Melrose Books – Reviewed

melrose-books Titles – 200+ Titles – 200+

Melrose Books is a division of Melrose Press, who, for many years, published biographical books through the International Biographical Centre. Melrose Books is their imprint for their system of partnership publishing between author and publisher.

“Melrose Books is a new venture from Melrose Press, the renowned international biographical publisher.

Melrose Press has been publishing biographical titles from in or around the University City of Cambridge since 1969.

Melrose Books works on a shared partnership between publisher and author and we value the input of the author at every stage of the publishing process to fulfil their aspirations.

If you have a manuscript that you would like to publish, our Commissioning Panel would be delighted to appraise it for possible publication.”

“From in or around the University City of Cambridge.” Now that is like me saying, ‘I’m a rock star, coz I live next door to Bono!’ The innuendo and implication about the University of Cambridge is deliberate and clear. I am not sure what bearing their location to the University of Cambridge or the city has to do with the business of publishing. We might understand it if they were called Cambridge Books, but then we already have a Cambridge Press. Is there some allusion being made to famous university presses in England? Bad, bad start Melrose Books and this on the company’s main website introduction page. State what you are and not what you would like people to think you are.

“We are proud to be a traditional publishing house where the emphasis is on personal contact with the author and attention to detail is paramount.

Melrose Books works on a shared partnership between publisher and author and we value the input of the author at every stage of the publishing process to fulfil their aspirations.”

There are a number of tradition UK publishers who also offer partnership publishing services. Normally publishers choose to have the self-publishing service set up as an entirely distinct imprint with a different name. Melrose has chosen to make their distinction of the two entities with the words ‘Press’ and ‘Books’.

Melrose has a separate trade site for the sale of their books to retailers and customers which goes under the name Melrose Books.

Their site is well laid out and bears an emblem, ‘35 years of publishing excellence’, though I suspect this badge is a self appointed badge and is not linked to any publishing body or organisation.

Authors are invited to submit to Melrose Books by sending their books to the Commissioning Panel who will individually appraise the quality of the manuscript.

“Headed by the Commissioning Editor, the task of the Commissioning Panel is to appraise manuscripts sent to Melrose Books for possible publication. The Panel considers the merits of each manuscript based on its subject matter, the quality of its content and its marketing potential. The Panel is comprised of publishers and editors with experience of both sides of the author-publisher relationship who are sympathetic to the requirements of authors. Those manuscripts with sufficient merit are recommended to the Commissioning Editor who will make an offer of publication to the author…

If the Author decides to publish…”

This is where things start to become murky. If an author sends their manuscript to Melrose Books, then surely they have already made that decision to publish their book if they can through Melrose. Noticeably, Melrose does not refer too often to self-publishing, and instead, throughout their site, refer to themselves as a traditional publisher. The suggestion here is that Melrose has a screening process for manuscripts and do not accept everything sent to them. In fact, the whole Commissioning Panel system says that the publisher makes a proposal for publication to the author based on quality of work. You know what—this is neither self-publishing with an author solution service, nor is it traditional publishing.

“Q: What is Commissioned Publishing?

A: Melrose Books is a pioneer of Commissioned Publishing. We work on the basis of a shared partnership between publisher and author. If we feel that a manuscript has sufficient merit and can be promoted successfully we will make an offer of publication.”

Ah, so this is commissioned publishing. This is a new one on me. A nice subtle turn on what happens in the traditional system of publishing, where a publisher commissions and pays an author to write a particular kind of book for them. Melrose Books, being a pioneer, have turned this on its head. The author commissions the publishers, Melrose Books, to, effectively, allow the author pay them for publishing his/her book. This is brilliant, absolute genius. This is also the greatest fete in commissioning gymnastics I have ever come across.

“Our authors receive 50% or more royalties on each book sale.”

This is in line with other publisher’s partnership deals. This figure is usually based on net sales, that is after retail and printer costs have been subtracted and not the full retail price.

“Q: What is Royalty Publishing?

