It’s important when selecting a publisher that new authors understand what goes into the complex process of publishing. There are vast differences in how this is done and this article is presented to help educate authors on what those differences are between many “self/vanity publishers” and companies like Deep River Books. While there are a few reputable self-publishing companies, there are many scams out there the buyer should beware. Here are a few things to compare and look for.

First, self-publishers will usually take anyone who can write the check. They are a “book mill” with no risk in the outcome of the book. Many of these “book mills” publish 500 to over 20,000 titles a year. There is little chance to have a quality full-service publishing experience with such a huge quantity of books being pumped out. Many of these companies spend thousands on Google Ad Words to pop up first on your search engine. Many websites are nothing more than feeders into a large “factory” that pumps out hundreds of titles a day with no regard for the quality of content, proper editing, etc.

At Deep River Books, we are “picky” about what we publish. We carefully screen manuscripts in an effort to select only books we think have a chance to succeed in the broader marketplace. We, in turn, pass on hundreds of manuscripts for every manuscript our editorial review team accepts, only publishing about 35 titles a year. And we risk our time and resources with the author.

Click here to read an article about some self-publishing companies that every author should read before they decide on a publisher.

Second, most self-publishers list your title at Amazon, Barnes & Noble and maybe Ingram Distributors and call it distribution or “market penetration.” In truth, anyone can list a book there as they take all-comers. Your title is then buried among millions of titles listed there and has little or nothing to do with exposure or sales. DRB has an active sales team who work full time selling our books into the retail trade. Our sales people make face-to-face calls on buyers who represent over 2,000 bookstores every quarter. We also have key account reps who call on the big box stores and distributors. And we pay competitive royalties to the author on everything we sell through the stores. We also employ a professional PR/Marketing team to create the buzz, book author appearances, and help get the book properly launched. Each DRB author is assigned one of our PR experts to work with. That’s something that most self publishers have no intention of doing and if they do, they charge you more for doing it.

Third, self-publishers use Print On Demand (POD) exclusively. Basically that means they can print one copy at a time, which is exactly what they do. There is nothing inherently wrong with POD in terms of the quality of product and we sometimes use it also. But the intent of most self-publishers is to print as few books as possible. Most often, they print the copies you order and only the copies you order. There is no effort to print enough copies to stock them on the shelves of retail stores across the country. (According to the head of the largest collective of self/vanity publishers, the average POD-printed title will sell only about 150 copies during its lifetime.) With DRB’s flagship program, we not only print the copies you purchase, we print many more for our retail sales efforts. We also supply many wholesale distributors with books to stock in their warehouse for future orders from both stores and individuals. And we have a “just-in-time” inventory system that triggers a reprint when the warehouse supply reaches a certain level so we have books flowing out in a seamless manner to the retail trade. The retail price of a book is not just based on printing costs. There are thousands of dollars of costs in editing, cover design, marketing, and sales. There are sales commissions to pay as well. Stores require an average 50% discount margin on retail so we end up selling books for substantially less than the retail price. Self-publishers never intend to sell any copies to stores, so they don’t have to deal with the wholesale margins required by us. Not to mention that bookstores have 100% credit return options on all books not sold….copies the publisher prints and then has to “eat” if they are returned. So our margins are completely different. Any company promising a huge percentage of the royalties for retail sales indicates they have little or no intention of actually selling your book into the retail trade due to the margins required.

Fourth, most self-publishers do a glorified spell-check and call it editing (unless there is an add-on fee.) Extensive multi-phased editing is standard and included with DRB. We work with some of the best editors on a freelance basis. We do extensive back-and-forth editing with the author in both concept and technical editing, making sure the book is the best it can be. Our editors point out the areas where the book can be improved and it is the author’s decision to accept the suggestion or reject it. Editing is one of our strengths that our authors rave about.

Fifth, most self-publishers use stock covers with a few revisions and standard interior templates. DRB hires some of the best (award winning) cover designers in the industry who are required to read the manuscript and then custom design the cover to fit the contents of the book. In addition, DRB’s interior designers custom create a template for every book we do, so that the interior design goes with the cover design and has a fresh look and flow to the book.

Sixth, most self-publishers have no promotion or sales plan. With DRB’s standard partnership, we have a promotion plan that helps get exposure for our authors. We do email blasts to our list of 1200 media contacts, we feature our titles at major book trade shows, we help develop the promotional materials, we place catalog ads, and we send out review copies to major publications and media shows that request them. We also provide online resources that coach our authors on all the aspects of social networking so they have a good handle on how to optimize their website, Facebook, Twitter, blogs and other avenues of internet exposure. Add to that our contacts with outside PR firms who offer our authors discounts on various additional services should the author decide to do even more.

Seventh, DRB puts a fair retail price on your book. Most self-publishers put retail prices on the books they publish that are WAY higher than standard retail prices. Why? Because they intend to sell them back to you at “discount.” For example, if a book should be priced at about $13.99 retail in order to be competitive with other books in its size and genre, many self-publishers will price the book at about $18.99 and then offer you a 50%-60% discount off the retail price. You end up paying a LOT more than what the book should cost you and you have virtually no chance of attracting buyer/readers since the book is too expensive. Self-publishing scams know that you will be buying books in addition to the up-front fees you pay them and they want to milk you for as much as they can.

Finally, with DRB, there are NO hidden or add-on fees. Many self-publishers will add a fee for any meaningful editing or if you want more work on the cover or if you want any marketing services. DRB has no added fees. The books you are required to purchase, plus the shipping of your copies, is the ONLY fee you pay. We don’t “nickel and dime” you. If you received the same kind of services from many of the self publishers we have researched on the web, you would end up paying $18,000-$20,000 by the time your book was printed and distributed. And most don’t even offer the services we provide.

All in all, it is more accurate to compare DRB with a traditional royalty publisher. The ONLY difference is that we ask the author to partner with us. Publishing is a risk business and our program simply asks the author to share the risk.