The first item of business when looking at BookSurge is to make authors aware that BookSurge titles are really only available at Amazon.com. Barnes & Noble, Powells Books and most other retail sites don't carry BookSurge product (as of this writing, only a few – 7 to be exact – of their titles were on B&N).
Dog Ear: YES
Dog Ear: $4.28/unit
BookSurge: varies w/venue
Dog Ear: $2 more per sale
Dog Ear: $1,527
BookSurge is owned by Amazon.com and few retailers want to help support a direct competitor. It is also important to think about the implications of having your retail, wholesale and print resource contained within the same company – it means you lose options and control. Amazon can dictate your wholesale discount, your retail price AND your print cost – not much in the way of freedom of choice.
To see overall what I believe is important in choosing a company to self-publish your book, click here.
Now we'll get more in-depth with BookSurge.
The specs are pretty typical of the books produced in the trade category by all self publishing companies. Information and self publishing costs are derived from the BookSurge web site and contract.
BookSurge doesn't offer anything truly unique – the site is well built. BookSurge publishing packages range from $799 to $5,402.
For $799 though, you don't get a custom product, and remember your book cannot be on Barnes & Noble.com, Borders, etc.) You cannot have a hardcover. You do not have complete freedom to choose your retail price. You cannot set your wholesale discount. These last two items mean you have no control over your profit.
BookSurge will force you to a specific retail price and pays two different royalty rates. 35% is paid for sales through Amazon.com, 10% is paid elsewhere. For this example, you will be forced to a $15.95 retail price. Your printing cost will be 50% off of the retail price for purchasing 100 units.
The variety of choices increases as you spend more money ($799, $1,367, $2,587, and $5,402). In my opinion, the $1,367 package has the greatest number of features and really offers the most complete control, but so as to not over price BookSurge services (creating an unfair comparison for their services) we will use the $799. It is also the most similar in features and services to the other Basic packages offered in the industry and by Dog Ear Publishing.
Standard Paperback Publishing – $799
Custom Cover – $499 (note, a cover image charge does not apply with this service)
Library of Congress Control Number – $75
Proofs – NA (not applicable – digital proofs are free)
Printing Services – $7.98 / unit X 100 units = $798 (printing this book at Dog Ear is only $4.28 per unit)
Total Expenditure- BookSurge: $2,171
($644 MORE EXPENSIVE THAN DOG EAR – and your book isn't available at Barnes & Noble or most other retail outlets)
Dog Ear develops a unique design for both the cover and interior for every book. The design is custom (literally from the ground up) for each and every book – no 'templates' are ever used. Dog Ear provides a Design Sample using your manuscript and allows you complete freedom to revise what our team has built. No other publishing services company provides this service FREE OF CHARGE – only Dog Ear. Every one of our books is designed and built by professionals with long histories and lots of experience – from the traditional publishing industry. Your book is being built by the same staff that created books for Harper Collins, Prentice Hall, Simon & Schuster, Wiley, Penguin and many others of the world’s most successful publishers.
It's author profit that is the true weakness of the BookSurge programs – at Dog Ear Publishing, when you purchase your own books, they are over $1 LESS EXPENSIVE per unit, with that money left in your pocket.
Your author profit from each sale, selling to distribution partners other than Amazon, is over $2 MORE with Dog Ear. Imagine what these numbers do to your profit over the life of your book.
The company's contract is very aggressive. I see a number of items that give pause:
1) You DON'T OWN the output files, EVER. We believe that you hire a self-publishing firm as a contractor. You have paid us and we have performed services for that payment – you should have full rights to everything we produce (you wouldn't let your plumber tell you that you don't own the sink he installed, right?). But, that's NOT the case with many self-publishing companies, including BookSurge.
Note this clause in their contract:
"We will own all right, title and interest in and to the materials created, provided or used by us in the fulfillment of obligations in this Agreement (including Source Files), including all Intellectual Property Rights therein."
The above clause is far worse than in most other contracts though – with BookSurge you only get a limited license to use the image of your cover. What if you want to seek out other (better) book printing prices? This wording (or rather not allowing you to have your files) is designed to keep you from searching out more economical print resources.
2) Another note of concern – again from the contract – is that you may not sell your book direct to consumers at a competitive price (for example at the discounted price at which Amazon may sell the book):
"4.2 Pricing; Legal Title. We or our affiliate will be the seller of record for each physical product of your Title (each, a "Book") we or our affiliate sells to a customer (each, a "Customer") through any Amazon Property. We or our affiliate will have sole discretion in setting the selling price to Customers for all Titles made available for sale on the Amazon Properties. You will provide a List Price for each Title, which will be at or below (a) the price at which you list or offer that title via any other sales channel; and (b) the price at which you sell such Title in printed form to customers through any distribution method.[emphasis added] For the purpose of this Agreement, "List Price" means the list price that you submit to us per individual Title."
Remember, BookSurge tells you what your List Price will be, and when they discount the book on Amazon, you may NOT COMPETE and sell the book direct to consumers for even the SAME price.
Conclusion – if you don't intend to sell anything other than just a few copies of your book (and not through Barnes & Noble or other retail stores) then BookSurge has a plan available on the market. There are other competitors who offer options at the $199 level, many that are better than what BookSurge offers. If your book is something that you think you may sell at least 100 copies, and you want availability for both Retail and Wholesale accounts, then make sure you take into account the items listed above.
You've got to watch corrections. Remember that it costs money each time your publisher has to go back into your file and change something. That's standard for every self-publishing outfit around. But, you should be able to resubmit your manuscript to them just before it goes into "layout" or “formatting”. Also make sure that you don't get charged for making corrections that were THE PUBLISHER'S FAULT in the first place (called Production Errors). This is unfortunately a common practice amongst less trustworthy self-publishing outfits.
Only targeted marketing sells books. Expensive ads work for Grisham and Clancy when appearing with frequency, but the rest of us have to think "Targeted". REVIEWS sell books, not ads – unless your last name happens to be Grisham or Clancy. Bookstores buy based upon marketing dollars thrown at them. Keep targeted! Work book-signings and readings! Targeted Search Marketing sells books. Book signings sell books.