I’m always glad to learn that authors “shop around.” Researching alternatives, talking to publishing professionals and obtaining competitive quotes help authors make an informed decision and debunk self-publishing myths such as “self-publish for free.” Unfortunately, publishing predators abound, ready to take advantage of unsuspecting authors by making promises they can’t keep or by making misleading statements.
How can you tell if a company may be a “publishing predator?” Raise a red flag if you see any of the following self-publishing myths on their website.
Self-Publishing Myth #1: Self-publish for free!
Translation: the “publishing” portion of self-publishing is the part where you make the book available to the public. At this point, the book is ready for printing. Unless you design the book cover yourself, type the book yourself, and have a family member edit the book, getting the book ready for print is never free. Even if no actual dollars change hands, you may incur intangible costs such as the cost of the time you spend on design and layout, the cost of lost sales due to readers’ reluctance to purchase a book that looks “self-published,” or damage to your brand due to typos and errors.
However, the “publishing” portion—making the book available for purchase—is free when using KDP (the best route for publishing to Amazon). IngramSpark—the best platform for print-on-demand and distribution anywhere other than Amazon—charges a fee for setting up each book (title) on their platform. When you hire Firebrand Publishing to prepare your book for publishing, title set-up on IngramSpark is free (really!).
Thus, when a self-publishing company promises to self-publish your book for free, look for the hidden costs. These costs may come in the form of additional services when the do-it-yourself route doesn’t work out or taking a percentage of the author’s “royalties,” thus reducing the author’s publisher compensation by a substantial amount.
Self-Publishing Myth #2: We distribute books to tens of thousands of bookstores and bookseller outlets throughout North America and internationally.
Translation: The print-on-demand platforms—KDP and IngramSpark—make your book available to Amazon, other online retailers, brick-and-mortar stores, libraries and other outlets around the world if you so choose. All the self-publishing company is promising to do is list your book on Amazon or IngramSpark, something that happens when the book is uploaded to KDP or IngramSpark. The self-publishing company isn’t doing any extra work; if they didn’t take this step, your book wouldn’t be available for sale! It’s as if a home builder were to advertise that, as a bonus, you get walls with your new house—one would hope so or else it’s not a house! In exchange for listing your book on IngramSpark, the self-publishing company may take a percentage of your royalties, also known as publisher compensation. You can list your book on IngramSpark yourself and in the process, keep 100% of your publisher compensation. We help authors do this every day.
Self-Publishing Myth #3: …if your manuscript is acceptable and meets our publishing criteria…
Translation: The oldest marketing trick in the book. Authors are so happy to be “accepted” that they often don’t look at the fine print in the publishing “contract.” At Firebrand Publishing we don’t judge whether your book should be published or not. While we caution authors to research their audience and other books in their genre to ensure there is a market for their book, the decision to publish is entirely up to the author. Our job is to work with you to make your book the best it can be. That’s what indie publishing is all about; there are no gatekeepers. If you run up against a company that wants to charge you just to open the gate, run!
Self-Publishing Myth #4: …we receive only a 6% commission of each book’s net sale proceeds….
Translation: The devil is in the details. How do they arrive at “net sale proceeds?” Most self-publishing companies play a shell game with the printing cost and the retail price to enrich themselves (see above references to taking a percentage of an author’s publisher compensation). More importantly, since they charge you to produce your book, they have no investment whatsoever in it; why, therefore, are they entitled to any portion of your profits? Over time, lost royalties can cost you big bucks.
At Firebrand Publishing, we offer the legitimate indie-publishing path. You are the publisher. You pay us once for our services, not forever. You keep 100% of the profits from your book sales. Here’s a blog post from the archives that compares publisher compensation (i.e., profits or royalties) between self-publishing companies, CreateSpace (now merged with KDP) and IngramSpark.
Self-Publishing Myth #5: All rights to your book forever remain with you.
Translation: Authors with any publishing company retain the copyright of their book. What you might lose are your files. Self-publishing companies are famous for holding on to the design files (AKA, application files) for your book. If you want to print your book elsewhere, they either refuse to send the files outright or they charge you again for the work you already paid for. (See this blog post about the difference between book files and application files.) The “red flag” words to watch for are “free ISBN” and “royalty.” We use the word “royalty” a lot on our blog, I must admit. We do that because that’s what authors understand: you publish a book and you get a royalty. The better terms to use are “publisher compensation” or “profits.”
Everyone at Firebrand Publishing has decades of experience in the publishing industry. We are entirely transparent in our pricing. The company that you hire to help you prepare your book for publishing should do one thing and one thing only: create your book with meticulous attention to detail so that it will compete successfully with similar, professionally produced titles on the market.
And that’s no myth!
Contact us today to discover how our self-publishing specialists can help you publish your book.