Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Self-publishing - not sure Chapters/Indigo Know the meaning of the word

Okay, let me say the words self-publishing obviously means different things to different companies – notice I didn’t say people. Since I launched my own Indie publication Off Leash here is what I’ve learned. Getting your indie book into stores is hard.

Last night I tried to get Off Leash into Chapters/Indigo and because they have a bold Self-publishing icon I clicked on that. I read everything, filled in the information and then got my phone call this morning. Here is the jest of it. After I’ve forked out my own money for a cover artist and editor Chapters/Indigo would like me to pay them $599 for their basic self-publishing package which is managed through iuniverse. Oh, yeah, I totally get the I in iuniverse because they own the universe of Chapters/Indigo I’d like to get my book into. That was the basic price structure and trust me it went up from there.

When I spoke with the nice lady on the phone, who I know is just doing her job, I asked her if many people use this service. Hundreds of thousands of people do, she said. Tell me again how this is self-publishing? She told me they’d list my book in their Chapters/Indigo catalogue, ensure book placement in the store and do some marketing. Really if I paid the $4,000 package I’d like you to bark just like my dog Ollie does in Off Leash and shout out “for sale” every five minutes because then just maybe I might make some money off my book. Iuniverse does pay royalties, the polite-lady said. So what?

According to the lady all traditional publishers have to pay to have their books listed in the Chapters/Indigo catalogue. Really, I’m not sure, but again, I clicked on the self-publishing icon meaning I’m not a traditional publisher. I can’t get my head around this.

I explained to her how Smashwords work (FREE and hat’s off to them – they have been great) and how works and yes they do offer platform pricing for more distribution channels but it’s about $40 not hundreds of dollars. She didn’t comment. Why would she? The only person in this self-publishing relationship making money seems to me to be iuniverse.

Now that I know what takes place when I read all those lovely book excerpts on Chapters/Indigo’s marketing site about the “authors that made it” I realize they have something I don’t—money already lining their pockets. Those books don’t look so shiny and great to me anymore.


Jo Ramsey said...

Unfortunately, I've frequently seen "self-publishing" used as a synonym for "vanity publishing."

Self-publishing is when you pay all the costs of publishing your book--printing (if it's print), shipping to buyers, advertising/marketing, etc. And you keep all the net profits.

Vanity publishing is when you pay SOMEONE ELSE to do those things for you, and you just get the book. Maybe royalties, but those "royalties" may not even cover what you paid in the first place.

They aren't at all the same, and places that continue to push the fallacy that they are, are in my opinion doing a disservice to authors.

Julia Phillips Smith said...

Loved this post, Renee. LOL! Chapters/Indigo seems to have heard half the conversation taking place over at Amazon. Not sure they're going to get many takers.

Of course, all self-published e-books - even the trade paperback version, as it's print-on-demand and doesn't need a printer/warehouse distributor/physical store combo in order to sell - are in fact hostile competitors to bricks and mortar stores, so it's no wonder Chapters doesn't roll out the carpet for OFF LEASH.

However, forcing potential users to pay twice for a second cover etc. at exorbitant prices is not really opening the iuniverse to self-published authors, no matter what they've decided in their boardrooms in Toronto.

Bev Pettersen said...

Interesting post, Renee. Thanks for sharing your hard work. Authors are moving and learning so fast, places like Chapters can't keep up...

Norah Wilson said...

Must say I'm not surprised they don't baldly call it "vanity publishing". Not a very attractive word! But the way into Chapters, of course, for people who are already digitally self-published is through Kobo. Thus they're not really forcing anyone to repeat the publishing process or to "buy" their way in.