(Updated, May, 2010, see footer)
Founded by authors in April, 2008, Schiel & Denver is pretty much a new kid on the block. One of those founding authors is Director, Tunde Reid-Kapo (3rd comment down on link). Schiel & Denver describe their company as an international publishing services infrastructure provider, dedicated to meeting the needs of authors and creative people, at an affordable cost. The company operate offices in the UK as well as the USA with 55 staff, and until recently, they concentrated on private and corporate publications.
Schiel & Denver has just 14 listed books on Amazon (they do offer bespoke services and up to last year focused on the corporate sector), and looking back over my records from late last year, this was one reason amongst a few others why I passed on reviewing them. One of the other reasons was that from April 2008 Schiel & Denver struck me as a changing company not entirely sure where they wanted to rest in the publishing industry. They began, I believe, with some endeavour and aspirations of being a ‘commercial and independent trade publisher’, but that can take years to grown from a small independent press and requires considerable industry staffing experience on board. To achieve it, you certainly need a good mix of publishing industry veterans and young dynamic entrepreneurs who know where the future of publishing is headed. Founding a commercial publishing company with authors does not work in the modern book industry. Founding an author solutions service with authors is considerably more realistic and attainable and Schiel & Denver seem to have found their feet this year.
“We provide an affordable and comprehensive range of book publishing packages, and professional author solutions, including editorial, marketing, transcription, translation, design and bookseller services, with the stability and support of an experienced professional publishing team.”
It is all very well for an author solutions service to talk about the experience of their professional publishing team, but Schiel & Denver would do well to list these professionals (editors, marketeer specialists, translators and designers) on their website along with their career credentials.
The Schiel & Denver homepage makes it very clear that they primarily offer author publishing services, but they have just two books on display there. Author solutions services need to make it clear to authors that the sale of books themselves still plays a prominent role in their business model. This may very well be the case for author solutions service companies, but it needs to be demonstrated to the author traffic coming in the company’s front door. This is always something which baffles me. I review publishers with two hats on; the first one, primarily as an author, because that is what I am, and secondly, as a publishing researcher. Here is the added caveat. Authors are usually the most avid readers and purchasers of books! You could not have a more captivated audience and they usually want to buy other authors’ books, not their own.
The Schiel & Denver website is slick and sophisticated, packed with information, and at times, I felt I was being presented with information I really did not immediately need to know. Schiel & Denver make much play on their admittance to the United Nations Global Compact.
“Schiel & Denver has received the honor of admittance to the United Nations Global Compact at the UN Headquarters New York, USA. Each year we report back to the United Nations about our progress and success. Schiel & Denver is a Christian organization committed to values of responsible corporate citizenship and environmentally sound print-on-demand digital technology.“
This is all admirable, and Schiel & Denver are not short on ‘mission statements’, but as an author interested in using their services, show and demonstrate this to me in your services, don’t just tell me with countless statements of intent which percolate through many pages of the website.
Schiel & Denver support their own online bookstore and it is only when you go there you discover the exquisite quality and design of their book covers. It is just unfortunate it took me twenty minutes of wading through mission statements, learning centres (online tutor guides) and the download of their publishing guide to reach this company’s strongest visual impact to a perusing author. Incidentally, their publishing guide is called the Schiel & Denver Operating Manual. Am I buying the latest dishwasher or cooker? Don’t ask… I’ve no idea why they called it that either! It should be noted that the operating manual also acts as the author agreement, so interested authors would be well advised to download it. Retail prices for their books, on average, range £8.99 to £10.99, perhaps marginally above average, but not unnecessarily so.
Operating Manual (Their Self-publishing Guide!)
You could spend hours on this website and that it not necessarily a bad thing. There is plenty of information, some relevant, some not, but it has certainly been very well put together. I am just not sure with all the information who they are trying to impress, self-publishing authors or the General Secretary of the United Nations, Ban Ki-moon! They key should be to get the bones of what a company is about, what they have to offer, and how well they get the message across. Schiel & Denver have also started up a social network forum, and as of August, 2009, it had 250 members.
The meat of any author solutions service is the quality, cost and flexibility of those services. The basic package of £299 is enough to interest any self-publishing author.
“With the handholding support of a professional publishing team, Schiel & Denver’s low cost range of custom book publishing packages give you total creative control over your book’s ISBN production, editorial content, publishing rights, full color cover design, layout and even distribution territories.
Best of all with S&D, your book will receive free marketing in our trade catalog, and distribution to leading bookstores on both sides of the atlantic – including Amazon, Borders, Barnes & Noble, Chapters Indigo in Canada, and Waterstones and WHsmith in the UK.”
All packages include ISBN allocation, author support, a non-exclusive contract agreement, paperback edition, electronic proof, 1 free author copy, volume discounts, Schiel & Denver publisher bookstore listing, royalty and accounting statements, 1 year catalogue listing and distribution availability (online and database retail listing – not shelf placement). The £299 Lite package includes only these. The following packages add the listed features for the increased prices shown.
Design – £510
Add – Custom cover and interior layout, back cover design, books in print database listing, 10 free paperback author copies and 10 internal images.
Maestro – £765
Add – 15 free paperback copies, 25 internal images, a book launch tool kit for author and book review preview.
Premium – £1105
Adds – ebook, dual hardcover edition and 40 internal images.
Executive – £1870
Adds – 20 free paperback and 1 hardback author copies, 100 internal images, website design and US copyright registration and cd archive of files.
Professional – £4250
Adds – unlimited internal images, 500k media press release and enhanced website.
Delux – £7310
Adds – enhanced website, 1m media press release, 50 paperback copies and 1 hardback copy, pro copy-editing, set my own price and London Book fair Marketing.
