An informed author is a truly happy author, and our goal is to help you make an informed decision when you publish your book. This page will help you discover the difference between the self publishing companies iUniverse and Dog Ear Publishing. To that end, we will show a price and service comparison for authors interested in publishing a book. You will find that iUniverse can end up costing you FAR more than Dog Ear Publishing.
Dog Ear: YES
Dog Ear: $4.28
Dog Ear: $5.92
While not every author is the same, our experience shows us that a typical self-published author will buy and sell right around 100 books in the first few months after publication. However, some authors only want to publish a book that they will distribute to close friends and family. So, if you don't feel your book will sell over 100 units (or if you might not purchase at least 100 copies over the lifetime of your book) then choosing a discount publisher with a low upfront cost (like iUniverse™) may be the best choice for publishing your book.
For authors whose interest lies in publishing a book and building successful sales around that book, then we believe you need to consider far more than just the upfront cost. The primary goal of this publishing comparison is to demonstrate that the ultimate COST of publishing a book goes far beyond what you pay for the publishing package. Your final profit and cost is impacted tremendously by the per unit cost (and profit) of printing (and selling) books.
To keep the comparison fair for both iUniverse™ and Dog Ear Publishing, we are going to create a hypothetical book that we'll use to measure costs for both book publishing services and printing. The specs are very consistent with the majority of books produced in the trade category from any self publishing company. Self publishing costs are derived from the iUniverse web site and customer service interviews.
Here is our hypothetical book and project:
Let's start with the numbers... More in-depth comparisons will follow below. Here's how iUniverse™ Publishing costs stack up against Dog Ear Publishing.
Dog Ear Publishing is based out of Indianapolis, Indiana. All Dog Ear operations are based in the United States. Dog Ear Publishing allows authors the complete freedom to set their retail price and profit at any level. Dog Ear has the lowest per unit print costs of any publishing company. With Dog Ear, you receive 100% of your Net Sale (no other major self-publishing house offers that level of profit for authors.) Lastly, through Dog Ear you retain 100% ownership of the press files that we design for you.
Ownership of press files: $300 ($150 for the interior and $150 for the cover)
Printing Services– $7.67 / unit (and this price is only available when you purchase more than 99 units on any single order!) X 100 units = $767.00
Far MORE expensive than Dog Ear Publishing –but what if you go on to sell even more? Even more money goes into the pockets of iUniverse™ and not you, the author (see the Author Profit Comparison section).
As you can see from our web site, we believe in giving you as much as possible within each package, and letting you have as much control and input as you'd like. No one else offers the absolute freedom that Dog Ear Publishing does.
Items of note from the iUniverse™ contract regarding design, price and control:
Book design/format according to the iUniverse™ contract
"You may be required to determine and/or approve various aspects of the publishing of Your Work, including the appearance of the cover, illustrations, and the galley…You are responsible for ensuring that the Manuscript submission complies with Our applicable Content Guidelines, including, without limitation, restrictions regarding content, interior design, and cover design."
Who has control of your book's design? The iUniverse™ contract does state that iUniverse™ requires the author to determine the appearance of the galley – as long as the author follows the iUniverse™ interior design guidelines. But we 'tested' this. They wanted us (as the author) to design and format the book in MSWord! If you aren't paying for design expertise, then what are you purchasing? By 'designing' your own book they are making you the design expert. At Dog Ear Publishing you get the opportunity to create as custom a book as you like without having to be a designer.
A book's retail price according to the iUniverse™ contract
"[iUniverse™] shall provide a proposed Retail Price for the sales of Your Work...the final Retail Price is [to be set] within the limitation [iUniverse™ has] set..."
As is the case with other publishers in the "Authorhouse family", iUniverse™ sets limits on how an author can set retail price for their book. At Dog Ear publishing allows the author to determine the book's retail and wholesale terms without restrictive limitations.
File ownership according to the iUniverse™ contract
Foreshadowing...you don't own your book's production files, nor do you own the files that are used to print your book! You've paid iUniverse™ to create a book for you, but if you decide to leave and want to take your book with you, you can't– not without paying iUniverse™ again.
From the iUniverse™ contract:
"You may not use the formatted Manuscript (at any stage of development) or finished Work...and/or cover with any other provider of similar Services at any time during or after the term of this Agreement."
"Upon the effective date of Termination in a manner permitted by this Agreement, You may purchase a license in any transferrable rights We have in Our Work Product for one hundred fifty dollars ($150), and We shall deliver to You electronic file(s) of the Work..."
So, you want to actually OWN the files produced for your book and from which your book is printed (after all, you paid iUniverse™ to create them)? Too bad, iUniverse™ owns both the cover design and the files used to print your book! We've found authors who have purchased them from iUniverse™ for an additional $150 for the cover file and an additional $150 for the interior.
Why should someone you've paid to perform a service get to keep what you paid them to do? At Dog Ear Publishing you have access to all files used to create your book and may have them at any time, to use as you please, free of charge.
iUniverse™ is owned by AuthorSolutions (the company that owns AuthorHouse, xLibris and Trafford) and forces authors to set the retail price of their books at specific levels. Royalties are based upon the discount offered to wholesale and retail accounts.
Here's an author profit comparison on the hypothetical book we outlined above… We'll set retail at $15.95 (the iUniverse™ required retail price for this title at just a 20% NET royalty rate– at Dog Ear you may choose any retail you want).
iUniverse™ profit through B&N (or any retail outlet) for the author: $15.95 x 64% x 20%= $2.04 to the author per sale (iUniverse™ offers a 36% wholesale discount to accounts like Amazon.com).
Dog Ear Publishing profit through B&N (or any retail outlet) for the author if you select the exact same terms: $15.95 X 64% (amount of the retail you get– see our page on setting wholesale discounts here) minus $4.28 (your per unit printing cost) = $5.92 to the author per sale.
You'd have to sell three iUniverse™ books for every Dog Ear book to make the same profit. iUniverse™ and Dog Ear handle wholesale orders and accounts in the EXACT SAME MANNER– so why would you want to give up an additional $3.88 per sale to iUniverse™?
iUniverse™ has something called the Star Program– for $249 you pay for an "Editorial Review", if the reviewer finds your book favorable, it is said to increase your chances of being eligible for the Star Program. The Star Program gets you on a special Barnes & Noble shelf in the store. According to Publisher's Weekly numbers, less than 1% of their books get in. Here's breaking news – interesting data courtesy of Publisher's Weekly (May 2005): only 14 titles actually were sold on B&N shelves in 2004. The "average" iUniverse™ book sales is 41 units. Less than 1/2 of 1% (.46%) actually sold more than 500 copies (83 books out of 18,108)... A strategy for growing retail sales from iUniverse™ is trading your royalty to increase the discount offered to booksellers. For example, you can reduce your "royalty" to 10% (vs a standard 20% of net) and you can then increase the discount offered to booksellers– possibly increasing the chance of the book landing on a bookstore shelf. For direct sales, or online retailers, the discount is fairly set anyway (you'll also get charged a $99 fee to change your mind and adjust your royalty back). iUniverse™ offers some NY Times and USA Today spots for $2,500 – not the best way to spend marketing dollars unless your name is Gresham or Clancy.