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Ten Signs of a Top Quality Self-Publisher

Good Rep, Baby You’ve got to find a publisher with a decent reputation. Ask friends who have self-published. Go to writers’ forums and websites and quiz individuals on their publishing experiences. Then go to publisher websites and read the testimonials. But, remember, they will not print any of the critical author emails they’ve received. And, by all means, Google a publisher too. Don’t take all the positive reviews seriously and don’t believe all the cries of “Scam! Scam!” But thoughtfully consider all the reports and balance them out against each other.

You’re Not Just a Dollar Sign When it comes to great customer service, again, it pays to ask former authors about their experiences. Also, note carefully when you ask questions on a publishing site or mention interest in filling out an application—what kind of attention do they promise? Too many publishers are wonderfully attentive until you sign on the dotted line and send your money. Then, suddenly your manuscript is just an item on an assembly line. Will they offer you a real live author rep to accompany you patiently throughout the entire publishing process? Can you actually reach the rep by phone or email or do you have to wait hours or even days on end for a response?

Their Prices Are Reasonable Isn’t “reasonable” a very relative term? After all, to some people $100 is a lot of cash and, to others, $1,000 is pocket change. However, perhaps we can at least settle on a happy medium. Tate Publishing’s lowest priced package is about $4,000. Dorrance charges you $7,500 but you get 550 copies of your book. Book Pros charges $13,000 and that’s their low-end price. In spite of all the book copies, Dorrance offers the least bang for your buck. And, admittedly, Book Pros includes a huge publicity punch with their package. There are probably some writers who’ve had good experiences with these publishers. However, there are print-on-demand (self publishers, by our definition) companies that offer packages ranging from $199 to $1,500. Of course, for $199, you’re not going to get much more than your book in print. But for $1,000-1,500, a number of publishers custom-produce your book with a surprisingly impressive list of perks to go with it.

They Offer Genuine Publicity Five hundred bookmarks and a few postcards does not a PR campaign make. Does the publisher help you get your manuscript out to book reviewers? Do they give you a custom book cover that will really grab readers? Do they help you advertise your book to targeted blogs, ezines, and directories that cater specifically to your topic or genre? Do they set up your book for Google searches and do they include benefits such as the “Search Inside” feature on Amazon? Do they have an active distribution program through a reputable distributor such as Baker & Taylor? Do they offer such features as the religious publisher that offers contact information to thousands of pastors and churches? These are truly valuable publicity methods that can really help.

They Coach Authors Long-Term The typical commercial publisher tends to push a book hard for 1-3 months. Then they have to move on to other books. Most print-on-demand publishers don’t individually publicize a book for much more than one week. They primarily set certain features in place that enable the author to help publicize it. However, there are a few publishers that truly assist authors for months or even years after they’ve published. One such publisher is Outskirts Press, which offers an email coaching program that continues for at least two years after publishing. This is invaluable to not only inform writers but also motivate them toward success in a very tough and competitive field.

Author Copies Offered at a Significant Discount For a 200-page book, a Dog Ear author will pay $5.28 per copy, and an Outskirts writer will pay $6.16. For the same book, an Xlibris author will pay $13.19, and a Publish America author will pay a whopping $15.96. Now that’s a huge variance, and guess who pockets the extra money in these little transactions?

Retail Book Prices Are Not Inflated Let’s stick with our handy 200-page paperback book and see what several different publishers charge in the retail market. Aventine charges $12.95 per book, Xulon charges $14.99, Trafford charges $17.59, and Universal charges $19.99. If the retail price of your book is too high, even your most loyal fans may flinch when they go to buy. So make sure your book is going to be affordable in the marketplace.

ISBN, UPC Bar Code, and Distribution Through Retailers The ISBN and UPC bar code are required if your book is going to be offered in bookstores or online outlets such as Barnes & Noble or Amazon. Most print-on-demand publishers include this, but you may have to pay extra if you’re using a “desktop” publisher such as Lulu or CreateSpace. It’s also nice if your publisher registers your book with R.R. Bowker’s Books in Print and at the Library of Congress (LCCN). As I’ve mentioned before, it is also a sign of professionalism if the publisher offers distribution through one of the biggies such as Ingram, Baker & Taylor, or Spring Arbor.

Fair Return of Book’s Original Production Files If you ever decide to switch publishers or, for some other reason, you wish the return of your book’s production files, how easy or difficult is it to obtain them? If you terminate your contract within 18 months, iUniverse makes the author pay $750 for the PDF press-ready book cover file and another $750 for a press-ready PDF book interior. That’s a lot of money. BookSurge refuses to give departing authors their production files. And Aventine gives authors a digital copy of cover and interior production files as part of their package. Go figure.

Lastly, it’s nice if your publisher offers extras such as an editing service. A select few publishers do offer free light editing, but it may well not catch all errors. If you need editing, it shouldn’t cost more than $.01 to $.03 cents per word. If it’s much above that, you might consider finding someone on your own. Some publishers appear to make more money editing authors’ manuscripts than they do publishing them. So, my friend, if a publisher checks out to your satisfaction in these ten ways, you have found yourself a darn good company, and I would stick with them. If you have a manuscript you want to publish, after a ton of research, I’ve decided on the publisher below as one of the very best. Click on the link!
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3 Responses to “Ten Signs of a Top Quality Self-Publisher”

  1. nur says:

    I always used to study article in news papers but now as I am a user of web so
    from now I am using net for content, thanks
    to web.

  2. Steve says:

    Thanks. I’ve been blogging for about nine years. If you need manuscript editing or need to find a publisher, let me know. Maybe I can help. Contact me at

  3. Steve says:

    Thanks. Let me know if I can help with editing or finding a publisher. I’m at

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