Bloomsbury Publishing UK has launched a resource and service comparison database for self-published authors. The new database is part of Bloomsbury’s Writers’ & Artists’ website, a part of the yearbook brand, which provides information, articles and resources for writers, and reflects a growing shift in the UK publisher market towards service-driven companies.
Speaking to The Bookseller today, Eela Devani, digital development director at Bloomsbury Publishing UK, said:
“There is a big need out there for a service like this—a lot of writers thinking about self-publishing don’t know what kind of service will suit them, or even what terms that we take for granted mean, like ‘ISBN’. We wanted to have somewhere they could come to that would help guide them through it.”
Authors using the new self-publishing database are taken through an extensive series of multiple choice questions designed to produce a list of self-publishing providers best matching the inputted criteria. Authors can then select five provider services and click a ”Request Personalised Quote’ which allows Writers’ & Artists’ to sent on the details to the supplier. The supplier then contacts the author directly.
There are several issues that come to mind with the system, as useful as it might be to authors. But what quality criteria has Bloomsbury used in the selection and inclusion of companies and services? None, it seems, considering their qualification point in their FAQs:
Unfortunately, we can’t recommend any specific self-publishing providers. Our aim is to remain completely impartial – inclusion of a self-publishing provider does not mean we endorse or recommend their services in any form. We aim to provide you with an objective list of self-publishing providers, tailored to meet your specifications.
That kind of sinks the ship a little. Yes, authors want some kind of guidance on reputable self-publishing services, and a way to avoid any pitfalls. I just don’t see that here. This is a case of matching ticked boxes against a database. The information is as good as you indicate you want, without the proviso of any guarantee of quality or reputation of a company. Is it better than surfing Google looking for an editorial service, printer or self-publishing service? – maybe. Is it a complete solution? No. Authors will still need to do their homework, talk to previous author/clients of a service provider, request samples of books/materials to appraise.
Bloomsbury (Writers & Artists’) don’t indicate if there is a financial referral programme in place when an authors is passed to a service company. That’s important to know.
It is a start, but it is far from the journey and experience any self-published authors needs to go through before selecting a service supplier.
Bloomsbury have been daring with this project, and it should be welcomed, but there is a great deal more to do to make it the ideal provider search solution for authors.
On Monday, Bloomsbury, via the Writers’ & Artists’ blog added this further piece:
[Some disclosure: I worked on this project at a very early stage as an assessor, but withdrew from if because I did not feel the correct company service quality procedures and understanding of what was being undertaken was in place.]