Writers Digest jumps in bed with Author Solutions

I had an out-of-body experience upon reading the news about Writers Digest partnering with Author Solutions to form a new vanity publishing company. It boggles the mind so much that I need to repeat myself.

Writers Digest…a company who has a earned a solid reputation over the years has joined with…

Author Solutions.

As quoted in their press release:

Writer’s Digest editor, Abbott Press is devoted to helping writers improve their work and realize their dreams of getting published.

For starters, any kind of verbiage that includes “helping realize authors’ dreams of getting published” makes my hair hurt. I appreciate there are authors whose books are wonderful and, for whatever reason, can’t get published. It could be for lack of a market or a heavily impacted category/genre. But MOST of the vanity books flooding the market simply aren’t publishable on any level.

So let’s dispense with the whole “giving you the chance you deserve” garbage. It’s disingenuous and ignorant.

It’s all about the money, baby

It doesn’t matter what these publishers anyone say, or how they try to wrap themselves in a cloak of goodwill and magnanimous benevolence – the truth is it’s about the money. Vanity publishing is a vast, untapped profit center that will earn A LOT of money because there are a record number of writers who all desire to see their name on the cover of a book.

What’s worse is that Author Solutions will run Abbott Press.

Why does my heart hurt?

Then I remembered Victoria Strauss’ post on Writer Beware. And then I knew why I felt faint for all the new, unsuspecting writers who will be caught in this web.

Ok, that might be unfair, but I urge you to read Vic’s post, and you’ll see why I’m pulling out a black armband. It seems like everything that Author Solutions touches turns to cow manure.

Reputation

Writer’s Digest has enjoyed a stellar reputation for many, many years, and I can’t help but feel like they just took a small step down to SlimyTown. It’s like well-respected magazines charging for reviews. I think it’s slimy and denigrates the purity of a review. So why would Writer’s Digest – like Harlequin and their Dellarte Press – take this route and accept a hit to their reputation? Well, the money is great.

Hmm. Seems I’ve just come full circle.

So while WD and AS laugh themselves to the bank, I hope we don’t start hearing complaints about poor quality, mistakes, lost material, and ignorant customer service reps. I have to assume Writer’s Digest did their market research with this company and knows what possible fate awaits Abbott Press.

‘Tis a dark day when another solid company falls into bed with bedbugs. My only hope is that authors won’t suffer too many bites.

Edited to add: For a discussion about the differences between Self-Publishing and Vanity, visit Jane Smith’s fabulous blog.

34 Responses to Writers Digest jumps in bed with Author Solutions

  1. NinjaFingers says:

    I subscribed to Writer’s Digest for a year and didn’t review because I honestly didn’t find it that useful for me as a spec fic writer.

    Hearing this, though…

  2. Ria says:

    The naive part of me says maybe Writer’s Digest have good intentions for this vanity press. Maybe they intend to make it something better than all the other vanity presses out there. Maybe they want to put their reputation on the line in the hopes of changing POD for the better.

    The pragmatic part of me says you are absolutely right.

  3. Phoenix says:

    Lynn: Just a quick note that Carina Press is a NON-vanity press owned by Harlequin. Harlequin DOES have a vanity press arm — DellArte Press (originally Harlequin Horizons), also in league with Author Solutions — that there was some kerfluffle about a couple of years ago, but Carina Press is an absolutely legit e-press.

  4. Julie Rowe says:

    Lynn, Carina Press is the digital arm of Harlequin. Carina Press is also not a vanity press. They are a royalty paying publisher who doesn’t charge fees of any kind.

    I think you meant Dellarte Press.

  5. Frank Mazur says:

    I read and consulted Writers Digest for years… years ago. It was helpful in finding paying magazine markets. But after a time I developed the feeling that it couldn’t keep pace with the publishing industry, which was burgeoning. It reminds me some of college basketball. Speaking figuratively (aware it’s dangling) the speed of the game doubled from 20 to 40 mph and went from play mostly below the rim to play much above it. But the officials remain below the rim and their radar can only pick up action and infraction at 20 mph.

  6. Julie, I’m smacking my head. Yes! You’re quite right. I’ve made the change to the post. D’oh.

    Frank: You’re not the first to have made that observation. Still, they were well-respected in the community.

  7. Maggie Dana says:

    Lynn:

    This has provoked a serious rant, so please bear with me.

