Book Country - Publishing Service (aka Vanity Press)

Self-publishers beware, there is yet another company trying to get in on the self-publishing action and make a quick buck or two off of a perspective author.

Book Country (a subsidiary of Penguin) recently announced that it is offering Self-publishing services.

Professional Print and eBook: $549
Let us do the work for you! When you choose the Professional option, Book Country formatters will transform your raw manuscript file (.doc, .docx, .rtf, or .txt files accepted) into polished print and ePub files. Choose from six different elegant interior styles designed specifically for genre fiction.
Please note that the use of the word "polished" here does not mean edited. I've seen nothing on their site to indicate they edit your work which is a crucial step in the publishing process. Also, $549 is a hefty price tag for book formatting.

There are plenty of freelancers out there who can produce a nice clean interior book block (print) or ebook ready files (Epub, Mobi, Doc (smashwords)) for a whole lot cheaper.

Rising Sign Books
Just to give you a couple off the top of my head.

User-formatted Print and eBook: $299
Are you more the hands-on type? This option provides you with all the tools and services you need to format a professional-looking interior file. Your Publishing Kit includes a special Book Country interior template designed to work for both print and eBook, instructions for preparing your manuscript and front matter for production, a checklist to keep you on track, cover design tips and recommendations, and ideas for marketing your book after it has been published. This option requires Microsoft Word version 2003, 2004, 2007, 2008, or 2010.

I'm not sure what the "service" is here. It seems to me you are paying them for the privilege of your hard work formatting your manuscript and all they do is use your files to create the final product. 

I should remind you it is `100% free to upload your ebook ready files to Pubit! (Barnes & Noble Nook), Amazon KDP (Kindle), and Smashwords. Those are just the top three places you can upload to. There are more. For print books you have the option of going with Createspace and they cost next to nothing to setup a book to be printed and distributed.

I guess the $299 goes to cover the cost of their tips and recommendations, and ideas for marketing your book but for that price you better get more than just a few tips! I'd expect some kind of a media blitz for the release of the book for that kind of price. At the very least a blog tour or something to that effect.

User-formatted eBook Only: $99

Again, I will point out that  it is `100% free to upload your ebook ready files to Pubit! (Barnes & Noble Nook), Amazon KDP (Kindle), and Smashwords.

The only benefit I can see here is that they claim to do all the legwork for you, but for me, I'd rather save that $99 and just do it myself.

But... publishing is not the end of the fee's. They will still take a cut off the top of your sales as well.

For a $2.99 eBook sale of a Book Country title on Amazon, Amazon takes $0.90 and then the author is entitled to $1.47.

If you were to upload and sell your book directly on Amazon, at $2.99 you would be entitled to 70% royalty meaning you earn $2.09 on the sale of that book. Amazon takes their cut, yes, the 0.90 but that's it.

According to Book Country, Amazon takes their money and the author gets $1.47 . They conveniently forgot to mention that they are going to take $0.62 for themselves. That amounts to roughly 30% of your expected profits per book after Amazon takes it's cut.

That's the ebook percentage, they also state that print books can be as high as 50%. Something to keep in mind.

There are better and cheaper ways to get your book out there to a wide distribution network. Please don't fall prey to the big businesses trying to make a profit on your dreams!!


Anonymous said...

Katie did one of these comparisons with "Borders Book Brewer" about a year ago, and where is Borders today?

Katie Salidas said...

Borders partnered with Book Brewer. While Borders, the large bookstore is gone, Book Brewer is still around and offers similar pay to publish services.

I still stand by what I say, self-publishers should do their homework instead of just shelling out money for companies to "do it for them." 9 times out of 10 they are wasting money and the only one who profits is the company, not the self-publisher.

Larry Kollar said...

Well shoot, if you really want to pay for something, you can get Scrivener for $45 and use it to turn out pretty darn good ePUB and MOBI formatting for as many books as you can write. There are a few quirky things about the process, which I intend to blog about sooner or later, but if you're not afraid to tinker around you can tame it easily enough.

Even without Scrivener, if you're geeky you can write scripts to do the work for you. Either way, the tighter your input the better the results.

Elijah said...

I don't like to see this, especially when I'm both a self-published author and a freelancer that offers formatting services. I format books for much, much less.

I really don't understand what the author is paying for with these sorts of companies.

Katie Salidas said...

Exactly. Self-publishers can do all of this themselves, including the book layout. But what these companies do is prey on the fear of how hard it is and offer a solution (with a hefty price tag attached.).

David Gaughran said...

Thanks for blogging about this Katie - we need to warn as many writers as possible about this horrible deal.

It's gouging inexperienced writers at both ends: overcharging them a flat fee for "services", then taking 30% of their royalties - forever - for no good reason.

If it wasn't Penguin, we would be calling it a scam. They should be ashamed of themselves.

Penguin have now created a vanity self-publishing arm. It would be funny if it wasn't so abhorrent.

Shiromi Arserio said...

Funnily, my father-in-law sent a WSJ article on Book Country. I think he was trying to be helpful, but it sounds pretty scammy to me. What exactly are you paying for then, if it doesn't even include editing? Also, the WSJ article indicated that they would also take a cut of sales revenue. Niiiccee.

Katie Salidas said...

A company like Penguin should know better. My guess is, they think that even with their added fees and cut off the top of all sales, people will want to be published by their subsidiary. It's implied prestige, that's all.

Bottom line, self-publishers need to be aware that this is not the way to go if you plan on creating a well turned out book.

The Cowboy and Vampire said...

Great info. There's a lot of writers out of there, natural that that people see opportunities to make some money of us. Articles like these are great reminders that people need to really think through their decisions. Thanks for sharing.

Jim Kukral said...

Still they don't get it. Why should we be surprised? Creating great products and services is about creating great value. If you can't do that, you lose in the end.

It seems they still think in old terms of "we gotta get ours". Technology has changed that model. You want yours? Start thinking like an author and what's best for them. Kinda like what Amazon is doing.

Jim Kukral

Sarah Westill said...

Thank you for this wonderful article. So many new authors are completely unaware of their options and think big name must mean they'll 'make it big'. Instead they'll end up broke with a poor product and regrets. As with any endeavor, research is a priority and you've offered up some marvelous material here. :-)

About The Author

Katie Salidas is a USA Today bestselling author and RONE award winner known for her unique genre-blending style.

Since 2010 she's penned five bestselling book series: the Immortalis, Olde Town Pack, Little Werewolf, Chronicles of the Uprising, and the all-new Agents of A.S.S.E.T. series. As her not-so-secret alter ego, Rozlyn Sparks, she is a USA Today bestselling author of romance with a naughty side.

In her spare time Katie also produces and hosts a YouTube talk show; Spilling Ink. She also has a regular column on First Comics News where she explores writing from a nerdy perspective.