Author: Mark Levine
Many of us have a story to tell, perhaps, it is a work of fiction or non-fiction, one that may be entertaining, useful, informative, or inspirational. However, the foremost difficulty we encounter is locating a publisher who will make our dreams come true. As pointed out in Mark Levine’s The Fine Print of Self-Publishing: The Contracts & Services of 48 Major Self-Publishing Companies-Analyzed, Ranked & Exposed, until recently there only existed three ways to become a published author. These can broken down as follows: having a traditional publisher take you on: pay a vanity publisher a great sum of money to print your book: or take the self-publishing route which required you to handle all aspects of book publishing from printing, design, formatting, etc.
Today, with the advent of modern technology and the Internet, another alternative exists, the print-on-demand (POD) possibility that provides authors an opportunity to publish their work. Basically, as Levine mentions, the POD path allows a book publisher or printer to produce the number of books actually ordered. These publishers are a hybrid of traditional publishers, vanity presses, and self-publishing companies.
As a book reviewer, I have reviewed many a print-on-demand (POD) book; however, I must confess that I never bothered to compare one POD publishing company with another. In certain instances, I did notice that some of these companies were nothing more than glorified printers masquerading as publishers, while others were serious and were sincerely interested in helping their authors.
The Fine Print of Self-Publishing limits itself to analyzing forty-eight royalty-paying PODs that have several common features, namely: they accept submissions from new or inexperienced writers without the necessity of having an agent, books are published within ninety days or sooner, no advance payments are requested from the authors, there is very little or no marketing budget for the book but sometimes these services are provided for a fee, pay higher royalties than traditional publishers, and charge up-front publishing fees.
Divided into nine chapters, Levine wades into the world of PODs by initially pointing out nine qualities of a good self-publishing company which include a good reputation among writers, an attractive easy-to-navigate web site, fairly priced publishing fees, generous royalties without creative accounting, low printing costs and high production value, favorable contract terms, reasonably priced additional services, ability to obtain an ISBN, UPC Bar Code, and LCCN as part of any basic publishing package, and the ability to register the book with Bowker’s Books in Print, make it available through a book distribution such as Baker & Taylor or Ingram, and listing it on Amazon and other sites. After exploring these essential elements, Levine, who is an attorney by profession as well as an author, proceeds to give us a brief course on contracts and what to watch out for before engaging ourselves with any one particular company.
The remaining chapters of the book focus on four types of self-publishing companies: outstanding, pretty good, okay and those to avoid. According to Levine, he has contacted every one of the forty-eight companies listed in the book and he had requested replies to a series of fifteen questions. These questions highlight such topics as the retail price of a book, book returns, shipping charges on books, the price an author pays for a book, are the book covers laminated, and several other important issues. With this wealth of information in hand, Levine then goes on to rate each company and meticulously breaks down his analysis of each one into the following sections: format of books, genres accepted, publishing fees, royalties paid to authors, notable provisions of the publishing agreement, time from submission to publication, Alexa traffic rank of the publisher’s website, author-friendly rating. Mention is also made of the URL of the company’s site and if their contracts can be downloaded.
My only criticism of this book is the absence of an index and a listing of each company analyzed and categorized into their rating classification. All the same, it is quite apparent that Levine has done his homework and this in depth guide is undoubtedly an eye-opener as well as an excellent working resource for anyone contemplating self-publishing.
The above review was contributed by: NORM GOLDMAN: Editor of Bookpleasures. Here are more of Norm Goldman's Reviews: To read Norm's Interview with Author Mark Levine CLICK HERE