Friday, November 18, 2011

In a Book Country

"I'm not expecting to grow flowers in the desert."
~Can you name that tune?

Reader question: Is Book Country, the new "self-publishing" unit from Penguin, a good deal?

Short answer: No.

Long answer: It's the same amount of work for you, but you will earn less per copy, and there is no added benefit. If you want them to do some of the work (formatting or typesetting) for you, they will, but it will cost even more, and you can hire someone else to do the same work for a fraction of the price. There are loads of people out there who do great work with rapid turnaround times. Jim Brown is one I've worked with, and he's very reliable. (His conversion price is $75/6 digital formats. Book Country's is $99/1 format, and they limit you to one of six templates.)

If you want to do the formatting yourself, spring for Joshua Tallent's kindle formatting booklet, which is very easy reading and loaded with tips. There are also some websites with good, free information about formatting.



Sandra Ulbrich Almazan said...

It's "In a Big Country."

So, if you publish through Book Country, will every single hope you had be shattered?

alicia said...

I -love- In a Big Country. One of the best songs.

Edittorrent said...

I've been humming it all day!

green_knight said...

As a related comment, if you're interested in formatting for epub, and you're a Mac user, I reccommend Apple's Pages. You still need to edit keywords, but it writes by far the cleanest most readable epub I have ever seen, and at $20 it's not an impossible outlay. (Pages also handles track changes.)

Some publishers are, as far as I can make out, using self-publishing operations as slushpiles/market research. (Some of them just use them as short-term revenue streams, which deserves a double booing). But for the well-intentioned, it's a way to

- do market research and see what readers will and won't buy without having to invest anything at all
- spot emerging trends
- find manuscripts that would otherwise not have been submitted to them without having to invest in professional evaluation of the 90% of manuscripts they'll definitely _never_ be interested in.

And it makes them money.

So, from a publisher's point of view - even one that doesn't mean to fleece newbie writers - it looks like a win.

From a writer's point of view, there seems to be very little advantage in choosing this career path over either publishing it yourself or sending it out to agents and editors.