17 January 2013

From Galley Cat:  Book Country Adds Free Self-Publishing Option.

“Penguin’s Book Country writing community has relaunched its self-publishing program for authors, offering online editor support and wider distribution.

“Publishing packages now range from free to $399 on the site.

“At the same time, the company has ended its print publishing services because digital content has become more important to those writers looking for a non-traditional pathway to publishing.” Writers that self-publish with the service can put their work on Amazon, Apple,, Kobo, Sony, Google and Scribd.

“Royalty rates have also changed. Once the online retailers take a portion of the sales, Book Country authors will get 85 percent of their net sales. Authors paying $399 Prospect Publishing Package will get 100 percent of their royalties (after publishers take their cut).”

You can read the rest here:  Galley Cat.

Julia Barrett



Big Publishing, Contracts, Self-Publishing, The Business of Writing

21 Comments to “Free?”

  1. We need to work harder at convincing newcomers how easy it is to self-publish so you get 100% of your money.

  2. Wow, 85% royalties after the publishers take their cut. Or even better, 100% after costs. Umm, I’m pretty sure people have been screwing people that way for years in most industries, particularly entertainment.

    Sounds just like now — Authors get 100% of royalties (after Amazon, the publisher, and the agent get their shares). Except in this case, you can pay up front for the privilege of getting reamed…I seem to recall another industry, very similar in process, where you pay up front too.


    • Isn’t there some saying about ‘free’ never being ‘free’?

    • Isn’t 15% the same amount that Smashwords charge for distribution? I’ve forgotten the precise number but it’s somewhere around there.

      I’ve been trying to figure out whether this is a horrible deal or just an attempt to become a Smashwords-style distributor. I guess it depends on things like their definition of ‘net’ and ‘publisher’s cut’.

      • Hi Edward. Go to their site and read through everything. Might make their operation a little clearer. I know they opened their doors in 2012. Not quite sure why they are relaunching now. I didn’t realize they had unlaunched.

        • I just visited the site. Here’s the link to their royalties page – If someone can figure out from this what they’re paying for B&N, Apple, Kobo, Sony, Amazon, etc., I’m sure folks would like to know.

          • Thanks for the link, Mark. To be honest it’s Greek to me. Very unclear.

          • Oh, and for the benefit of full disclosure, I’m the founder of Smashwords. I’m interested because this does seem to be an attempt to create a Smashwords-style distributor.

          • You can’t figure that out from this, because it doesn’t say. It says retailers will take a cut: it doesn’t say what the cut is, other than to say in both amount and calculation it will vary by retailer. If I recall correctly, this is similar to Smashwords’ payment setup for distribution. I don’t recall ever having seen specifics on a per-retailer basis as to what the retailer’s cut is before figuring Smashwords’ revenue and thus the author’s royalty. Do you publish those figures somewhere?

            Obviously I can figure it out from my royalty statements, but that is on a per-transaction basis. No offense, but I don’t know that you provide any more information than Book Country does on this point. If I’m wrong, I apologize, and I would be interested to see how you lay it out if you could point me to it.

            However, at least you can point to someone who not only pays quarterly (as Smashwords does) but pays 60 days after quarter end, not thirty (as Smashwords does.) This is pretty much in line with traditional publishing payment schedules, as I understand it. So you’re not the slowest anymore. 🙂

            • Did you mean something like this:

              How are earnings calculated?
              Smashwords usually pays the author, or the author’s designated publisher, 85% or more of the net sales proceeds from the work. Estimated proceeds are clearly presented during the publish process in a pie chart, and are calculated as follows: For sales at the retail store, (Sales price minus transaction fee) multiplied by .85 =proceeds to author/publisher. The earnings-share rate for sales originated by affiliate marketers is 70.5% net. For most retail distribution partners, Smashwords pays the author/publisher 60% of the suggested list price you set for your book. These rates vary by retailer for sales outside the US. Apple, Barnes & Noble and Diesel are 60% of retail price, though for Apple’s UK, France, Germany and Australian bookstores, Apple deducts a Value Added Tax (VAT) from your sales price, so your actual earnings share = 60% of (Retail price – VAT). Kobo is also 60% for books priced between $.99 and $12.99 for US and Canadian dollar-denominated sales. Sales in other currencies at Kobo are at 38% list. For the Baker & Taylor Axis360 library platform, libraries purchase a single copy at list price, for which the author/publisher earns 45% of list, and then the library is allowed to lend the book multiple times, but only allows one checkout at a time (patrons who want to check out a book that’s already checked out have option to purchase the book). The Smashwords Channel Manager page summarizes how earnings are calculated for each channel.
              (This can be found in Smashwords FAQ)

              • Well, then, obviously I was wrong. 🙂

                I hadn’t remembered seeing that before. Not sure why I didn’t see it when I looked. Probably operator error. My apologies for the incorrect comparison.

  3. TANSTAAFL (Heinlein.
    “There ain’t no such thing as a free lunch”

  4. I took a look at their services and wasn’t impressed. It is comparable to Smashwords, but without the Meatgrinder. I can’t for the life of me figure out what it is they do that is worth 15% of net.

    The site is splashed with the Penguin logo, though. Maybe it’s worth it for the “prestige” of saying, “Yes, I’m published through PENGUIN’S Book Country.”


    • Hmmm. I noticed that all of their packages come bundled with a subscription (of varying lengths) to something called “Author Learning ™ Services”. I don’t know how useful that might be — a full subscription is $149.00 a year — but at the bottom of the “about Author Learning Services” page I saw a list of “our publishing imprint websites”: AuthorHouse, AuthorHouse UK, iUniverse, Trafford, Xlibris, & Palibrio.

      I wasn’t feeling warm & fuzzy at this point.

      • Here’s a link to the Author Learning Services thing here:

        There’s no BookCountry branding on the page. It doesn’t say anywhere obvious who runs or operates the service. But, if you click the contact us link at the bottom of the page at the mailing address is 1663 Liberty Drive Bloomington, IN 47403 Google that address, and you learn it’s Author Solutions. Why are they hiding that?

        Book Country is operated by Penguin. Penguin is owned by Pearson. Pearson acquired Author Solutions several months back. Seems they’re now blending the services together. I can’t imagine that the good people who launched the original Book Country are pleased by this development.

      • Now that is interesting!

    • Exactly – you pay up front for all of the services, and then they take an ongoing cut? For what? Uploading? That takes about 2 minutes for each retailer. Smashwords at least does formatting for you and gets you into hard-to-access stores.

  5. At least they don’t seem to be gouging the way S&S’s outfit is. This is more in line with what some authors think they need- truly ‘assisted’ self-publishing with the option to pay for cover design and formatting right there at the same place that’s going to distribute your books. They will probably get some takers.

  6. It’s a way into the iTunes store, so that’s something at least.

    • Yes but so is Smashwords, ARe, BookBaby, and a few others…

      Or you could set up your Apple account (even if you don’t have a Mac) and hire someone to upload to Apple for you for a one-time fee. I know a number of services who now offer that option to authors. 🙂

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