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Tuesday, September 13, 2011

The Dirty Little Secrets of Self Publishing Companies






The Print On Demand Industry’s Dirty Little Secret

The dirty little secret of the Print On Demand (POD) industry is that most of us use the same service to do the printing, and we all distribute our books through Ingram. So the quality of our books and the places to which we sell them are identical. The only real differences are the prices we charge, the quality of our customer service, and our business models.

Upselling Authors – Slowly Milking Your Pocketbook

The large POD services – Authorhouse, iUniverse, XLibris, and Trafford, (now all owned by the same parent company, Author Solutions, which is a creation of venture capital firm Bertram Capital) – and many of the smaller POD companies have a business model built around selling a base publishing package, and then upselling you on additional services. Whether you sell a copy of your book to anyone or not doesn’t really matter because their profit comes from upselling authors on products and services. This is why they take any book submitted to them, regardless of quality. They care more about how many of you they can squeeze through their doors than they care about quality. If they truly cared about quality, they wouldn’t be putting so much garbage on the market, which actually hurts our entire industry.

BookLocker Is About Selling Books

Unlike the other POD firms, BookLocker is not into upselling you on products and services. We’re not going to sell you bookmarks and coffee mugs with your book’s cover on them because it would be a waste of your money. Our goal is to get a quality book quickly into the market (usually in a month or less) with the lowest out-of-pocket cost to you. We then try to create an environment that favors book sales.

We feel our approach is a better way to do business. It is a sustainable model for both us and you because it aligns our business interests. When a sale happens, you make money and we make money. Both of us win.

And our model works. The majority of BookLocker’s revenue comes from public book sales, not service fees.

BookLocker’s Costs Compared To The Competition

Some of the other POD companies appear to charge low upfront fees, and even no upfront fees. But those prices don’t include everything you need to get the book into the market. Later, after you’ve signed the contract, they hit you with hidden charges – fees for distribution, graphics, ebook creation, barcodes, expedited service…the list goes on and on. By the time your book is actually ready for sale, you’ve probably paid over $1000 – sometimes much, much more – to get your book in print, greatly increasing the time it takes to make back your investment through sales.

At BookLocker, our published setup fee price includes everything to get the book out into the market, period. No runaround. No surprises. No hidden fees. And BookLocker keeps the setup charge low so you can make back the investment as quickly as possible through book sales. Here is what we charge for a standard paperback:

BOOKLOCKER: $517 (deduct $200 if submitting your own cover)

For that price you get…

  • Formatting, print proof copy, custom cover design (which you then own all rights to), barcode, ISBN, distribution, and sales fufillment. No hidden fees. Includes everything to get the book into the market.
  • Quick turnaround. Books are usually on the market in less than a month.
  • No rights grab – you keep all rights to your book, and the cover design we create. (We even hand over all the cover and formatted text files if you want them. No questions asked, and no charge.)
  • Distribution through Ingram (the world’s largest book distributor), Amazon.com, BarnesandNoble.com, and many other online stores.
  • No long-term contracts. Cancel by email with just 24 hours notice.
  • No extra charge for graphics/charts/photos.
  • No extra charge for the ebook version.
  • No tacky company logos printed on your book. Unlike the “other guys”, we don’t use your book to advertise our company.
  • Use your own ISBN, or use one of ours. It is your choice.
  • Deeper discount for authors buying copies of their book in bulk. (Makes it actually profitable to sell your book directly to the public, if you want to do that.)
  • List prices that are competitive with traditionally published books of the same size, length and quality.
  • Print books – 35% royalties based on the list price for public sales; 15% royalties based on the list price on wholesale/bookstore orders. 70% royalties on ebook versions. Royalties over $20 are paid out monthly.
  • Full access to the practical knowledge gained from years of experience selling POD and ebooks to the public. (We’ve been selling POD books since 1999 and ebooks since 1998.)
  • Personal attention from and direct access to the company owners (all authors work directly with Angela Hoy) – no revolving customer service reps, no layers of bureaucracy to navigate, and absolutely no outsourcing to third-world countries.

Other BookLocker features:


  • BookLocker authors who return to use the service for subsequent books get a special $149 setup fee rate. No limit.

  • BookLocker now distributes ebooks to Apple’s iBookstore, Barnes &Noble’s NOOKBook store, and soon Amazon’s Kindle store.
  • BookLocker is rated “Outstanding” by Mark Levine, attorney and author of The Fine Print of Self-Publishing.

