Wednesday, 30 June 2010

Amazon Launch 70% Royalty Option on Upgraded Kindle Platform

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Some weeks ago Amazon announced that it was introducing a 70% royalty option for authors on their Kindle Digital Platform. What I had not noted back then was the fact that this option will only be available to US-based authors and on book sales within this territory. Today, Amazon announced that the 70% royalty option is now up and running along with some improvements to the DTP Digital Platform used for uploading book content.
From the press release:, Inc. (NASDAQ: AMZN) today announced that the 70 percent royalty option that enables authors and publishers who use the Kindle Digital Text Platform (DTP) to earn a larger share of revenue from each Kindle book they sell is now available. For each book sold from the Kindle Store for Kindle, Kindle DX, or one of the Kindle apps for iPad, iPhone, iPod Touch, BlackBerry, PC, Mac and Android phones, authors and publishers who choose the new 70 percent royalty option will receive 70 percent of the list price, net of delivery costs.

Delivery costs are based on file size, and pricing is set at $0.15/MB. At today's median DTP file size of 368KB, delivery costs would be less than $0.06 per unit sold. For example, on an $8.99 book an author would make $3.15 with the standard option and $6.25 with the new 70 percent option. This new option, first announced in January 2010, will be in addition to and will not replace the existing DTP standard royalty option.

In addition to the 70 percent royalty option, Amazon also announced improvements in DTP such as a more intuitive "Bookshelf" feature and a simplified two-step process for publishing. These features make it more convenient for authors and publishers to publish using DTP.

"We're excited about the launch of the 70 percent royalty option and user experience enhancements in DTP because they enable authors and publishers to conveniently offer more content to Kindle customers and to make more money from the books they sell," said Russ Grandinetti, Vice President of Kindle Content.

DTP authors and publishers are now able to select the royalty option that best meets their needs. Books from authors and publishers who choose the 70 percent royalty option will have access to all the same features and be subject to all the same requirements as books receiving the standard royalty rate. In addition, to qualify for the 70 percent royalty option, books must satisfy the following set of requirements:

•The author or publisher-supplied list price must be between $2.99 and $9.99.
•The list price must be at least 20 percent below the lowest list price for the physical book.
•The title is made available for sale in all geographies for which the author or publisher has rights.
•The title will be included in a broad set of features in the Kindle Store, such as text-to-speech. This list of features will grow over time as Amazon continues to add more functionality to Kindle and the Kindle Store.
•Under this royalty option, books must be offered at or below price parity with competition, including physical book prices.

The 70 percent royalty option is for in-copyright works and is unavailable for works published before 1923 (a.k.a. public domain books). The 70 percent royalty option is currently only available for books sold to United States customers.

DTP is a fast and easy self-publishing tool that lets anyone upload and format their books for sale in the Kindle Store ( To learn more about the Kindle Digital Text Platform, visit or e-mail

Kindle is in stock and available for immediate shipment today at

Writers' & Artists' Yearbook 2011 Now Available

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One book never too far away from my hands is the Writers’ & Artists’ Yearbook. It has been the writers' handbook of choice for me for many, many years.

Today is the official day of publication of the 2011 edition. The book's editor, Jo Herbert, over on the Writers’ & Artists’ Yearbook blog, gives a run down on what is in this year's edition and the importance of always having the most up-to-date edition on your bookshelf. I have to agree with her thoughts on this at a time when there are more changes in the publishing industry than ever before.

"So much happens in the publishing industry in the space of a year – companies move, merge or go broke, new trends sweep the market then drop off the radar, new technologies make an impact, submission policies change, editors move jobs and so on."
The Writers' & Artists' website features a special discount price available on the book from their online bookstore.

Marcus' Books Return To Amazon Listings

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The books of self-published author Michael N. Marcus, currently the victim of a sustained smear on the internet, are available again for sale on Amazon. Yesterday the author's books became unavailable for purchase fueling suspicions the internet retailer had removed the books from purchase due to online alegations on a series of websites.

This morning Amazon was exonerated of anything untoward  surrounding the unavailability yesterday of books by Marcus and many other authors. The lack of availability of some books was due to technical glitches and outages rather than the Internet retailer deliberately removing specific titles. Michael N. Marcus continues today to provide updates on a blog he has set up about the smears against him.   

Amazon Jump on Bandwagon and Remove Self-Published Author's Books and Profile

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When Amazon removed the books and Author Central Page of writer and self-publisher, Michael N. Marcus, they jumped on a misguided bandwagon that has gathered some steam over the weekend. As Amazon has provided—as yet—no reason why they removed the author’s books, we can only assume they are protecting their corporate needs and do not want to be seen to be associated or linked in any way with the promotion of an author accused, only on the Internet, of being a convicted paedophile in the state of California.

I have never met Michael N. Marcus, nor have I even shared a conversation with him, though, we exchanged two emails last year about a book he was writing, and I am one of his many friends on his Facebook page, and a follower of his excellent blog, Book Making Blog—a site he describes as dedicated to ‘discussions on writing, editing, publishing and drawing attention to inept publishers and writers.

On Saturday morning, I received a disturbing email from someone I did not know informing me that Michael N. Marcus was a convicted paedophile. I do not know Michael personally, not like his family or friends, and so I felt obliged to do what I try to do with any important information passed to me when I write here (sorry, Michael). I verified the facts. Something clearly Facebook, blog networks, sites are obviously incapable of doing, including Amazon, not to mention the gullible fools who sign up to any online petition without checking its validity. But, then, that was what the perpetrator of the above campaign against Michael N. Marcus was hoping for.

I contacted the Attorney General’s Office in California and checked the Sex Offenders Registry.

Had anyone viewing this blog, or the links on this mybloglog page, or this Facebook petition page bothered to do the same, they would have found out that:

Michael N. Marcus is NOT a convicted paedophile
He DID NOT spend four years in prison
He DID NOT sexually abuse young boys

...and that he is entirely innocent and the victim of a despicable, systematic and sustained attempt to smear his name, his books and his publishing imprint.

I cannot comprehend the turmoil, upset and distress Michael, his wife, family and friends have experienced over the past few days. My thoughts and my support are with him, and I would hope all those who have followed his blog and the advice and warnings he writes on an almost daily basis provide the same thoughts and support. In doing so, he has found himself the victim of a despicable attack on a platform of the Internet so many authors now use to have their voices heard and their books bought and read.

What touches base with me so much in all of this is that we discussed a number of the surrounding issues (censorship, freedom of expression and paedophilia) in a recent report and debate here on the withdrawal of distribution of a book on Michael Jackson by Matador.

Michael N. Marcus—a noted prankster and man of sharp humour and wisdom—has dealt with all of this in his own inimitable way—by hitting back with a blog—chronicling his experience in all of this. If I know Michael, we can expect a book too!

