This is the PUBLISHING SERVICE INDEX for May 2017. Our last index was released in February 2017. Originally I compiled the index, month-to-month, but I found the work involved to update almost 90 companies and service providers was not being compensated by enough changes on the index over a short period of weeks. Indeed, some months the changes were very modest, and sometimes hardly noticeable. I held off releasing an index during the months of last summer because I began to see some changes within the service industry providers and I was curious to see how these would all play out in 2017.
Unfortunately publishing service providers continue to fall by the wayside and close their doors, either because of a downturn in business from authors seeking full service providers, and combined with increased competition from freemium publishing platforms (online platforms that offer free basic services, but charge for more advanced services). There is one positive aspect of this. It means highly predatory companies are finding it more difficult to sucker in authors unfamiliar with the publishing landscape. This week TIPM reported on Tate Publishing. The company closed in February but was planning to return to operations in recent weeks. Fortunately the Oklahoma Attorney General had other ideas.
Richard Tate, the firm’s founder, and his son Ryan Tate, its CEO, were arrested Thursday morning and held on eight felony charges and one misdemeanor charge filed by Oklahoma’s attorney general, Mike Hunter’s office, that accuses them of embezzlement, extortion and racketeering.
It is a welcome but sad end to a publishing services enterprise that has for many years preyed upon the gullibility of new and existing authors.
As a publishing consultant, one additional point of note. I am finding it increasingly difficult to suggest a large and varied pool of reputable full publishing service providers to authors looking to go in that direction, particularly if an author wants both print and ebook editions of their book. More and more, we are moving to a publishing landscape where authors need to take greater control in the management of their book projects, and that means looking to publishing marketplaces to connect with professionals, whether an author is looking for a book designer, a skilled book formatter, an editor, or marketing and promotional assistance. While it is still possible to find all those services under one roof, so-to-speak, this area and the options available are shrinking, and when it comes to quality, efficient delivery of services contracted, and reputation; these are not the kind of things any serious independent author wants to compromise on.
Turning to the May Publishing Service Index TIPM has just released: the top six show no changes, but there are changes from positions seven through ten. CreateSpace has consolidated its position, and for the first time since last year actually rises one place to ninth. Thomson-Shore, for the first time ever, enters the top ten. Mill City Press, now owned by Xulon (Salem Communications), exits the top ten for the first time. This is never a good sign and the author feedback I am getting continues to suggest that the new ownership transition has been a less than satisfactory experience for some authors.
We have one new entry for the latest index, Nook Press. Entering at number 28, its position is still provisional and may take a while to settle. Nevertheless, despite some limitations with Nook, and how long Barnes & Noble will continue to operate and support it; it’s a respectable entry position on the index.
TIPM continues to receive regular feedback on services through comments under our reviews, via our TIPM Facebook page, and directly to us. We want to thank all of those who took the time to share their publishing experiences. 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.
|FEB POS||DEC POS||COMPANY/SERVICE PROVIDER||PRIMARY COMPANY BASEMARKET||SERVICE CLASS||FEB INDEX VALUE||INDEX POS MOVE|
|1||1||Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP)||GLOBAL||DIY||846.02||SAME|
|5||5||Kobo Writing Life||GLOBAL||DIY||628.30||SAME|
|8||7||Lightning Source (Direct)||GLOBAL||PRT/FUL||554.20||DOWN|
|11||9||Hillcrest Media/Mill City Press||USA||PUB/FSP||511.82||DOWN|
|14||14||Epigraph Publishing Service||USA||FSP||444.97||SAME|
|15||15||Dog Ear Publishing||USA||FSP||437.68||SAME|
|18||23||CPI UK Antony Rowe||EUROPE||PRT||418.39||UP|
|24||24||York Publishing Services||UK||PRT/FUL||410.98||SAME|
|25||26||John Hunt Publishing||GLOBAL||PUB/FSP||399.27||UP|
|26||25||Google Play Books||GLOBAL||DIY||397.93||DOWN|
|28||NEW||Nook Press (B&N)||USA||DIY||379.50||DOWN|
|29||32||Grosvenor House Publishing||UK||FSP||376.07||UP|
|34||33||The Choir Press||UK/USA||FSP||367.83||DOWN|
|36||35||Cold River Studio||USA||FSP||367.02||DOWN|
|37||36||Book Guild Publishing||UK||FSP||364.95||DOWN|
|41||40||Acorn Independent Press||UK||FSP||353.57||DOWN|
|50||49||Kazoo Publishing Services||IRELAND||FSP||338.63||DOWN|
|63||61||The Book Producers||IRELAND||FSP||323.63||DOWN|
|65||63||Turning Stone Press||USA||FSP||317.46||DOWN|
|68||67||Chandler Book Design||UK||PRT||304.13||DOWN|
|69||68||Dolman Scott/Oak Press||UK||FSP||303.35||DOWN|
|83||83||Better Book Company||UK||PRT||217.61||SAME|
|84||82||Pegasus Elliot MacKenzie||UK||PUB/FSP||213.59||DOWN|
|87||86||Raider International Pub./Green Shore||GLOBAL||FSP||107.30||DOWN|
- DIY – Do-it-yourself bespoke services and basic conversion and formatting services
- FSP – Full Service Provider (Packages & Bespoke) – 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)
- CRW – Crowdsource
* Denotes that company no longer offers publishing services
** Denotes former service provider turned traditional publisher
*** Denotes that publisher/imprint no longer exists or has closed operations
There is a much more detailed explanation of what the Publishing Service Index is and how authors can best use it in this post.
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.