Publishing News

Authors Beware: They’re trying to screw you!!!! (*and not in the good way*)

I was in the middle of typing up a big, long blog post this morning when I got an e-mail that completely ripped me from my bloggy groove. Don’t worry, the big, long post I was planning for today will go up tomorrow. For today, I am going to interrupt your regularly scheduled bloggy goodness to bring you a very important public service announcement.

I was going to title this post ‘Newbie Authors Beware…’, but I realized that the subject matter of this post may also be helpful to authors who are currently publishing and paying waaaaaay too much to do so.

The email I got this morning was from a company we shall call Shmublish Shmolesale. For the sake of keeping this anonymous, I have cleverly disguised the name of the company so no one could possibly figure out who it is really about…..

No, really…..

For the rest of this post, we are just going to call the company PW, which, for all you know, could mean Publishers Weekly…..

Stop rolling your eyes at me!

Jena Sig XXX



The email I received from PW was infuriating and my basic reaction was:


The reason this email was so infuriating is because I run a company specifically geared toward NOT screwing authors. There are enough “professionals” in this industry out to fuck everyone else that my business plan has been simple – be honest, have integrity, they will find you.

Now, for the sake of full disclosure, my company is not a publishing house or publishing service or whatever the hell PW is considered, but the same rules should apply.  Dont set out to screw people over.

So, today, I speak to you as the author, not the publicist. Okay, there might be a little bit of the publicist in there, but it’s for your own good, I promise.

Here’s the email body:

PW email

And here’s what is so desperately wrong with this picture:



Can it?


If you do not choose your service providers wisely, you can pay an obnoxious amount of money to publish your book. I’ve heard of some people paying as much as $5,000 to publish their book.


For the record, it took everything I had in me not to fall over laughing when I heard the figure, but they claim they paid it.

Let’s take a look at what I pay to publish a book. We are going to go with average figures here because prices can and do change, and please remember that I got here by being a smart consumer and shopping around until I found a reasonably priced product married perfectly with a certain standard of quality.

I’m just going to tear apart their bullet point list because it’s easier this way. For $959, essentially what PW is offering is self-publishing the book as a paperback. Now, if their method of publishing landed your book in brick-and-mortar stores, I would say jump on that shit because as an indie, it’s very hard to get your book into brick-and-mortar stores.

But that’s not at all what they’re offering.

Format the interior – $50
My Running Total – $50

To get my paperbacks formatted, it costs me $50. My formatter is super-awesome, and this price tag includes both the formatting for paperback and ebook for all platforms, but for the purposes of flowing with PW’s bullshit offer, we will say $50 for paperback formatting. Additionally, this $50 pays for a gorgeous formatting job with graphics and such added to spice it up a bit. My interiors are branded to match my series covers. And my formatter is far from alone. There is a long list of incredibly talented formatters out there and I’ve only ever seen a handful of them that charged more than $50. That’s very rare in my experience. Look at the interiors of Amber Lynn Natusch’s Caged series paperbacks. They’re gorgeous! And they’re done by an author friend of ours. I believe he also charges just $50, but don’t quote me on that because I’ve never had a book done by him.  I am just recalling from previous conversations.

Create a beautiful, custom designed front/back/spine cover – $125
My Running Total – $175

To get my paperback flats created, my graphic designer charges $125. This $125 also includes the ebook cover in four formats – 72dpi and 300dpi, hi-def and good for sharing. Additionally, my graphic designer also provides you with any promotional graphics you want for free as an added bonus for purchasing your cover through her. She’s got 13+ years of experience, an award-winning portfolio, and she’s a pleasure to deal with. All for $125.

Please note:  To be fair, this cost does not include the cost of having a model photo shoot done.  If you’re an author paying for a full photo shoot, you’re going to pay MUCH higher than this, but even PW doesn’t do this.  Judging by the covers they have done in the past, they use stock photos or royalty-free images.  I also think they’re reaching a bit by claiming their covers are “beautiful, custom designed”, but whatever…

Set up your print publishing account and upload the finished files – FREE
My Running Total – $175

I’m assuming the “publishing account” is CreateSpace. Now, CS is free for authors to use. It costs nothing and takes about 5 hassle-free minutes to set up. The reason I am assuming it’s CS is because they are the most common print-on-demand or POD publisher. You can have paperbacks made through them and only order them as needed instead of having to carry a large overhead inventory.

Purchase your ISBN – FREE
My Running Total – $175

Again, if you’re using CreateSpace to have your paperbacks printed, they assign you a unique ISBN for FREE. You don’t have to purchase this.

Purchase and ship you a proof copy – $10 With Shipping
My Running Total – $185

Again, this is done through CreateSpace. Now, depending on the length of your book, the cost of the proof cop can vary. I have had proofs cost as low as $5 with shipping. My last book was $9 after shipping cost.

List your book for sale at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and more – FREE
My Running Total – $185

This happens automatically after you approve your proof through CreateSpace….

Provide your own personal author partner to guide you each step of the way – ???
My Running Total – $185

I am not sure what you’d be getting with this, but I would be more than happy to recommend a few authors, myself included, who are more than willing to mentor fellow authors through the process and pitfalls of self-publishing. I would be much more comfortable getting an author with no vested financial interest than an author who may or may not have been paid to just tell me to do whatever PW says.

Moving on to the up-sell at the end of the email….

Just add $200 and you can now get an eBook version of your book + distribution to major eBook retailers.


In the $185 I’ve already paid, everything needed for publishing my book as an ebook is already provided…

As I said, seeing this email was infuriating.  There are so many services out there with the express goal of screwing authors who plain and simply don’t know any better.  Talk to your fellow authors.  Ask around.  Dont run on the assumption that the people running these companies are basically good.  If that was the case, and they genuinely weren’t trying to screw you, they wouldn’t count on your being dumb enough to let them rape your wallet peddling a service that offers something you can do yourself at five times the cost.  They know the real costs.  They need to in order to set their own pricing and ensure their business make a profit.  Trust me, they’re very aware of how badly they’re screwing you.

Additionally, not everyone wants to do things the way I do them.  I’m not preaching ‘my way or the highway’ here.  Not everyone has the “I’ll just do it myself” attitude.  If you want to blow the $959-$1159 to have someone else do the foot work for you, by all means, but know that when you start complaining later on down the road that it cost you $1200 to publish your book and you didn’t make nearly that much back in sales, just know that it could have been prevented.  And that I wont have much sympathy for you.  If you’ve read this, or listened to any number of authors who will tell you the same thing, you’ve been warned.  It’s on you now to make the decision that best suits your needs.  coollogo_com-27059194

Jena Sig XXX


  1. Very good article. It’s amazing how many ‘publishers’ out there want to siphon every last cent you have to publish your print book or ebook. And the poor saps that get sucked in because they don’t do their research to find out better and cheaper aleternatives.

    1. Thanks Anna! And, yes, exactly! Unfortunately, lack of experience is the biggest reason authors get sucked into it. This industry doesn’t come with a how-to manual and a lot of people suffer for it.

  2. I applaud you for sticking it to these guys.

    1. My honest hope is that is prevents authors from getting suckered by these companies. They should be ashamed of themselves.

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