I know Michael has expressed his own thoughts on who is behind this smear campaign, but I also have my own thoughts too, and I do not rule out the possibility that this could be a disgruntled ‘vanity publisher’, as Michael calls so many author solutions services, or someone operating on behalf of one of them. Yes, I’ve my own thoughts on which it might be. There also remains the possibility it is actually someone in Michael's own locale, which is even more disturbing. 

But, for now, my thoughts are with you, Michael. Hang in there. Fuck Amazon. We know what motivates them.

Tuesday, 29 June 2010

PublishAmerica Discontinues Trade Paperback Books (UPDATE)

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PublishAmerica (PBA 139.58) authors have been informed by email that the company is discontinuing trade paperback editions and books will only be available in hardback editions. It is a bizzare and troubling turn of events for its listed authors. As things stand with PublishAmerica, paperback retail prices are already considered excessive, and this latest development, if it is accurate, will leave authors with just an expensive hardback option and an ebook. The communication to authors, first sent out last Friday, states that PublishAmerica will list the hardback books at the paperback price. However, there are varying reports on the PublishAmerica forums that some paperback listed prices have risen by $3 to $5.

The news first started circulating in the PublishAmerica Forums late last week and was confirmed by one of their forum moderators - see the Site Admin posting from 'infocenter' in this discussion:

"PublishAmerica is announcing in that message that it is discontinuing most of its softcovers. Hardcover-only for tens of thousands of books."
Here is the full body of the email sent to PublishAmerica authors on Friday:

Dear Author:

We are discontinuing almost all of our softcovers. After next week these books will be available from PublishAmerica only in hardcover, at the same list price as the softcovers.

That's the very good news. The mixed news is that therefore this must be our final deep-discount sales offer. If you want to stock up on softcovers one more time and obtain them at a super low price, this is your final opportunity.

Hardcovers are more expensive to make. There is no margin for the deep discounts that we can allow for the softcovers that we are now discontinuing. That's why there cannot and will not be any more deep-discount sales offers for all authors such as today's. Going forward we must stay close to regular pricing.

Three days only, final time: go to, and use this coupon: Final. You'll not only receive a 50 pct discount, but we will also double your order at our own expense, which will effectively give you a discount of roughly 75 pct on each softcover. You may buy as many or as few softcovers as you want, and we will ship twice as many to you. After next week they will be discontinued. No more softcovers, no more deep discounts.

Note that the free books don't show up in the shopping cart, but your use of the Final coupon automatically ensures their production. We'll even cover the shipping of the freebies; they are our farewell-softcover gift to you. Example: if you purchase 12 softcovers, we will send you 12 extra, for a total of 24.

This change to hardcover-only is unique and important. That's why we issued a "news alert" last night. No other traditional publisher offers this quality product for tens of thousands of titles. Expect change to start appearing in our bookstore after next week. Hardcovers are excluded from this offer. Select titles may be exempt from change or future limited discounting.

Thank you!
--PublishAmerica Bookstore

When Booksellers Become Small Presses

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What would happen if local bookstores decided to become small press publishers?

Well, according to today's Publishers Weekly article, New Indie Bookselling Model: Publish Own Handselling Favorites, it is already happening. The article looks at the moves by two bookstore owners in Albany New York and Massachusetts using both print on demand and offset to print books by local authors with national sales potential. The small presses set up by these industrious owners not only supply their own stores but other independent booksellers.

"Four years ago this month Susan Novotny, owner of the Book House of Stuyvesant Plaza in Albany, N.Y., looked to print-on-demand to bolster lagging store sales. With Eric Wilska, owner of the Bookloft in Great Barrington, Mass., she opened the Troy Book Makers in Troy, N.Y., in a storefront adjacent to her other bookstore, Market Block Books. Novotny and Wilska not only print books for others on the store’s InstaBook machine or via offset, but bring back into print regional titles to sell in their stores—over 300 titles to date. Now, in what Novotny calls her “35th anniversary present to the Book House,” she is going beyond just printing and is launching a publishing house out of the store, Staff Picks Press."
You can read the article here.

Monday, 28 June 2010

iUniverse Launch Book Placement and Signing Packages

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iUniverse (IUV 232.56)  has introduced two new publishing packages offering in-store book placement and in-store book-signing ($3999) in a partnership with Canadian book retailer Indigo. The in-store book placement program ($2999) is similar to the one sister company AuthorHouse (AUH 222.38) has with retailers Borders and Waterstones.

From today's press release:

BLOOMINGTON, IN, June 28, 2010 — iUniverse, the leading book marketing, editorial services, and supported self-publishing company, has extended their partnership with leading Canadian bookseller, Indigo Books & Music Inc., to provide authors in-store placement and book signing opportunities at Indigo, Chapters or Coles bookstores across Canada. iUniverse and Indigo have developed two exclusive publishing packages:

Indigo Chapters Bookstore Premier Pro Publishing Package - Package includes guaranteed stocking of the book in a Chapters bookstore for a minimum of eight weeks. Services include professional iUniverse paperback publishing; conversion of content to make it compatible with Kobo - Indigo Chapters’ eReader; eligibility for iUniverse recognition programs; booksellers’ returnability; 25 paperback copies of the completed book; and much more.

Indigo Chapters Bookstore Signing Publishing Package - In addition to all of the products and services included in the Indigo Chapters Bookstore Premier Pro Publishing Package, authors receive an in-store book-signing event at an Indigo, Chapters or Coles bookstore. Also included are book-signing promotional materials including posters, signage and postcards.

“We are pleased to be partnering with Indigo Books & Music to offer our authors these unique opportunities to reach out to readers through Canada’s leading book retailer,” said Kevin Weiss, president and chief executive officer of Author Solutions - iUniverse’s parent company. “This gives authors the chance to see how their books resonate with readers, and with sales success, could lead to additional retail opportunities.”

Indigo Books & Music Inc. is the largest book retailer in Canada with over 240 locations across Canada and operates the popular retail Web site Launch Dedicated Online Retail Bookstore For Authors and Publishers

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A new online retailer has launched dedicated to books from and about Northern Ireland and also books written by Northern Irish writers. was born out of Colourpoint Books, a Northern Ireland local publisher founded in 1993 by Sheila and Norman Johnston.

The Johnsons also founded April Sky Design in 2002, a company offering self-publishing services to authors and one of the few such companies in Northern Ireland. In 2008, they founded MiMO Distribution, specialising in book distribution to stores for small local publishers in Northern Ireland.

From the press release: which took nearly two years and an investment of £20,000 to develop is part of the Newtownards based Colourpoint Books publishing company. The site already has over 600 local titles with more being added each week.

The family business, which employs 10 people, was set up in 1993 and is now run by brothers Wesley and Malcolm Johnston.

Speaking at the launch Wesley Johnston said that the original concept was to provide a place online where people could go to find all the books on a chosen subject or location in Northern Ireland, written by local authors or published in Northern Ireland – a place where even small publishers with just one title can appear as prominently as everyone else.