    The word ‘publish’ has been twisted and manipulated so many times in the past 30 years, I hesitate to use it any more.

    I’m a book typesetter, trained on dedicated phototypesetting equipment. In the mid 1980s, I made the jump to desktop equipment, bringing my traditional typesetting expertise with me: fonts, leading, kerning, margins, and line length; the art of readability. Yet my clients insist on calling me a ‘desk-topper,’ slang for ‘desk-top publisher.’

    Hello? I am NOT a publisher. I’m a typesetter. I design and typeset books; I don’t PUBLISH them. But even the professionals I work with (major publishers in NY) don’t (or won’t) undersand the semantics. The terminology has taken over, and I’m stuck with it.

    And now it’s been twisted, yet again.

    The word ‘publish’ has lost its panache. It used to be that when you said you were published, it meant something … that an experienced editor was ready to invest in your career, in your ability as a writer. You had written something that people would plunk money down to read, and the publisher would back you up all the way.

    Not any more. The word has become so bastardized (on many levels) as to become meaningless. When everyone can shove their tomes into cyberspace and call themselves published, it reduces the word we once cherished into nothingness.

  8. Maggie, you’re preaching to the choir. It’s a sad day when someone sees a book and asks the author if he paid to have it “published.” Ouch. What scares me is that the vanity thing is a natural assumption with buyers – like so few are good enough to be published by a mainstream publisher.

    Face it, we’ve Wal-Marted the publishing industry with the likes of Publish America, AuthorHouse, and…Writer’s Digest. Who’da thunk it?

  9. “Writer’s Digest” has never been as pure as most think. Its pages are full of vanity press ads and get rich quick schemes. Its articles are all rainbows and unicorns about the joys of being published, and the wealth that will follow.

    The true realities of publishing? Not on those pages.

    They are just pimping a dream to newbies so it’s no surprise they are now pimping themselves as well.

  10. How one can come from such heights and sink to record lows. Sad, sad, sad. I’d rather pour out the beagle’s pitchers of margaritas, toss her designer dog chewies, and go to that Great Publishing Company in the sky than sink to depths of vanity publishing.

  11. Maggie Dana says:

    The trouble is that most readers don’t know a publishing house from a dog house. Tell then Random House, and they’re fine. Tell them AuthorHouse, and they’re fine with that, too. They don’t have a bloody clue.

    They’ll buy the AuthorHouse book and wonder why it’s not as good as they thought it ought to be.

    But they still won’t have a bloody clue.

    Until we can educate consumers, they will continue to be clueless.

    OK … tell the Beagle to make me another margarita.

  12. Jessica says:

    I remember when I was first querying a lot of writer’s told me to get the WD guide to agents. I almost did, until another writer in my crit. group told me not to bother, because they listed anyone who said they were an agent. I’ve now seen other writers (usually on AW) say the same and avoided it like the plague. I’d like to say this new venture surprises me, but it doesn’t. Not really. BTW, DellArte belongs to Harlequin, not Harper Collins. 😀

  13. Phil Sexton says:

    Hello everyone
    We expected to get some negative responses to this announcement. I appreciate the concerns and really do understand what’s driving them.

    I left a lengthy post on another blog yesterday, so thought I would share some of that with you today.

    Also, a quick note to Jessica – actually our Guide to Literary Agents does not list all agents. We do not include agents who require reading fees or have any questionable editing procedures. Also, if an agent does not belong to a known, established agency, he or she has to have three solid sales under their belt. Hope that helps. We’re actually pretty restrictive about who we let in.

    ****

    [from the earlier post]
    Thanks for bringing up your concerns. We’re well aware of the dangers here, particularly given who we are. It’s a scary line to be walking, particularly if we don’t handle it properly.

    The site and the packages will be tweaked over the next few weeks. Our desire is to come up with something that helps writers improve their craft, not just get self published. So we’ll be adding a lot more supplemental stuff to the more basic packages like those used by Thomas Nelson (West Bow Press), etc. We’re looking at things like educational webinars, books, magazine subscriptions, etc. Even stuff that provides tips on getting published through traditional means. Whatever we can add that will help make each package worth the investment.

