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Grading Publishers

Based on both research and, in some cases, personal experience, a majority of the POD publishers are reviewed here. On this page, you can read a quick blurb and a grade. If you're particularly interested in learning more about one of the publishers, click to get more details.


Outskirts Press: Outskirts has put together five different author packages offered at one of the most reasonable price ranges of any POD: $199-$999. The people at Outskirts pay close attention to each detail of the publishing and promotion process and it shows. The press also offers terrific, long-lasting, author-friendly customer service. They have added a number of excellent book promotional packages from which authors can choose. Now Outskirts is offering your book in hardback for the same price as softcover. Grade:  A Click here to read full review

Tate Publishing: Tate claims to receive about 10,000 manuscripts a year and only selects the best 4% to 6% for publication.  Mark Levine, graduate of Georgetown Univ. Law Center and author of The Fine Art of Self-Publishing, argues that Tate is not the "traditional" publisher it claims to be because no traditional publisher charges authors several thousand dollars up front to publish their book. Tate does not list a price on their website but typical is apparently $3895. They claim that for this amount, they will devote the equivalent of $15,000-20,000 worth of promotion and marketing. Grade: ? Click here to read full review

Aventine: Unlike many PODs, Aventine does not sneak profits from authors on printing fees and royalties. For less than $700, an author gets a nifty-looking book with a custom-designed cover. Grade: B Click here to read full review

Trafford: Trafford is a travesty. Yes, these folks not only double-dip into writers’ profits, they shamelessly triple-dip and laugh raucously all the way to the bank. Grade: F Click here to read full review

AuthorHouse: Authorhouse’s publishing fees are not through the roof but you have to realize that, for a benefit like a custom-designed cover, you must add a whopping $499. AuthorHouse also marks up printing costs 175% and transfers that cost to the writer.  Grade: F Click here to read full review

iUniverse: This publisher charges authors $1,500 for a PDF of their digital interior and cover files. They also offer some of the lowest royalties and the highest printing markups—bad business. Grade: D Click here to read full review

Dog Ear Publishing: Dog Ear only marks up their printing fee 26%, which is better than most, and they earn zero royalties per book sold. Their Masterpiece Package costs a hefty $3,499 but offers a great value including professional editing, 75 free copies of your paperback, and a custom website to promote your book.  Grade: B+ Click here to read full review

Xulon Press: Xulon’s printing packages range between $999-$2,499. Author’s copies aren’t offered at the lowest price, but you’d be hard pressed to earn as much per book in royalties as Xulon offers. They are quite generous in that regard. Xulon also doesn’t try to hide their practices or true costs. It’s all pretty much right out there on their website for all to see. Grade: B Click here to read full review

Xlibris: Xlibris offers a whopping set of seven different publishing packages ranging in price from $299 to $12,999. If you’re looking for a canyon in which to toss cash, Xlibris is the perfect setting, offering a panoramic peak from which to launch your dollars. Some of the packages offer a fair number of features, but the inflated printing markups and the paltry royalties ruin any publishing advantage in short order. Grade: F Click here to read full review

BookSurge: BookSurge offers a pretty fair contract, but its average royalties are dismal, its printing markups are extremely inflated, and it withholds book files from departing authors. Grade: C Click here to read full review

BookLocker: Booklocker is a mom and pop setup that isn’t bad, but this writer is not sure exactly why POD guru, Mark Levine, rates them as outstanding. Price for their one primary package is $475 with a custom cover. However, one doesn’t receive a great deal for that price besides a book, listing in a blog, and a spot with retailers such as Grade: C+ Click here to read full review

Wheatmark: This is one of those publishers that is so average that one is hard put to distinguish it from all the other run-of-the-mill companies out there. Its packages range from $1,299 to $3,999. One can sense that it’s overpriced from the start, and things don’t look up from there. Grade: C+ Click here to read full review

BookPros: Perhaps the best thing that can be said about BookPros is that the owners know the publishing business. Thus, they claim to accept only submissions in which they see PR potential for significant sales. And these people seem to know how to really promote a book big time. However here is where it becomes very difficult to place all PODs on a level playing field. Grade: Who knows? Click here to read full review

Virtual Bookworm: This publisher’s packages can be a bit confusing. The prices range from $360 to about $2,350, but each package states: “includes benefits of prior packages, plus blah, blah, blah. So you have to review every single benefit as you progress. Grade: B- Click here to read full review

Holy Fire: Holy Fire offers three packages ranging from $899 to $1,599. This is a religious publisher and it is uncertain whether they’re twisting the truth a tad or whether they really don’t know how to access the best prices for book production. The standard cost to produce a 200-page paperback is $3.90 or less. Holy Fire claims it costs them $4.90 and, even without that profit, they sell it to the author at a markup of almost 100%. Grade: C+ Click here to read full review

Lulu: Lulu is the quintessential do-it-yourself publisher. In fact, it’s free to set your content up using Lulu’s software and publish it in the Lulu marketplace because Lulu takes a portion of the profit if you sell something. However, this requires that you be well versed in desktop publishing. If your book is already designed and formatted and you know what you’re doing, you can perhaps make out all right. Grade: B Click here to read full review

Llumina: Llumina has three packages: $799, $899, $999 for paperback, hardcover, or both, respectively. Mark Levine believes that this POD publishes among the least attractive book covers of any. They also inflate book prices so high that few readers will pay the bucks plus the high shipping costs. Grade: D- Click here to read full review

Wasteland Press: Wasteland stands apart from most PODs in several ways. Their plans are somewhat typical, ranging in price from $195 to $3,000. However, beginning at their Gold Plan ($925) they offer some copyediting, and they also offer more free books in most of their plans than other PODs. Grade: B- Click here to read full review

Life Sentence Publishing:  Life Sentence Publishing is a Christian publisher that claims to market books more like a full-on traditional publisher, while charging authors a fee. The packages that include marketing run between $1,990-$4,990. In my opinion, the two best marketing features of their $1,990 package includes the bookstore return program and active Ebook promotion.  Grade: B

Dorrance Publishing: Founded in the 1920s, Dorrance is the granddaddy of subsidy/self-publishers. One would think that, with age, Dorrance would also become the wisest of such publishers, but here they definitely disappoint. The standard package is $7,500 and includes basic editing, custom cover, typesetting, 500 books stored by Dorrance with 50 additional books to the author, and $1,000 worth of book promotion. So, even for a measly 52-page book of poetry, it’s the same production price and that’s hard to believe. Grade: F Click here to read full review


Good Resources

The Fine Print of Self-Publishing, Mark Levine

Top Self-Publishing Firms, Stacie Vander Pol

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One Response to “Grading Publishers”

  1. Steve says:

    I am always available to authors to advise and encourage you in your writing and your manuscript editing and publishing. Please contact me at Or you may wish to call me at 941 423-4537. I want to see you happily published!

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