A: Royalty Publishers include many big name companies such as Penguin and Random House. Royalty Publishers aquire[sic] rights to your manuscript and are responsible for all of the costs associated with publishing and marketing. They take all of the financial risk and as a result are extremely conservative in what they are willing to publish, only considering manuscripts with guaranteed commercial potential from proven authors in mainstream subjects.”

This ‘royalty publishing’ term is a complete misnomer. There is no such term in publishing. All publishers, reputable, whether they are an author solutions company, traditional publisher, or for that matter a partnership publishing company, pay royalties on the books they sell. There is a pattern developing here with Melrose Books.

“Q: What is On-Demand Publishing?

A: On-Demand Publishers print a copy of your book to fulfil each sale they make, and hold no stock of your book. This is done on equipment similar to office laser printers. The resulting books are of a correspondingly low quality and will not be stocked in bookshops or libraries. Typically they provide no editorial or design services and little or no marketing beyond availability on their website. On-Demand Publishers will typically publish any book regardless of content because they have no interest in its eventual success. On-Demand Publishing is not an option for authors serious about having their work professionally published.”

There is some fair and reasoned comment in the above statement from Melrose Books. However, it is also laced with inaccuracies which seem deliberate to play upon an author who knows little about the print methods used in the industry. Firstly, Cambridge University Press, a prestigious university press based not far from Melrose Books, have for several years used print on demand technology very successfully for books they may otherwise have been unable to publish a new edition by using off-set print methods. No, modern print on demand machines are not like the quaint old office laser printer. Pop along to the London Book Fair and take a look at Lightning Source’s stand and you will see a machine in operation. This is state of the art digital technology which in less than five years is going to completely replace offset print machines. Try buying one of these on your average office budget and see how far it gets you. To the average reader and author, there is virtually no difference in quality. The most prohibitive thing about print on demand technology is the unit cost. At the moment, it costs the same per unit for a print run of one or a thousand. But that will change.

“Q: What is Self-Publishing?

A: If you decide to self-publish you must be prepared to undertake every aspect of publishing your book yourself from writing, financing, editing, typesetting, layout, design, printing and binding, marketing, warehousing, copywriting, advertising, sales, distribution, accountancy and legal consulting.”

Yes, the above is beyond the expertise for many authors wanting to self-publish. But, thankfully, that is why we have printers and author solution companies. This is why we have companies like Bookmasters, Booksurge, Amazon’s self publishing program, Thor’s self-publishing program for distribution and print and fulfilment companies like Lightning Source.

Melrose Books partnership service says they will take an authors manuscript, fully edit it, and provide full marketing and promotion. If this is the case, then it is the first partnership program I have come across to offer so much…and all at ‘no extra cost.’

“All marketing and promotion work is provided at no extra cost.”

Melrose Books do present much material on their website about their publishing process. However, some of it is misleading, and at times, entirely inaccurate. I wish publishing was the way Melrose Books describe it. But it is not. Should you wish to look at them closer, and even consider using their partnership program, then you have much to learn about self-publishing and paying to be published. My two cents—keep your fists firmly dug into your pockets.

RATING: 02/10
(Old Style Vanity Press)



  1. Anonymous said:

    A relative of mine has just been told Melrose Books will publish his memoirs if he pays £5700 up front for 1000 copies, receiving 55% of Royalties until money recouped, then 20%. RRP £11.99 but 40-50% discount to most suppliers. I think it’s a scam – what do you think?

  2. Mick Rooney said:

    I have serious concerns about Melrose’s approach.

    While I do try to be objective in my reviews – so much of their approach smacks of old style Vanity publishing. My advise: There are better self publishing options out there. As I hinted at in the review, tell your relative to keep their hands firmly in their pockets, and research a little further on other options. £5000+ is crazy money!

  3. Mick Rooney said:

    No certainly not another Publish America but there is some similarities. PA took your rights and tied you into 7 year deals. while they didn’t charge you up front, little happened beyond your book being made available and a considerable amount of effort was expected from authors to market as well as purchase their own books. PA were doing little else themselves. It was nearly impossible to get a release from PA’s contract and take your book elsewhere.