    We’re also trying to ensure that certain standards are set in place re: who should self publish through Abbott. So, for example, if someone wanted to self publish with the expectation that they would get full distribution throughout Barnes & Noble it’s required that we suggest he or she try a more traditional method of getting published. In other words, our partner in this venture (ASI) has agreed to direct authors appropriately based on need and expectation. (Similarly, they’ve been directed by Thomas Nelson, to turn away writers with manuscripts that don’t measure up to a specific Christian ethos.)

    Honestly, I welcome constructive criticism. The last thing any of us want to do is screw up a 90 year old brand. Plus, we have a great relationship with the agent community, and can’t afford to mess that up either. A few weeks before we went live I contacted some other prominent bloggers and industry watch dogs (including Author Beware, etc), asking them to help us tweak the details as best we could so that we’re not overpromising things and making it very clear what writers get for their money.

    In some cases, we’re still awaiting feedback. In others, we’re hoping to have some face to face meetings. I suspect we’ll be adjusting the details for some time to come.

    It’s absolutely true that publishers are looking for ways to supplement their more traditional income. There’s no denying that. The goal is to try and do so as righteously as possible.

    Anyone should feel free to get in touch directly if they have questions or concerns. My email is phil.sexton@fwmedia.com.

    Sincerely, thanks for watching out for your fellow writers.
    Phil

    Phil Sexton
    Publisher, Writer’s Digest

    ****

    A few additional comments beyond the original post:
    Writer’s Digest is fairly small (though we are owned by a large company), mostly staffed by writers. So we understand the issues here and this new venture is not one we’ve taken on lightly.

    The general attitude about self publishing is changing, even among agents and traditional publishing houses like WD. Abbott is one option. Our job is to make sure we’re as scrupulous as we can be in how writers are treated.

    We’re also trying to make sure we’re conscious of internal conflicts tied to this initiative. For example, we’ve run a self publishing competition for many years. However, writers who choose to publish through Abbott will not be eligible to enter that contest in order to make sure we avoid any conflict of interest.

    There will be a period of refinement and adjustment, I’m sure. But the goal here is to do right by writers. There will likely always be someone who is unhappy with the end result (as with any product or service). How we handle that disappointment is what we hope distinguishes us.

  14. Phil Sexton says:

    Apologies, meant to say Writer Beware, not Author Beware.

  15. Phil, thank you for your thoughtful and courteous reply. I’m sure your heart is in the right place, but if you take a look around writer’s boards, you’ll see that your reputation has taken a hit for a number of years as you move away from the mainstream and openly court vanity presses in your magazines and such.

    And of all the ventures with whom you could have forged a relation, why Author Solutions? These folks have a terrible reputation. Did you read Victoria’s post at Writer Beware? I would think your main concern would be to solidify your reputation, since it’s been on shaky ground over the years. To the not-so-casual observer, Author Solutions seems to be a questionable choice.

    Then again, I’m afraid that I only see dollar signs when it comes to the whole vanity scene. The publisher gets rich, and the author gets poorer – and usually has an unpublishable book at the end of the process. I realize every new venture says they’re going to “break new ground” with the vanity model, but it’s bunk. This is nothing more than an author-funded profit center, and I think publishing is worse for it.

  16. Jane Smith says:

    Phil, it’s obvious that you hope this new venture of yours will be a positive step for the writers who sign up to it, and that you are very keen to make it the best that it can be: but please don’t call this self publishing because it isn’t. It’s vanity publishing. There’s a very clear difference between the two. If you’re taking money from writers to publish their books you’re vanity publishing them no matter what AuthorSolutions says.

  17. Phil said:
    A few weeks before we went live I contacted some other prominent bloggers and industry watch dogs (including Author Beware, etc), asking them to help us tweak the details as best we could so that we’re not overpromising things and making it very clear what writers get for their money.

    In some cases, we’re still awaiting feedback. In others, we’re hoping to have some face to face meetings. I suspect we’ll be adjusting the details for some time to come.

    I’d like to point out the disingenuous nature of this comment because your delicate wording gives the impression that Victoria Strauss approved of your publishing choices. You know the truth, and I’m especially saddened that you’d stoop to window dressing to make your enterprise appear more acceptable than it is.

    Above all, I truly detest lying, and this statement was deliberately misleading. Shame on you.

