In Your Corner: Choosing a Quality Publisher

You’ve spent absolutely ages writing your book, and now it’s as perfect as it gets! Why choose a sub-par publisher who’s just going to mess it up—or worse, betray your trust—by providing a sub-par final product?

Here’s the thing: no one in their right minds does make that choice—at least, not knowingly. And there’s the rub! Sub-par publishers sometimes give off a very real impression that they’re anything but. Sometimes, they’re more convincing than the bonafide deal, the companies which are legitimate and will treat you right, but struggle to stand out in a marketplace crowded by phones, vanity presses, and other publishers who’re like as not prepared to milk you for every dollar you have, and satisfy their obligations by producing the bare minimum in terms of quality product.

In a sense, you’re in a double-bind as a self-publishing company! The onus should be on the publisher to provide the best possible product they can with the funds available … but because it’s difficult for regulators to enforce this—and because publishing, especially self-publishing remains ahead of the curve in regards to legislative oversight*—the reality is that you, the author, are ultimately the one person you can trust to make sure you get the best deal possible.

* One day legislation may in fact catch up to the ever-evolving products and services which have risen along with the Internet, but that day is not today.

decision making

You want a quality publisher who will give your book the attention that it deserves.  How to ensure this happens?

  1. Spend time researching your publishing options.
  2. Learn what your publisher will do for you before your book is published, while your book is published and after your book is published.
  3. Think through what’s important to you and what you need (as opposed to those nice things you really, really want but can get by without).
  4. If you need someone available to help you, be sure you choose a publisher that offers help and support.
  5. If you know you need an amazing cover design, choose a publisher that offers a custom-designed cover. Same goes for marketing services, formatting, and everything else. Do you have the necessary skills? No? Make sure your publisher does—and for a reasonable price.
  6. Don’t turn your book over to just anyone. Your book is your book, not something you can afford to let anyone else ruin.

You’ve spent the time getting it just right … and now it’s time to find that company which will treat your book with the dignity and respect it deserves. Not to mention, which will treat you the same way.

You are not alone. ♣︎


Elizabeth

ABOUT ELIZABETH JAVOR: With over 18 years of experience in sales and management, Elizabeth Javor works as the Manager of Author Services for Outskirts Press. The Author Services Department is composed of knowledgeable publishing consultants, pre-production specialists, customer service reps and book marketing specialists; together, they all focus on educating authors on the self-publishing process to help them publish the book of their dreams. Whether you are a professional looking to take your career to the next level with platform-driven non-fiction or a novelist seeking fame, fortune, and/or personal fulfillment, Elizabeth Javor can put you on the right path.

In Your Corner : Shopping for a publisher? Three lessons from a lingerie counter.

No–I promise the title isn’t just for clicks!  One of the critical components of a conversation about lingerie that should be a part of a conversation about publishing–but often isn’t–is that of support.  How does your publisher affect your book sales?  Does your publisher offer support before, during, and after publication?  Does your publisher offer marketing solutions to help your book sell?  Making an informed decision prior to publication will help you long afterwards, as you transition into the life of a published author and begin to weigh some of the risks … and, hopefully, the rewards.

***

So what’s this about underwear and support?

lingerie

Lesson One:

Your publisher should be your advocate and ally, not just a platform.

In today’s competitive world, authors have more choices than ever in terms of where they take their manuscripts for publication–whether traditional publishing, hybrid publishing, or self-publishing.  We’re still in a somewhat weird place where the market is flexing, and where supergiant corporations like Amazon can afford to be monolithic and self-absorbed, but the paradigm is shifting in favor of the reader.  How do I mean that?  More hybrid and self-publishing companies are serving as fierce advocates for their authors above and beyond basic tech support.  The term “support” has come to mean a dedicated band of professionals working together to find a marketing solution for your specific book, and companies are sitting up and realizing that they need to do better.  Even traditional publishers have begun to realize that they need to be better, especially in respect to their treatment of their authors.  The downside of being a traditional publisher or massive corporation (like Amazon) today is that it takes a long time for even the clearest of realizations to trickle down into actual corporate behavior.  It’s like turning a behemoth around–smaller, more nimble companies will leap ahead of the curve…and this is what we’re seeing with small presses, hybrids, and completely self-sufficient self-publishing authors.  Don’t settle for mediocre support!