    With Melrose its a very sizable amount of money up front and few other guarantees. This is anything but partnership publishing used by companies like Matador in the UK.

  4. Anonymous said:

    I trusted Melrose to the tune of about 8000 pounds and they have sold not one book other than through my contacts from which they subtract 50% as their share of the price. I would not recommend them except to say that the final product is very acceptable, but I am still an unknown author and their staff changes constantly.

  5. Mick Rooney said:

    Yes, Anonymous, there is a pattern to the feedback I am getting about Melrose and much of it is similar. Lots of financial input up front from the author, little book sales, and what books are sold, Melrose takes a sizable chunk of that.

    This is shaping up to be the classic vanity publisher, much in the way of Adelphi, Minerva and Excalibur through the 1980’s and 1990’s. Shame.

  6. Mulled Vine said:

    Has anything changed in the last few months. I submitted a manuscript to them for review just recently, and only read their blurb afterwards … and started to worry.

  7. Anonymous said:

    I published with Melrose Books approximately 18 months ago and know pretty much all there is to know about them as far as the business side of things go.
    First and foremost…THEY ARE A VANITY PUBLISHER. Their game is to present themselves as something more than that. Their business strategy is a complete con i.e. They have no panel reading your book…they basically will print utter rot if you are willing to pay for it. A friend of mine also published with them and she is now seriously thinking of sueing them for misleading business practices. The only thing that is stopping her is the boredom of dealing with a claims court.
    Melrose books makes its bread and butter money out of printing elderly writers’ memoirs….how was life during the blitz etc. As a company they promise a media blitz, which amounts to a very damp squib. The sad thing is that some very good writers have published with them and receive absolutely no help from the company to sell their books whatsoever….although they give a lot of hoo-haa about how much books they will sell for you using their well established network (non-existent).
    The staff at Melrose are on the surface pretty nice people. Austin, the so-called comissioning editor, is a laid back Irishman who spends his days dreaming about being a rock star. I went to one of his band’s gigs and must say that he is not a bad vocalist. As far as his role in Melrose goes it is a joke in very bad taste and once I saw what I’d been roped into I realised Austin had lied to me several times during our two meetings.
    In eighteen months Melrose have sold roughly 60 books for me. At this rate it will take over 30 years to recuperate what I invested.
    The only good thing I have to say about the whole process that I’ve been through with Melrose Books is that they will help create a pretty decent hardback….but the thing is nobody is interested in buying them. Personally I put it all down to experience as two months ago I was signed by John M….. the publishers. I might add that my signing came through the traditional channel of writing to publishers and agents and had absolutely nothing to do with Melrose Books.
    If you are thinking of paying them to publish your work my advice is save your money- If you really must see your words in book format there are dozens of cheaper ways to do it..Lulu etc.
    My advice to all writers is never give up. If you have written something worthwhile it will eventually be recognized, unfortunately later rather than sooner. Good luck. RH

  8. Anonymous said:

    My wonderful trusting father paid £7000 to Melrose to publish his Autobiography. My father is in his 80’s, worked hard all his life and chose to write his life story for all to enjoy. It is humerous, witty and in some places historical. Yes many promises were made to him about the sells of his book both here and abroad. I think in the two years only 10 books have been sold, on line. Melrose Books are an utter disgrace taking advantage of vulnerable people.

  9. Anonymous said:

    After reading the above comments it really is foolish to expect anything else.

  10. Anonymous said:

    Thank you for this very informative information. Friends throughout the country, who are desperate to see my book in print, some,having read it, want to buy it so that they can read it again,send me any clips from magazines that may help me to achieve my aim. One friend sent me an advert from the “Scots” mag, and another sent one from”History Scotland”, both with adverts about “Melrose Books” and “Athena Press”.I looked at Melrose books website and thought”This Looks Promising!”Being fairly confident with my novel, knowing how many people are already waiting to buy it,and over and above that my research tells me there are large groups of followers in the subject and being aware of a few places here, and in Europe, who will stock it, coupled with the fact that every agency I have sent it out to have sent it back with good feedback, which I am told is not the norm,”Law”Lucas Alexander Whitley” stated that they found I wrote “with energy and enthusiasm” and definately recommended that I send it out to other agencies if I had not already done so”.With all the positive feedback, and everyone who has read it stating that they could visulise it as an epic film, I thought all I have to do is get it out there. After Reading all the pitfalls to a first time writer, I would, like everyone else, prefer an agent,because it is their trade and they know what publishing is all about. However in the absence of an agent I thought it would be worth it in the first instance to self publish to get it into print.However reading the feedback here I now realise it could be detrimental to my book to have it published in such a way. Thank goodness for people like yourself who care enough to warn us not to throw away all our hard work on a scheme such as this.

