to self-publish or not self-publish

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that is the question

Four years into writing the Taste of Scars I slammed into a brick wall headfirst and was ready to self-publish. I looked at different self-publishing or print-on-demand (POD) companies. BookSurge (now CreateSpace), iUniverse, AuthorHouse, and Xlibris. My biggest concern was book cover quality. From working at a library I know that about 40% of people walk into a library or bookstore and choose a book based on the cover not knowing anything about the book.

75% of 300 booksellers surveyed (50% independent bookstores and 50% chain stores) by BookSurge in 2009 identify the look and design of the book cover as the most important component. The jacket is prime real estate for promoting a book.

I scratched one of the POD companies off the list.  The POD’s covers were a hot mess (iUniverse). As a black gay author I know I have to work harder. If I want mainstream success I need to bring a mainstream product into bookstores and libraries and where ever else books are sold.

The big difference between BookSurge, AuthorHouse, and Xlibris was start-up cost. Xlibris was the most expensive $1600 (however their basic service is about $500). BookSurge was about $1500. Each month BookSurge ran specials. Their price changed frequently. AuthorHouse was the cheapest at about $900. What I looked at second was the royalty breakdown. A nightmare. Each site I went to had a different number. Some had actual dollar amounts and some had percents.

Distribution was also important. One company outweighed the competition there – BookSurge. BookSurge is owned by Amazon. Amazon is the largest seller of books online. Self-published authors with BookSurge could get their book on, through library and bookstore channels Baker & Taylor (this company is major) and R.R. Bowker‘s bibliographic catalog (never heard of them).

The BookSurge website stated “once your book achieves print-ready status in [our] system, your book’s listing will appear on and in approximately 2-3 weeks and will be available for purchase on, and in approximately 1-2 weeks.”

BookSurge seemed perfect. I sent BookSurge an email and got an immediate response:

Thank you for contacting us! Your request for information has been forwarded to a personal publishing consultant, who will contact you directly with details about how our publishing services can fit your needs. Want to learn more while you’re here? We have lots of information and resources to help educate you on the publishing and print-on-demand industries, as well as the specifics of working with BookSurge. Come on, stay awhile… – Visit the Author Testimonials section to hear what BookSurge authors have to say about our programs, services and staff. – Check out the Author Resources area for useful information on marketing and selling your book, tools to leverage on for increased visibility, a glossary of industry terms, and more. – Learn more about the Publishing Options available, as well as our editorial and cover design services. – Check out the Promotional Tools we offer to help authors market and sell their books. – See how BookSurge works with publishers, libraries and university presses to help keep their titles in stock on-demand. – Visit the Bookstore to see examples of other titles published through BookSurge.

My personal publishing consultant was Lynn Eang. Homegirl sent my 2 emails per day for about 5 months. Her emails slowed down to about 1 every 2 days. BookSurge emailed me about twice per month. I sat on self-publishing. While sitting, pondering, I realized my book wasn’t complete and kept on editing.

Lynn sent me another email. Click on continue reading to read more.

Dear Victor:

I’m here to help you bring your fiction book Taste of Scars to print using our professional book publishing options and I’ve outlined some publishing options for you to review that will aid you with reaching your goals. I included detailed information about our Total Design Freedom program and understand you’d like an extensive Editing Package. I have prepared a custom proposal for you to review based on your original inquiry and services I feel are the most value-added and can aid you with your marketing efforts best.


The Total Design Freedom is a great starting program (starting price at $799.00). It is designed to offer authors high levels of customization for the cover and interior pages. When working with the BookSurge team of designers in our distinctly hands-on book making process, your ideas and vision for your book are gathered through sessions with our design team and incorporated to produce a high-quality one-of-a-kind book that reflects your book’s key messages.

You can read more about Royalties and Book Costs here, If you would like a book printing quote for various unit orders of your book, please provide me with your projected Trim Size and page count.

RECOMMENDATIONS: You may want to consider these services as well.

Editorial Services
BookSurge recognizes the value of having a well-edited, polished book and offers a wide variety of professional editorial services.

*Recommendation: Editing Package 2- Includes 2 Rounds of Comprehensive Copy Editing and 1 Round of Basic Copy Editing for $2,987.16.

Promotional Tools
We offer extensive tools and resources to help you make the most of your budget and reach your goals.

Most valuable services include:
-Cover Copy Plus! service at $149 with sign-up; $199 a la carte

-Press Release Services at $598

-Publicity Kit at $399 at sign-up or $499 a la carte

-Video Book Trailer, at $1,299 for 30 second video or $2,299 for 60 second video

-Marketing Strategy Session with award-winning author Richard Ridley at $100

See the initial publishing proposal created with you in mind considering your interest in Total Design Freedom, Editing Services and you’ll certainly want some Promotional Tools to jump-start your marketing efforts. The package is also based on your manuscript’s 80,300 word count. We offer great incentives to sign-up with a package for price savings and bonus books with your package!

Lynn Eang

My book jumped up to 100,000 words when this package was offered to me. I could only imagine how much money that would’ve tacked on. I’m so glad I waited, edited the crap out of my book, and found a publisher.



Filed under The Written Word

3 responses to “to self-publish or not self-publish

  1. Pingback: Booksurge US – (see CreateSpace) | The Independent Publishing Magazine

  2. Pingback: Has the POD Publishing Bubble Burst? | The Independent Publishing Magazine

  3. Pingback: Bowker Releases Preliminary 2010 Annual Books in Production Report (PDF link included) | The Independent Publishing Magazine

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