1) DO NOT CHOOSE SPEED OVER QUALITY
Avoid publishers that claim to publish in 24 hours. After the time it took to write your book, do you want it published right, or overnight? Avoid overnight publishers no matter what they charge because the only one looking at your book will be a computer. It should take between 6-15 weeks.
2) DO NOT BE FOOLED BY HIGH ROYALTY CLAIMS
A royalty is simply a percentage of another number. The actual dollars and cents you earn depends upon that second number. The truest royalty is a royalty based upon the retail price of your book. Many publishers use “net royalty” which is a royalty based upon their profit. To be sure, always confirm your profit in dollars and cents.
3) DO NOT SIGN YOUR RIGHTS AWAY
The main advantage to self-publishing alternatively with a on-demand publisher is that you keep all the rights to your work. The rights are valuable. Read the contract. Your rights should clearly stay with you.
4) DO NOT BE CONFUSED BY BULK DISCOUNTS
If a publisher normally offers discounts to an author who buys their own book in bulk, that tells you two things. 1) It tells you they are more concerned with selling to you than to other readers. 2) It tells you they are charging you too much for lower quantities. Do you really want to be forced to buy 100 books at a time just to get a fair price? “Bulk” discounts simply trick the author into buying more books than they need, which defeats the whole advantage of on-demand printing.
5) DO NOT BE TRICKED BY AUTHOR DISCOUNTS
As an author, your per-book price should be based upon the production cost of the book, not the retail price. No wonder publishers inflate their retail pricing. You should always receive a below-wholesale price, regardless of how many you buy. You will never make money if you have to buy your own book at wholesale from the publisher.
6 thoughts on “Avoid these 5 mistakes when choosing your publisher”
Great advice, thanks for this! I think CreateSpace, Lulu and Lightning Source are the best places to economically self-publish. Create Space (owned by Amazon) is free or just $39 for their Pro Plan. I also believe the ebook market is exploding and fortunately authors can do much in that area for free. How to Make, Market and Sell Ebooks – All for FREE is a great guide for that. Good luck everyone. It’s not a get rich quick thing but it can be very rewarding if you have a good book and stick with it.
Thanks for this post. It is worrying just how confusing the industry remains for any writers coming fresh to self publishing.
Good advice. I often see self-pub sites with confusing price plans. Authors need to check these carefully before proceeding. In fact, put a business plan together. It’ll be an eye-opener!
You’re right, price plans can be confusing. That is partly because book pricing and distribution is not exactly simple. There is no substitute for solid research. CreateSpace and Lulu are economical places to publish upfront, for example. But look closely at your book pricing details and the implications of distribution. You may find that your book is priced out of the market and/or available through very limited outlets. Publishers are business after all, and need to make a living somehow.
I know quite a few authors who have gone with publishers like Xlibris or Iuniverse, where you pay them a fee to put together your whole book. Some of them are very happy with what they’ve gotten.
On the other hand, I personally cannot imagine doing that. If you look around,for roughly the same cost (or less) you can find professionals to do your cover and layout and you will almost certainly get a better product and more flexibility. Then you can go with Createspace or LSI or Lulu and have much more control over the actual selling process (not to mention make way more money per book).
As a follow-up to the suggestion to look closely at pricing details and distribution, if you want your book to be available at many different outlets at the minimum reasonable price across as many as possible, then LSI is your only option. If your sales are mostly on Amazon, then Createspace might be an option. I have used Lulu for non-ISBN beta copies in 8.5×11 format b/c it’s way cheaper than kinkos, but I actually cannot imagine why someone would use Lulu for any kind of standard paperback over a hundred pages or so – it’s simply WAY more expensive.