I got a copy of this book recently, and I immediately found myself in the next several days recommending it to several authors who were considering self-publishing.
The book is The Fine Print of Self-Publishing by Mark Levine. The brilliant thing about this practical volume (4th edition): it looks in considerable detail at key differences in the publishing contracts and basic options offered by the leading self-publishing companies.
The companies analyzed include the big players: CreateSpace, Lulu, Outskirts Press, and others—a total of 24 self-publishing operations from Aventine to Xulon. Levine looks at them through a magnifying glass, discussing the pros and cons of each.
He also divides the players into four groups: Outstanding, Pretty Good, Okay, and To Avoid (the list for that last category includes Trafford, PublishAmerica, Xlibris, and iUniverse, among others.
In the Outstanding category, for instance, he includes Aventine Press, one I’ve often highlighted in talks I’ve given at writers conferences because of its quality, price, and services.
CreateSpace, another avenue I’ve often recommended (mainly because of its close connection with Amazon), is listed as Pretty Good. And Levine will tell you why he’s judged it to fall in that range.
I also recommend that newbie self-publishers read this book just to understand the ins and outs of contract language. There’s indeed a lot of fine print in these contracts. While you can’t negotiate the deal in these standard packages (as you can with an indie press and to some extent with a big press), you can get more of what really matter to you and your project by picking the right publishing partner and the right package within that company’s options.
This book is described as a Consumer Reports–type report, and I concur. Buying this book (list price $16.95) may well save you a ton of money, headaches, and heartaches.
It’s subtitled: Everything You Need to Know about the Costs, Contracts & Process of Self-Publishing. If you want to take the self-publishing plunge, buy this book first.