Lesson Two:

You’re paying for support–support–and that means highly structured, organized assistance.

Here’s another fundamental fact of the universe: when you pay someone to publish your book (according to the hybrid and self-publishing model) or allow someone to take a cut of your book’s royalties (according to the traditional publishing model), you are not paying for therapy.  You have the rightful expectation of seeing more than a tepid response to your book, a lukewarm attempt at promotion, or a scattershot approach to marketing.  You have every right to expect–and demand–meticulous, highly structured support.  Even if you choose not to pay for a full-fledged marketing campaign, you are the beneficiary of the best work of each professional you engage with over the course of the publication process.  And if you’re not getting it?  Here’s where feedback is important.  There are two ways to go about giving feedback: asking for better treatment, and actually taking your money elsewhere.  Realistic expectations are important, but if you’re worried that you’re not getting real advocacy from your publisher, it might be time to start asking the tough questions.

Lesson Three:

A good publisher + good marketing + your book = good sales.

The implications are clear, right?  If one of these components is broken, every other element in the formula for success will fall out of joint.  If sales are not strong, apply a microscope to the work done by your publisher.  Are they showing real dedication?  Do they display a sense of organization and interest in your work, specifically?  A half-baked marketing plan will only ever produce half-baked sales figures, and a haphazard publishing package will take you to the exact same place.  It’s hard to strike the balance as a self-publishing author paying for a minimalist publishing package, but there are still options.  Don’t be content with the first bare-bones self-publishing website you stumble across!  Read the fine print.  Call up the help center.  See what all is available to you as an author in terms of targeted support and guidance.  Only you can decide how much of the marketing process you want to take on, and how to spend your money effectively.  Don’t let a company decide that for you!

You are not alone. ♣︎

ElizabethABOUT ELIZABETH JAVOR: With over 18 years of experience in sales and management, Elizabeth Javor works as the Manager of Author Services for Outskirts Press. The Author Services Department is composed of knowledgeable publishing consultants, pre-production specialists, customer service reps and book marketing specialists; together, they all focus on educating authors on the self-publishing process to help them publish the book of their dreams. Whether you are a professional looking to take your career to the next level with platform-driven non-fiction or a novelist seeking fame, fortune, and/or personal fulfillment, Elizabeth Javor can put you on the right path.

Cheaper isn’t Always Better, Self-Publishing Authors

When choosing a self-publishing company, remember the adage, “Cheaper isn’t always better” and ask yourself these two questions:

1. What are the upfront costs, the per book cost and royalties?

You may find a company that has incredibly low per book author costs, but don’t let that govern your decision.  Just because a company promotes a low per book cost doesn’t mean they are the best bargain — they may have high upfront costs and low royalties.  And just because a company offers low upfront costs doesn’t mean they are the best bargain — they may have high per book costs, low royalties and even requirements for you to purchase hundreds of books yourself.  You must find a good balance of upfront costs, per book cost and royalties.  Consider all of this when self-publishing.

2. What services are available?

The cliché “you get what you pay for” is often true when it comes to self-publishing. Not all self-publishing companies are created equal, and you need to consider your professional goals and needs when choosing a company. A cheaper company often does not offer all the services and support needed to create a quality book, and if you want to be respected as an author and sell books, you need to offer your readers a quality product.

Ultimately, the self-publishing company you choose depends on your goals and needs as an author. Some people can go with the cheapest option and be completely satisfied, but many serious authors find that spending a little more is worth the extra expense.  You want to find a company that will produce a top-quality product, offer you plenty of options such as professional editing,  custom covers, and marketing and promotion services.  As you research self-publishing companies, be sure to consider all the costs as well as the value of the services offered. You may just find that “cheaper isn’t always better.”

ABOUT JODEE THAYER: With over 20 years of experience in sales and management, Jodee Thayer works as the Manager of Author Services for Outskirts Press. The Author Services Department is composed of knowledgeable customer service reps and publishing consultants; together, they all focus on educating authors on the self-publishing process in order to help them publish the book of their dreams. Whether you are a professional looking to take your career to the next level with platform-driven non-fiction or a novelist seeking fame, fortune, and/or personal fulfillment, Jodee Thayer can put you on the right path.

