Spire Publishing first began life as UK based PABD (Publish And Be Damned). It was renamed Spire in late 2006 and although a Canadian company, it has still retained a significant presence in the UK.
“Welcome to Spire Publishing where self publishing a book is simple and affordable.
Your book is published with the same care and attention that it took you to write it. When you publish your book with Spire Publishing it can be designed, published and available for purchase worldwide within six weeks.”
Spire Publishing do have three on line bookstores, (UK, USA and Canada), but all their ‘buy button’ links are directed to Amazon affiliate sites. There is just one featured book link on their main webpage, suggesting that they are very much author-traffic driven. They also feature a publisher’s blog and forum, but these are infrequently updated and visited suggested by their low title range (see Amazon title totals above).
Actually, the closer you look at Spire Publishing, the more and more they seem to offer as an author solutions service. They provide four distinct packages, the Professional, Essential, Print Ready, Poetry, as well as a bespoke service where authors can utilise each individual service.
“Bespoke book publishing is also available, priced individually. Please contact us for a quote.”
What I like about Spire Publishing is the presentation and description of their packages. They are clearly and concisely laid out according to their suitability.
Their most basic package is the Print Ready one. This is priced at £399, provided an author is prepared and skilled enough to create a print ready pdf or InDesign file for the cover and internal parts of the book. These templates can be downloaded for both file formats from Spire Publishing's website.
“The Spire Print Ready Package is ideal for authors who are either book designers themselves or have their books designed privately. You need to be able to deliver to us a ready for print pdf file. This package is recommended for those experienced in print ready pdf creation.”
Spire Publishing will provide a design assessment, an ISBN and barcode for the author to include on their own created cover files, legal deposit and registration, title set-up with Lightning Source, non exclusive rights, an option for a paperback or hardback edition, bulk discounts on author copies over 50, and five or three author copies (depending on paperback or hardback edition). This package does not include distribution, but for an additional £80, an author can avail of the Print Ready Plus package which adds in on line distribution, wholesale database registration, as well as library cataloguing, biannual sales and royalty reports.
Next up, Spire has their Essential package at £549. The book is created from the manuscript that the author submits.
“This popular package is for authors who just want to publish a book for family and friends or who wish to take control of their own sales, for example from their personal website. There is no wholesale or on-line distribution included in this package.”
The final line of this quote was actually added to the website when I was reviewing their service, suggesting there may have been some confusion regarding whether the distribution was included. Clearly it is not. You get the same services as the Print Ready package, but with book design and interior and cover layout added. There is also the addition of author support and one round of proof corrections provided.
“Two hours design time for a custom designed cover, incorporating your own images. Library images may be purchased for a fee.”
This is perhaps the key point that authors should be aware of. The author still has to provide his or her own cover image, with stock images coming at an addition cost. For a book intended as ‘a book for family and friends’ and without distribution, this does not seem good value, though, it could be argued that an author might be happy with supplying their own images. Still, it seems to stretch what the interpretation of ‘a custom designed cover’ actually is. To other author solution service companies—this would mean an in-house designed cover with the author not being required to supply images.
The Professional package is priced at £699 and authors may use their own images or library stock art at no extra charge. All the standard services described above for the Print Ready Plus are provided, as well as design, layout, one round of proof corrections, reports and distribution.
“This package is for authors who want their book to be available through the book trade and access to international distribution.”
Effectively, this is Spire’s all-in package.
Spire Publishing’s Premier package is pretty much the same as the Professional package with the addition of ebook. The package is priced at £899.
There are individual editorial services which can be utilised, such as proof reading (contact Spire for a quote); amendments to a book after submission; requesting a hard copy proof, 2nd edition set-up; additional hardback/paperback edition; ebook version (£40) and additional images if a print ready file has not been supplied.
Based on Spire Publishing’s examples, there is a mark-up from the print costs for author copies.
Author's Price - softcover books:
No. of pages UK Pricing
Under 200 £4.39
The equivalent book direct from Lightning Source for the ‘under 200 page’ example costs less than £3. The author prices remain better than the costs from many of Spire Publishing’s competitors. In our example, if the author were ordering more than 50, but less than 150 copies, the unit price to the author would be £4. Spire Publishing give full bulk discount details on their website.
Books sold through distribution leave the author with a pretty low return profit. Here is Spire’s own example (in dollars!).
“Retail price $10.99 deduct trade discount of 30% ($3.30) = wholesale price of $7.69. With an author price of $6.95 (200 page count or less) this will leave you with a profit, per book sold via the book trade, of $0.74.
The above is for calculation purposes only, you can, of course, set the retail price to your liking as long as print costs are covered.”
All in all, Spire Publishing is clear and concise about their services. The Print Ready Plus package seems to offer the best deal provided the author can supply their own files. The author would be best served having their own website to drive sales of their books as this is a significant area not provided for. At the time of this review, their ‘Promote Your Book’ marketing link was not working, and that in itself is not a strong sign.
As of June 2012, this publishing service was no longer accepting work from authors who have not already worked with them.