  18. Phil Sexton says:

    Hi Lynn
    If the wording was misleading I apologize. I’m trying to walk a delicate line between making it clear that we’re trying to do this in the best, most appropriate way we can without suggesting that we’re looking for an endorsement of any sort. So I thought it would be worth letting everyone know that we’ve tried to reach out for feedback from what I felt were the appropriate industry folks who would give us good feedback. I named Victoria, specifically, as she is one of the best known. She is also thoughtful, and I respect her opinion. Though we’ve traded emails, we have not yet had an opportunity to talk (as noted, we’re still waiting to discuss with some – I should have noted Victoria explicitly as one of those). So my attempt at trying to express that we were taking steps to do this as best we can fell short. Damned if you do, damned if you don’t, you know?

    In any case, I did not lie and did not intend to mislead, as you suggest. If it came off that way, it was an honest goof on my part. The nature of blogs and chat rooms is that people will believe what they want to believe and interpret things the way they want to interpret them, so any apologies on my part may simply anger people even further. Ah well.

    Honestly, the only thing I can do is try to manage the business in a way that is respectful of writers, makes them happy and satisfied with whatever service they ask of us.

    I realize there will still be a lot of negative response to the initial annoucement (and likely any follow up post – including this one), but hopefully over time it will become clear that we’re trying to do right by people who are interested in this sort of publishing option.

    Thanks for giving me an opportunity to respond
    Phil

  19. From what I’ve been hearing around the industry, I guess I shouldn’t be too surprised at WD’s decision, given the mag’s push and advertising toward self-pubbing.

    Despite your insistence that you want to “give authors the chance they deserve,” I feel quite certain this is about the money. Publishing is many things, and benevolence isn’t one of them. We’re in this game to make money, and the only way we can do that is by publishing books that a lot of people will buy.

    Vanity publishing runs contrary to that endeavor, and they make their money by creating a false marketplace that provides writers with books that, by and large, aren’t fit for public consumption. Meanwhile, Abbott Press and Author Solutions will see a healthy bank balance.

    But, it’s a free country and authors can do as they please. My only hope is that they know what they’re signing on for because I talk to a large bunch of authors at writer’s conferences whose sob stories would fill a shopping mall.

  20. Jane says:

    I found your blog by way of an internet accident and just wanted to say that I stayed, read, and found it refreshingly educational. I will be self-publishing my first book soon, probably through Lulu, and I learned more through your blog and links than I did on their site.

    Thank you.

  21. Thanks so much for stopping by, Jane. Welcome. I hope you stick around because I talk about the issues that authors need to know in order to maximize their success. And…I get a silly sometimes, as well.

  22. Grace says:

    I don’t understand what the problem is with certain people and self/vanity publishing. There are plenty of best selling authors who are now turning to self publishing simply because it’s more profitable. Granted – not every self published book is up to par – and some of them are downright horrible! But there are excellent self published books out there also, especially in the HOW TO market (You know – HOW TO: Where somebody shares their knowledge with somebody else! (Perfect example: Keith Roberto’s ‘How to Hydroponics’ My brother has all his editions). And I’ve read a couple of self published novels that I fell in love with! These are books that people may not have had access to, were it not for self publishing.

    There is room enough for everyone, and if you ask me – it is much more difficult for a self published author and a lot more work. They don’t have a team of people doing all the hard stuff for them. They have to write it, edit it, market it etc themselves – so they deserve a little credit.

    Getting discovered in writing is much like getting discovered in acting – LUCK! Many talented writers have gotten and will get overlooked simply because they are lost in the piles of submissions – or a ‘human’ agent/ publishing representative simply doesn’t like it (One person’s garbage is another person’s gold). So instead of trying for years and waiting, now these authors can simply publish themselves. So what if they are paying for it. It’s called ‘A BUSINESS’ and this is ‘THEIR INVESTMENT’. What is wrong with that??

    The problem is, writers do not know how to (and simply should not) EDIT their own work. That is where these big companies come in handy. To HELP self published authors by offering services that can improve the quality of the work as well as assist in marketing, cover designing etc. Authors should take advantage of this – and if they aren’t and are choosing to do it on their own, then they deserve the slack they will get for not having a polished book. There is nothing wrong with companies seeing that there is a market for this and wanting a piece of it. It’s business and life.

    Everyone is being a little naive with their comments about how they ‘can’t believe’ this company is getting involved with Vanity Publishing/ Self Publishing. Why wouldn’t they?? It’s booming.

