Xlibris – Reviewed

Xlibris-logo

Xlibris has been in existence for more than ten years and since I last looked at their site and publishing services last year, they seem to have revamped things recently.

For these articles, I am going to concentrate on the most important and popular service used by authors using POD publishers, a 200pp black and white paperback/hardback edition.

In Xlibris’ publishing guide, available to download from their site, they state that, “you are entitled to a 100% refund at any time throughout the production process.” This clause has started to become more the norm with POD publisher contracts in the past few years, but a word of warning. The refund generally covers the period prior to the author’s final file proof approval, and not thereafter.

In their publishing guide, Xlibris do the usual ‘self-published’ name dropping of well known authors who pursued this route, but many of these authors self-published in the truest form, that is, under their own name or personal imprint. Xlibris offer a standard ‘non-exclusive’ contract, granting the author ownership of all rights, and allowing them to move to a traditional publisher. It should be borne in mind that if an author opts out after publishing with Xlibris, then the cover work and all layout files remain with the publisher, meaning, should the author move to another POD publisher, they are effectively starting from scratch. This still remains the norm, and I personally believe it is something that must change with the leading POD publishers. After all, the author is paying for the ‘publishing service’ and the author should be allowed to take all files concerned with the production of their book with them at the time the period of the contract ceases.

One strong point for Xlibris is the fact that they have a direct phone query line, which is something many POD publishers seem to avoid like the plague.

Xlibris offer seven different packages;

Advantage-$399
Basic-$599
Professional-$999
Custom-$1599
Premium-$2999
Executive-$6499
Platinum-$13999

Starting with their Advantage package, online availability, 1 author paperback copy, ISBN, a very basic cover template, author homepage and bookpage. Many other POD publishers charge for the author webpage at the entry level pack.

The Basic pack adds in more interior templates, ability to supply your own custom cover, 5 free paperback copies, Ingram distribution and 50 business cards and bookmarks. Not much extra when you consider you are paying an extra 200 bucks.

The Pro pack offers additional, again, more interior and cover templates, a hardback edition, some customisation input to interior elements of book, 5 posters, and again, my feeling is that the extra 400 bucks is a lot for what you get added on.

The Custom pack adds on a design consultation and cover, a step up in the amount of graphics, 50 postcards, the starter personalised website with domain and er….well your starting to see where I’m going with this. The extra bucks are now $700 and I’m starting to wonder why Xlibris did not just stick with the initial three publishing packs they had on offer last year! At least the add-ons were more bulked together in the available packs.

The Premium pack adds on full interior and cover customisation, (for $2999, I’d expect it and more!), author alterations, paper galleys, indexing, full industry registration, including Library of Congress and US copyright. Many of these services are available for 50-100 bucks with other POD publishers and are included in far more basic packs. Finally we get something really worth it, copyediting! Also a CD archive (I’m not sure what the benefit of this is, Xlibris could simply give you ownership of all the book files instead), a press release and opt-in email campaign and pro book review campaign.

The Executive pack adds on ‘set your own price’, author copies significantly step up to 75 paperback and 25 hardback copies, a step up on the marketing materials and the press release outlets. We are now at $5999 bucks!

The Platinum pack offers additionally, book returnability, New York Review of Books and Newswire advert. Free author copies are set at 250 paperback and 25 hardback, again, there is an increase in the press and marketing outputs. The price, $12999.

The Xlibris website is well developed and reads and runs well with most information easily accessible. There are plenty of charts and graphs to view when you are comparing publishing packages. For June 2008 Xlibris are offering a number of deal discounts, including a 2 for 1 publishing offer.

Overall in the scheme of POD publishers, Xlibris would be one of the bigger players. Like many of the leading players, their income comes directly from the sales of author services. They offer a wide range of book options including full colour picture books and specially leather bound books.

Where Xlibris really fall down on the opposition is their book retail prices, with the average paperback coming in at $15.99 to $19.99 and hardback books at $20.99 to $29.99. Also, by standards, author royalties are on the low side.
“On all sales made directly through Xlibris, you will receive 25% of the retail price as your royalty. If the book is sold through one of the channels like Amazon.com, you will receive a 10% royalty based on the retail price.”

Author discounts are as follows;

“Xlibris offers author discounts ranging from 30% to 60%, reseller discounts up to 48%, and discounts on direct sales. We try to make it as easy as possible for you, your customers, and book retailers to purchase copies of your published book.”