Compare that with the cost of other POD firms:

NOTE: All publishers below currently offer distribution through Ingram (the largest book distributor), as well as inclusion of their titles in the major online (amazon.com, barnesandnoble.com, etc.) and physical bookstore systems.

>> iUniverse: $999.00 (includes 5 “free” copies) <<
Rated "Publisher to Avoid” by Mark Levine, attorney and author of The Fine Print of Self-Publishing.

Warning: Has a variety of “extra” charges like $2 per page if your manuscript is submitted with incorrect headers/footers, page breaks, line and paragraph formatting, more than 25 photos/graphics, more than 2 images on your cover, tables, etc. They own your files after creation and you have to pay $150-$750 to get them if you leave their service! No expedite service. Turnaround is 3-4 months. NOTE: AuthorHouse is owned by Author Solutions, a holding company that also owns Xlibris, iUniverse and Trafford. See those companies above and below.

>> CreateSpace: $1022.00 (Deduct $299 if submitting your own cover) <<
Rated "Just OK” by Mark Levine, attorney and author of The Fine Print of Self-Publishing.

Add $500 to price above if you want more than one color and image featured on your cover. Limit of 10 interior images; charges $15 per image and $25 per chart/table/graph thereafter. Does NOT publish hardcover books (all others here do). IMPORTANT: BookSurge was rolled into CreateSpace in November, 2009 but they kept employees, equipment, etc. Read more about BookSurge’s problems HERE. We ordered some BookSurge books and one looked so bad they inserted an apology note inside, saying it was the best they could get from their supplier. They ARE their supplier! Another one arrived with the interior pages appearing upside-down. Read numerous complaints about CreateSpace, posted to their own forum, HERE.

>> Lulu: $1131.00 (Deduct $450 if submitting your own cover) <<
Rated "Pretty Good” by Mark Levine, attorney and author of The Fine Print of Self-Publishing.

Lulu now charges directly for many services they previously farmed out to other companies. Lulu appears to be having customer service problems and authors are upset about their high shipping costs. Read THIS to learn more.

>> Trafford: $1324.00 <<
Rated "Publisher to Avoid” by Mark Levine, attorney and author of The Fine Print of Self-Publishing.

Warning: Has a variety of “extra” charges like $2 per page if your manuscript is submitted with incorrect headers/footers, page breaks, line and paragraph formatting, etc. Charges $5 extra per image. Expedite service available for the $2199 “Elite” package. NOTE: AuthorHouse is owned by Author Solutions, a holding company that also owns Xlibris, iUniverse and Trafford. See those companies above and below.

>> AuthorHouse: $1517.00 <<
Rated "Publisher to Avoid” by Mark Levine, attorney and author of The Fine Print of Self-Publishing.

Charges extra for photos/graphics ($5 per image after first 10 – included in cost above). Expedite fee ($500) is for publication in 30 days instead of 6 months (included above). Claims ownership of files you pay them to create…meaning you can’t use the edited/formatted files if you want to move your book later. NOTE: AuthorHouse is owned by Author Solutions, a holding company that also owns Xlibris, iUniverse and Trafford. See those companies above and below.

>> Xlibris: $1972.00 – (includes 5 “free” copies) <<
Rated "Publisher to Avoid” by Mark Levine, attorney and author of The Fine Print of Self-Publishing.

Charges expedite fee of $349 (included above) for publication in 2 months instead of 4-6 months. Charges $10 per image (included above); $20 per table. Limit of 1 cover image. NOTE: AuthorHouse is owned by Author Solutions, a holding company that also owns Xlibris, iUniverse and Trafford. See those companies above.

***Prices above based on least expensive package offered by each publisher on similar offers targeting U.S. authors. Fees include interior formatting (based on a 200-page book), original cover design with up to 5 images, print proof, ebook creation, up to 25 interior photos/graphics, an ISBN, barcode, a listing on the publisher’s website and distribution by Ingram, all within 6 weeks.

NOTE: Many companies offer perks that others don’t, some try to upsell authors on extraneous services, and a few even claim ownership of files the author has paid them to create. Study each publisher and contract carefully before making your choice.


Read Angela Hoy’s industry insider series POD SECRETS REVEALED:



Click here to read moe details from the BookLocker.






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