I got this email today:

Is Booksurge a vanity press? They are owned by Amazon, which sells the books, so isn’t that different?

Yes, Booksurge is a vanity press. Being owned by Amazon doesn’t change that.  The big clue is that  they charge for all their publishing services… starting at $498 for their "Author’s Advantage" package and on up to $899 for the "Master Bookmaker" option. Add another $999 for Professional Cover Design or "upgrade your book to a library-quality hard cover for a truly professional look" for another two hundred bucks (so everything else they publish looks unprofessional?).  Getting accepted by Booksurge doesn’t mean you’ve written a great book. It means your credit card is good.

Amazon sells iUniverse and other POD vanity-press books, too. I suppose the only difference is that orders might be fullfilled faster for Booksurge titles than other vanity press titles bought through Amazon.

57 thoughts on “Booksurge”

  1. Lee,
    You’re half right. Booksurge does have a subsidy arm, Great Unpublished, to which all caveats apply. However, they also have a publisher services division that does POD work for small presses like ours and for some of the big ones–I believe they do backlist or ARC printing for one of the divisions of Penguin, for example.
    So not all Booksurge listings on Amazon are subsidy. Booksurge offers to do Amazon Marketplace fulfillment for all their clients. And Advantage members still have to schlepp their books to the warehouse, at least so far.

  2. While Booksurge provides a variety of services to publishers, for authors they appear to be a straight-forward vanity press.
    If you go to, click “Authors,” then “Publishing,” it sends you to “Book Surge Publishing” ( which doesn’t make any distinction between Booksurge, per se, and what you refer to as “The Great Unpublished,” to which I can find no links on their site. In fact, if you type into your browser, where does it send you? To the Booksurge vanity press page and their grocery list of pay-to-be-published options.
    They have a seperate site for publisher services ( and their own bookstore, which sells a lot of their vanity titles.

  3. Sorry all. I’m quite late on this one but I had to chime-in. Booksurge does offer services to authors for fees, but many small publishers also utilize Booksurge for their printing needs. Many small publishers use them for POD services. This is a very different process than vanity services for authors wanting to be published. Booksurge is quickly becoming a major force in the book publishing industry, on both sides of the fence.

  4. I seriously doubt they’re a force in any context. Small publishers are vanity presses is how I read it, otherwise they wouldn’t need POD. POD’s rarely wind up in stores.

  5. Sorry Marky,
    I hate to be a royal pain but what you said couldn’t be farther from the truth. You said, and I quote, “Small presses are vanity presses.” I think you need to look up the definition of a vanity press. These establishments are utilized by authors who pay them for their services. On the other hand, there are countless small publishers across the country that don’t require one cent from their authors. They pay their authors semi-annual royalties, just like Penguin or Simon and Schuster. How do I know this? I have been published three times by three different small publishers and have NEVER had to pay a cent. I get my semi-annual royalty checks and then I go on vacation! 😉 And yes, one of my publishers uses Booksurge, heaven forbid! And my books are available nationally in many stores through Baker and Taylor distribution. What is my pen name? Hmmm. Guess you’ll have to do your research.

  6. Sorry Marky,
    I hate to be a royal pain but what you said couldn’t be farther from the truth. You said, and I quote, “Small presses are vanity presses.” I think you need to look up the definition of a vanity press. These establishments are utilized by authors who pay them for their services. On the other hand, there are countless small publishers across the country that don’t require one cent from their authors. They pay their authors semi-annual royalties, just like Penguin or Simon and Schuster. How do I know this? I have been published three times by three different small publishers and have NEVER had to pay a cent. I get my semi-annual royalty checks and then I go on vacation! 😉 And yes, one of my publishers uses Booksurge, heaven forbid! And my books are available nationally in many stores through Baker and Taylor distribution. What is my pen name? Hmmm. Guess you’ll have to do your research.

  7. Like Publishamerica. Not one cent and they pay you a buck! Available “through” stores and in them via the computer terminal. That’s not on the shelf and actually distributed. I was spammed by Booksurge too. All of these penny ante outfits are vanity presses because they’re only set up to sell to authors and friends online. Online only means no sales. Only vanity presses utilize this method only.

  8. Hi there,
    Completely new to all this, just heard the expression “Vanity press” and of Booksurge myself. I’d like to publish some books, and I’d like to think they sell because people like them enough to buy, rather than my own maxed out credit card and friends too polite to say “Hey mate, that was crap!”
    Would anyone be kind enough to give me some useful advice. My biggest flaw is not having the confidence to sell myself to publishers. None of my return letters have said my writing was bad, but they do not service the niche market of same sex novels…

  9. Booksurge is a mixed blessing; although it enables small experimental publishers to take certain risks indexed to their more modest finances, the prices of the published products are not entirely competitive. Having 3 or 4 books through a small press that uses Booksurge has its drawbacks since the quality of the finished product is not very high. Covers have a tendency to curl because of cost-cutting measures to slice the cover stock paper against the grain to make maximum use of the materials. As well, the paper quality is a bit on the light pound stock size. The use of laser printers sometimes embosses cover and text, giving it a kind of desktop publishing feel that may not be all so winsome.
    Booksurge is sadly one of the few venues for small experimental publishers that, through no fault by market forces that are more conservative, are limited by financial constraints more than by talent. Of course, Booksurge also provides the usual range of self-publishing services, of which it is quite rare to find much of interest…Mostly etiolated attempts at writing without sufficient editorial guidance, bland retrospectives, refried dogmatism, and books written by hobbyists who perhaps took a few night classes and declared themselves masters of the pen.

