Publishing companies and costs:
A comparison of set-up packages

Publishing companies want your business. They're eager. And, they've devised a host of services and products to sell you when you self publish your book.

Their basic product is a "set-up" package that turns your manuscript into a press-ready format needed to produce your book. The packages vary in price and services . . . but generally, the more you as an author can do to get your manuscript ready for publication, the cheaper the package you need to buy.

As an example, one publishing company, CreateSpace, offers a $299 package if you submit press-ready pdf files of your book's cover and the book's interior formatting. This package includes no design or editorial help, marketing, promotional materials, or registrations. You do all of that yourself.

At the other end of the scale, Xlibris offers a $13,999 "Platinum package" that includes not only set-up, but editing, a host of marketing efforts including a press release campaign (to media outlets), an e-mail blitz, and social media networking, book exhibits, a personalized web site, and other services, including a book trailer with voice-over. You send them an electronic Word file and they do everything else, including design your cover. For your money you also get "free" 150 paperback copies, 50 hard cover books, and 1 leather-bound "Ambassador" edition.

That set-up fee, however, can be just the beginning . . . publishing companies also want you to buy additional services . . . for additional costs. For example:

  • Editorial and design services: custom-designed cover and interior format design, data entry, proofreading, various levels of editing, editorial evaluations, indexing, citation formatting, illustrations.
  • Marketing services: help in getting your book into the hands of distributors such as internet outlets like and; book distributors; and sometimes . . . though rarely . . . brick and mortar bookstores.
  • Promotional services and products: website design, press releases; sales campaigns; specialty products such as bookmarks, business cards, mailers, posters, media kits, postcard advertisements, even U.S. postage stamps printed with the cover of your book on them.
  • The basic book legalities: copyright registration; Library of Congress registration.

Today, we'll look at the set-up packages for 9 publishing companies I've been considering. Compare their packages. See which seem most appropriate for you.

Set-up prices aren't your only consideration, of course. In later blogs, we'll explore editorial services, marketing, promotional services and products . . . as well as other important important questions when dealing with the various publishing companies, including book cover design, contracts and other legalities, royalties, book pricing, (both for you and for your readers), and, believe it or not, miscellaneous fees many of the publishing companies tack onto your bill. (Yes, indeed . . . like mushrooms, you'll find miscellaneous fees scattered here and there throughout the dark recesses of the webpages and between the lines on those slick brochures).

As you compare the publishing companies below, ask yourself the following questions (your answers will help your decide what level of set-up services you will need):

  • Do I have the computing skills to prepare a press-ready pdf of my manuscript, including any graphics or tables I plan to put in the book?
  • Do I have the design experience and skills to create a compelling book cover?
  • Does my book call for a custom-designed cover, or can I adapt one of the publisher's templates to my needs?
  • Do I have use for a hard cover edition? For an e-book edition?

  • Am I willing to do the necessary paperwork to copyright the book? To register it with the Library of Congress?
  • Will I use such promotional items as business cards, posters, and bookmarks? Or will I be selling my book primarily on-line?

The set-up packages and their fees for the selected publishing companies are, in no order of preference:

  • CreateSpace "Author's Express" package: $299. Paperback only. Author submits press-ready pdf for text and cover design. Unlimited interior images. You obtain your own copyright and Library of Congress registration.
  • VBW Publishing (Virtual Bookworm) "Level C" package: $825. Paperback and hard cover formats; 15 interior graphics; 5 hardbound and 5 paperback copies free; Library of Congress registration. Extra charges: e-book format, $65. You get a "copyright kit," which you use to obtain the copyright on your own.
  • Friesen Press "Mass Marketing Essentials" package: $879. Includes paperback format; custom designed cover; 10 interior graphics; 10 free paperbacks; 50 postcards, 50 bookmarks, 50 business cards, and 5 posters. Extra charges: hard copy format, $199; $5 for each interior graphic beyond the initial 10. Copyright and Library of Congress registration not included.
  • RoseDog Books "Basic" package: $980. Includes paperback, hard cover, and e-book editions, as well as kindle and Sony EPUB; custom-designed cover and interior; unlimited interior graphics; copyright and Library of Congress registrations; 3 free paperbacks.
  • Outskirts Press "Diamond" package: $999. Includes paperback and e-book formats. You choose cover and interior design from several templates. You get 10 paperback copies. Extra charges: custom-designed cover, $299; hardback format, $199; copyright registration, $99; Library of Congress registration, $99; packages of 10 interior graphics, at $49 per package.
  • Xlibris "Professional" package: $999. Paperback, hard cover, and e-book formats; choice from publisher templates for cover and internal design; 25 internal graphics; 50 postcards, 50 bookmarks, 50 business cards, and 5 posters; copyright and Library of Congress registration; 10 paperback copies, 1 hard cover copy. For a custom-designed cover, you have to buy their "Custom package," $1,599.
  • iUniverse "Premier Publishing" package: $1,099. Paperback and e-book formats; custom-designed cover; 25 interior graphics; 10 paperback copies. Extra charges: hard cover format, $350; copyright registration, $175; Library of Congress registration, $75.
  • Dog Ear Publishing "Basic" package: $1,099. Includes paperback and hard cover formats, custom-designed cover, 30 graphics. You get either 5 hardbacks or 5 paperbacks free. You do your own copyright and Library of Congress registration.
  • Mill City Press Basic package, $1,497. Paperback format; custom-designed cover and interior design; 20 interior graphics; 10 paperback copies; copyright and Library of Congress registration. Extra charges: hard cover format, $599; e-book format, $99.

Next time: Cover design: Templates vs custom design

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