other ebook platforms like Barnes and Noble, iBooks, and iTunes.
But, if you want to produce a high-quality book, there are costs involved in getting the manuscript ready for publication.
You are not paying someone to publish your book, or I should say, upload your manuscript to KDP. You are investing in producing a quality product.
Technically, you do not have to pay anything to publish a book, but it will look like it.
You OWN your book, which places you in great authority, and with eminent authority comes greater responsibility. If you don’t want to be responsible for everything, then Self-Publishing might not be the route for you. It may be best to look into Traditional Publishing.
Again, it doesn’t have to cost an arm and a leg to publish a book. There are many great pre-made cover designs, for example, that are cheaper than custom made covers, and editors who have great deals.
This post’s purpose is not for you to think that paying a lot of money will make your book great automatically. No editor, despite how talented, can make a crappy story great again.
The purpose of this post is to inform those of you new to Self-Publishing that if you want to be an Independent Author/Publisher, you will have to invest some money in publishing your book if you want it done right.
Click here for the Best Self-Publishing services and the worst rated by the Alliance of Independent Authors.
Looking for more Indie Author Basics?
Indie Author Basics with EC exists because after Self-Publishing my books, I quickly realized the lack of information available to Indie Authors. Sometimes the only way to learn is through experience, and I have discovered some ups and downs that I think will help those who are just beginning. I do not present these as concrete, guaranteed solutions, but I hope new authors can use these tips to better the Self-Publishing experience and make it less confusing.
Let each one, reach one.