  11. Anonymous said:

    Be warned: Melrose Books are an absoluely unscrupulous vanity publisher. If they put as much effort into promoting their authors as they do conning them out of money they would have half a dozen bestsellers by now.
    Their con is a simple one. Send a prospective client a glowing letter about what a fantastic book they’ve written and how with their help it will possibly be a big success. They will promise almost anything to relieve you of a substanial amount of money and deliver not even 5% of what they promise.
    Why they have not been sued and closed down is a mystery.
    To be avoided at all costs.

  12. Sid said:

    Thank you everyone for your very very useful comments + Mick Rooney for a very informative review. I think you have just saved me quite a lot of money. I have just submitted to Melrose books along with a hundred other agents and they were the first to respond. They were so full of praise that it was easy to be lured in – a bit like fishing – but I’m no cod! I shall simply wait and persist with the agents, which a previous comment rightly says, is well worth the wait. To others who find this daunting, I have recently read the partner of popular author had 120 rejection letters before finding an agent to take their work further. They have never been happier. If 120 rejections have to come first then 121 will be submitted.

  13. Anonymous said:

    I’m a newbie to these forums and read this one trying to find out what Melrose Books were like.
    I think, having looked at several similar publishers, that at best all these companies do is print your book. Very little effort goes into marketing. Most sales are generated by the author.
    In that case it makes sense to use the cheapest, worthwhile option. Just pay for printing!
    If you have MS Word and a reasonable level of skill on the computer you can get your work ready to print.
    The cover is easy as well.
    I did just that and 100 books cost me £315. For my next novel I’ve found a cheaper printer, £215 per 100. Both these companies supplied a sample book which was excellent.
    I have compiled a small leaflet setting out how I typeset the book and prepared the cover. It is free to all who send an SAE.
    The link below is to my website where you can request one, apologies if this looks like pushing my site, but I don’t want to put my email straight on this forum.
    My novel came out looking as good as any published work and I’ve got full control of the process.
    Go for it!

  14. Mick Rooney said:


    I do agree, if you have very modest projections for sales of your book, you should definitely be considering the cheapest print/publishing service to start with.

  15. said:

    I have written a Book titled REGENESIS. Not to be arrogant, but it is pretty amazing. The only problem is I live in Zimbabwe. So there are really no options for me unless I look overseas. But all the reputable publishers do not accept unsolicited manuscripts. To get a literary agent is very expensive and I just don’t have that kind of money. How would I go about getting someone to give me a break? I feel I’m sitting on something amazing that NEEDS to be shared. Not only so people can read the written expression of my soul, but so I might generate enough money to get myself out of this stagnant little pond and maybe even put myself through University. Help anyone???

  16. said:

    Oh. I’m 18. I know I’m pretty young to think about becoming an author, but I love writing and win a lot of competitions. Everyone who’s read my work so far, loves it. I sent my manuscript to Melrose and after reading everyone’s comments I’m feeling rather lost. I just want a break. I know I probably sound young and impatient, but my mom can’t afford to send me to University, or get me out of Zimbabwe, so my book is really the only thing I’ve got going for me. It’s my only way to make money for myself and my family. I really don’t know what to do.

  17. Editor said:


    There is a lot you have already done that is right – the competitions and feedback from family and friends.

    Being a writer is first and foremost about honing your craft and skill and that is best done by writing and enrolling in a local writing workshop.

