Do your homework on self-publishing companies.

I know I know, you probably want me to shut up already.

Sorry, no, I won’t because that’s not my style. I don’t like this new Borders BookBrewer thing one bit. 

A reminder before I start... The information in this blog post is based on my own experience in e-publishing. My books are available on the left if you're interested. No one is paying me money to say nice things or mean things about any companies listed in this blog. I'm an Indie author like many of you out there and just want to share the knowledge I have gained while stumbling though this often complicated and scary market.  

I feel if at least one person reads this and makes an informed decision because of it, rather than just seeing the name “Borders” and throwing their money away, I’ll have done my good deed for the day. 

I saw this link via Publishers Weekly.

http://www.publishersweekly.com/pw/by-topic/digital/content-and-e-books/article/44843-borders-bookbrewer-offer-new-self-publishing-service.html

They are an excellent resource for publishing information and this was an excellent and informative article written by Mr. Calvin Reid on the new service Borders and BookBrewer are preparing to roll out this month.

I'm going to break down a few snippets from the article on this new self-publishing venture and give you my thoughts.

The agreement with BookBrewer moves Borders into the self-publishing space, but with a different spin than its competitors. Barnes & Noble's newly launched PubIt! for example, lets authors post an existing e-book to its site for free and splits royalties, while Borders is charging a fee to help authors create an e-book. While its difficult to see how Borders can compete with free e-book conversion, a spokesperson for Borders said the BookBrewer program offers more value and more self-publishing tools.

I love this!! Right off the bat, Calvin Reid,  has already pointed out the biggest red flag for Borders/BookBrewer.

Did you catch it as well?

They are putting a new "spin" on self-publishing, competing with players in the market who already offer you to publish for free.

The “spin” here is they will set up your files for you. The fine print is that “setup” cost $89 -$199.

The author of this article obviously agrees that this will make it difficult to see how Borders can compete considering there are some very popular other options out there on the market.

What’s the companies take on their “spin.”

“We are charging $89.99 because we provide the ISBN," the spokesperson said, "and we essentially do everything from giving the author the tools to load, format and package the books within the BookBrewer system to publishing it in major eBook stores for them.”

If you read my last two post, I already covered their inflated costs and fees. What I didn’t cover was the fact they “do everything” as is included in the quote above. Not really sure how much they actually “do.”

From what I understood, from reading various articles and the BookBrewer website, you paste in your manuscript and the software formats it for you into an EPUB format. Doesn’t really sound like there is much physical “doing of anything” involved on the companies part. According to the quote above, the author will still need to format it within the software.

Sounds to me like the author is still doing everything. So, how is this any different from an author using any other software programs to convert their file to EPUB, offered at low cost or for free online? I'll tell you the difference. You are paying for the privilege of using the BookBrewewr software.

I’m not seeing the mysterious value or the added assistance offered by the company to justify the high setup fees.

The spokesperson said that the service targets bloggers because, "bloggers are specifically mentioned because the service was created in such a way that it makes it easy for them to feed their content right from their site and arrange it into book chapters using the publishing tools."

Here is another question. Why are they targeting Bloggers? A blog is already essentially e-published for free.  If a person has a blog and post to it regularly, what is the point of them selling an ebook?

I’ve seen bloggers compile their work into print and sell it, but I’m not understanding the need or desire  for someone who essentially makes their content available for free: daily, weekly, or even monthly, to create an ebook at an initial cost of $89-$199 plus a 25% cut of each sale.

That kind of goes along with the old saying “Why buy the cow when you can get the milk for free.”

Finally, the part that gave me the biggest laugh of all… This little gem.

In addition, Borders claims the $199 package will offer more experienced self-publishers more flexibiiity to negotiate deals with retailers.

What retailers are they going to “negotiate” with? If it’s an ebook it will only be formatted for EPUB coming from their service, a format not suitable for print, so they would have to take that format and either reconvert it or target other ebook retailers, many of which offer free setup and assistance with file conversion anyway. See Part 1 of my post on Borders BookBrewer.  Things to make you go, Hmmmm.

Unlike the basic package, Borders does not automatically distribute the advanced BookBrewer package. The spokesperson explained, “We do not distribute with this package. If the authors chose to list on Borders.com, they would negotiate royalties directly with us.

If I am to understand this correctly, if you pay the $199 for the advanced package, you get your EPUB file but do not get distributed to the other ebook retailers. You have to take your file and go "negotiate" with other ebook sellers. This is very interesting because I thought that was one of the selling features of the Borders BookBrewer venture. They were going to package and sell your work for you in Borders and other retail sites too.

So if you pay the big bucks all you really get is an EPUB file and a pat on the back to go on your merry way?

"There are no royalties associated with this [advanced] package," the spokesperson said. "You can sell via eBook retailers on your own or on your site if you are a blogger. So if you're a more serious publisher and think you will sell thousands of copies, paying a higher fee up front in exchange for making thousands more will make sense to you."

Let me translate that last bit for you into layman's terms... Thanks for your money, now go peddle your books elsewhere.

WTF!!

Please people, do your homework if you choose to self-publish. Find out everything you can about a company before investing any money in them to produce your books be they ebook or print.

Special thanks to Mr.

Comments

Robert Wacaster said…
It's hard enough promoting your own work as an independent, and now these guys are out to screw authors. Lovely.
Lorelei said…
Good job in getting this out there. I stand by what I tell others who are thinking about self-publishing. Really check out what you're getting yourself into. If you can't understand it, turn it down. This one smells like rotten fish. Oddly that Borders was the last ones to try and get into the eBook business. Sounds more like they want to rip a bunch of people off, make a proffit and walk away. Nice.
Steve Morris said…
Do you think all these ubiquitous Self-publishing (actually can we use the term Vanity)"offers" are just an age-old way of making money from the very many people out there who dream of seeing themselves in print?
There was an advert in my local paper on Friday offering to cut/package a CD with "help from a producer/musician". That is the same principle. If there wasn't a profit to be made then the adverts wouldn't be there. When we sign up for these deals, we are fooling ourselves, but if it makes us happy and doesn't break the bank, then there is as little harm as cutting that CD.
Self-publishing is when you do the whole process for yourself, by yourself.
This was SO helpful, thank you! I am really not very impressed with the Borders options right now. At all.