Sunday, January 23, 2011

Five yet more expensive ways to be printed

Another sequel to Five expensive ways to be printed and Five more expensive ways to get into print. It's amazing how many vanity presses are out there.

But to start with the cheapest...

1. Basic Package, Roval Publishing $599

While this package does include “1 author copy”, I’m not sure serious writers would be helped by publication with the same company that produced the plagiarized novel Of Atlantis.

2. Jada Press, Executive Program $1250

This is described as "A Publishing Program that will separate you and your work from the rest!" Though first it'll separate you from your money.

And the publisher has a long article claiming that even NYT bestselling writers are being cheated by their publishers, so you might as well pay upfront and be done with it.

3. Morgan James Publishing variable; probably over $10,000

Morgan James doesn’t provide a single one-fee-fits-all figure. As their website states,

Author is asked to commit to purchasing, during the life of the agreement, twenty-five hundred copies at cost plus a percentage

What I find deceptive is that they claim this to be normal, asserting that “most major houses” also have this requirement for their authors. Not true. Actual, reputable publishers give authors books for free – sometimes dozens of copies.

And why would real publishers ask authors to buy their own books in bulk, anyway? So they can recover their advances right away? Because they’re afraid no one else will buy the books? On top of that, Morgan James’s website says, “No Publishing Fee charged hidden or otherwise”, perhaps because the fee has been shifted to the back end.

So how much would it cost to buy those 2500 copies? On this page, there’s a breakdown of cover prices according to book length. Here's a sample of that, with the length in words :

100,000 -- $17.95-$21.95
120,000 -- $20.95-$23.95
140,000 -- $22.95-$26.95

Let’s take my novel Before the Storm. That’s 113,000 words, but I’ll round it down to 100,000. We’ll also assume that my book would have cost $18 at that length, and we’ll assume that the cost of production is 25% of the cover price. In total, I’d be paying (0.25 x 18)2500 = $11250.

Which is before adding the unstated “percentage” Morgan James would include.

Which is before paying shipping and handling.

4. Cambridge House $15,000 or more

Author's costs range from $15,000 and upward, depending on the amount of work involved. However, that investment is repaid from first-proceeds and the royalties are 4-5 times what the standard publishers pay. With some financial risk comes increased financial reward- it's only fair.

If an upfront payment of fifteen grand or more is just “some” risk, I’d hate to see what Cambridge House would consider a “major” risk. The website goes on to say, “We're only successful if you're successful.” Well, who’s financially more successful? The people who write out checks for fifteen thousand dollars, or the company which takes them?

5. WestBow Press $19,999

This is Thomas Nelson’s vanity publishing arm, but what’s even more astonishing than the price are some of the things you get for your twenty grand. For instance, windshield flyers and ”Line Editing (30,000 words included)”.

I wonder if there’s an extra charge if your book happens to be longer than 30,000 words.

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Courtney Rene said...

I can honestly say I have never looked into self publishing, as all the horror stories I have heard have taught me that if I can't get published the "traditional" route, I'm not getting published. Your list is scary and just WOW. Thanks for that.

Marian Perera said...

To be fair, self-publishing can be more economical than some of the worst-case-scenarios out there, but I agree with you on commercial publishing. There are reasons beyond the financial ones to opt for that.

Susan Gourley/Kelley said...

I never heard of these business. It's unbelievable people would turn to this when you can do it all by yourself at Amazon and other places.

Marian Perera said...

Yes, there are definitely better options than throwing thousands of dollars away on a vanity press.

The vanity presses, though, are counting on people not knowing this. I still read questions on discussion boards about "hiring" agents, so there are probably also writers who believe that it's normal to pay publishers (either upfront or by buying their own books).

Thanks for commenting!