Friday, 27 June 2008

Xlibris - Reviewed

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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;


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, 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

Academy by Mick Rooney - Paperback Release - July 2008

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In line with Lulu making their 'Publish by Lulu' distribution service package free for a period of time, I have decided to make my novel, Academy available as a paperback edition.

The whole proccess took me less than half an hour yesterday on Lulu's site, with the only internal layout change being the addition of the new ISBN. The cover layout is simply utilising the hardcover's front and back images and the blurb detail moved from the side flaps.

All well worth it as the paperback edition took very little work and gives buyers a cheaper edition to buy.

Thursday, 26 June 2008

Lulu's 'Publish by Lulu' Service Now Free

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Got a circular email from Lulu marketing department yesterday announcing that their 'Publish by Lulu' service is now being offered for free for an unspecified period of time.

This publish and service and distribution pack is the one I chose for my last novel, 'Academy' and even at the €89 I paid proved excellent value for money.

The first article focusing on Xlibris will appear over the next few days.

Tuesday, 24 June 2008


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The results of the POD Publisher Poll concluded today. The poll was run over the past two months and I would like to thank all who took part and voted. Again, the poll was never intended as an exact barometer or science into POD publishers, but instead a guide as to which publishers authors had experience of, and considered to be reputable.

Xlibris topped the poll with 25% of the overall vote. Lulu was second with 19%, IUniverse third with 12% and tied in joint fourth, Booklocker and Outskirts Press. Honourable mentions also go to Authors-online and Mill City Press in fifth place.

As promised, I will be looking at the services of the top four POD publishers in articles over the coming weeks. As I have previously written quite a bit about Lulu and published 'Academy' through their service, I will be looking at the following publishers in detail.

Article 1 - Xlibris
Article 2 - IUniverse
Article 3 - Booklocker
Article 4 - Outskirts Press

The articles will look at the publisher's services as well as their on-line web sites, and consider their suitability for publication of a collection of shorter prose I referred to in a previous article.

Friday, 20 June 2008


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Seems the boys and girls in the Xlibris office may have been acting the teapot yesterday with the POD Publishing poll, or the Xlibris lovers and followers have been hiding under a rock for the past two months! The POD Publisher recorded 11 votes overnight and me thinks some boys and girls out there are trying to skew the poll result.

However, it is an open poll, so let the voting continue. Rememeber, I will be taking a closer look at the top three publishers who emerge from the poll over the coming weeks.

POD Publisher's Poll-Final 4 days

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Just a last reminder that the POD Publishers poll, which has been running on the site for the past two months, enters its final four days for casting a vote. If you have not already voted, then vote this weekend. At the moment, IUniverse and Lulu are taking more than 40% of the overall pole.

I have previously looked at Lulu in some detail having used their publishing service for my last novel, Academy, so I intend to focus on the other leading three POD publishers who come out on top of the poll. I will post articles looking at the service they provide and compare them with my own experience with Lulu.

I have been planning for the past while to pull together some of my previously published shorter fiction into a collection of work, and this may be an ideal opportunity to use one of the three POD publisher's services which I focus on for this particular project. All will be revealed in the coming weeks. Just at the minute I am still tied up with completing the final proofing of 'Trees'.

Wednesday, 11 June 2008

Paulo Coelho's Experiment in Film-Making

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Brazilian author Paulo Coelho is conducting an interesting experiment in film-making on his My Space website at the moment. Coelho decided to make his first feature length film using short original film and music soundtrack submissions to his website. The film is based on his most recently published work ‘The Witch of Portobello’. From June 16th to July 25th, Coelho is conducting the competition to select the final 15 videos and 16 musical compositions. The submissions must be based on one of the book’s character narratives.

The winners of the competition will be announced on August 24th and publicity will be world-wide for the successful entrants.

The concept is highly inventive and very much reflects Coelho’s own philosophies of free speech and global awareness. It reminds me of some of William S. Burroughs cut and paste experiments of the 1960’s and 1970’s. The final film will be interesting viewing when it eventually appears.

You can find Coelho’s My Space page and further details at the following web address.

Friday, 6 June 2008

Amazon/Hachette Livre Dispute

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Hachette Livre, the second largest publisher in the world, is in dispute with Amazon UK regarding contractual terms. Amazon UK have sanctioned some of Hachette’s lead titles by removing the ‘buy new’ buttons and promotional leaders from their online retail site. Authors affected by Amazon’s sanctions on the Hachette Group titles include, Stephen King, James Patterson, Kate Mosse and Chris Manby.

Tim Hely Hutchinson, Hachette Livre UK CEO, in a letter to authors explained the publisher’s position and effects it is having on them. Hely Hutchinson believes the continued dispute will ultimately result in Amazon losing popularity with the general buying book public. The dispute seems to particularly focus on Amazon’s aggressive low pricing on lead titles which is having an effect on ordinary high street bookstores.

Amazon UK have not responded publicly about the dispute but their continued heavy handed practice of dealing with publishers continues in light of the recent moves against some print-on-demand publishers.

Hachette Livre are a global publisher based in France and acquired Time Warner Book Group in 2006.

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