While Xlibris offer a wide range of marketing add-ons, as part of their packs, as well as purchased individually, I think the move to expanded service packs has not been a step in the right direction. It really is hard to warrant a publishing fee of $5999 to $12999 for what you actually get. The lower end Advantage and Basic packs are at least reasonable value for money, but there are other POD publishers who offer the same at a cheaper price.

It is worth pointing out that Xlibris come with a strong reputation. They topped this sites POD publisher poll. I said I had a forthcoming book of prose that I was considering placing with a POD later this year, and on a personal basis, Xlibris would not suit my own needs. Just to get paperback and hardback publication, I’d be looking at shelling out $899, and another concern for me was the limited cover templates on offer. For this kind of money many POD’s offer custom covers. You have to shell out $1599 for that service with Xlibris, unless of course you have your own pre-prepared and designed cover.

I think for the less experienced authors, publishing for the first or second time, they may feel that Xlibris fills their needs. I cannot help feeling that the experienced POD author who likes to get involved with the real nuts and bolts of ‘self-publishing’ would choose a different publishing service provider.

RATING: 5.8/10

Authors

25 Comments

  1. Anonymous said:

    Thank you for your impressive research and review of Xlibris.

    I have been counseled to never publish with a POD. I have been counseled to never turn my material over to anyone but a POD!

    I was accepted by a publisher but it all appears to bog down in marketing and editorial. After awhile, what I wrote wasn’t what I wrote!

    You supplied a bit of clarity amidst the confusion.

    MN McLaughlin

  2. Anonymous said:

    I signed up with Xlibris when their representative said on the phone that I could publish my book for $299. That was just the first of many phone calls encouraging me to upgrade to better publishing packages and more and more services. I finally had to tell my publishing consultant to stop calling me.

    Two months and $899 later I finally found out that Xlibris doesn’t even publish full-color books in a 6X9 inch format. The artist designed the illustrations for these particular dimensions. I was clueless until I received the first electronic galley and the book looked awful in an 8.5X8.5 inch size.

    My credit card refund is pending.

  3. Mick Rooney said:

    Anon,

    The base $299 deal is pretty limited in its parameters and what it offers authors.

    My concern too often with very large POD services is that the enthusiasm to up-sell authors add-ons seems to far outweigh the endeavor of companies to advise authors on the right package for their book.

    Your experience is sadly very common and why I advise authors to firstly reach a personal ‘point’ or ‘goal’ plan as to what the want from self-publishing, then rate those goals or point in importance and research and choose a service which best matches what you want.

    Anything short of this approach loads up the chances that you are going to be either disappointed in the customer service, quality or sales of your book.

  4. Nessie said:

    I am a first time author, just recently published through Xlibris. I am grateful to them for the book which I am now proud to call my own, but in truth the process with them was taxing and, at times, I felt like I was bound in a contract with telemarketers. I bought the Premium package at half price because of the copyright feature, but have turned down every other offer them have made since…which have been both enticing/flattering (offering to go international) and discouraging (finding out I don’t have return-ability unless I purchase it, etc… My husband and I have decided not to invest any more money into the book through xlibris, but realize we are now stuck in marketing it out beyond our local sphere. Where you saying that even though I own the copyright, if someone else chose to purchase it that I would have to start from scratch, in terms of design (it is a picture book)? Or does that mean I can not seek out an alternate publisher to submit it to now? I will write more books, and would like advice on the best way to to go now that I have tried Xlibris…and where to go with my current book to help make it successful. Could you expand on these things please…I would be so grateful!
    Blessings,
    Venessa Knizley

  5. Anonymous said:

    I regret ever publishing with this company. They ship me the wrong books, take my money and take 5 months to respond why they can’t put my book on amazon or bn. My aunt called to order they can’t find the book. Sent me posters that say available at amazon that I can’t use. I spent 1000 and got nothing.

  6. Christine Leov Lealand said:

    Xlibiris are a scam. Don’t waste your time or money on them. You can’t review em without actually USING them. Mr blogger you are letting your readers down promoting scammers. Check out writer beware website for more info on Author Solutions Ripoffs for writers.