What distinguishes from other book websites is the opportunity given to local writers through our primary focus on local publishing. Many local books do not appear on national sites and when they do there is often scant information, no cover image and it can take four to six weeks to get the book. This website reflects our love of local publishing with genuine interest, local knowledge and local relationships.”

The launch of the new website was held in the Linen Hall Library when Wesley also presented John Killen, its Librarian, with a cheque for £500 as a corporate donation towards the work of the library.

At the launch local author, Stuart Neville, also gave a reading from his new book The Twelve to the invited audience.

Saturday, 26 June 2010

Blurb To Publish Book on Friendly Fire Incident in Afghanistan

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Blurb, a DIY self-publishing service, has announced the publication of one of its most significant titles ever. From July 29th, Boots on the Ground by Dusk, a book written by Mary Tillman with Narda Zacchino, shares the story of US Army Ranger Pat Tillman's life and a family's unrelenting efforts to uncover the truth about his death in Afghanistan after he was killed by his fellow soldiers in a friendly fire incident.

In a controversial and deeply personal memoir, Mary Tillman shares the story of her son Pat Tillman's life and death. having given up a professional football career, Pat Tillman joined the Army Rangers after 9/11 terrorist attacks on New York. In 2004, Pat was shot and killed in Afghanistan in a friendly fire gun battle. Yet the story told by the government was quite different. Mary documents her family's crusade to uncover the truth and expose the cover-up of Pat's death orchestrated by senior military officials.

The Tillman family's efforts to expose the military-led cover-up that followed Pat tillman's death, a cover-up the family's research shows was led by General Stanley McChrystal, is cited in Rolling Stone's recent piece, 'The Runaway General.'

Boots on the Ground by Dusk will be released in paperback several weeks before the release on August 20 of the film The Tillman Story, a documentary by acclaimed director Amir Bar-Lev. The film features candid interviews with Pat's fellow soldiers and his family. It chronicles Pat's story and reveals startling details about the military's propaganda machine. The film is narrated by Josh Brolin. The Weinstein Company is distributing the film.

Readers who purchase the book will be supporting The Pat Tillman Foundation. As part of the Blurb for Good program, for every book sold, Blurb will donate $1 to the Foundation, which provides resources and educational support to veterans, active service members and their dependants.

Boots on the Ground by Dusk was first published in hardcover in 2008 by Modern Times, an imprint of Rodale. Leigh Haber, now a consultant for Blurb, edited the hardcover book and helped Mary team up with Blurb for the paperback printing. The literary agent managing the project is Steve Wasserman.

Friday, 25 June 2010

Fulmer and The Blind Book Translator of Paris

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Back in February of this year, we took a look at Five Stones Press as part of our series of Publishing Innovators. Mystery novelist David Fulmer from Atlanta Georgia, with the support of two business friends, launched his small independent press with its unique business model of fan-base supportive publishing.

"Fulmer decided if he was to succeed he would have to change the rules of publishing itself. With the help and support of two business friends, Tara Coyt, a writer, editor and marketing strategist in publishing, and Anna Foote, a financial services veteran, Five Stones Press was founded. Coyt and Foote felt Fulmer as an author had enough marketability and fan-base to make the publishing endeavour worth supporting."

Fulmer and Five Stones Press continue to go from strength to strength with his first three jazz music-themed novels being picked up for translation by his French publisher. This morning, writing in Publishing Perspectives, Fulmer explains how he came upon The Blind Book Translator of Paris.

"In the spring of 2006, I heard the exciting news that my first three novels — Chasing the Devil’s Tail, Jass, and Rampart Street – would be published in French translation by Rivages. It had been a long time coming, but the wait was worth it. Not only was France a natural fit for books set in turn-of-the-century New Orleans, Rivages also boasted a long list of fiction authors whom I admired."

Read the rest of the piece here.

New Publishing Express - RIP

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After almost six months of trialling New Publishing Express, our dedicated news site, we decided to take it out back and put a bullet in its head. It went quietly and without much protest with few turning up for its solemn passing.

Will I miss it? No. It was like working late on a Friday night when your mates were down the pub. It was like babysitting under-fours for a whole bank holiday weekend when the sun outside is splitting the trees. Bluntly, it just wasn't worth the effort involved.

New Publishing Express was always an experiment, created to see if we could successfully separate our short news service posts from the bulk of what we do here on POD, Self Publishing & Independent Publishing.

...even we found it dull and fucking boring.

Now, forgive me, but I must take a long drive up into the mountains to dispose of something...unpleasant...I may be some hours...

Thursday, 24 June 2010

Vantage Press US - Reviewed [Not recommended]

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[Not Recommended]

Most of the author solution services I review here are companies I have been familiar with over the past three to four years since I began my research on fee-charging publishing services in the industry. Though, I have known some companies a great deal longer.

“Even at the age of fifteen, I was already very familiar with those vanity publishing ads in the Sunday newspapers. I remember writing off to Vantage Press for their brochure — getting it a few days later in the post and spending many nights in bed browsing through it and dreaming away about my future life as a novelist. Around then, I started buying the Writers & Artists Yearbook and other books on writing and publishing. I came across writers like Peter Finch who dared to write about self-publishing at a time when it was frowned upon by the literary establishment.”

From, Vanity & the Typewriter, by Mick Rooney

I first came across Vantage Press (VAP, July Flotation) when I was fifteen years of age. That was twenty-seven years ago. Even now, Vantage Press, based in New York since its foundation in 1949 as a publisher, is still considered the grandfather of vanity publishers. For traditional publishing purists, that may still be the perception. Prior to the past few weeks, the last time I took a close look at Vantage Press was last summer. By December, David Lamb, a former investment banker, had bought Vantage Press.


Lamb saw Vantage Press as an independent publishing house with a reputable sixty-year history in paid-publishing services. He was unwilling to see the company under his stewardship adopt the (POD) print on demand model of publishing like many of its ‘internet’ competitors. Lamb believes the Vantage Press brand name operates at the quality end of paid-publishing, offering services underlined with integrity and transparency, and without the need to compromise and see the company slide into the lower end of the market.

“For all these professional services, our fees are considered fair and reasonable, as evidenced by the fact that we publish hundreds of new books each year. But, please be realistic: most books by new authors do not sell well, and most authors do not recoup the publishing fee.

...we do not ‘print-on-demand’. This is critical for the commercial availability of your book, since most booksellers refuse to stock print-on-demand titles.”

It is easy for any publisher to bandy around the fact that they have been in business for sixty-one years—moreover when your competitors have only emerged over the past ten years or less. On face value, Vantage Press appears to present arguments which fly in the face of ‘publish your book for $200’ deals, and instead, present services costing between $5000 and $25,000. Where Vantage Press differ from some of the competition is that they provide thorough and professional copy editing as well as typesetting and interior layout on all their published books.