    But truthfully, writing when you start off should not be seen as a means to earn a living. Most writers never earn a living by publishing books, and often earn money also from teaching workshops, university residencies, reporting and journalism.

    Even the most successful authors take three or four books to break through and attain recognition.

  18. said:


    Thank you so much. I needed someone to tell me I’m at least doing something right. I really do want to go into journalism. Investigative…and maybe become a News Anchor. I like acting and take part in our local pantomimes and school plays.

    I never thought of my writing as a means to earn a living before I had no other options. One of my teachers suggested I publish my book and use the money to get myself out of here. Like I said, I really want to further myself in this world; I just don’t have the financial means.

    I guess even if I don’t make any money at all, if people love my work and I get good exposure from it, maybe I might get some big news agency to sign me on as like a girl friday or something and I can do courses as I work? And slowly work my way up….

    I dunno. I’m so grateful for your positive feedback. I’m going to join our local Writer’s group.

    Thank you so much!

  19. Anonymous said:

    I am a believer in that a sign, a message comes to you when you are struggling with making decisions. I am in process of reviewing a contract received from Melrose Books and I am glad that i have come across this site. I wasn’t even looking for it. Thank you Mick for your review on Melrose Books. It is dissapointing that what looks good on paper from them, leads to empty promises, deverstaing in many instances to new writers.

  20. Anonymous said:

    I am a believer in that a sign, a message comes to you when you are struggling with making decisions. I am in process of reviewing a contract received from Melrose Books and I am glad that i have come across this site. I wasn’t even looking for it. Thank you Mick for your review on Melrose Books. It is dissapointing that what looks good on paper from them, leads to empty promises, deverstaing in many instances to new writers.

  21. Anonymous said:

    As an author who has published with Melrose Books, I have found them nothing other than extremely professional, helpful and friendly. My novel was everything that I hoped it would be and I am seriously considering using Melrose again for my next.

  22. Anonymous said:

    I think Mick just called Melrose Book’s bluff. Well done, Mick. Sandra XXX

  23. Editor said:

    Thanks, Sandra.

    As with all comments made on this site, I would advise all readers to take any ‘anonymous’ postings with a grain of salt.

    I have said many times here, if an author comes along here and praises an author solutions service they have worked with – I welcome them. But it carries more weight if that author names their book and who they are. It’s always a little suspicious when an author ‘drops’ in to waif lyrically on a solutions service, and, yet, it unwilling to disclose any information about themselves or their book.

    Most authors I know, who have used a self-publishing service of some kind, are, if anything, clumsy, and at times, too heavy-handed to mention their book at every possible opportunity!

  24. Marilyn Z.Tomlins said:

    My heart goes out to all the writers who have commented on your post about Melrose. The reason: I find myself in a similar situation but with Raider Publishing International.

  25. Anonymous said:

    Yes, Mick, your last comment is spot on. As it happens, my first novel was published by Melrose Books. The bottom line is that my experience with Melrose formed what was to become a very steep learning curve for me.
    ‘Mind Bomb’ came out four years ago. Melrose do produce a good product and the staff are friendly and can be helpful. They should be, because it is their authors who are supplying the money to pay their salaries…not their authors’ book sales.
    Melrose Books sales pitch is deceptive in the extreme. They deliver very little of what they promise and if they put as much sales incentive into selling your book as they do selling you what is in fact an incredibly overpriced package they would have a few best-selling authors in the house. Unfortunately, this is not the case…a real pity because they do have some very good books to sell.
    As it turned out, Mind Bomb has become a little bit of a cult book, but this has very little to do with Melrose Books, but rather the fact that I’ve written an original story that a very small section of the reading public seems to appreciate and enjoy.
    Mind Bomb originally came out in a hardback edition and then was followed by a revised edition paperback. The books are excellent quality and as good, if not better, than most paperbacks you can buy in a high street bookseller.
    I won’t bother going into how I felt that I was deceived by Melrose because I like to take responsibility for my own life. I believe that blaming others gives your personal power to them and in the end only succeeds in weakening you. I chose to work with this company and I don’t regret it. I have much to thank Melrose books for on the level that sometimes we are taken in because we just want to believe things are true, rather than being purely objective. I was naive and I payed for it.
    I can’t say I would reccommend the company but I would not say avoid them at all costs either.
    If a few thousand pounds is not a lot of money to you, I would say, yes, Melrose Books provide a good product and they will get you out there in internet land, so why not go for it?
    If you are a struggling author who thinks they’ve written a bestseller but unfortunately no agent or publisher has expressed interest in it and you are a bit strapped for cash…forget it.

