How Simon & Schuster is Doing Self-Publishing Wrong

DefaultYou’ve probably seen a lot of talk in the self-publishing community about Simon & Schuster’s recent partnership with Author Solutions to form Archway Solutions. If you want the full scoop, David Gaughran over at Let’s Get Digital has a great blog post outlining all the ways in which this team-up is actually terrible for self-publishing, namely because of Author Solutions’ penchant for disreputability.

After the jump, let’s check out the breakdown of what you’d be paying for with Archway’s various self-publishing packages:

As David notes, the prices for Simon & Schuster’s new program start steep and only get worse from there.

Fiction packages start at $1,999 and go up to $14,999. If you have written a business book, prices are saucier again: $2,999 to $24,999.

No, that’s not a typo. The “Outreach” plan for business books is $24,999. And what are you getting with that pricetag? Among other things, you get tickets to BookExpo America, a recorder and instructional book so you can recite your own audiobook, and “concierge” author service, which is the website’s term for access to “a single, dedicated Archway Publishing representative who is an expert across all production phases, including manuscript submission, editorial service, illustrations, [and] design and layout services.” Note that this representative isn’t actually doing any editing for you; they’re just an expert in editing.

So in other words, not a whole lot of stuff that you actually need to put together a self-published book. (As a side note, how is just the audiobook instructions worth almost $1000 by itself? Any amateur podcaster can tell you that it’s not that hard to produce a decently edited recording).

But wait! It gets even worse, as David notes – if you want your book edited, you have to cough up even more:

For just $0.035 a word, you can have a thorough edit of your book. Which sounds cheap until you realize that a standard 80,000 word novel would cost you $2,800. So, in actual fact, the cheapest package, plus their edit, will set you back $4,799 for a standard length book.

As if that wasn’t enough, Simon & Schuster will also take half of your e-book royalties –after Amazon and the other retailers take their cut – and pay pennies for print sales.

Having a good editor and paying them fairly is definitely one of our biggest rules here at BookWorks, but that’s a bit much for a half the royalties to your finished product, to say nothing of whether or not Author Solutions is actually considers “good” (for that you’ll have to go over to David’s website, where he talks more about the company’s many follies and scandals).

All in all, this doesn’t seem like true self-publishing to me. Sure, if you’ve got the cash then it’s probably a lot easier to get your manuscript approved through Archway than it is through a traditional literary agency or publishing house, but with that kind of pricetag, you’d probably save a lot more money and get much better quality service if you shopped around and had everything done freelance — which is what we’re hoping you’ll do once the BookWorks website is launched!

What do you think of this new development in self-publishing? Let us know on Facebook, Tumblr, Twitter, or in the comments below!