  23. NinjaFingers says:

    Let’s see:

    Problem #1: Many of these vanity publishing/self publishing companies are quite simply dishonest. It is not at all uncommon for a new writer to submit, be accepted, and not see ‘required contribution’ until they get the contract. Often they are fooled into thinking this is the only way they can get published.

    Problem #2: Many of these self publishing companies do not have distribution. Ingram & Taylor is not distribution. Their books are not actually being SOLD. The author has to do all of their own promotion and marketing. Not every writer is cut out to do that without the assistance a publisher can give them. Self pubishing/vanity publishing companies either give no assistance or charge extra for it.

    Problem #3: These companies often do not take back returns. This means that even if the author talks Local Bookstore #34 into stocking her book…when they find out returns are out of the equation, that’s it. End of deal. This may or may not be fair, but it is part of how selling books works and part of the reality of publishing.

    A better route to self publishing is to hire a book shepherd, who will help with finding an editor, locating a cover artist…and the author intending to self publish does need to realize that it is not cheap AND they have to market themselves. However, by doing it on their own with appropriate advice, they get to keep and claim full ownership of the project and I think that’s worth it.

    However, it’s also my opinion that self publishing is for those books that are good and well written, but don’t have enough demand for a publishing house to be able to take the risk on them. And the vast majority, 99.99999999999% of self published books fail, leaving the writer out their money.

    The problem I have with vanity publishers is that the book fails, the writer is out their money and their first rights…and the vanity publisher is laughing all the way to the bank. They don’t have any reason to care if it succeeds…so they don’t do anything to help.

  24. Grace says:

    In re: to PROBLEM#1: I don’t believe that MANY self publishing companies are dishonest. Like everything else – there are some bad seeds – but to say ‘Many’ is incorrect. An author needs to do their homework. Period.

    Problem#2: If an author does their homework, they can find a self publishing company that offers distribution with Ingram & Taylor: Dellarte Press is one. And directly up front, they explain, that though they DO make the book available EVERYWHERE, it is up to the author to get it into stores (the book will be available to be ordered through Ingram & Taylor)- They also offer a marketing plan and assistance depending on the package the author chooses. Dellarte also offers a Returns Program for: YES – a flat fee. But should a store like, Barnes & Nobles decide to carry your book – if they are not selling it, they can return it for 100% of what they bought it for.

    Yes, some authors prefer to ‘completely’ self publish their book – like you suggest, but may not have the money to publish it in vast areas around the nation the way a self publishing company like, say, Dellarte, would. With a self publishing company you pay for a service and that’s it. There is no paying for it every time it needs to be printed. A completely self published author(who is paying for everything themselves – cover design, printing, distribution etc) will have to pay each time it gets ordered – which is fine. But how can they possibly reach the masses if they don’t have that kind of money to put out.

    Yes, the self publishing company gets a percentage of sales – but the self published author gets a higher percentage per book than a traditionally published author.

    Self published books that are well written and good, fail simply because the author does not have the means to market it properly or get it into book stores. Most writers are just that: Writers. Most writers don’t realize the extent that they have to market themselves. Internet. Facebook. Twitter. Book trailers. Press releases. Giveaways. Book clubs. Book stores. Signings. Events. Ads. Yes, some of this may cost money (at the very least: time and effort)- and, like any business – the author may LOSE money at first trying to promote themselves – but if they keep at it, have a well written book and believe in themselves, (and continue to write) they can succeed. Most will give up or settle for low numbers. That is the problem. An author getting discovered by a publisher – which again, is LUCK – has everyone doing all of this for them. (And don’t think that most of the books that are well written and have a good story are rejected because there is no market for it. Do you know how many times books that are BEST SELLERS NOW have been rejected in the past? Look it up – the numbers are high.

  25. NinjaFingers says:

    Again, Ingram & Taylor is not a distributor. Ingram & Taylor is a book wholesaler. *I* am using ‘distributor’ to refer to a company that helps a publisher get their books into booksales. Although Ingram & Taylor has a distribution arm, it appears fairly clear to me that Grace is just talking about getting your book into their database so it can be ordered.

    Which is easy. And all but worthless.