Over its sixty year history, Vantage Press has published more than 20,000 books by more than 15,000 authors. Some of their most successful titles include Alice McDermott’s 1982 novel, A Bigamist's Daughter, which was eventually acquired by Random House. McDermott was actually a clerk typist with Vantage Press and later went on to became a Pulitzer Prize nominee more than once and the book sold over 100,000 copies with Vantage Press.

Vantage Press was one of the early publishing advocates of direct marking selling as far back as the 1950’s and it has remained a feature of its approach since the foundation of the company. Today, its direct marketing program is also combined with internet marketing for all titles.

What I do particularly like about Vantage Press is the fact that they are forthright about the perils and disadvantages of self-publishing and fee-charging publishers and do not engage in overplaying their services or portraying self-publishing as the only game in town. Not only that, but Vantage Press is willing to draw direct attention to their own controversy and shortcomings of the past.

“A lawsuit stemming from 1971 accused Vantage of inadequate marketing; the suit was settled in 1990 after a judgment against Vantage and its then-owners, and the company clarified its marketing promises after that. That Vantage amended its ways can be seen in its current “A-“ Better Business Bureau rating, showing complaints from only two out of thousands of clients over the last five years.”

[EDITOR: In May, 2010, the accredited rating was upgraded to A+]

Some of the advice offered by Vantage Press goes to the very heart of criticism of so-called ‘self-publishing companies’ and their blunt candour is refreshing.

“...Print-on-demand publishers manufacture each copy to order - but they won't tell you that not having physical inventory inhibits many stores from even ordering. This is an often overlooked but critical difference that sets Vantage apart. Every Vantage title can be stocked by booksellers because we agree to accept returns - print-on-demand 'publishers' often make their authors pay hundreds of dollars more to comply with what is simply the custom of the book industry.”

"A word of caution about financial returns. No one can predict how a book will sell and, consequently, how much of your fee you are likely to regain by publishing your work with us. Some authors have received satisfactory returns. Others, however, did not find the market receptive and their financial rewards have been negligible."

"Sales of Vantage Press books vary widely. Some books sell a few hundred copies or less; some, a few thousand copies; a handful have sold even more. By its very nature, book publishing is an unpredictable business, and the author who pays to publish his or her work should weigh the risks involved.”

To be fair to other author solutions services, many would not be selling publishing packages in the $5000 - $25000 bracket, and I am sure with what Vantage Press offer at their lowest entry level–many of the basic services are already built into the $5000+. Unlike other competitors Vantage Press will not provide a detailed quote and breakdown on service fees until they have received the author’s manuscript for review (submission page). They are also candid enough to concede that many manuscripts submitted to them are published, but the physical book is of high quality, professionally edited and designed, conceding suitability and success in the book market to the quality of content the author can produce.

“We believe that you and all other authors have a right to express your ideas in print and present your creative efforts to the public. In that spirit Vantage Press has a policy of offering to publish most manuscripts that are submitted.”

Every book accepted by Vantage Press gets the following offered in their book proposal:

*ISBN/Barcode Allocation (Registered with Vantage Press)
*LCCN (Library Cataloguing Number)
*Professional Copy Edit
*Copy Proofing
*Custom Cover (Author can supply materials if they wish)
*Typesetting/Interior Layout
*Advance Information sheet to Sellers
*Review copies sent to newspapers, magazines, and broadcast outlets in your local area and nationally, taking into account specialty and internet media.
*Sample copies sent to selected booksellers and libraries
*When practical, a coordination of book signings
*500 Contacts for direct sell list
*Press release
*Inclusion in Vantage Press trade catalogue
*Online distribution listing (including Books in Print)
*Wholesale warehousing and fulfilment of inventory
*Direct sales marketing from Vantage Press
*Initial offset print run of 400-1000 books
*Free print runs thereafter if required
*Copyright registration
*100% Returns program offered to booksellers
*Submission of legal copies to National Library
*50 to 100 Author copies supplied
*50% Discount on retail price for any copies bought by author
*40% Royalty on retail book price
*Cancellation of contract allowed after two years (contract is active from the date the book production is completed)
*Paperback or hardback editions
*Option to use Vantage Press just as your printer

Again, Vantage Press is happy to concede that authors should not expect book sales to be at the level of those achieved by a large commercial publisher and Vantage Press sales ‘will be more modest’ with ‘a minority of Vantage titles sell out their first printings’. Vantage Press also stress that there is no obligation or hard sell on the author to purchase copies of their own book.

Vantage Press offer a 40% discount to the trade, take 20% themselves, and the remaining 40% is the author’s royalty. All percentages are based on the retail price of the book. Retail prices of Vantage Press titles are competitive and in line with prices from other books from trade publishers. The following guide is based on an average 200pp book with no internal colour or illustrations:

Paperback (6 x 9) - $11 to $15 approx.
Hardback (6 x 9) - $20 - $25 approx.

I did note trade orders must be 5+ copies to qualify for the 40% discount, or otherwise, 20% for 1 – 4 copies. This is the one area which poses a big disadvantage for retailers. While Vantage Press do offer all retailers 100% returns, a bookseller’s product buyer may be unwilling to purchase 5 copies of an unknown author’s book due to shelf-space restrictions.

Current owner of Vantage Press, David Lamb, has plans to turn the sixty-one-year-old company into a premium trade publisher, only publishing a small number of authors and offering what he describes as a ‘concierge service’ provided by industry professionals. He also plans to launch a new imprint called Vantage Point in 2011 which will select and publish up to a dozen titles per season.

Overall, Vantage Press is not the best fit for an author proficient in design, layout and other book production skills, but for authors looking to publish a niche market book—having tried the traditional route to publishing through agents and commercial publishing houses—Vantage Press may come as a breath of fresh air from the promises and hot air expelled by so many large author solutions services. My only other gripe would be that I found the Vantage Press book covers average to eye-catching, but could do with a little more inspiration, though the Vantage Press catalogue does have quite a high volume of non-fiction and memoirs.

I will not deny I approached my research on Vantage Press based on my perception of them many years ago as an out-and-out vanity press. What I discovered was a company prepared to be refreshingly honest with authors looking at a fee-charging publishing service. They are certainly committed to delivering a physical book product professionally edited and presented to the trade.

What Vantage Press also demonstrates is that you get what you pay for if you enter the paid-publishing field. Some authors may feel that even their minimum charge of $5000+ is exorbitant, but if an author is contracting out the production of their book alone, they must consider the fact that professional book design services to produce a book worthy of being presented to the trade is going to conservatively cost, $500-800 for a cover design, $1000 for proper typesetting and layout, and $2000 for a professional copy editing of an average length novel of 100k words. Factor in an initial short offset print run and many other services required to produce a published book and you can see why so many authors are looking to learn many new skills to carry out some of this work themselves.

