The blitz from self publishing companies:
Don't click that link yet

I have a confession: self publishing companies scare me. But a couple of months ago . . . on a whim . . . I clicked on a couple of website ads by publishers . . . just to see what I'd find out.

Zip! Wham! Ka-ching! Info flooded in. The self publishing companies fired back with:

  • phone calls . . . complete with special offers . . . if I sign right away
  • e-mails loaded with attachments
  • queries asking if I was ready (today) to publish my book
  • links to downloadable "publishing guides" and "author's guides"
  • a fancy four-color booklet from Xlibris along with a contract, and a flyer with 18 cover templates and 9 interior templates for me to choose from
  • RoseDog Books even sent me a flat rate mailer with a pre-paid label . . . and a contract for their more expensive package . . . all filled out and ready to sign.

Next thing, I knew, Katrina called from Xlibris. She wanted to know if I was ready to publish my print on demand book.

"Not quite." I told her I have finished the novel, but am waiting for the illustrator to finish his illustrations . . . and besides I'm just beginning to think about whether I want to do commit to a self publishing company or not. I told her that . . . plus a bit of background on the book.

She said she could give me a 40 percent discount if I signed up by the end of the week.

Sorry, I said. Not ready yet.

A month or so later, Reggie called from Xlibris. He's my new sales rep. He didn't say what happened to Katrina. His first question: "Are you ready to publish your book?"

I explained to him what I told Katrina. He said if I signed up by the end of the month (three days hence) he could give me a 30 percent discount.

Reggie has called every two weeks or so. Ironically, at first he called exactly at the same time during my on-line website class so I didn't pick up on him. Since then, he has gotten through two or three times. Each time it's the same question: "Are you ready to publish your book?" Each time I give him the same answer.

I also got a call from Lena at iUniverse. If I sign up by the end of the week (three days hence . . . ironic, no?) she can upgrade me to the next package for no charge . . . a savings of $600. Alas, I had to give her the same answer I gave Reggie.

The lesson?

Self publishing companies are hungry. Better not click on those ads until you're ready to seal the deal . . . unless you're otherwise not getting enough mail or phone calls and you just need a friendly voice on the phone to talk to.

OK, maybe I'm poking fun. Actually the follow-up has been useful. I've dug out some specifics from several self publishing companies. They're helping me refine my questions and giving me ammo to compare one against the other.

The key messages to date?

  • Read the web pages carefully. Word for word. Twice. Then again. Run down every ink -- the necessary info comes in dribs and dregs . . . not in straight-forward explanations that make everything clear and easy to understand.
  • Compare the companies. You'll be amazed at how varied the offers are . . . and what some companies want to charge you for relatively minor services.

Next time: Basic package costs: Let's examine the details

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