Publishing Service Index | October 2013

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This is the PUBLISHING SERVICE INDEX for OCTOBER 2013. This update reflects some review updates and author feedback over the past two months, but the most significant change to this index is the addition of three new and individually rated categories, Distribution, Product & Service Range and Customer Feedback & Transparency.

IngramSpark is listed and ranked for the first time in the index, but this is purely a provisional ranking based on the services offered at launch in July. TIPM will have a full and in-depth review to come in several weeks.  bottom of the index ahead of its July 1st launch. Please note that IngramSpark should not be confused with Lightning Source (Direct), which Ingram has assured TIPM is going to continue as a direct service for publishers and authors.

The group of ASI companies and the imprints it administers for large trade publishers appear to be over the ratings slump during the early and mid summer when TIPM received a large amount of negative feedback via emails and comments. I suspect news of the possible class action law suit against ASI and Penguin, which was very prevalent in the publishing news headlines and writing forums, encouraged many more authors to voice and record their experiences. Two of the ASI brands actually performed better during a customer feedback test TIPM conducted over the summer and it’s created something of a mini bounce for three of them. Expect that to settle down in the next index, unless further developments occur in the New York Courts. However, unsurprisingly, the vast majority of the ASI company brands remain well down the index.

TIPM has also expanded the individual categories rated to take more account of how companies deal with customers, the depth and range of service products, and the extent of fulfilment and distribution services offered. For a while, until every company’s rating settles across at least two published indexes, you may see positional advances for the companies that offer a larger range of services.

The customer feedback work over the summer also revealed that Derwent Press and Dom Tom are no longer in operation. As revealed last month by TIPM, Albury Books in the UK has taken over the defunct US brand name Vantage Press (NOTE – the name – not the rights or liability!).  

TIPM continues to receive regular feedback on services through comments under our reviews, via our TIPM Facebook page, and directly to us. Your comments are always welcome and every comment and experience of a publishing service, positive or negative, is always reflected in every new index published through TIPM.

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DIY – Do-it-yourself bespoke services

ASS – Author Solutions Services (Packages) – May also include Partnership publishing programs

PUB – Also offers Mainstream Contracts or is a service imprint of a traditional publishing house

PRT – Printer (primarily a printer with some additional but limited services)

FULL – Fulfilment Services provided for distribution logistics, warehousing of stock (including supply to wholesaler and retailers) 

The most asked question we get at The Independent Publishing Magazine is often along the lines of; ‘What self-publishing service should I go with?‘; ‘Is so and so a good service to go with?‘; or ‘Is so and so a scam?

In some cases, that is an easy question to answer, cut and dry, but in other circumstances, the answer is entirely arbitrary. We are not here to review and run down a company’s name, nor are we here to endorse a company’s services. If we were only to review companies according to every point on an ideal dream list of what an author wants/should get, we would have very few reviews to share with you. In truth, no company has ever attained a 10/10, and only a few have recorded more than 08/10.
The reality is that some companies offering publishing services begin in a blaze of glory and we might rate them favourably at the time; others, frankly, are just poor, and they improve (sometimes in response to our reviews) to offer reasonable or better services. We are constantly updating our reviews, but this takes considerable time, and so do the initial reviews. 
We get a vast amount of information from authors and the companies selling author solutions services every day – good and bad. We get a great deal of information from monitoring services week by week against the experiences of what authors report back to us. Simply put, and truthfully, we cannot reflect all of this information through the reviews. That is why the comments section under each company we review is so important. It is your recording and dealings with that specific company, and a positive or negative flag to subsequent authors considering using the same company.
So, how do we reflect the changing ups and downs with services?
We believe the PUBLISHING SERVICE INDEX will help to guide authors to services on the up, and those, gradually on the down. If you like, what we present is a kind of stock exchange for companies supplying publisher services..
The PUBLISHING SERVICE INDEX was first launched in June 2010.
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