Wasteland Press is an author solutions service based in Shelbyville, Kentucky. I might stand corrected, but I think this is the first company we have reviewed from the state of Kentucky. Timothy Veeley is their CEO and he started Wasteland Press in 2000. I thought it a rather disparaging name for an author solutions service, but according to Veeley, it was named after his favourite T.S. Eliot poem, The Waste Land. Their about us snippet from the website claims they specialize in ‘publishing poetry, short stories, religious/inspirational, fiction, and non-fiction novels for writers trying to get noticed.’ Unless I find serious grounds and evidence to substantiate an author solutions service making such ‘specialized’ claims by way of proven marketing and promotional packages or actual sales history of books in these genres, then I find it hard to take such statements seriously.
"Not many people can say they make dreams come true. I made my dream come true seven years ago and now, I get to make people like myself dream's come true. I can't tell you how good it makes me feel to have someone e-mail me or walk up to me and tell me how long they have always wanted to publish their book and finally their dreams come true."
Again, this all comes from the same website page—I’m worried, really worried—more needless dream-speak, and also the ‘I get to make people like myself dream’s come true’ looks pretty editorially shaky to me as a constructed sentence. To be fair, the page is actually tucked away on their contacts link. Their main traffic webpage is a author-driven, but does push their bookstore and author book links—so something positive there to start with. You can request a publishing guide to Wasteland Press’ services on their contact page listed on the previous link.
“We are a customer service oriented company. When an author inquires about our services, we provide information and we allow this information to sell itself. We will never follow-up with unwanted phone calls, e-mails, or any other means of contacting you about your intentions to publish with us. We want you to feel confident that you made the right choice in publishing with Wasteland Press by giving you honest answers to all your questions. We take pride in being an ethical business who fully discloses the entire publishing process.”
Wasteland Press do back this up by providing full phone, email and live support chat facilities and do not indulge in needle-in-the-haystack customer services or sending a spam promotional email every other day to perspective authors who have enquired about their services. So, what are Wasteland Press offering in regards to publishing packages. They make a good pitch here. We will see if it all rings true shortly. From the FAQ’s:
“Why should I choose Wasteland Press?
Wasteland Press makes money from your book—not you! The prices you are quoted are for printing services only! Thus, it is our job to market your book in order to make money. So, we work for you, not against you! Additionally, you can sell your free copies and earn your investment back. No one in the self publishing industry offers you such services as well as a chance to earn your initial investment back. Also, we provide full-service publishing at no extra charge! Our publishing plans include all of the following at no extra charge: cover design (we design your cover from scratch and DO NOT use cover templates), formatting service (we format your book by adding headers, pagination, and even footnotes/endnotes), one-contact Customer Service (no dealing with several individuals), and we even include editing services for most of our plans! We challenge you to find a better deal and if you do, we will match or exceed our competitor's offer!”
So, if the pitch is right, we should be expecting pretty low package prices. We already know any author can register with their own set of ISBN’s and get going with Lightning Source for about a hundred dollars.
Basic Plan - $195
This is pretty limited as a package (up to 275 pages). No ISBN, and online distribution is solely through the Wasteland Press bookstore. A cover design is provided, but authors can only change what is presented to them by Wasteland Press. Five paperback copies for the author are offered and the author may upgrade to including an ISBN and Amazon listing for an additional $50. You get a 15% royalty with this package, that is, retail price minus trade 55% discount.
Silver Plan - $350
As above, with a 20% royalty and 25 paperback books.
Gold Plan - $650+
The ISBN is included on above packages with 75 paperback books for the author. The real shit-kicker here is that the money you pay only gets you a book up to 125 pages. A 275 page book will actually cost $1015! The page increments result in staggered increases in cost. For me, even with the added marketing service of 1000 media alerts, two review copies, full online distribution and database availability to bookstores, 25% author royalties, returns program, 5 hours copy editing; unless you have a moderate page count, which keeps the price in the 750 – 950 marker—for all you get—I really don’t see the value here. Potentially, for a 400 page paperback, you are looking at $1325. I have looked at the LSI costs for page counts and these incremental rises from Wasteland Press just don’t add up or seem warranted.
Platinum Plan - $995+
Again, at the risk of forcing the point unfairly against Wasteland, we are dealing in the realms of a book up to 125 pages for this cost, with increments thereafter quite sizeable. The author gets 150 paperbacks, 10 hours of copyediting, a 30% author royalty, as well as 5 review copies sent out.
Titanium Plan - $1250+
Dual paperback and hardback published editions and 15 hours of copyediting.
Ultimate Plan - $1995+
500 paperback copies, 25 review copies sent out, and 20 hours of copyediting.
The author gets 50%+ discount on additional books they wish to buy directly from Wasteland, but having checked out their retail prices, I’m again deeply uncomfortable about the deal an author actually gets. A typical 100 page book clocks in at $10 - $12, a 200 page book reaches $18 - $20, with any larger book stretching far beyond what I would consider a competitive retail price. Remember, the author, for 1 to 99 copies bought, is paying 50% of that retail price! That is a hell of a large slice of the pie Wasteland Press is cutting when the same 200 page book is costing about $4!
At times like these, I always worry I’ve given the reviewed service provider a hard time. Let’s cut some slack. There is a lot going on here for Wasteland that is good. Very significantly, they do not take ownership of book files from authors; they offer full non-exclusive rights making it easy for the author to go elsewhere with their book. If an author has a slim volume, then certainly some of the packages could be of great value for money. They offer defined hours of copyediting, which is critical in self-publishing, and they run an open, transparent and customer-orientated service (for the author) and they offer free shipping on author copies offered through their packages, though, this is not stated if it applies to overseas authors.
My final qualms are that they need to drop the added ISBN and distribution charges and limits for their bottom two packages. That, I believe, is where their bread and butter is. They also need to allow the option of authors to use their own ISBN’s that they have already procured through Bowkers. Wasteland Press did say at the beginning of this review that they specialised in poetry and short stories, among other genres. I can perhaps now see why. This might be an ideal publisher for those two genres for slim volume outputs, but beyond this, I have explained my reservations.