Wingspan Press is a self-publishing service provider based in Livermore, Northern California, just a few miles shy of San Francisco. The company was formed around a group of frustrated writers tired of the commercial, sales-driven publishing world and the ‘agent/publisher loop.’ Wingspan Press places a strong emphasis on quality and customer service and a desire not to be grouped in with every other so-called print-on-demand publishing service.
Wingspan has published more than 700 titles under its own Wingspan Press imprint but it also caters for self-publishing authors with their own block of ISBNs and imprint. Its approach is one of flexibility and to make the publishing process as simple, accessible and affordable as possible for authors, while removing the complexity sometimes associated with self-publishing and managing a book project.
If you are looking to be wowed by a modern and dynamic website, then you might be a little underwhelmed with the Wingspan Press website. Make no mistake, it’s uncluttered and still contains all the relevant information an author needs to decide whether to use any or all of Wingspan’s publishing services, but it certainly won’t win any design awards. The information is laid out in a clean and simple way and I do think it reflects the transparent and down-to-earth approach the company professes. That said it has been several years since I carried out the first review of Wingspan’s publishing services and I recall there was a little more detail on the company’s background and foundation.
The company used to support an online bookstore but this is not the case anymore and there is little real sign of Wingspan titles on the website now apart from a very small gadget on the main landing page which is not linked to any purchase facility. For me, that leaves Wingspan well behind the competition, particularly if an author needs a fulfilment option to sell books from their own website.
Let’s begin with some basics on Wingspan Press.
Wingspan’s basic model of publishing, like many service providers in this area, uses Ingram’s global network and Lightning Source’s print-on-demand facilities. The company will also arrange offset print runs for authors if it is required.
Authors can contact Wingspan by phone or email and most submitted work will be published so long as it does not contravene some basic guidelines:
We review every submission, and we don’t publish hate literature, anything illegal or advocating illegal actions, or pornography. Most everything else is ok.
Submissions can be sent via email or on a CD (by standard mail) in MS Word or RTF (Rich Text Format). Wingspan offers some useful guidelines when preparing a manuscript for submission. Images need to be submitted separately from the main manuscript file.
The company has done away with it publishing packages and now offers a basic publishing package with various add-on services. This service starts at $499 and covers the basics required to publish a book via print-on-demand through Ingram. This package includes the following for publication of a standard paperback book using the Wingspan Press imprint:
- Bar code
- International copyright
- Choice of trim sizes
- Choice of glossy or matte finish cover
- Interior layout
- Full-color cover
- Library of Congress number
- Five free books
- Listing on all online retailers through Ingram Book Group
- Worldwide distribution and availability
- Printing on 20% post-consumer, acid-free paper
- Listing in Books in Print
- Listing and distribution in UK/Europe
- Earn royalties of 20% of the cover price of your book
- You approve everything before it goes to print
- Publication in just 6-8 weeks
- You retain all rights to your work
- Cancel anytime you like with just an email
- World-class customer service
It’s a pretty reasonable list and takes care of most of the tasks needed to make a book available through most major online networks for a print-on-demand title.
All for one low price. No hidden charges, no pricey add-ons.
There are some additional points of note regarding the above standard package.
This is for a paperback book and does not include a book with a colour interior. You can find out details of colour interior books on the Wingspan Press website here. This also only includes books with a word count up to 100,000 words. There is an additional charge of $100 for books above this threshold (up to 200,000 words). The reference to copyright above only pertains to the front matter detail of a book. Should an author wish to register the copyright of their book with the Library of Congress — this will cost $100. Authors can supply cover images but preparation of a book cover only includes up to two choices from Wingspan library stock photos. Additional images may be subject to additional fees. Wingspan will also work in tandem with external book cover designers if you already have one picked out.
The standard fee only includes books published through the Wingspan Press imprint. An author may opt to use their own block of ISBNs and imprint name, but there is a charge of $599 + a $50 imprint setup fee (not the standard listed $499 fee). This charge also includes a CD containing the completed print files of the book, so authors are free to cancel the contract and publish elsewhere.
Authors can choose a hardback edition instead ($599) or a combination of paperback and hardback for $699.
Wingspan offer e-book publication in Kindle and other formats at a cost of $150.
Once the print version of your book is complete, we’ll create ebook and Kindle versions of it. The Kindle edition will be sold exclusively through Amazon. The ebook version is distributed through Ingram Book Group, the same company that distributes the print edition. That will make the ebook available through dozens of electronic retailers in a format readable by virtually all e-book readers – Nook, Apple iPad, Sony Reader, Adobe Digital Editions and more.
