Legendary western novelist Richard Wheeler used iUniverse, free of charge, to reprint some of his out-of-print novels through the Authors Guild "Back in Print" program (I did the same thing with MY GUN HAS BULLETS). He has some good advice for aspiring authors who are thinking about self-publishing their novel.
The quality of a book usually has little to do with its sales numbers at
vanity presses such as iUniverse. Through the Authors Guild back-in-print
program, I have put ten successful reverted novels back in print through
iUniverse. These were all published by reputable NYC houses, including
Doubleday, M. Evans, and Forge (Tom Doherty Associates). One won a Spur Award.
Most were well reviewed.
The annual royalties I receive from iUniverse for all ten titles is around a
hundred dollars. Why? Because iUniverse is at bottom a printer, not a publisher.
It only minimally performs publishing functions, such as editing, copyediting,
and marketing. Nonprofessionals who take the vanity press route are deluding
themselves if they think they are being published, when all they are achieving
is a printing of their material.
I know of no shortcuts: if you can write something powerful and potentially
profitable, you have a chance. If you regularly attend genre fiction
conferences, you will have a good opportunity to meet editors and agents and
make your work known to them.
The vanity press alternative is a printed book, not a published book. It will
supply you with the illusion that you are a published author. But it is only an
illusion. Go for the brass ring. Stretch yourself, discipline your work, get up
at five and write and write and write.
I think he’s absolutely right. My experience with iUniverse has been a good one… but I didn’t use them to self-publish a novel.
Back in 1989, my book UNSOLD TELEVISION PILOTS came out from McFarland
& Co, a small publisher in Jefferson, NC. Their books are marketed
almost exclusively to libraries and, at the time, were published
without dust jackets. The title were also very expensive…if memory
serves, the cover price of UNSOLD TELEVISION PILOTS was about $50.
Although the book did well, got enormous press coverage (People, USA
Today, Wall Street Journal, The Tonight Show, etc.), and stayed in
print for over a decade (inspiring two hour-long network television
specials along the way), it was still difficult to find and pricey to
So after the book finally fell out of print, I decided to republish it,
at no cost to me, through the iUniverse/Authors Guild "Back in Print"
program. This allowed me to bring out the book in an affordable,
two-volume, paperback edition that is easily available on Amazon, etc.
Am I selling thousands of copies? Not even close. But I’ve probably
sold a couple hundred copies since the two volumes came out and its
money I wouldn’t have seen otherwise.
The folks at iUniverse have been professional, enthusiastic, reliable
and they turned out a handsome product for me. For me, iUniverse
provides a useful service…though I doubt I would have done it if it
Would I recommend authors with out-of-print titles take advantage of
their "Back in Print" program? Sure. You’ve got nothing to lose and you
might even make a few bucks you wouldn’t otherwise see from old
titles. Plus your book will be on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, etc. again
in a new edition. I’ve walked into bookstores for signings my new books
and have been surprised several times to see stacks of my
iUniverse/Authors Guild Back-in-Print edition of MY GUN HAS BULLETS
waiting for me on the table, too.
Would I recommend that aspiring authors go to iUniverse to self-publish their novels? Hell no.