Sunday, November 20, 2011

Writers Beware...Book Country

There are several businesses and services popping up, with the rise in self-publishing. One of those is the new Book Country initiative by Penguin.

Now, Book Country has been around for a while, but Penguin only recently started offering self-publishing services. Basically, depending upon the service you BUY, they guide you on how to set up your manuscript, format it for all the separate outlets for sale, let you create your cover on their software, then disburse it. The packages they offer are:

--$99- they provide you with the tools to format your manuscript, you upload the manuscript to them, and they distribute it. E-book only.

--$299- again, they provide you the tools to format your manuscript, this time for e-book and print. They provide you with tools to create your cover, and tips on marketing.

--$549- you send them your manuscript, and they do everything for you.

Now, if the fees were the end of it, I probably wouldn't be upset. They provide a service, you pay for it. Fine. Instead, you have to sign a contract, forking over 30% of whatever you make.

All of the 'tools' they provide to learn how to format your manuscript, you can find on Smashwords for free. You can find covers for ebooks for $20 and up. Editing services can range from a few bucks up to several hundred. My point is, it can all be done for less than Penguin is advertising, and the services certainly shouldn't cost you royalties for the life of the book. They don't advertise for you anywhere other than the Book Country site, there is no service for issues that arise later, no follow through on anything.

If you put out a book priced at $2.99, through Amazon, you, the author, keep $2.05. But if you use Book Country, they take 30% of your royalties, so you will make $1.47 per copy. Now, $.58 is a lot of money over the length of a contract.

I worry that people will want the Penguin logo on their book, and will sign anything to get it.

I'll give you the example Joe Konrath used on his site. 'I've sold 500,000 ebooks. If I'd published with Book Country, they would have taken $290,000 in royalties from me. That's just awful. '
I worry that people will be so excited to have the opportunity to have Penguin put their stamp on their self-pubbed book, and will rush into something they will regret years down the road.

If you want to self-pub a book, take the time you need to do it correctly. Don't jump onto a bandwagon because of a name, and be sure to read any contract you enter into VERY carefully. This is your financial future you are gambling, so take the time to plot it correctly.