Vantage Press is for those authors not sufficient in book production skills and looking to have a book produced to a high physical quality. Ultimately, if an author submits a poorly written manuscript, at best, they are going to end up with a well-edited book of poor content. Even Vantage Press is not going to make a bad book a good one—that responsibility will rightly always lie with the author.

If I were rating vantage press on transparency and honesty alone — we would be looking at a 9 or 10. Vantage Press have genuinely surprised me this time around. Their FAQ page is an honest down-to-earth reflection of what the advantages and disadvantages are for using a fee-charging service. There are a lot of other competitor services who would do well to read through the FAQ page. Indeed, authors alike, even if they are not considering Vantage Press. With exceptional royalties of 40% (on retail price), combined with the high-end fees, this is actually closer to what is offered by Partnership Publishers.

UPDATE: Aug 2011
Vantage Press launch their trade imprint 

UPDATE: December 2012
Vantage Press Confirm 'Suspension' of Operations

[Not Recommended]

RATING: 8.2/10
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FT Article and Jamie Byng's Incredible Shrinking iPad

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Yesterday's edition of the Financial Times ran a piece by Feargus O'Sullivan entitled, 'Publishing industry holds breath over electronic books'. The thrust of the piece is that the arrival of ebooks and reader devices like the Kindle and iPad are causing the biggest upheavel in the publishing world since the Gutenberg invented the printing press.  

The genteel world of publishing rarely lends itself to such rash statements, but the excitement and fear is almost unprecedented since the beginning of the book printing industry. As Jamie Byng, the founder of Canongate Books, publisher of Booker Prize-winner Life of Pi, puts it: “It’s like the bloody Wild West at the moment.”
The piece also features a photograph of Canongate's founder, Jamie Byng, looking quizzically at the camera while holding what is cited in the photograph caption as an Apple iPad. Trouble is, either my eyes are deceiving me, or that iPad has shrunk in the wash! 

Wednesday, 23 June 2010

Apple Sell 3 million iPads in 80 Days

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Yesterday Apple announced that it had sold three million iPads in the eighty days since the launch of the device in the USA.

From the press release:

Apple® today announced that it sold its three millionth iPad™ yesterday, just 80 days after its introduction in the US. iPad is a revolutionary and magical product that allows users to connect with their apps, content and the Internet in a more intimate, intuitive and fun way than ever before.

“People are loving iPad as it becomes a part of their daily lives,” said Steve Jobs, Apple’s CEO. “We’re working hard to get this magical product into the hands of even more people around the world, including those in nine more countries next month.”

Developers have created over 11,000 exciting new apps for iPad that take advantage of its Multi-Touch™ user interface, large screen and high-quality graphics. iPad will run almost all of the more than 225,000 apps on the App Store, including apps already purchased for your iPhone® or iPod touch®.

Users can browse the web, read and send email, enjoy and share photos, watch HD videos, listen to music, play games, read ebooks and much more, all using iPad’s revolutionary Multi-Touch user interface. iPad is 0.5 inches thin and weighs just 1.5 pounds—thinner and lighter than any laptop or netbook—and delivers up to 10 hours of battery life.*

*Battery life depends on device settings, usage and other factors. Actual results vary.

Apple ignited the personal computer revolution with the Apple II, then reinvented the personal computer with the Macintosh. Apple continues to lead the industry with its award-winning computers, OS X operating system, and iLife, iWork and professional applications. Apple leads the digital music revolution with its iPods and iTunes online store, has reinvented the mobile phone with its revolutionary iPhone and App Store, and has recently introduced its magical iPad which is defining the future of mobile media and computing devices.

Tuesday, 22 June 2010

Michael Jackson's Mother Self-Publishes Photo Book

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Michael Jackson’s mother, Katherine, is self-publishing a family-album-style coffee table book of photographs and reminiscences of her son from her personal archive this week. The book is entitled, Never Can Say Good Bye: The Katherine Jackson Story. She is self-publishing the book with the help of Vintage Pop Media in both hardback print and ebook editions.

The hardback edition, priced at $59.99, will come bundled with the separately available ebook, priced at $8.99, (are you listening mainstream publishers?) and will contain 150 colour pages of previously unseen photographs of Jackson punctuated with anecdotes, quotes and reminiscences from Katherine Jackson.

From what I can gather from the current information available, the book can only be purchased from the Michael Jackson Secret Vault website. The following quote from Katherine Jackson on the website:

"I wanted to release a tribute book about Michael to thank his fans for all their love and support over the years..." Katherine states, in an effort to clear the air of negative press that surrounded Jackson’s life, “My son has been misunderstood and this was my way to share what kind of person he really was.”

Some of the proceeds from her book will be donated to ‘a good cause’, though there are no specifics on what percentage of profits would be donated or what charities would be selected.

"I wanted to give a portion of the book to charity because that’s the way Michael would have wanted it."
Katherine Jackson.

Monday, 21 June 2010

Amazon Respond To New Nook Prices With Kindle Price Reduction

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In what looks like a distinct reaction to Barnes & Noble announcement earlier today to price the new Nook Wi-Fi at $149 and reduce the 3G version to $199, Amazon, late today announced that they are to reduce the price of the Kindle device to $189.

From the press release., Inc. today announced that Amazon Kindle, the best e-reader on the market (see this recent press release from the world's leading consumer reporting organization), is now only $189, down from $259. Kindle is the 3G wireless portable reader that allows you to think of a book and be reading in 60 seconds, from wherever you happen to be. Easy to read even in bright sunlight, the 10.2 ounce Kindle is light enough for one-handed reading. Even though it's a 3G wireless device, Kindle has no monthly fees or annual contracts. The Kindle Store includes over 600,000 books and the largest selection of the most popular books people want to read, including 109 of 112 New York Times Bestsellers and New Releases from $9.99. In addition, over 1.8 million free, out-of-copyright, pre-1923 books are available to read on Kindle. Since its release, Kindle has been the #1 bestselling product across the millions of items sold on Amazon. Kindle is in stock and available for immediate shipment at the new lower price of $189. Learn more at

Barnes & Noble Launch Nook Wi-Fi For $149

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Barnes & Noble booksellers this morning announced the launch of the Nook Wi-Fi ereader. The device will sell at a very competitive $149. Barnes and Noble has also announced that the Nook 3G will be reduced to $199.

From the press release.

New York, New York – June 21, 2010 – Barnes & Noble, Inc. (NYSE: BKS), the world’s largest bookseller, is giving book lovers more choice and greater value in dedicated eBook Reading devices with the addition of NOOK Wi-Fi to the NOOK by Barnes & Noble family for just $149, and a new lower price for its award-winning NOOK 3G at $199. The new NOOK Wi-Fi offers all the great features of NOOK 3G – a color touchscreen for navigation and best-in-class E-Ink® display for a great reading experience – plus Wi-Fi connectivity. NOOK Wi-Fi is now available to order online at and

Barnes & Noble’s new price for NOOK 3G marks the market’s first under-$200 dedicated full-featured eBook reader that offers both free 3G wireless and Wi-Fi connectivity. And Barnes & Noble continues to enhance the eReading experience for all NOOK 3G and NOOK Wi-Fi owners through its latest 1.4 software update, now offering even more places to connect to Wi-Fi for free and faster access to the content they want to read.

