Recently a lot of my authors have been sending the printing requirements for the small presses and publishers they’ve signed up with. These are author services companies, that usually charge a huge up-front fee (average $1000 for ebook publishing, $3000 for ebook and POD print book). But since these publishers and small presses have really ugly cover design options and their in-house stuff sucks, the authors hire me to make the covers, because covers are important.
But for the life of me I can’t understand where the rest of the money goes.
I’m charging about $600 now for a full print cover (which includes and ebook cover).
So authors need to:
a) format their book for print, hopefully in InDesign (less than $500)
b) convert their book to epub and kindle formats (around $200)
If you’re good with money and get cheap prices, you could spend under $1000 to self-publish your book.
But quality matters (hugely), so you probably want to hire someone really good and spend around $1500 for everything.
(Yes, you can do everything yourself, format in Word, and it may be fine, but it’s a pain in the ass and you’ll cry and pull your hair out and then email me for help).
Author services companies don’t really offer anything except their logo (which is often ugly). They say they can get you into book stores (they can’t – they’ll just set you up with Lightning Source, but nobody will put your book in bookstores until you sell a lot of books). They say they’ll help you market (they won’t – they don’t have the creativity or influence to make an impactful bestseller campaign).
So you’ll basically giving them a few thousand dollars extra, because they tell you to.
They say you’ll earn it back, because of some intangible benefits of signing up with them (I don’t know what they are, if you know, please share in the comments).
The reason this irks me so much is that I know I could offer everything these small presses or author services offers. I can do ebook conversion and formatting (and mine would look better). I can help authors put everything up online. I can help them craft their website, sales copy, Amazon page. I can help get reviews and do some real marketing that actually sells books.
But I’m not selling these services, because they seem easy for me, and authors can do them themselves.
But that’s why authors keep signing up – they want someone else to take care of everything. They want a package. They want a logo on their spine. They want someone else to be in control.
Most of my time I spend helping authors do things for free (which I need to stop, because I’m always too busy and usually not charging). So I’m wondering if I should only offer big packages and work with only a few authors.
How much would you pay to self-publish your book? Would you rather hire an author service or small press? Why – what benefits entice you?