    Luke Mitchell, author of ‘Mind Bomb’.

  26. Editor said:

    Hi Luke,

    Funny, I didn’t connect ‘Mind Bomb’ to you until you signed your comment off – but you’re doing something right, because I instantly recognised your book title as one I had come across.

    Didn’t you do a very original and clever book trailer for it a while back?

    I think you are being very objective and magnanimous in your comments, and I respect that, and if your experience is positive on the book and your dealings with the Melrose staff, then it’s important you have brought that to the forefront.

    From the review I did, I think I was always very clear – Melrose charge high publishing fees, and are too reliant on the ‘speak’ of older-styled vanity presses. Because of that – too many uninformed authors are going to get taken in – under the illusion that success and great sales await.

    Melrose would do well to take a very close look at what kind of company David Lamb is building at Vantage Press in NY, a once much-maligned vanity press, who are turning the image and approach of their company around in a very positive way.

  27. luke mitchell said:

    Good point, Mick. The thing with Melrose is that they have struck on a formula that is making them money…authors willing to pay a lot to have a reasonably good job done of getting their book out there on the internet. I’ve asked some of the staff why not work on making a book a success. They do have the know-how to make this happen. Unfortunately, it seems the management are not interested in that.
    As they say in the Godfather, it’s nothing personal, it’s just business.
    But, as Bob Dylan says, ‘You better start swimming or you’ll sink like a stone ’cause the times they are a changin” Dylan is of course right.
    There is almost a new POD company opening every week these days. The result is that companies like Melrose will have to rethink their business strategy because they now have a lot of serious competition.


  28. Anonymous said:

    i am not sure weather to publish with melrose… they wrote me a convincing letter this month about wanting my book ect…..
    i e-publish these days becuase most mainstream wont take on new authors they just want celebrity books…

    melrose seem very interested… and yes its still 5k if i do… please help

  29. Editor said:


    If you are unsure and have doubts about any paid publishing service, then i’d trust your instinct.

  30. luke mitchell said:

    Dear Anonymous, who received a convincing letter from Melrose Books, what was it about the letter that convinced you and of what? Your book shows great commercial potential and will make a seismic impact in an overcrowded marketplace? You are obviously a great writer? You don’t know whether it is wether or weather?
    If you need convincing to publish with a vanity publisher it is perhaps time to reasses what you are doing.
    From my own experience, Melrose Books are very good at what they do and I’m not going to try and convince you about what that might mean.

  31. davidwelshdragon. said:

    I used to illustrate book covers for Melrose books up until recently. It took me on average 5 months to get a single invoice paid by them, the rest of the comments here do not surprise me one bit. I will never design anything for them again, it took numerous threats of legal action to get my money and if this is their attitude to their illustrators can you imagine what it’s like getting a working author relationship with them.? I’m really disappointed with Melrose books, press or whatever they are going by these days.

  32. Dawn Morris said:

    Has been any improvement in the standards at Melrose books in the last 5 years? I ask because I was talking to them earlier and they sounded very convincing and made several promising offers.

  33. Dawn Morris said:

    I am very concerned about self-publishing. The above review has saved me wasting money on Melrose Books but I have not been impressed by the company everyone rates – troubador-Matador. In my experience they work in partnership with the author but do not acually do what they say they are going to do. I talked to Waterstones Buying Team who asked me to ak my publisher to contact them. However, the marketing team have not done so and often ignore my emails. When I ask the Marketing Controller if she has contacted them I get vague non comittal answers or just ignored. Perhaps the change of staff there has reduced their standards. I hope Mr. Rooney will do another review of them as they seem to have deteriorated in professionalism.

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