Self Publishing Week in Review: 7/9/13

As a self-publishing author, you may find it helpful to stay up-to-date on the trends and news related to the self publishing industry. This will help you make informed decisions before, during and after the self publishing process, which will lead to a greater self publishing experience. To help you stay current on self publishing topics, simply visit our blog every Tuesday to find out the hottest news in self publishing this week.

Three Keys to Self-Publishing Success

In this Publishers Weekly column, the author shares three great keys for self publishing success. I completely agree that professional editing and cover design services are worth the investment.

Why I’m Self-Publishing My Next Book

This author talks about why she is choosing to self publish her next book. If you are thinking about self publishing, check it out.

I Decided to Self-Publish

Here is another author who shares why he decided to self publish. If you have been rejected by traditional publishers because your book doesn’t “fit the mold,” read this.

Freedom isn’t Free—5 Common Tactical Errors in Self-Publishing

This author offers great advice on avoiding common self publishing mistakes. Every self publishing author should read this.

If you have other big news to share, please comment below.

ABOUT KELLY SCHUKNECHT: Kelly Schuknecht is the Vice President of Outskirts Press. In addition to her contributions to the Outskirts Press blog at blog.outskirtspress.com, Kelly and a group of talented marketing experts offer book marketing services, support, and products to not only published Outskirts Press authors, but to all authors and professionals who are interested in marketing their books and/or careers. Learn more about Kelly on her blog at http://kellyschuknecht.com.

Self Publishing Authors Beware: Cheaper isn’t Always Better

I recently saw a commercial with the message “cheaper isn’t always better.” The advertisement illustrates that cheap is good and sushi is good, but cheap gas station sushi isn’t good (or something like that, I’m sure you’ve seen it).  This analogy immediately made me think of self publishing. For authors considering self publishing, it is important to remember that cheaper isn’t always better. When choosing a self publishing company, consider these two questions.

1. What are the upfront costs, the per book cost and royalties?

You may find a company that has incredibly low per book author costs, but don’t let that govern your decision.  Just because a company promotes a low per book cost doesn’t mean they are the best bargain — they may have high upfront costs and low royalties.  And just because a company offers low upfront costs doesn’t mean they are the best bargain — they may have high per book costs, low royalties and even requirements for you to purchase hundreds of books yourself.  You must find a good balance of upfront costs, per book cost and royalties.  Consider all of this when self publishing.

2. What services are available?

In many cases, the cliché “you get what you pay for” is true, and self publishing is often one of those cases. Not all self publishing companies are created equal, and you need to consider your professional goals and needs when choosing a company. A cheaper company often does not offer all the services and support needed to create a quality book, and if you want to be respected as an author and sell books, you need to offer your readers a quality product.

Ultimately, the self publishing company you choose depends on your goals and needs as an author. Some people can go with the cheapest option and be completely satisfied, but many serious authors find that spending a little more is worth the extra expense.  You want to find a company that will produce a top-quality product, offer you plenty of options such as professional editing and custom covers, and a variety of options for marketing and promoting your book.  As you research self publishing companies, be sure to consider all the costs as well as the value of the services offered. You may just find that “cheaper isn’t always better.”

ABOUT JODEE THAYER: With over 20 years of experience in sales and management, Jodee Thayer works as the Manager of Author Services for Outskirts Press. The Author Services Department is composed of knowledgeable customer service reps and publishing consultants; together, they all focus on educating authors on the self-publishing process in order to help them publish the book of their dreams. Whether you are a professional looking to take your career to the next level with platform-driven non-fiction or a novelist seeking fame, fortune, and/or personal fulfillment, Jodee Thayer can put you on the right path.

Compare CreateSpace and Outskirts Press Self Publishing Packages

Deciding which self-publishing company to go with can be a real challenge.  To assist you with this process, I’m beginning a series of posts where I do the legwork for you!  I’ll prepare a side-by-side comparison of two similar publishing packages from two self-publishing companies.  I’ll strive to keep it as simple as possible to help cut through the vast amount of information out there by giving you an easy to read chart and a brief summary of my impressions on the comparison.

