Chances are you’ve see the shell game scam in action. Maybe you played it with your friends. Maybe you saw a professional offering it at a carnival, a park, or on a street corner. You try your hand to see if you can follow the shell or the cup with the ball better than the person shuffling them can cause you to lose track of it. You’re always surprised to lose your quarter or dollar. Maybe you lose your shirt. Self publishing your book shouldn’t be that way. When you publish your book, there should transparency so that there are no surprises.
Ron’s Publishing Basics guide is subtitled, “Navigating the Self-Publishing Minefield” for a reason. Depending on what company you work with, self publishing your book can be a minefield of pitfalls and road blocks put in your path to delay your book’s release and cost you more money than you imagined or budgeted. Why? Because for many of these companies, having them publish your book is engaging them in a shell game marathon designed to get as much money out of your pocket as possible. Here are three main ways that some of these companies stack the deck against you.
They own the ISBN “included” in the publishing package you bought. What a difference a choice of words can make. The ownership of your ISBN is why most of these companies exist in the first place. Whoever owns the ISBN is the book’s publisher. The book’s publisher decides the book’s retail price, its editorial integrity, the visual appearance of the book, how much they’re paid on sales, how much retailers and distributors receive on sales, and how much the author receives.
ISBN ownership is what allows Vanity Press and some Subsidy Publishers to double-dip. Not only do you pay the publisher to BE the publisher—you pay for them to accept your publishing rights—but you also enable them to take the publisher’s profits from your book sales. If the book does well, they win. If the book doesn’t, they’ve lost nothing.
When you publish through Self Publishing, Inc., you own your ISBN.
They own your printer files. When you pay Company X to design and publish your book, you’re paying the company to have their designer create printer files so they can print books. You’re not paying for files that you’ll receive. You’re paying for printer files to be created that the publisher retains. If you want them to print elsewhere, Company X may or may not sell them to you—for a premium price.
When you publish through Self Publishing, Inc., you receive your printer files.
They sell you marketing services before your book is published. Many of these Vanity Press and Subsidy Publishers have set up marketing divisions completely separate from the publishing services salespeople. They inundate authors offering marketing packages and publicity services before the book is close to being released. Why wait for that double-dip when you can get as much out of the wallet (or on their credit card) before the book’s been published?
Some of them are pursuing any author who’s purchased an ISBN from Bowker, whether they’ve published through them or not. (Bowker offers their database to vendors.) The reason is obvious. If you’re self-publishing your book, you have available funds. One way or another, they want as much of it as they can get.
While Self Publishing, Inc. does offer some marketing coaching, we suggest that independent publishers invest time and energy into doing their own smart marketing and, whenever necessary, seek out book marketing specialists to coordinate professional marketing efforts.
Making the shell game transparent. There are a couple ways to make the shell game more transparent and your publishing experience more successful. First, recognize that publishing your book is serious business. Vendors and service providers are in business to make money. Some are more reputable than others. Some provide helpful information and guidance. Some have staff with publishing experience. Some of them hire off-shore telemarketers who aggressively sell the daily special or hot, discounted deal.
Second, educate yourself. If your book—and all the time you took to dream it up and compose its manuscript—isn’t worth a few more hours of thoughtful education, then you’ll probably be satisfied with the deal from any Vanity Press or Subsidy Publisher. The more you know about the publishing process (http://www.selfpublishing.com/steps/new.php), and what you need to accomplish your goals, the better chance you have to reach those goals.
Finally, ask every company or salesperson you speak to if you’ll own your ISBN and printer files. If they say “no,” you know to keep looking.
We’d love to have you publish through www.selfpublishing.com. Let us know how we can help! You’ll find only transparency here.