While Help for Writers is a relatively new project, we think there are many reasons to use us rather than some of the established ‘self-publishing’ companies.
Recently we went to a local book fair and encountered Fast-Print Publishing, an established print-on-demand company that also offer eBook conversions and distribution. The first reason we think we provide a preferable service is that the prices for eBook conversions are considerably higher than ours; standard and premium packages are £165 and £250 respectively, PLUS VAT! While to us this seems expensive, we will be putting our prices up soon after our introductory phase so they will be closer to these and they are obviously allowed to charge what they like. However, what really confuses us is that while they charge a steep price for conversion packages, they also have an annual distribution fee of £24 (after year one which is included) and they take a 50% royalty cut! This royalty cut is the same as a traditional publisher normally takes and they do not charge an author for publishing costs, making this service less like self-publishing and more like paying for a traditional publishing contract.
Fast-Print are not the only ones out there taking generous amounts of cash and royalties; Lulu.com is one of the big companies when it comes to self-publishing. Lulu also effectively offers two packages for conversion like us, based on size of manuscript alone but also charge more for converting PDF files rather than MS Word, which we do not. Calculating with a fairly standard 250 words per page, the Lulu standard package limits authors to just over 60,000 words and the premium has an upper limit of 125,000 words, in comparison to our 100K and 150K word limits. So as well as restricting authors on word count far more before extra charges are introduced for extended length, Lulu also charges £179 and £225 for conversions from Word and £205 and £240 from PDF. These prices also advertise that they are lower than the list price and therefore Lulu are offering a discount of between 9% and 15% depending on package, but are these prices permanent or will they become even higher in the future? Again, as well as charging very high prices for conversion packages, Lulu take a cut of royalties; at 10% this is not as high as Fast-Print but when combined with hosting charges on their own website will come out much higher, with the example provided on their website of a $2.99 eBook returning only $1.80 to the author.
Another very popular self-publishing service is Smashwords, which has an attractive feature of offering conversions for free. While this is great for new authors looking to get their books out there with minimal costs, we wonder as to the quality of the conversions. As they are free, it is likely that the whole process is entirely automated and nothing can be done for authors who have specific formatting requirements. Also it is unlikely that the files will be tested on eReaders to check layout compatibility, meaning that the end result could look very messy and unprofessional on a Kindle or iPad. So with set-up being free, the cost of using Smashwords is again in royalties; stated to be 85% back to the author, which isn’t too unreasonable. However this only applies to purchases from the Smashwords online store and authors only receive 60% of royalties from sales at other retailers, close to a traditional publishing fee. And while you could try to direct people to the Smashwords store to buy your eBook, Amazon Kindle Store, Apple iBookstore, the Kobo store and many other major retailers are considerably more popular and will be where the majority of fans will buy their eBooks.
There are many other services out there with similar pricing structures but obviously we can’t go into detail on all of them, but we feel that we offer some of the best value for money in the self-publishing business. The purpose of this article is not to damage the reputation of other companies, that is not our goal; but we felt it necessary to put our prices in comparison with other offerings to show that we are a great option for any author looking to self-publish and maintain control over their writing career. Here at Help for Writers, we believe self-publishing should be about authors retaining the rights to their work and not profiting from the hard work they put in promoting it. We provide a service to get your work out there and the rest is up to you, we wont take anything else from you. Meaning that if your book is the next book phenomenon, the only person who profits is you, the author, and that’s what self-publishing is about!
Go over to our Shop to see just how good our prices are and remember all our deals give authors 100% of rights and royalties and all authors are accounted to monthly with no minimum payouts.
Disclaimer: All information regarding other services came from company websites or printed sales literature.