  7. Mick Rooney said:

    I don’t promote scammers, I review services, good and bad. Were you actually familiar with TIPM you might actually know our stance on ASI run brands. We have covered extensively the on-going court case in New York against ASI/Penguin and have hosted guest posts from several disgruntled ASI imprint authors.

    “You can’t review em without actually USING them.”

    Do you need to put YOUR finger in the fire before getting burned?

  8. existentialcoma said:

    I’ve read a lot of different things about xlibris, but most of it is negative, from being harassed by sales reps to not being paid for months at a time. If you Google them, their bad side shines much much brighter than anything good. I would use them with extreme caution.

  9. Mick Rooney said:

    Xlibris, being a part of the Author Solutions empire, is a nightmare for marketing emails and phone calls, whether you publish with them or not!

  10. Nikki Ah Wong said:

    I have just got off the phone with another Xlibris representative and I am annoyed. Three years ago I contacted them for some information on their packages and they began phoning me, even though I said I was not interested. They made a call to my husband on his personal phone and then to the land line at my previous address in New Zealand. (How did they get those numbers I wonder?) I have again asked to be put on a no call list. This is the third time I have had a series of phone calls from them. I agree with the above two comments. Their marketing is close to harassment and a nightmare. I have no intention of using them and after reading the above, I am glad. Thanks for the review.

    • Marj said:

      Similar story with me. I was left wondering exactly the same thing – where did they get my phone number??? A couple of years ago during a spate of phone calls, I told them straight out I wasn’t interested in publishing anything with them. So that, I thought. was that. But give them 6 months and the phone calls start again. This time I ignored them and they stopped. Just recently, the phone calls began again – 7 in 2 days. And this time, emails as well. So I responded to the emails reiterating I was not interested in publishing with them and to please stop harrassing me. In return, I received a very rude email claiming I had signed up for this and it was my own fault if I didn’t respond to repeated requests. Tempting as it was to hit back, I have marked this email as spam and let it go. If the phone calls begin again, I think it will be time to involve authorities.

    • Sarah P Barrett said:

      Unfortunately I do not know where you live. In UK this could be reported as cold calling and cold calling is illegal in UK. You can take steps to have the company stop this.

  11. Kathy Davis said:

    XLibris UK has scammed my poor demented mother for $130,000. They keep upselling her. Beware of these creeps. The work they publish is poorly edited and illustrated and terribly expensive. Once they get their hooks into vulnerable would-be authors, they will never stop calling. For the record, my mother has mental illness. The figure I quoted is accurate. She is selling her investments to pay for her vanity publishing mania.

  12. Ukachukwu Chidube said:

    Please all…I made the mistake of publishing with Xlibris…now I want to end my contract and they are delaying everything. Please how can I do this? Which authority can I report this abuse? Thank you.

  13. Sarah P Barrett said:

    Hello Mick
    I wasn’t surprised to read your report on Xlibris, however my experience with Xlibris was much worse. Apart from making a mess of the first book submitted in early August 2013. They would not give me a refund of my second book that they never even published.

    I am 80 years of age. When I received the first ‘phone call from Lee Summers in August 2013regarding my book I stated I was not adept at working with the new I.T. he was speaking about. He assured me there would be no problem as I would get help every step of the way- I DID NOT. Xlibris staff will only work within their remit. When they consider their job finished, you are on your own.

    My first book title, “Crying for Joy” was not even half way to the publishing stage, I received a call from Mr. Summers regarding my second book. I stated I was having great difficulty with the progress of the first one and little technical help was given. He promised me he would have it all rectified and I was to notify him personally with any queries that I may have. He was quite confident about that and added I was getting a special offer at £530 because it was my second book but it had to be paid that day.–foolishly I paid for it

    Chaos ensued trying to work on the first book. Mr. Summers never answered ONE of my emails for help. There is no member of staff with good English, it took ages before a staff member answered any query that I submitted. After six emails I convinced her to stop using the word Ireland in the address. She did not know there was such a place as Northern Ireland which is very different from Ireland. Also the trigger words she gave me were totally irrelevant, such as Murder, Domestic abuse, Belfast, all these words brings one to sites where people seek help- not fiction at all. I asked for them to be changed and eventually was told I was too late to do that, and the errors continued, my lack of I.T. did nothing to enhance it.
    I asked for a refund of the £530 on the 2nd book. Mr Summers replied after several emails that he was contacting their Finance Dept, he did no such thing. I sent numerous emails to every section of Xlibris I even wrote a personal letter to Mr. Andrew Phillips C E O. U.S.A. I received no reply.