I’ll start this series with a comparison of two of the most robust self-publishing packages available: The “One Click for Coaches & Speakers” from Outskirts Press  (which you can enjoy even if you’re NOT a coach or speaker, by the way) and the “Total Design Freedom” from CreateSpace.  The information shared here is current as of the date I completed the comparison (18 November 2012).

Outskirts Press One-Click Publishing For Coaches & Speakers CreateSpace Total Design Freedom Marketing Pro
$4497 $4634
Production Options Expedited Service
Copyright registration
Custom Cover
Enhanced Interior Formatting
Cover Scribing / Promotional Text
Library of Congress Control Number
Your ISBN/ Imprint or ours
Interior Elements Up to 20 images Up to 10 images (add’l @ $15 each)
Copyediting Up to 75,000 Words Up to 60,000 Words
Additional Formats Amazon Kindle Edition
Secure EBook Edition
Espresso Book Machine Edition
 Marketing Services Publication Press Release
Custom Topic Press Release
PR Publicist Campaign
Electronic Clipping Service
Author Webpage

After comparing these two self-publishing services side by side, the winner looks to be Outskirts Press. For $137 less, you receive expedited service, official copyright registration with the US Copyright Office, the Amazon Kindle edition of your book, the Espresso Book Machine edition, electronic clipping service, a PR campaign, and five hours of personal marketing assistance with a professional book marketing expert, among other benefits.   

See all the benefits and features of the One-Click Package for Speakers & Coaches by clicking here.

I’d love to know, which option would you choose and why?

ABOUT JODEE THAYER: With over 20 years of experience in   sales and management, Jodee Thayer works as the Manager of Author Services   for Outskirts Press. The Author Services Department   is composed of knowledgeable customer service reps and publishing consultants;   together, they all focus on educating authors on the self-publishing process in order to help them publish the   book of their dreams. Whether you are a professional looking to take your   career to the next level with platform-driven non-fiction or a novelist   seeking fame, fortune, and/or personal fulfillment, Jodee Thayer can put you on the right path.

Top 5 Customer Service Characteristics of High Quality Self-Publishing Companies

As an author, when you choose POD publishing, you get to make all of the decisions during the publishing process. While this is perfect for authors who like to have all of the control over their finished product, it also means that you may have some questions along the way and need some guidance.  A high quality self-publishing company will offer excellent customer service, and that is what every author should expect.

Here are five characteristics to look for when evaluating a company’s customer service:

  1. Professionalism — How do the company and employees present themselves. Do they communicate professionally (in person or on the phone and via email)?
  2. Cheerfulness — Have you ever been to a store where it was clear the person helping you wanted to be anywhere BUT there helping you?  When a person doesn’t enjoy what they do, it’s obvious (and sad).  Attitudes are contagious and good customer service agents know how to spread cheer.
  3. Knowledge — Do they know the product information?  Can they provide you with the information you need?  If they can’t answer your question right away, can they find out and get back to you or point you in the right direction?
  4. Active Listening — It is important that the customer service agent listens to your individual needs.  Active listening involves asking the appropriate questions in order to fully understand your requests or concerns. Do you feel like you are being heard?
  5. Responsiveness — Do they reply to your emails and/or return your calls quickly? It’s not reasonable to expect everyone to have the answer to every question, but if they aren’t able to answer your question right away, are they able to look into it and get back to you in a reasonable amount of time?  Do they provide you with frequent updates on the status of your project?

These are the characteristics every author should look for when choosing a self-publishing company.

Best of luck with your self-publishing endeavors, and may all of your customer service experiences exceed your expectations! 🙂

ABOUT KELLY SCHUKNECHT: Kelly Schuknecht is the Vice President of Outskirts Press.  In addition to her contributions to the Outskirts Press blog at blog.outskirtspress.com, Kelly and a group of talented marketing experts offer book marketing services, support, and products to not only published Outskirts Press authors, but to all authors and professionals who are interested in marketing their books and/or careers. Learn more about Kelly on her blog at http://kellyschuknecht.com.