Publishing/Writing: Insights, News, Intrigue


Beware of ‘Author Services’ Shops in 2013

"Need some author services, buddy?"

“Need some author services, buddy?”

The burgeoning self-publishing world has exploded a need for so-called ‘author services’ — you know, the services that used to be provided by the traditional publishers (TPs) if your manuscript was chosen from a gazillion other entries. Services such as editing, proofing, book production, packaging, and distribution, as well as back office tasks such as accounts receivable, accounts payable and year-end tax reporting.

These ‘author services’ shops exist now to some degree but will propagate wildly in the coming year.

So, before you spend ANY money (and most probably needlessly) heed this insight from Smashwords founder, Mark Coker, in this article by Jason Boog:

Mark Coker Predicts: ‘More money will be made in author services than in book sales.’

In his 2013 Book Publishing Industry Predictions, Smashwords founder Mark Coker included this warning for aspiring writers: “In the self-publishing gold rush, more money will be made in author services than in book sales.”

All independent writers need to remember this advice as we head into the new year. We asked How Much Should Self-Publishing Cost? in November and received a wide-range of responses. Indie authors can pay everything from nothing to $50,000 in an effort to publish their work.

Here’s more from Coker: “With the shift to self-publishing, writers must carry the publishing burdens once borne by traditional publishers, such as the cost of editing, proofing, book production, packaging, and distribution, as well as backoffice tasks such as accounts receivable, accounts payable and year-end tax reporting … With this burgeoning demand for professional publishing services, thousands of service providers will open up virtual author services shops in 2013. The challenge for writers is to procure the highest quality services at the lowest cost. Plenty of scamsters and over-priced service providers will be standing by to help.” 

Coker also included two tips for keeping your self-publishing work at a respectable cost. Here is his first tip:

As I write in Secrets to Ebook Publishing Success, pinch your pennies.  As a self published author, you’re the publisher.  You’re running a business.  The lifeblood of a business is profit, because profit generates cash.  If you run out of cash, you go out of business.  Since profit equals sales minus expenses, and sales are difficult to predict and often minimal, it’s important to minimize expenses.  DIY as much as possible, especially when you’re starting out. Invest your sweat equity (your time and talent) first.  If you can’t afford editing, barter for editing, and leverage beta readers.  Once you start earning a profit, then carefully reinvest.  Never borrow money to finance your ebook publishing adventure. Never spend money you need to pay the mortgage or to put bread on your table.

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  1. So true – great advice. There are lots of poeple out there willing to help for a lot of money. My first two ebooks were DIY – except hiring an editor. I feel that should not be skipped. 🙂

    ~ Jenna

    Comment by jascribbles — 12/29/2012 @ 8:22 am | Reply

  2. Jenna, Thanks for your comment 🙂 You, too, give great advice RE editors — Just make sure that you do your homework on editors and choose the right kind for your needs.

    Comment by gator1965 — 12/29/2012 @ 9:09 pm | Reply

  3. Thanks for drawing this to my attention. Agree that a good editor is crucial, as no matter how good you are, everyone needs a little voice in their ear. The trick is to find the right voice, one that you’ll listen to, which in turn means that he editor has to be rigorous without being offensive.

    The other thing that’s worth spending money on appears to be the cover – at least get advice. It seems that most readers have never heard that adage ‘don’t judge a book by its cover’; it’s exactly what they do. But a little practice goes a long way, and you can do this yourself. Try Shutterstock pics on a Word document, with your text over. Word gives the clearest rendition of text I can manage, far better than Photoshop, etc.

    Comment by Gordon — 12/31/2012 @ 10:43 am | Reply

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