    I could go on and on about this rogue company with the slick talking salesmen including Scott Perry who rang me to say for another £2,000 he could guarantee my book would sell better. I didn’t fall for that one.
    The final insult was that Mr. Summers rang me early December 2014 to state I was not entitled to a £530 refund as I was OUTSIDE the six months period. I had been requesting it for EIGHT months. During those eight months I received an email from Mr. Summers saying and I quote “Your book is brilliant and should be read by the whole world” He then had the audacity to advise me that I should submit my second book to them.

    With substantial help from Amazon I was able to cut all ties with Xlibris.
    I wouldn’t recommend Xlibris to my worst enemy- if I had one!
    The entire Company not only robed me of money, the hurt went much deeper.

    It destroyed my dream of having accomplished something in my lifetime!

  14. Jeanette Voyzey said:

    I feel very sorry for the people commenting on this page, they have definitely had a raw deal with Xlibris. My experience has been quite the opposite. I published my autobiography last year (Ice Cream on Thursdays) and I cannot fault the procedure at all. I waited quite a while for my posters and book marks but the finished book was excellent. The proof reading and editing is second to none. I have just submitted my first novel to them for publishing and hope for the same excellent service. Watch this space.!

  15. Monica Joseph said:

    I agree with Jeanette and had the opposite experience too. The production of the book was excellent. The margins, font and layout was really good. Two booksellers I know picked up on that. Xlibris also did a wonderful job with the book cover. What I don’t like is their pushiness with the marketing. This could be a real money trap and I have had to be very assertive in not getting overly sucked in here. Initially I did invest in a newswire and an ad in the Australian book Review, international book fair and a review to give the book a chance but that has been enough. My personal efforts at selling my book have been more successful than the initial expensive marketing outlay which I doubt has done much. Xlibris continue to persist with pushing me to buy into more of this but I just let them make the international phone calls and waste their time.

  16. Alex Taylor said:

    I have published with Xlibris and my god I am so stressed :( I have spent £6000 and even had to do my own cover design as they have no idea what they are doing. I have had someone ask me about publishing and will not recommend. They set my price at £13.99. Who buys at that price? Nobody would. So had to pay to set my own price which I am hoping will go down smoothly. Avoid if you are reading this. Do not get suckered by their pushy sales tactics.

    I am hoping the book fair will help me get a new publisher. In the meantime I am looking for a literary agent hoping I can get out of having their logo on the back of my book.

    DO NOT PAY THEM A PENNY. They do not even care if the book sells. Lee Summers does not give a crap about my book anymore, now that I have paid. Thought he was a nice guy. But no definitely not. AVOID.

  17. Jeanette Voyzey said:

    Hi Monica. Thank you for your comments. Yes I would agree their marketing strategy leaves a lot to be desired!. Constant phone calls etc. However I was just interested in the final product which I couldn’t fault. I do my own marketing and have my book for sale in my local coffee shop and museum as well as a couple of independent book sellers. I launched in our local library and with the costings for a few sandwiches and Sparkling wine had a very successful event. I charged £3 a ticket and gave proceeds to our library and at the same time sold loads of my books and made a fair profit from them. I have also had a call from the States to say my book is their book club read of the month and how much they are enjoying it and have a cheque from them to forward four more copies. This resulted from a talk I gave to a group of American tourists when they visited locally and some bought my book to take home. You never know where your copies will end up. My novel is due out soon so here I go again. Great fun!!.

  18. Jeanette Voyzey said:

    Just to follow up on my last post. I now have my novel “The Shack” which has a beautifully illustrated cover and inside graphic. It is posted (by Xlibris) on all booksellers websites and now the fun starts for me. Marketing is the thing I enjoy the most. We have a library festival where I live in June and I will give a talk and hold a book signing. Its the old adage “we reap what we sow” if we want to make a success of our time as an author we have to put in the hard work. I have become adept at ignoring Xlibris calls. Now I have my book I can order the amount I want at a price I want to pay and go from there. Don’t get drawn in by the heavy marketing ploys of Xlibris. You have written your book and you have the right to do with it what you will. Jeanette Voyzey

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