    And yes, I do know. The first Harry Potter book was rejected fifteen times. More times than Dellarte was mentioned in this post…

  26. Grace says:

    Excuse me – you are correct about that- yes, Ingram & Baker is a wholesaler. Obviously you are missing the point though – it is self-publishing. However you want to look at it. If you are going with a self publishing company – Dellarte or ANYONE else – you should go into it knowing that it is SELF PUBLISHING and that you are paying for your book to be made available (with other services available to you if you need) and that you, as the author, have to do the leg work yourself. What is so difficult about understanding that? The author has a choice. Do it completely themselves – or choose to go with a self-publishing company. Either way – it’s the author that needs to do their homework. Period.

  27. Priscilla Turner says:

    I apologise for coming late to this discussion.

    If this development means that some aspiring authors will enjoy better editing for their text, it will be good. My recent experience with a sample “line-edit” from ASI via Westbow was so disappointing that I really don’t recommend anyone to use their service. I shan’t be using it at any price (and the price is quite steep on a longer book): even if it were free, it would be too expensive!

    I ought to add that my text is that of a very highly educated British person, with several languages living and dead at her fingertips. I do high-level technical editing myself. The book is spiritual autobiography fictionalised. But most of the suggestions that came from ASI’s “skilled editor” represented really avoidable mistakes.

  28. I am researching self-publishing for many reasons. A major motive is that I do not need to go through countless rejections to be told they do not want my book. Furthermore, the first authors in this country paid the printer to print their books as Benjamin Franklin and Mark Twain. No one questions their writings.

    My book is a niche book that could go mainstream. Mainly publishers would turn it down, as it is very controversial. It is my experience in overcoming all my health problems, mental illness, domestic violence, eight addictions, and more. Too many people depend on profits from misinformation about these and other topics exposed in my book.

    They would not print the real solution, in “Think and Grow Rich”. The publishers refused to print the information that really told the facts in the original manuscript. An author friend had part of her book eliminated for similar reasons. The same control is in many other books, especially history books. The printing industry is the gatekeeper of content. Many traditionally published books I have read have not been worth the time; however, a counseling client of mine wrote and published her book about finding real love and it is marvelous with only a few copies available. Being published by a traditional printing house has no correlation to value, truth, or facts.

    My book will break open misinformation from the medical profession, religious and other institutions that have been dishing out their propaganda at the publics expense. “Paradigm Busters, Revealing the Real You” is my second book. It has actual tools that are effective, efficient, and inexpensive to apply to your life.

    Judgments and criticisms are just one opinion through the perception of one person’s frame of reference. We need new voices for people to hear more honesty about how to improve their lives by a solution that works. I do not need to have the approval of a publisher to say they will print my book. That is how we are controlled with the information that is used in this society to keep us in the dark. Besides self-publishing offers me control of all my content, cover, rights, and better royalties. In addition, I can offer it sooner than the several years many books take to get into print.

  29. Abbott Press published my book and has screwed me over with my royalties, claiming only 11 e-books were sold the first month. When I called to complain about this because I knew for a fact that my local Barnes & Noble sold over 50 of my paperback books in one month and saw my Amazon’s author page tracked over twenty-five books sold within that month, Abbott asked me to submit a letter or receipt from Barnes, Amazon and librarians proving their purchase?! I’m literally crestfallen. I’ve had so many book signings at schools, libraries, and book stores and for what? I’m elated my story has been shared and enjoyed, but I feel completely taken advantage of. Author beware!

  30. Hi Susanna. I’m so sorry to hear about your experiences, and you should feel taken advantage of. But more importantly, they stole from you, and are demanding that you prove it. Do you have the ability to demand an audit? If you have the dates of your sales with your local BN, it might be a good idea to find out if they can provide you with the number of books they sold, so you can back up your claims and get the royalties due you. Good luck!

  31. Charity says:

    Grace your problem is you confuse ‘vanity publishing’ with ‘self publishing’. Vanity publishing is where you pay money and a lot of it to have your book ‘published’. Self Publishing is where you, yourself, with little or no money publish a book and you get an online retailer like Amazon’s Kindle Publishing to sell it through. KP does not charge you money, you sell your own digital book and they keep a portion of the sale (30%) while you keep 70%. In Vanity Publishing you pay thousands to get back nothing.

    “Self published books that are well written and good, fail simply because the author does not have the means to market it properly or get it into book stores”

    vanity publishers WILL NOT market your book. They make money off you directly. Dellarte is a vanity press. I had a friend who ‘published’ with them and paid thousands. She got nothing in return.

