We know how difficult it can be to find the best self-publishing company for your book. Are all self-publishing companies the same? Not at all. See below for in-depth reviews on how other self-publishers compare to Dog Ear.
The best self-publishing companies do share a number of traits - traits like offering an author-centric contract, allowing the author to exert control over the process and book pricing, and delivering strong author profit for sales through retail outlets like Barnes&Noble and Amazon. From this base, however, the waters can get muddy and authors need an objective framework they can use to evaluate exactly how the best book publishers might meet their needs.
That's why we review a number of self-publishing companies here, to give you a better idea of the best self-publishing company for you, your book and the goals you have set for your book out in the market. We've used expertise gathered over more than 20 years in the world of publishing to create an article that discusses the best practices of the best book publishers. And then give YOU the tools to compare a number of book publishers to both each other and Dog Ear Publishing. The goal, in the end, is to help you find the best publishing company for your book.
We’ve focused as much as possible on items that are easily asked of any publishing company. Practices that all of the best self publishing companies use to help their authors be successful. This list should be printed out and kept next to you when speaking with a customer service representative from a chosen publishing company. Don’t let them distract you by deflecting your questions – and really, that is an instant sign you are NOT dealing with one of the better self publishing companies!
While most self-publishing companies use nearly identical technologies to print books, each company has a distinct personality and unique approach to book publishing. And finding the true cost of self-publishing your book on another company's website can be challenging. That leaves authors trying to find the best self publishing company with little or no hard data to make their decision. We've changed that.
There are numerous topics that might be discussed when exploring the world of self-publishing. Most of them warrant entire pages of content all by themselves, but a starting list with some level of explanation is completely appropriate on a page dedicated to helping authors learn how to discern the best self-publishing companies. We’ve condensed the list into topics:
The cost of publishing a book goes well beyond what an author will pay to a self-publishing company. It’s common for an author to ask, “How much does it cost to self-publish a book,” and while it seems an easy question the answer is anything but. So many factors have to be take into consideration – such as services offered (is everything included that you need), the profit from sales, the cost of author copies, and even fees to support your book over the course of time. There isn’t an effective way to really judge the average cost to self-publish a book, but in the industry it DOES seem to range from around $1500 to well over $15,000. However, when you directly ask a self-publishing company, “What is the cost of self-publishing a book?” they SHOULD be able to give you an answer BEFORE asking for your credit card.
Self-publishing prices are comprised of many things, including of course profit for the book publishing company. It is being AWARE of what is included in the self-publishing prices that you are being quoted that is important – and that will enable you to compare “apples-to-apples” when evaluating the best self-publishing companies. Make sure you have a list – a full list – of everything included in your publishing package. Especially make sure you have a full list in writing if the self-publishing company you are speaking with doesn’t have prices listed on their web site. It is, however, a red flag – if a self-publishing company isn’t willing to be upfront and list pricing (and a contract) on the web site, I’d be hard pressed to include them in the category of ‘best self-publishing companies.’
Below are what Dog Ear believes to be the seven most important considerations in choosing a publishing company. Keep in mind that just because a sales rep may say they are one of the top 10 self publishing companies doesn’t mean they are the best publishing company for you or your book. Use our concepts outlined below to make your own informed decision.
It is imperative that you own all rights to your book, and that you are able to terminate your agreement with the publishing company at any time, and without penalty. The author contract should be short and easy to understand. The best self publishing companies never lock you into keeping your book with them for a certain duration. You should own every single piece of the process, from the copyedited manuscript to the files used to print your book - and you should be able to get them at any time, not just after canceling your contract. The best self publishing companies keep the author in control.
Dog Ear Publishing's Author Contract is right here.
Retail pricing strategies abound, and it’s far more an art than a science. Book publishers all have specific strategies to help their authors set the retail price of a book, and the best self publishing companies will help you identify price points at which your book will be most successful, taking account competitive products, printing costs and desired author profit. This is a critical step in building your book’s success.
A book with an unreasonably high retail price cannot possibly succeed in the market. Your book needs to be priced competitively with other books in its category. The best book publishers in the traditional market price books to sell AND maximize profit. Does your book's retail price at least come close to what the traditional book publishers are asking for their books? Can you set your own retail price point without having to pay a fee? Chains, big retail outlets, and wholesalers may say they want at least a 50% discount. Do you control the discount offered to retailer and wholesale accounts, again without having to pay a fee? Make sure the self publishing company isn't allowing a more aggressive retail price by artificially reducing the wholesale discount to the trade. The best self publisher for you is one who will let you control the prices and discounts you offer on your creation.
Dog Ear Publishing's Guide to Retail Pricing is right here.
An author's cost to purchase his or her own book from the self-publishing company should be a fixed price based upon format and page count, not a discount from the retail price of the book. The discount-from-retail model gives the publisher an incentive to set a higher retail price. Furthermore, can the publisher offer offset printing (also called "traditional printing") services? Offset printing is the most per-unit cost-effective manner to purchase your book, but the downside is that it requires large quantities, usually in excess of 2,000 units. Most self-publishing companies do not offer offset printing solutions.
Dog Ear Publishing's Exclusive Book Printing Prices are right here.
Some call it "royalty" - we call it a "net sales profit." Regardless of name, this is the amount you receive from each book sale. Be careful of any self-publishing company that gives a huge profit but forces unreasonable retail prices on your book. It makes no sense to get a 50% royalty on a book that will never sell (see the point above regarding Retail Price). Also watch for royalties that are increased by reducing your wholesale discount to booksellers. If no store will buy the book, what's the point of a royalty? Most often, the royalty is paid on the net sale, not the retail price. The best book publishers, and especially the best self-publishing companies know that a net sales profit method is in the best interest of the author, and won’t manipulate royalty percentages or profits.
Once your book is published, the self-publishing company's costs are fixed. It costs exactly the same to print and distribute a 100-page book that retails for $10 as a 100-page book that retails for $50. Shouldn't you get all the profit from a sale? Why should the publishing company deserve more profit when you sell your book for a higher price? Look for a publishing company that pays you on a fixed-cost basis - and who forwards all the remaining profit to you. Your choice of the best publishing company for your book should understand that the author deserves the bulk of the profit.
Dog Ear Publishing's Guide to Author Profit is here.
The process of self-publishing a book and then marketing that book can be very complex. Does the publisher possess the knowledge and skills to help you navigate the world of self-publishing? Will you speak with someone who knows something about the book industry? Do you have access to "decision makers" who can make things happen for your book? How long has the person with whom you are speaking worked at the publishing company and in the publishing industry?
Dog Ear Publishing's Key Personnel can be found here.
What is the company's business model? A business is supposed to make money, and that's an honorable thing, but watch where it makes its money - look for hidden charges or undisclosed costs. You should be aware of every single possible cost before you ever spend a dime. And really be wary of any publisher that insists it is investing more in the project than you are - that is never, ever true.
Dog Ear Publishing's Business Model is discussed right here.
Many self-publishing companies save costs by reusing book cover and interior designs. These designs are called templates, and by using them, book publishers often churn out hundreds of books that look nearly exactly alike. Will your book have a truly custom design that you helped create, from start to finish? Can you revise the book cover and interior design without being charged additional fees? Where are your book cover and interior being designed, and are they designed by professionals?
Dog Ear Publishing's Cover Design Services are discussed here.
A Look at the Total Cost of Self-Publishing:
All things considered, what will your total expenditure be with the self-publishing company over the long term? As long as you remain enthusiastic, and work in partnership with the self-publishing company, your book's lifetime will go well beyond a few months or even a few years of sales.