Tuesday, September 3, 2013

An Offer From A Publishing Company

Today I received a voice message from a very nice-sounding lady. She said,

"Hello, Ariele. This is Melissa calling from Book Whirl Publishing. I would like to talk to you about your book, The Clock Winked. You can call me at 877-207-1679, extension 323."

Naturally, I was very curious, and, having grown up in the generation of the unlikely-sounding email forward, I was very suspicious. Let me give you a run down:

  • They help publish.
  • They help market.
  • They create cover art.
  • They do interior book design.
  • They do ebook and hardcopy distribution.

It all sounds great, right?

Their best package is $699.

Now perhaps I'm mistaken, but $699 is a lot of money. Of course, that's not to say it's not worth it. Let's see what you can get for $699:

  • Paperback Design
  • Ebook Design and Distribution
  • A Variety of Trim Sizes
  • Full bleed, full colour
  • 25 images
  • 25 pages
  • Electronic and Paper Galleys (proofs)
  • 3 free paperback copies (minus shipping and handling)

Now, for anyone interested in self-publishing, let me tally up what all of that costs if you do it on your own:

  • Paperback design - you can get a Word Template for free. MS Word 2013 costs approximately $100.
  • Ebook Design - you can download Calibre for free, and use a WebPage format in MS Word.
  • Ebook distribution - costs a few cents per copy through Amazon or any other distribution service. One book costs me about $1.00 (35%), but only if I sell a book.
  • If I go through CreateSpace (or other online printers), I can have a variety of trim sizes.
  • A 25 page book through CreateSpace would cost me about $1.00 to produce (plus shipping).
  • I can have as many images as I want in CreateSpace, although colour printing costs a few cents more per page.
  • Proofs for a 25 page book would cost $1, maybe $2.
  • 3 copies would cost the same as the proofs
Even if I bought MS Word twice - one program to use for the ebook, and one to use for the interior design - I would still be spending less than $250. To buy fifty copies of my book would cost an additional $200 - still less than $699. For $699 they don't offer copy editing, they don't offer cover design, and they don't offer marketing services - the three things which authors find most difficult.

To get these services, you need to purchase one of their other packages: The Challenger, at $1,299, or, to get copy editing - but only up to 40,000 words, The Visionary for $4,899.

I could hire a professional copy editor to do more than my full novel, and then order some books and maybe a college student to help me set up a website for that kind of money.

I understand the allure of publishing, and I understand fear of the unknown, and I understand the pain of having to learn to do it yourself. But don't let these guys lure you in. I think a company like this could be really useful to do-it-yourself self publishers like me, but only if they alter their model to actually be what we're looking for: reasonably priced, focused on the hard stuff (like cover design and marketing), and flexible enough to meet the demands of the changing publishing industry. But for now, I strongly feel that you or I can do better, either with a big publishing house or on your own. Don't fear the unknown, and don't be afraid to learn.