NOOK Wi-Fi eBook Reader marries innovative technology and sleek minimalist design with Wi-Fi connectivity. This latest addition to the NOOK family gives customers the opportunity to take advantage of the proliferation of both in-home and public Wi-Fi hotspots, where they can browse the Web and shop the Barnes & Noble eBookstore of more than one million eBooks, periodicals and other digital content. With its latest software update for all NOOK devices (now available at, Barnes & Noble is offering all NOOK customers complimentary access to AT&T's entire nationwide Wi-Fi network, including Barnes & Noble bookstores which have previously been available to NOOK customers.

As part of the NOOK eBook Reader family, NOOK Wi-Fi features Barnes & Noble’s breakthrough LendMe™ technology, enabling customers to share eBooks with friends for up to 14 days. NOOK Wi-Fi also offers the same great in-store features like Read In Store™ to browse complete eBooks in Barnes & Noble stores at no cost, and More In Store™, offering free, exclusive content and special promotions.

“People who love to read will find tremendous value with the new NOOK Wi-Fi, the most full-featured, low-cost eReading device on the market, and our bestselling NOOK 3G now at an even lower price,” said Tony Astarita, Vice President, Digital Products, Barnes & “This expanded choice offers best-in-class, best-priced dedicated eBook Readers featuring eBook sharing, access to our vast eBookstore, great free and exclusive content and much more. And with expansion of fast and free Wi-Fi access beyond Barnes & Noble stores to thousands of AT&T Wi-Fi Hot Spots, we’re bringing additional freedom and flexibility to all NOOK 3G and NOOK Wi-Fi customers.”

Pearson is The World's Largest Publisher

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Pearson is the world's largest publisher, according to a ranking list compiled by Ruediger Wischenbart on behalf of French trade magazine Livres Hebdoof. Details of the top ten global publishers were released by The Bookseller this morning, who will release the full ranking list later this week.

"Despite the tough economic climate, and the threat posted by digitisation, the ranking has changed little since last year: seven out of the top 10 publishers have held their positions. Two, Spanish trade group Planeta and US educational publisher McGraw-Hill, swapped places, while German media group, and Macmillan's parent, Holtzbrinck, has climbed into tenth spot."

You can read The Bookseller's initial report on the ranking here.
Global top 10

1 Pearson (includes Penguin Group)€5,290m
2 Reed Elsevier €5,024m
3 ThomsonReuters €3,813m
4 Wolters Kluwer €3,425m
5 Bertelsmann (includes Random House)€2,969m
6 Hachette Livre €2,273m
7 Grupo Planeta €1,804m
8 McGraw–Hill Education €1,666m
9 De Agostini Editore €1,616m
10 Holtzbrinck n/a

Austin & MacAuley UK - Reviewed

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I have been following Austin & MacAuley for the past three years. They offer ‘both Traditional Mainstream and Partnership Opportunities’ and are based in London. Unfortunately Austin & MacAuley were not always entirely transparent about the fact that their publishing model included ‘fees’ or as they also refer to them in some parlances—contributions from the author. For a long time Austin & MacAuley persisted with a policy of not disclosing the possibility of requiring a ‘contribution’ until an author had submitted a manuscript for appraisal. Authors unfamiliar with Partnership Publishing models may still be unaware that a fee is involved and I still believe Austin & MacAuley could do more to clarify this point. This was the fundamental reason we previously declined to review them.

Saturday, 19 June 2010

Welcome To The POD, Self-Publishing & Independent Publishing Family

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I wanted to bring you all up-to-date with the continued developments here on POD, Self-Publishing & Independent Publishing. A few weekends ago we introduced the POD INDEX and this weekend we have been working on one of our other sites, beefing it up with content.

So, here is the family...

This is the mother-ship and the site that brings you daily updates on self-publishing and independent publishing news, article features, service reviews, discussion and opinion, and we also bring you the latest innovations in publishing and what is going on in the world of author solutions services.

This is our news service for the publishing industry in general.

This is the dedicated site for the forthcoming book to be published in September which will focus on using author solutions services in the UK and Ireland. The book is currently with the publishers at its final editing stage with Advance Information already gone out to the trade. The dedicated site for this book has been significantly beefed up with content this weekend and more developments to be rolled out over the coming months.

Strength Through Joy is a cornucopia of spiritualism and the odd - very much a personal site for me. I also have a dedicated Author Site where you will find my personal blog postings and extracts from my published books as well as works in progress.     

...and Some Useful Information From an Author Solutions Service

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Earlier today we posted an example of misinformation from an author solutions service that gets self-publishing a bad rap and underlines the stigmas already out there. Well, just to show some really good information and advice can come from an author solutions service; here is AJ McDonald, a Lulu Public Relations staffer, offering some thoughtful and reasoned advice today on the Lulu Blog about DIY self-publishing and marketing your book.

"Running a business isn’t easy, but none of this is meant to be scary. It is just meant to make a new author think about his or her approach in the journey to become the next bestseller. Be sure to check back for part 2 of 'Setting Realistic Goals' next week when I’ll discuss setting realistic expectations and how your mindset can make all the difference with how far your book goes."

Friday, 18 June 2010

7 Pieces of Misinformation Author Solutions Services Will Tell You

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It is blog posts like this one that give author solutions services a bad rap - from Self Publishing Advice, the blog of Outskirts Press. The title of the post is '7 Things To Know About Traditional Publishers'. I note how they have now moved from refering to mainstream publishing houses as 'old-fashioned publishers'. Dear, oh dear. It might have been better to call this post '7 Pieces of Misinformation Author Solutions Services Will Tell You'.

Jose Saramago 1922 - 2010

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Portuguese Nobel Prize-winning novelist Jose Saramago has died at his home in Lanzarote of multi-organ failure after a long illness. The announcement was made today by the Jose Saramago Foundation. Saramago was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1998.

Saramago’s work dealt with fantastic scenarios, such as that in his 1986 novel, The Stone Raft, wherein the Iberian Peninsula breaks off from the rest of Europe and sails about the Atlantic Ocean. In his 1995 novel, Blindness, an entire unnamed country is stricken with a mysterious plague of ‘white blindness’. In his 1984 novel, The Year of the Death of Ricardo Reis (which won the PEN Award and the Independent Foreign Fiction Award), Fernando Pessoa’s heteronym survives for a year after the poet himself dies. His novel Death with Interruptions revolves around a country in which nobody dies over the course of seven months beginning on New Year's Day, and how the country reacts to the spiritual and political implications of the event.

