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Publishers Weekly Moves Into Self-Publishing

31 May 2012

From Writer Beware:

A couple of years ago, I blogged about the launch of PW Select, an online supplement to the regular PW magazine. PW Select, which is published quarterly, allows self-published writers to buy brief listings (author, title, subtitle, price, pagination and format, ISBN, a brief description, and ordering information) for $149. With every issue of the supplement, a limited number of books–around 25%–are chosen for review.

This would certainly seem to be a moneymaking proposition for PW, but what it does for self-pubbed authors is less apparent. $149 is a lot to pay for a listing, on the off chance of receiving a review (especially since the reviews appear to pull no punches). As for promoting to PW’s readership–agents, booksellers, publishers, librarians–here’s one librarian’s reaction. And here’s one author’s experience, which points up a known risk of using any sort of listing service: unwanted solicitations.

Now PW is venturing even deeper into self-pub territory, partnering with Vook to offer its very own self-publishing option, PW Select Plus. (The service actually rolled out in April, but this solicitation only came across my desk last week.) Here’s how PW describes the service:

Under PW Select+, authors will receive all the benefits of PW Select as well as a host of options for using Vook’s e-book creation and publishing platform. Those benefits include conversion of authors’ manuscripts to an e-book format acceptable to B&N.com, Apple iBooks, and Amazon.com; automatic distribution within those three sales channels including full reporting; a distribution-ready EPub file for the author’s use in his or her own channels; an ISBN number (if needed); and seamless registration and integration into both PW Select and Vook.

The cost? $199.

The predictable reaction will be that PW is–again–trying to make money by exploiting authors. But I wonder about that–the moneymaking part, at any rate.

Link to the rest at Writer Beware and thanks to Jeanne for the tip.

Self-Publishing Warnings

23 Comments to “Publishers Weekly Moves Into Self-Publishing”

  1. In other words, for $199 you get less than what Smashwords does for free. Sounds like a solid deal!

    P.S. I’m of the opinion that paying for reviews is dumb.

    • I agree paying for reviews, and especially for listings, is dumb.
      The best reviews are from readers who love your book. And, if you’re open minded, from readers who hate your book. (I’m of the opinion that a “good” bad review can boost your sales more that a good great review.)

  2. Paid reviews undermine and devalue those reviews freely given by literary critics. And the public at large does not understand why the books suck even though the PAID reviewer adored it!

    Let’s put it another way: Corporations PAY Moody’s & Standard & Poors to evaluate their financial condition. You tell me how impartial those reviews are!!!!

  3. Why would someone pay for the service they can get for free? I guess there will always be people who don’t think things through or do their research.

  4. Because PW is ‘cachet’ in some circles. And hey, at least they’re cheaper than Kirkus, who charges indie authors $425-575 for a review….

    Bleah.

  5. Rather then a 1 in 4 chance of paying for a review of your book, you have a 3 in 4 chance of paying for a review of another author’s book.

  6. Odd thought popped into my mind reading this. Ticks. Strolling through the woods, minding your own business, and they latch on. Suck your blood. Leave you with nothing, except maybe Lyme disease or Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever.

    I don’t know why I thought of that. Huh.

  7. The pointlessness of the PW package has been covered well above, but I wanted to ask about the Vook side of things (publishing via Vook is included in the package).

    On this page – http://vook.com/distribution/ – Vook appear to be making some misleading claims. The second bullet point says:

    “Get 100% of your royalties – Sell your eBook through Vook and have access to royalties not available anywhere else”

    However, if you scroll down to view the exact percentages, for Amazon they say:

    “You keep 43.2% of royalties, Amazon takes 56.8%”

    And for Barnes & Noble they say:

    “You keep 50% of royalties, Barnes & Noble takes 50%”

    Does anyone know how they arrived at these percentages? Obviously, the normal split is 70/30 if you go direct, or 60/40 via someone like Smashwords.

    Anyone know how they squared the circle to claim that authors keep “100% of their royalties” and that authors will have “access to royalties not available anywhere else”?

    • I’m sure that I’m not the only one who relies on people like you for the answers to these questions, David. :D

    • does it have a definition of “royalties” anywhere? such as “any moneys besides the transaction fees taken out by the vendors”? Because that would make their claim true…just deceptive.

      Also isn’t it redundant to say “100% of royalties” since the author always receives 100% of the royalty rate they agree to…their royalty rate is just not, say, “100% of cover price” or even “100% of net.” But no one is getting 50% of the 50% cover price royalty rate.

      Anyway, the fact that they use that language in a deceptive way reminds me of my crusade to get everyone to stop saying “royalties” when discussing the money paid to us by Amazon or Smashwords or B&N PubIt. They provide a sales platform and take a transaction fee. We are vendors selling our goods. The goods just happen to be books. But that is not what a royalty, by definition, is.

  8. Since I’m about to embark on this adventure, Lily, what do you end up calling the monies you make on a book? It can’t be called an advance. If not royalties, then just “sales”?

    • That’s what I would call it, though I don’t have a formal term. “Sales” works. Simple, direct, and exactly what the money is.

      I am just uncomfortable with calling earnings a royalty because a royalty is an agreed-upon percentage for the creator to receive as a kickback from the person who is producing the work in salable format and getting the bulk of the money from it in exchange for assuming the costs of production. The term “royalty” is irrelevant to the relationship between a self-publisher using KDP/PI/Smashwords, because those sites are not doing anything except providing a digital storefront and handling the details of taking payment from buyer and delivering the money to the seller. It’s my impression that Amazon sees KDP sales the same as any third-party vendor sales for books or other goods. It’s just a different relationship than what a publisher does.

      I’ve seen a couple other people express the same sentiment around here and other parts of the self-pub blogosphere so I know I’m not alone in this quest for clarity.

      • While the term “royalties” might not be strictly accurate, in the absence of a superior term, I think it’s acceptable to use (but I’m open-minded towards alternatives). Also, it should be remembered that self-publishing percentages are often used to compare to those received from traditional publishers – which is probably why the term began to be used in the first place, and perhaps a reasonable argument for its retention.

      • I’d say that the correct term to use would be “profit”. As self-publishers we are all businesses and businesses make profits(hopefully).
        However I suspect that most people will continue to use the word “royalty”, both to compare with traditionally published writes and because most self-publishers are writers first and business people second.

        Also what you call it might have other implications, for instance here in Ireland artists(including writers) can claim a tax break on royalties, but I don’t think that publishing businesses can claim the same tax break on “profits”.

        • People can take “profit” to mean whatever is left over after expenses.

          A few posts ago, Lily said, “I am just uncomfortable with calling earnings a royalty …” Why do we need to find another word for “earnings?” That’s perfect. Either that or “income.”

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