While Wingspan don’t set out to upsell additional services, I think authors need to be clear that the basic standard package at $499 has some restrictions and is not quite the everything in one publishing package. I still think this is a reasonably good, budget-conscious deal for an author with a standard text-based book, but some of the limitations will push the cost up, particularly if you have a book with internal images or a heavily illustrated book.
Editing & Changes
This publishing provider does not insist on professional editing, though it strongly advises that all independent authors should have their manuscripts edited, whether through the editing services Wingspan offer or with another external freelance editor. I’d also strongly recommend this because once Wingspan accept your final ‘ready-to-publish’ manuscript, and the work on design layout begins, changes to the final draft must be submitted via an online request form and these changes are subject to a cost of $50 per round of 25 changes.
Editorial assistance is available from Wingspan for line and developmental editing work. You can find full details of these rates on this page.
These additional services are also linked on the page I just cited above. I’m just selecting a few as an indication of how publishing fees can mount up if you don’t go to Wingspan Press with a fully edited book and a cover image.
Cataloging in Publication Data – $150
Cataloging data is a specialized language used by libraries to correctly and consistently catalog and shelve new books. (Look at the lower half of the copyright page of almost any book on your bookshelf and you’ll find CIP data). Created by a professional librarian schooled in cataloging science, this adds to your book’s professional look and feel.
Copyright Registration – $100
But many authors go a step further and register their copyright with the Library of Congress. LOC registration has been viewed by the courts as prima facie evidence of ownership of intellectual property in the past. You might think of it as a form of insurance in case you ever have to defend your ownership of the material in court.
Image Acquisition – $50
If you don’t have a cover image in hand, we can help you acquire one, either by directing you to stock photo sites where there are millions of images available, or we’ll find 2 images that will make a good cover for your book and let you choose between them. Once you’ve made your selection, we’ll acquire the image for you.
B&W interior images – $10 each; Tables and Charts – $20 each
We’ll place and size them to fit the page and add your caption.
Index Formatting – $75
We’ll create and format the index of your book based on the index tags you flagged in your Microsoft Word document. If you need an index and are not familiar with this function in Word, talk to your WingSpan Press service representative about your options.
Footnotes – Cost: $100 + $.50/footnote
We’ll format and position your book’s footnote references. Note that all footnotes must be flagged using Word’s footnote function.
Endnotes – Cost: $50
End notes appear all together at the end of the book. These are normally flagged using Word’s endnote feature, but because they appear all together at the end of the book, they may just be typed text and do not require as much formatting as footnotes.
I think now you see my emphasis on having a completed book file if you want to best take advantage of the standard Wingspan Press publishing package at $499.
Royalties & Pricing
Wingspan Press doesn’t complicate things when it comes to royalties. The author is paid a royalty rate of 20% of the retail price of a book. Plain and simple… yes, but that means the royalty rate is tied into the price a book is set to sell at, and Wingspan has some control over that because it sets a minimum retail price depending on the amount of pages in the final book file. Here is the guide table for this calculation.
|Page count||Minimum Cover Price||Your Royalty||Your Print Cost|
|up to 100||$11.95||$2.39||$5.98|
Wingspan authors can charge more than the recommended retail price for their books. However, my biggest concern is twofold. Firstly, Wingspan set a minimum price that I believe is already on the high side for my liking. Most books hit an average of between 200-300 pages — that puts us in the $14 to $17 bracket just to start with. Secondly, and more importantly (if you want to purchase copies of your own book for promotional or review purposes), you are paying for books at 50% discount. That works out at $6.98 for a 200 page paperback and $8.48 for a 300 page paperback. Given that Wingspan Press use Ingram/Lightning source to print books, this amounts to a considerable mark-up on the basic print cost charged to the author. As of January 2015, Lightning Source charge $3.90 for a 200 page B&W paperback and $5.40 for a 300 page one. So per sale to the author (and the reader for channel sales even with a 50% retail discount), Wingspan Press mark-up a 200 and 300 page book by $3.08 and pocket that sum. In other words, while you have paid for the publication of your book, Wingspan is earning more per book than the author until it gets close to 400 pages. It’s no wonder it offers this curious advice to authors:
*Author Alert: Ideally, a self-published book should not exceed 250-300 pages. Any additional net profit is quickly offset by reduced sales due to the higher cover price of the book. (Buyers are most comfortable with trade paperback books in the $12-$18 range.) It is difficult to make money from a self-published book of 400 or more pages.
I’m not quite sure where this information has been plucked from and it simply has no basis whatsoever.
Add to this Term 6 of the Wingspan contract:
Author shall receive 20% of cover price of print books when Work is priced per Publisher’s then-current suggested retail pricing (SRP). When priced above SRP, Author will receive 20% of SRP plus 50% of the amount of cover price above SRP.