    She then took the same novel and self published it selling it thru amazon and kobo and a few others. She made over 5000 in a few months. Just enough to cover her loss with dealing with Dellarte.

    Please folks don’t confuse vanity with self publishing. Vanity and self publishing are not on the same scale either (ie thinking of vanity as simply more pricey self publishing). In vanity you are NOT self publishing you are simply paying large amounts of money for another person to pretend to do something with your book. Dellarte, Abbot Press, Author Solutions are not ‘pricey self publishing’ methods–they are not self publishing methods at all.

  32. My understanding of “publishing” vs. “self-publishing” is that there is not, in reality, much difference in the book return policy and the onus being on the author to produce his own marketing plan and implement it. It’s very rare for any publisher to do provide either marketing or marketing budget to authors who are not already well-established. They also pay authors very little return on each book (somewhere between .50 and 1.00 per book, usually).

    So my thought is this: if I have to market my own book, I want control of my pricing, my income, my timing (i.e., if you don’t sell 40,000 books within the first couple of months after publication, most publishers will pull our book off the shelves and consider it to be a failure).

    I’m self-publishing my memoir this spring. I know what I need to do to make it succeed, and I know how I define success (hint: it’s not the sale of 40,000 copies in the first two months!).

    Yes, some folks will “publish” self-indulgent drivel in the name of being published, and it will be terrible quality, and it will not sell. However, there is a lot of readily-available information on the internet and in books about how this whole self-publishing world works, and they can research that and be educated about what they’re walking into.

    I’m pretty excited about the possibilities that are available here. And there are successful authors who started in traditional publishing who went this route later, and vice versa.

  33. Hi Lora,
    Thanks for replying to an old post. And congratulations on your new endeavor. However, I wanted to clear up a few things you wrote:

    My understanding of “publishing” vs. “self-publishing” is that there is not, in reality, much difference in the book return policy
    This depends on the publisher. If we’re talking about a mainstream trade press, then the differences are huge because self-pubbed authors can’t get their books into bookstores, unless it’s on a consignment basis. Trade presses have standard return policies with bookstores, which provides an incentive for bookstores to order their books.

    The onus being on the author to produce his own marketing plan and implement it. It’s very rare for any publisher to do provide either marketing or marketing budget to authors who are not already well-established.
    Again, we need to clarify what kind of publisher you’re talking about. I’m not sure where you’re getting your information, but trade presses assume all financial risks for a title, so it’s illogical that they would sit on their hands and do nothing to sell the book – regardless of whether it’s with a debut author or an established writer with a readership.

    Spending tens of thousands of dollars on book production is too risky to leave the entire marketing and promotion up to the author. What if they don’t do anything? The publisher would be out of business in short order. That’s not to say publishers send all their authors on a 10-city book tour because they don’t. But they do a lot in the background to get those books into the marketplace and into readers’ hands. This is done by sending ARCs out to reviewers and media, they advertise, they coordinate with their authors on how they can support the author’s promotion plans, they have sales teams who are out pitching their lineup. It’s foolhardy to say trade presses do nothing because that’s simply not the truth.

    If you don’t sell 40,000 books within the first couple of months after publication, most publishers will pull our book off the shelves and consider it to be a failure
    This isn’t true, and I’m not sure where you’re getting this information. Publishers are mindful about how to place their authors, and they adjust their print runs and shipping numbers accordingly. For example, if I have an author with a large platform, then I’m going to suggest an appropriate print run, which will be higher than an author with a smaller platform.

    Bookstores are also conservative about placing orders because it costs them money to return unsold stock. And they are the ones who decide what books will remain on their shelves – we have no say in this. In turn, publishers know how many books went out for each title, and they’ll bust their humps to make sure they stay out there because no one wants them back in the warehouse gathering dust.

    With the popularity of the online stores like Amazon and BN.com, this can keep books in the marketplace indefinitely, so publishers are less inclined to take a book to OP because it doesn’t cost anything.

    In the end, I don’t look at self-pubbing or trade pubbing an Us vs Them issue because authors need to choose which is appropriate for them. For some, self-pubbing would be disastrous. Others may feel self-pubbing offers a greater financial gain because they have the savvy to sell books. I wish you great success in your writing career.

  34. […] of a corporate press release, Phil Sexton was more open with his thoughts in the comments of this post criticizing the deal. He acknowledged the issues when he […]

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