Using imaginative themes, Saramago addresses serious subject matters with empathy for the human condition and for the isolation of contemporary urban life. His characters struggle with their need to connect with one another, form relations and bond as a community; and also with their need for individuality, and to find meaning and dignity outside of political and economic structures. In 2007, literary critic Harold Bloom referred to Saramago as a ‘Portuguese Stalinist’ – but still declared him to be the second greatest living novelist in the world after Philip Roth.

Saramago's was an experimental novelist in theme as well as style. His novels often feature long sentences, at times more than a page long. He uses periods sparingly, choosing instead a loose flow of clauses joined by commas. Many of his paragraphs extend for pages without pausing for dialog, which Saramago chooses not to delimit by quotation marks; when the speaker changes, Saramago capitalizes the first letter of the new speaker's clause. In his novel Blindness, Saramago completely abandons the use of proper nouns instead choosing to refer to characters simply by some unique characteristic, an example of his use of style to enhance the recurring themes of identity and meaning found throughout his work.

Above extracts courtesy of Wikipedia entry.

POD, Self-Publishing & Independent Publishing Daily Newsletter

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We made some changes on the site today. Anyone subscribing to the old Daily Newsletter by Email will need to re-subscribe to the new link to the left to continue to receive our Daily Newsletter feed.

Thursday, 17 June 2010

Gerbrand Bakker Wins 2010 International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award

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The 2010 International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award has been won by Dutch author Gerbrand Bakker for his debut novel, The Twin. The announcement was made at a black tie dinner this evening by The Patron of the Award, The Lord Mayor of Dublin, Cllr. Emer Costello, at the Mansion House in Dublin. Bakker received a trophy provided by Dublin City Council as well as a cheque for €75,000. The book's translator David Colmer received €25,000 of the overall €100,000 prize money.

"Gerbrand Bakker joins a long list of eminent novelists to win this award and having a novel in translation as the winner, means that this beautifully written Dutch novel will come to the attention of readers world-wide, who might otherwise never have come across it. Dublin City Council and IMPAC are extremely proud that the IMPAC DUBLIN Award has grown into one of the highlights, not only of the Irish, but also of the international literary calendar."

Lord Mayor and Patron of the Award, Cllr. Emer Costello

What the IMPAC judges thought of The Twin:

"Though rich in detail, it’s a sparely written story, with the narrator’s odd small cruelties, laconic humour and surprising tendernesses emerging through a steady, well-paced, unaffected style.
The book convinces from first page to last. With quiet mastery the story draws in the reader. The writing is wonderful: restrained and clear, and studded with detail of farm rhythms in the cold, damp Dutch countryside. The author excels at dialogue, and Helmer’s inner story-telling voice also comes over perfectly as he begins to change everything around him. There are intriguing ambiguities, but no false notes. Nothing and no one is predictable, and yet we believe in them all: the regular tanker driver, the next door neighbour with her two bouncing children, and Jaap, the old farm labourer from the twins’ childhood who comes back to the farm in time for the last great upheaval, as Helmer finally takes charge of what is left of his own life."

Over the past ten years the International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award has become the richest and most prestigious of literary awards. It is managed by Dublin City Libraries, on behalf of Dublin City Council. It is sponsored by IMPAC, an international management productivity company with its European headquarters in Dublin.

The Award is presented annually with the objective of promoting excellence in world literature. It is open to novels written in any language and by authors of any nationality, provided the work has been published in English or English translation in the specified time period as outlined in the rules and conditions for the year. Nominations are submitted by library systems in major cities throughout the world.

Self-Published Author Boyd Morrison's Huffington Post Article

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In July last year we ran a short piece on self-published author Boyd Morrison and the fact that he had landed a book deal with Simon & Schuster. Boyd Morrison had been selling his books on his website and also through Amazon's Kindle. What was very clear about Morrison over the past couple of years was his successful ability to promote his books demonstrated through an excellent online presence. The deal included his current book, The Ark, which he had previously given away as a free ebook in 2009, and another adventure book based on a character called, Tyler Locke.

The Huffington Post today carries a feature written by Boyd Morrison about his success in self-publishing and his path to the Simon & Schuster book deal.

"At the beginning of 2009, as I was building my web site with the intent of letting people download my books for free, I noticed that Amazon was allowing authors to post their unpublished manuscripts to the Kindle store and giving them a cut of the proceeds. Irene agreed that The Ark and my two other unpublished thriller novels were doing no good sitting on my hard drive, so I thought, why not put them up on Amazon and see what happens? The only thing it would cost me was a small fee to a graphic designer to create covers that looked better than the artistically-deficient horrors I could make."

You can read the whole Huffington Post piece by Morrison here.

Wednesday, 16 June 2010

Wiley Reject AG's Audit Proposal

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John Wiley & Sons' olive branch yesterday to authors may have brought limited progress, but today the US Authors Guild has already confirmed their own olive branch offer of a royalty audit has been rejected. Today, the Authors Guild revealed that Wiley rejected the royalty proposal which had been part of ongoing discussions this week. In an updated alert on the Authors Guild website today, the three parts of the proposal put to Wiley were made available to authors.

While it is understandable that both parties want to resolve the issue, the daily exchange of press releases and alerts - while keeping Bloomberg Press authors in the loop - there is a danger here that both parties efforts to seize the moral ground in the glare of the publishing media may result in scuppering any hopes of  a complete agreement.

"Our proposal to Wiley, which we agreed not to share with the press without first informing Wiley (Wiley took it upon itself to share part of it with the press), had three parts:"

And here are the three parts of that audit proposal:

1. After the conclusion of a standard Wiley royalty period, Wiley would allow an independent royalty auditor to review a reasonable sample of actual Wiley/Bloomberg royalty statements under the Wiley system and prepare a report on how the Wiley amendment affected authors' royalties. The auditor would compute royalties under the Wiley amendment and under the original Bloomberg terms, to arrive at a clear, side-by-side comparison of the two. Wiley would disseminate that auditor's report to its Bloomberg authors. This report would end the argument between Wiley and the Authors Guild: real data would replace rhetoric.

2. Wiley would then give its Bloomberg authors the chance to decide whether they wanted their original Bloomberg terms or the amended Wiley terms. Armed with the auditor's report, truly informed consent would be possible.

3. Wiley would voluntarily agree to industry-standard reversion of rights sales thresholds for its Bloomberg authors. Bloomberg had no print-on-demand program, as we've previously noted and as Wiley freely admits. Bloomberg authors would have reasonably expected, therefore, that if their books didn't sell enough to justify replenishing stock with a traditional print run, then the rights in the books would be revertible (otherwise, the definition of "out of stock" in the Bloomberg contract is gibberish). Fortunately, the industry has a well-accepted solution for applying print-on-demand technology to an author's contract termination rights: minimum sales thresholds. Bloomberg authors are entitled to this routine contract term.