Platinum – £17000
Adds – enhanced website, 90 free paperback and 5 hardback author copies, 5m media press release, returns program, indexing, international exhibition marketing and personal publicist service.
(check link above for color and some more specific packages)
I am going to gather myself and then make some observations on the above packages.
For Schiel & Denver, from the Maestro package onwards, quite frankly, things leave the natural stratosphere of even the most expensive author solutions service operating in the US or UK. While I note Schiel & Denver do offer bespoke services, that is, flexible to a customer’s needs – it is hard to see how this author solutions service could conceivably understand how these packages are in any way realistic or commercially viable to a self-publishing author. Perhaps this is a reflection from recent private publication business undertaken by them last year.
Here is just a few pointers at this moment in the review. An author has to spend £1870 just to get dual paperback and hardback publication? For £7310, I only get 50 paperbacks and 1 hardback! It costs about £2.90 to print a 200 page paperback through Lightning Source. It costs about £100 all in to digitally set up a title with Lightning Source UK. Exactly how much can you ‘enhance’ a website for an author, from bronze, silver gold…? The executive package on offer here for £1870, could be got from iUniverse or Lulu for about $1000. That’s DOLLARS, not sterling!
At £540, the Design package, while at the high end, is reasonable enough. It gets a self-publishing author going in the publishing world and would be comparable with services provided by AuthorHouse and Trafford. When you compare Schiel & Denver with services provided by Pen Press, Matador, York Publishing Services, Booklocker, even Xlibris (Top package at $12k)… a tale is told.
Schiel & Denver also offer other bespoke services from manuscript editing, proofreading, design, translation, etc. Again, the rates quoted are above what I consider to be normal competitive rates. Details can be found below.
My overall impression of Schiel & Denver is that we have a ‘publisher’ or rather, a company adopting the broad model and approach of a traditional publisher, but offering it as an author solutions service. The danger in this approach is that you are seen as an ‘old style’ vanity publisher, just without the garage full of books. If the truth be told, I wrote this review article about eight to ten weeks ago and have sat on it since. In fact, I submitted the review to Schiel & Denver and advised them due to the cost of their publishing services I was not going to complete and publish the review. Interestingly, I never heard a single world back from them. Nice. I might also add the impetus to review them actually came from an email sent to me by…yes, Schiel & Denver themselves. The invoice for my publishing consultation over four days to research and complete this review is in the post to them!
There is actually a lot I like about Schiel & Denver. The quality of the product looks very strong. There is a very committed effort to turn ‘availability’ into proper physical distribution of books globally, (see Distribution Partners list). They have well developed digital audio distribution services. Their site is excellent, if not one of the very best I have seen—bar the omission of books at the front door—though, at times it is a little over-packed with information, but then, that is a damn site better than a lack of information. They are exploring and developing other dedicated imprints like their children’s and teens division, Heirloom. But their market reach is clearly now aimed at the self-publishing author who simply cannot finance the costs of a traditional published route. Schiel & Denver’s model of business is closer to partnership publishing. Indeed, their net royalty paid is also reflective of this at a healthy 50% for the author. The deeper I look at Schiel & Denver, the more impressed I am, but those prices seem to me to be a reflection of where they were last year, when much of their focus was the corporate sector. I should also point out since doing this review some weeks ago, they have reduced their publishing fees on average by about 5%.
Recently, I have spent some time discussing publishing with small and medium sized independent presses. As a corporate business, taking the commercial risks and not charging to publish authors’ books – they tell me, per title, their investment and financial outlay can be anything between $10 – $25,000. Schiel & Denver’s mid-packages come in at this kind of figure. That may be fine for a publisher, but not realistic for a self-publishing author. At best, most authors are going to plum for Schiel & Denver’s basic lower-priced packages.
Is it the case that the decision makers at Schiel & Denver are green
(mission statements, mission statements) and a little inexperienced about the publishing industry? Certainly self-publishing, and if that is the case, learning on the job
and revising your business model plans and your website every six months is certainly not the best way to go. Still, Schiel & Denver have a business structure (if they’ll just stay still for more than a few months), distribution network (much is still the standard ‘availability’), and the quality of product to be a contender in author solutions. On those qualities alone they blow more illustrious competitors like AuthorHouse completely out of the water. They just need to get a fix on where they are, who they are, and be far more engaging (less corporate) and direct if they are to appeal to serious self-publishing authors if they are to fully develop this end of their business successfully. Perhaps a leaf out of Blurb’s
approach to their authors could help a great deal here, and some of that corporate stiffness might just slip away. My two cents – for authors, wait and watch this company a few more months and see do they slowly and steadily build.
UPDATE: May, 2010.
This publisher’s UK website is now up and running again.
“Schiel & Denver is an independent English-language trade book publisher, specializing in the ISBN publishing of high quality books for debut and professional authors. Our customized book publishing solutions provide authors who are accepted into our program with the power of a world-class book publishing, distribution and title fulfilment infrastructure to British and U.S. booksellers, where the author retains full rights and creative control of his or her own manuscript.”
I have never heard a trade publisher refer to its program of publishing as ‘ISBN publishing’.
Their revised services pages is here.
Royalties are now based on cover price at 25%.
Mention of service costs now seem to have been removed from their website.
About Us page.
I am now concerned now about the entire transparency of this publisher. They describe what they do as trade publishing, yet, present what they do as a service.
UPDATE: April, 2014
This company has now ceased business. The last books published were back in April 2013 and its website and social media links were deleted. Company’s House list it as ‘proposal to strike-off’.
It certainly won’t be missed if the comments under this review are anything to go by.
RATING: 00/10 – CEASED BUSINESS