Today’s big news is that Penguin, one of the so-called “big six” publishers, is launching a self-publishing service called Book Country, which offers authors such services as formatting, conversion, cover design, upload, etc… for the low fee of between 99 and 549 US-dollars plus a significant percentage of the author’s royalties.
My first reaction to reading the Wall Street Journal article was, “Uhm, why would anybody want to sign up for this?” It’s basically paying a lot of money for something that many indie authors already do themselves. Never mind that there are plenty of excellent services available for flat fees that are lower than what Book Country is charging. Joe Konrath has pretty much the same view.
Never mind that the Book Country model isn’t exactly new. Harlequin Horizons, the self-publishing arm of Harlequin, which made waves two years ago, had a very similar model. So does epubli, a self-publishing platform operated by Holtzbrinck, parent company of Pan Macmillan, St Martin’s Press and Tor among other and one of the so-called “big six”. So really, there’s nothing truly new about this.
So the question remains, who would pay for something like Book Country when you can either do it yourself or hire a flat fee service that is probably cheaper than Book Country and keep your royalties?
However, there may be more people than we realize who would sign up for a service like Book Country. In this post, Dean Wesley Smith estimates that 95 percent of writers will never try indie publishing, because they find the prospect too daunting.
I find this depressing, because indie publishing is really not that difficult. Besides, there is a lot of great information out there on pretty much any aspect of electronic self-publishing. It took me less than six months from the first tentative idea that maybe I should give this e-publishing thing a try to publishing my first story.
On a related note, at Paperback Writer, Lynn Viehl has a lovely post about how you should keep trying and if necessarily fake it until you can make it work. Because if you give up, you will never get better and you will never see what you can do. The example in the post relates to a (pretty neat) painting project, but it really applies to any sort of creative work, including writing and yes, indie publishing.