Suggesting an empasse may have been reached, today's alert from The Authors Guild makes an offer to all Bloombery Authors:

"We'll be offering a free service to all Bloomberg authors that will provide you with a side-by-side comparison of your original Bloomberg contract and Wiley's proposed amendments."

Wiley Offer Olive Branch to Authors

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The current spat between John Wiley & Sons and The US Authors Guild over proposed contract changes showed some signs of hope for authors yesterday following a further press release on the publisher's website. Wiley now say they are happy to contact their Bloomberg Press authors and discuss any concerns they have. Ultimately, Wiley have conceded that if authors remain unhappy with the proposed contract changes, they can retain the terms of their original contract.

Two of the more contentious changes propsed involved paying royalties to authors based on net receipts rather than the list price of a book, and keeping a book permanently in print by switching titles to POD (print on demand), which would mean the provision of rights reversion to the author after a period of a title being 'out of print' would effectively be removed.

Here is the Wiley press release from yesterday in full:

Over the past week, a public dialogue has ensued about Wiley's communications with the group of 117 authors joining us from Bloomberg. After a useful and productive exchange of ideas, we concluded that the best way to proceed is to call each and every one of these authors to make sure they understand the changes that we have proposed. If any of them are uncomfortable with our proposed changes, they can choose to retain their original Bloomberg contracts.

The Authors Guild recently proposed to Wiley that we wait until the next royalty period to complete a sample comparison of royalty payments to authors under the Wiley proposal and the existing Bloomberg contract. While we recognize the intent of their proposal, we believe our approach is more timely and in the best interests of our authors.

Wiley shares a common objective with the Authors Guild, to treat authors well and fairly. Our Company is well known for excellent relationships with our authors—a reputation we have earned and will work hard to retain.

Previous report on this:
Rumble in The Publishing Jungle

POD INDEX and Self-Publishing Analysis

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A couple of weekends ago we launched the POD INDEX for author solutions services—a rating index of publishing services we have reviewed over the past three years. I made the following comments when we first introduced the POD INDEX for June 2010:

“The POD INDEX for author solutions services is something we have been working on for the past couple of months and over three days of the weekend we compiled the June 2010 index (56), which marks the first month of flotation for all the author solutions services we have reviewed. More details on the POD Index this week, how it works, and what plans we have for it and some of the things we learned over the weekend.”

I actually chose not to report back the following week because reading back over nearly sixty author solutions service reviews (about 100K words of analysis and links), reflecting on the comments made to the site, and the many emails received on a daily basis from authors—it did reveal some shortfalls in our earlier reviews through lack of thoroughness and consistency we were applying up to the winter of 2009. But significantly, all the analysis did reveal the emerging trends, practices, and beliefs held by authors who consider or follow the path of self-publishing. The POD INDEX also allowed us to take a far wider perspective and comparison of services—set side by side—and to a depth of critical analysis we had never previously undertaken.

In the first six months of 2010, we have updated many of the earlier reviews we did throughout 2008 – 2009. In the world of self-publishing and independent publishing, a few months can be a very long time in an industry, which up until ten years ago has hardly changed in its core traditional practices and views for more than a hundred years. In the past ten years the pace and impact of digital publishing and the growth of the Internet as a highway of business and consumerism, combined with the explosion of online social networking—firstly as an avenue of recreation, and now a tool of integration, promotion and commerce—has all been truly extraordinary.

During our analysis of reviews, three definitely stood out and deserved substantial updating—CreateSpace (256.21), iUniverse (232.56) and Lightning Source (268.40). To present this overall analysis of the author solutions services we have covered would have been pointless without first addressing these shortfalls. We decided to address those shortfalls in the past week. Following comparisons of the 70+ services reviewed (some we decided against posting on the site), we also re-evaluated all of the ratings over the past three years, though some of these specific individual ratings on UK services will not be disclosed until my book, To Self-Publish or Not to Self-Publish: A Seriously Useful Author’s Guide is published in September, for obvious reasons. However, all review ratings, whether disclosed here on POD, Self-Publishing & Independent Publishing or not, have been built into the POD INDEX when all the reviewed services were floated in June 2010.

Before I discuss the POD INDEX, I would like to touch on some of the fascinating findings we extrapolated from pulling together all the information needed to create the POD INDEX and discover what the flotation rating of every service we reviewed over the past three years. Much of that information also included a great deal of feedback, comments posted to the site and correspondence conducted with authors and companies offering publishing services. So, in no particular order—some of the finding and conclusions:

• Despite authors’ perceptions—for the most part—few author solutions services who openly disclose costs have actually implemented price increases since late 2008. If anything, many of the larger services now indulge in regular promotions and discounts on books sold to authors. (though I would always suggest careful consideration from authors buying books from author solutions services beyond what they really need or can actually sell and recoup a profit)

• Many global author solutions services were slow in implementing currency changes on their international sites resulting in anomalies and losses to their own detriment at a time when exchange rates were highly volatile on the US and UK markets.

• One of the poorest areas for author solutions services was not what they offered, but how they presented it online – resulting in badly designed websites filled with typos and grammatical errors, and out of date information. Some people just could not care less about window dressing or making a good impression.

• Author solutions services—like their mainstream counterparts—are no more geared towards the advent of ebooks than their mainstream industry counterparts, with many simply offering downloadable versions of the book’s PDF file. Ironic considering the arrival of digital publishing and POD is what helped so many vanity presses and subsidy services escape some of the self-publishing stigmas.

• Authors remain overly pre-occupied with copyright infringement on books they are consider submitting to a publisher or author solutions service and consistently seem to confuse copyright with publication rights.

• There is a distinct divide developing between informed self-publishers and those authors who self-publish simply for the gratification of seeing their work ‘in print’.

• There is a distinct move by self-published authors away from ‘publishing packages’ to more DIY orientated services. There are two very definable groups of self-published authors emerging in the past two years—the novice and the savvy author. Few authors fall in between—that may mean authors are doing more homework and research than ever before.

• Self-Publishing is steadily moving away from print in favour of e-books as a first self-publish option. In two to three years time self-published books will predominantly be ebooks and authors will be less concerned about a print option until they get picked up by a mainstream publisher.

• The savvy authors are the ones choosing ebooks to test the publication waters over the need for immediate print publication.

• Within the emerging group of savvy author—there exists another subgroup—those authors who are entirely rejecting the whole premise of having a third party control and publish their books. They are—by their actions—publishing by a process of deliberate circumvention.

The POD INDEX is here to stay. It will be updated every month. There are a number of criteria included to arrive at the POD INDEX rating and also weighted formulas to arrive at the index evaluation:

The reviews we carry out and the rating we give them
Titles published per month
Costs charged for services
Period of time a company is operating
Average titles per year
Comments posted to this site
Email correspondence to this site
Development of a company

This POD INDEX will not change a great deal, month to month, but instead, it is intended to monitor the steady growth or decline of an author solutions service. We welcome all input on the POD INDEX over the coming months.

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