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  1. #1
    Adam Cohen

    "Good" Companies

    Does anyone have any positive stories about subsidy or other pay-for-publishing companies other than POD or ebooks.

  2. #2
    danilo smajich

    Re: "Good" Companies

    Adam -
    If you don't get a response from some of the "more
    established" authors here, I would suggest searching
    the archives of older posts - even under the rest of
    the topics.
    My experience here, is that at times people post not
    necessarily under the topic their questions relate to.


  3. #3
    Gary Kessler

    Re: "Good" Companies

    The best stories of satisfaction I've heard from authors who went the self-publish route were ones who used a method I haven't seen discussed on this board yet--an added-service book printer. There are printers around who don't pretend to be publishers of any sort--traditonal, subsidy, vanity, POD, or e-publish. They print books and are willing to do so for publishers of any size. I know of some success stories where people have published their own books by registering as a publisher and settng up their own publishing house logo (there are associations like the Middle Atlantic Publishers Association that will help people do this), and going straight to the book printer (like Sheridan, which has facilities in Michigan and Virginia, and Donnellys, which has several plants nationwide), which will print without all the hoopla a vanity press would try to work on you and which also will provide some of the other registration services a publisher needs. (You have to do your own distribution and your own marketing--but most authors have to do most of their own marketing anyway these days.) A woman who went this route and who has sold so many copies of a regional historical novel that she's had to hire an assistant to handle distribution told me that she learned all she needed to know to get published from "The Complete Guide to Self-Publishing: Everything You Need to Know to Write, Publish, Promote, and Sell Your Own Book," by Tom and Marilyn Ross (Cincinnati, Ohio: Writer's Digest Books, 1994). Becoming a publisher isn't a cheap route, but those who chose this route rather than a vanity press have told me that it's probably no more expensive than the vanities and you don't have to swim with all those hungry sharks.

  4. #4

    Vanity & Subsidy Pub.

    What kind of fee is too high when excepting a contract from a vanity/subsidy publisher.

  5. #5
    Gary Kessler

    Re: Vanity & Subsidy Pub.

    One line of thinking on this board is "any fee" is too much. Another line of thinking is "what is publishing the book worth to you?"--with the full understanding that there are likely to be additional fees hiding under the fees. If you just have to be published and have a very good idea that the only way you can get published is by paying for it yourself, do be aware of everything involved that has to be paid for--preparation fees (e.g., editing, cover, set-up, service fees), printing fees, transportation fees, distribution fees, marketing fees; registration fees. Be real clear what services are included in the package being offered. Don't assume going the vanity/subsidy route that you are going to be able to sell very many more copies than your circle of willing family and friends (and then cut that number in half).

    To give you an idea of what it costs a regular publisher to get a book out the door: An average 75,000-word book without too many graphics will cost an average of $8,000 for a run of 250 hardbacks/750 paperbacks. Despite this, such a book probably won't break even on costs until 1,200 copies are sold, so somewhere into the second run.

    I know of an author who became a publisher just to get her own book out and managed to run the same number of books (250 hb/750 sb) for a total cost of $10,000 by subcontracting everything herself. Her own story was a success story, however. The book caught on and is in about it's fourth printing and she's now making a tidy profit and has had to hire an assistant to handle fulfillment. (The unit cost goes down dramatically with reprintings). She did it all by following the instructions in Tom and Marilyn Ross, "The Complete Guide to Self-Publishing," Writer's Digest Books.

    The most outrageous quote I've seen from a vanity press was $13,000 for 1,000 copies of an 85,000-word book with about 20 photos. (Dorrance)

    There aren't too many true subsidy (supposedly meaning shared cost) publishers still around--probably the only legitmate ones are the academic presses, where the author doesn't have to kick in, but has to dig up a grant to share in the cost underrighting. Those advertising as subsidy publishers for the private author really just jack up their fees to where they really aren't risking any of their own capital.

  6. #6
    Victoria Strauss

    Re: Vanity & Subsidy Pub.

    There are two kinds of vanity/subsidy publishers: a traditional print subsidy publisher such as Dorrance or Vantage, and the newer print-on-demand-based services like iUniverse. The Dorrances and Vantages will charge you thousands of dollars for a print run of 1,000-2,000 books. POD services are much, much cheaper--usually on the order of several hundred.

    To decide what's "too high", you need to do some research. Survey a number of similar publishers, and see what's the average price range is. For POD services, for instance, the lowest-priced are in the $99-$200 range. Others are in a middle range--$500-600. Still others charge well over $1,000. In this case, I'd say that the ones that charge $1,000 or more are too high, since there are so many that charge substantially less. On the other hand, services do vary, and you need to assess these as well in making a final decision.

    One word of warning: many vanity/subsidy publishers charge extra for a publicity package. These generally center around easy publicity methods such as press releases (which really don't work well unless they are precisely targeted--something you are likely to do better and more carefully than the publisher), and aren't usually worth what you'll pay.

    - Victoria
    Victoria Strauss
    Homepage: http://www.victoriastrauss.com
    Writer Beware: http://www.sfwa.org/beware

  7. #7
    Gary Kessler

    Re: Vanity & Subsidy Pub.

    An additional expense an author using POD services should strongly consider is an edit. Traditional publishers have this included in their production costs. (I gave an average production cost figure in an earlier posting.) POD services will not include this and, even if they offer it, will do so for an extra fee.

    It is not possible for someone to effectively line edit his/her own work. The author is too close to the work to see misfits and holes, words they habitually misspell, and their grammar and punctuation shortfalls. If the mistakes were made originally, the same set of eyes will leave many of those mistakes after reviews. If your work has not been edited by someone who has a pretty good idea how to edit (publishing doesn't run on elementary school--or even college--style and grammar rules), this will be (often curl-your-toes embarrassingly) apparent in the finished work.

    If you have a friend who is at least highly literate and who will buy into your project just for friendship and the thrill of it, you at least will be minimally covered. If you have a friend who has taken book editing courses and will work for taco chips and salsa, you're good to go. A freelance professional editor likely will offer services at a price that will choke a horse but probably can be negotiated down (editors who advertise on the Internet or who are struggling through university creative writing programs usually aren't half as employed as they claim--and underpaid work is better than none.) I negotiated my last book freelance line editor down to $450 for an 86,000-word manuscript--but since I'm also a professional editor, my line editor no doubt anticipated few problems with the manuscript--the fool. (as an index, I get paid by publishers an average of $800 for a hardcopy edit of an uncomplicated 80,000-word book and about $1,000 for a coded electronic edit that can go straight into production.)

    Note that with any publisher, the author will be getting final "blue lines" (although they no longer are in blue ink on that rough-feeling paper) back to proof. This isn't a time just to hold it up and say "that's pretty." This is the time to get rid of as many typos and embarrassing misspellings as possible. (And they will still be there. The day I received the final copy of my current book, a friend walked up to me with a long-ago-delivered reader's copy in hand and said "Don't you bale hay rather than bail it?"--and, sure enough, no one else had found that mistake in months of editing and reading.)

  8. #8

    Re: Vanity & Subsidy Pub.

    I paid over $1000 for my POD to do a copyediting service and I still found over 100 errors that I had to correct my own during the proofreading process. So the book gets published and what do I find? At leasr 5 more errors. I am very upset and am trying to get the book reprinted at no extra cost. I feel the POD copyeditors should have caught these typos considering how much money I paid them.

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