If anything, this term only encourages authors to price above what the market for their genre will sustain and goes against what Wingspan Press seem to argue in their guidance to authors.
Authors can choose a royalty plan when it comes to e-books, but again it is tied into the retail price of the book:
- $9.95 retail price with a royalty of $4.20 per sale – (approx. 45% of retail)
- $7.95 retail price with a royalty of $2.75 per sale – (approx. 35% of retail)
- $5.95 retail price with a royalty of $1.50 per sale – (approx. 25% of retail)
Authors should also note that like all publishing service providers, books bought directly by the author do not qualify for royalty payments.
Wingspan provides its authors with monthly sales reports via their dashboard log-in, but royalties are paid on a quarterly basis as long as the account exceeds a $50 threshold.
Marketing & Promotional Services
Wingspan Press provides some promotional services and tools in the form of printed bookmarks, postcards and business cards and advice articles. In addition it offers a press release to online press agencies, a review submission service using Midwest Book Review, and inclusion in Ingram Advance Magazine.
It doesn’t engage in a lot of those other useless social media alert and mail out services and expensive book trailers. I respect any company that is frank about the realities of marketing services when the marketing is not targeted and not linked to some form of traditional marketing. I’d rather companies not offer marketing services to authors rather than offer services which are expensive and pointless. Wingspan makes no bones about this.
You can promote and sell your book. You can get people interested. But you have to know who you’re talking to, and why. You can get book reviews. A professional, attractive book on an editor’s desk with a descriptive press release, cover letter or sell sheet, will get looked at. A review isn’t guaranteed – they get a lot of material. So yours has to stand out from the crowd. Small newspapers and magazines are always on the lookout for local interest or niche-specific things to write about, and if you position yourself and your book right, that could be your picture on the front of the entertainment section next Sunday. It probably won’t be the New York Times…but who knows?
Notable Points of Wingspan Contract
- Wingspan, though located in California, is incorporated in Texas and subject to those laws including any adjudication
- The contract is non-exclusive and beyond first publication takes no rights from the author
- The retail price of a book will be agreed upon by author and publisher
- The author assumes responsibility for promotion and marketing of the book
- Amounts greater than $100 in the author’s royalty account may be paid monthly at the publisher’s discretion
- Publisher may charge an accounting fee (3%) if there are fewer than ten sales in any month
- Once ISBN is assigned to a title, author is not entitled to a refund
- Publisher will make every effort to publish a book within 90 days of final submission of all materials
- Contract can be terminated by either party with ten days notification by certified mail
- Publisher reserves the right to determine final layout and design of work
There is a lot to like about Wingspan Press, particularly for the budget-conscious self-publishing author with a fully-edited and completed book. That said, there are niggling things I don’t like about Wingspan, and for me the mark-up on print costs and some of the added costs which may come into play for some authors with complex or long books. I first reviewed Wingspan back in 2009, and for a provider around so long, I have to say that on my revisit I expected a little more. The openness is refreshing and the willingness not to push needless services on to authors who are trying to get their book out to an audience very welcome. But in a highly competitive publishing service environment, Wingspan once again shows that senior editor David Collins has the ship pointed in the right direction but there are shortcomings.
I’ve no issue with Wingspan not offering much in the way of marketing services. So much of what competitors offer is worthless to authors, but in a publishing environment where authors want a little hand-holding and someone to manage their book project through to publication, it remains touch and go as to whether an author with a ready-to-publish manuscript will plump for the $499 fee at Wingspan or simply decide that going directly with Lightning Source, CreateSpace or IngramSpark will deliver them more long term profit.
This is a tough environment for companies like Wingspan and BookLocker, who want to appeal to the budget-conscious author, but still need to hit their own bottom-line profit and make their business model work. Ultimately, I’m not convinced Wingspan is offering enough to attract the true self-published author with his/her ISBNs and imprint.
What Wingspan needs to do is revert back to facilitating an online bookstore, provide direct fulfilment from an author’s website, and row back on those awful print mark-ups.
- Reasonably good publishing service rates
- Royalty is based on retail book price
- Contract openly available
- Quick publishing project turnaround
- Author can use Wingspan on own ISBNs/imprint
- Open termination clause of ten days
- US + UK publication
- Author can take production files elsewhere
- Big print markup on author copies
- Minimum retail book price is high
- No sales distribution/representation
- No publisher bookstore
- No direct author fulfillment service
- Litigation subject to Texas laws
- Greater detail on staff and company background needed
- Website is efficient but unattractive