  10. If you insist on printing up (not publishing) copies of your book via a vanity press, go with Lulu. But unless you’re printing up a cookbook to give to your friends, or your Grandma’s memoirs, why do you want do deal with any of them?

  11. I am one of the authors who has used Booksurge to publish a book. Given that some of the authors who use the service do so to service their own vanity, I suppose it could be called a vanity press, but vain authors are not limited to pay for publication services and not all authors who use these services are vain. I knew what I was getting into when I went with the service and I had a rough idea of how well the book would sell. It was a niche book going in and I never expected a best seller. I also didn’t expect major publishers to be interested in the book, so it was logical to do the publication work myself. I wanted to make sure that people knew what they were getting before they bought the book, so I made use of the Search Inside feature on I figured if they looked at it and decided they didn’t want it then they didn’t have to buy it. As it is, the sales of Church Website Design is higher than I expected. So far, the sale figures have only climbed each month. I’ll be reporting a profit on my income tax for 2007.
    Am I vain for using Booksurge? Perhaps, but no more vain than those of us (of whom I am one) who post blogs an comments on the web for the whole world to see and expect people to believe that what we say has merit.

  12. Anyone who takes money up-front from an author is a vanity publisher. That is my simple formula. I also self-published my book through lulu, but I didn’t have to spend a single penny for that. Whenever a copy of my book sells, lulu gives me a certain percentage. I think investing on a book is not a good idea. Publishers who are more interested in your money than your book cannot be trusted.

  13. I agree with Mr. York until you realize how overworked and formulaic the “meritizers” are. With so many authors and so few gatekeepers, it is easy to see why “published” and “merit” are two mutually-exclusive attributes (e.g. Frank Herbert finally getting picked up by Chilton after 3 years. Is anyone willing to call him meritless?)
    I had 3 agents express interest in my book but when I looked at the publishing industry’s corrupt Neanderthal business practices (5% royalties, semi-annual payments, no auditing, lukewarm marketing, returns, etc.), I said the heck with it, I’ll keep my own money. Now if BS charged $5,000 just to crank the drum, I could see your point. But it only cost me $99 (I bought InDesign and did my own typesetting), so in reality, I’m the publisher and BS is just a printer I don’t have to pay upfront for 10,000 copies.
    Online sales are great for me. I don’t need $1M to live comfortably. I’m just looking for $30k a year. If someone’s BS book doesn’t sell, its not because it’s online-only; its more a reflection on the lazy author for not marketing and thinking just because he’s on Amazon, he’s made it. BS is also non-exclusive so if you don’t like their service or quality, you can turn them off like a spigot.
    Guys like Vince Flynn have made it because he stuck it to the man and went off on his own. He is part of the reason “vanity author” is hackneyed and no longer derogatory. The new term is “indie author” and applies to anyone who wants to keep their rights, keep their money and be in control of their own success.

  14. Hello all. I just read through all the blogs and I’m beginning to see what the deal is using vanity presses, both good and bad. In short, I still feel I’m at a crossroad. I have written 7 life lesson children’s books and being an accoplished illustrator and format designer, I have filled in the blanks of those books too. I still don’t know what the hell I should do. I don’t want my writings to be picked apart and watered-down to suit the publishers wants and needs. Nor do I want to “shell out” money when I don’t have to. My marketing skills are well below par and rubbing elbows with the right people can make a difference. Help me Obi Wan Kanobi, your my only hope…..

  15. Booksurge provides a very valuable service in the non-fiction POD market, specifically user guides and product manuals. These will almost never be bestsellers, change often, and can be a nuisance to print any other way. For this reason they’re usually distributed electonically. For customers who don’t like reading manuals on line, the POD service that BookSurge offers is a great option.

  16. i’m on
    the cusp of making a decision. book surge says lulu produces poor quality books.
    you say book surge does. i don’t mind investing in my new business as i did in my present one but i want a quality product to sell. advice on publishamerica: beyond that shame is it’s middle name, don’t waste any money on a lawyer as they,shameco, will just sit on their hands and wait for you to come around. i don’t consider my bucks wasted as it kept me from getting in any deeper and had they not expressed an interest i may not have polished my work up but anyone else out there , beware
    peace inout

  17. Anyone that writes stuff and believes that it should be published (by self or anybody else) has a grain of vanity. What’s wrong with being vain? Nothing much, really. Think of the number of blogs floating around. If that’s not vanity I don’t know what is. So, go for it if you have the dough! Book readers don’t give a hoot about who’s the publisher. Just the contents!

  18. I am a writer in New Zealand whose book got turned down by Random House only because it was set in America and they want to concentrate on NZ settings. Other than that, they described my book as well written and interesting. I have now decided to publish through BookSurge and I want to say that the snobs who think that any book which is published by the author has to be bad will get a rude awakening one day. There is such a revolution in digital printing that the traditional methods of getting a book published will need to reviewed. Might I add that there are a hell of a lot of really bad books out there that HAVE been accepted by the large publishing houses, so being published by one of them is absolutely no guarantee that your work is good. Think about that, you critics of self-publishing, before you go denigrating those of us who choose to use that option.

  19. “Might I add that there are a hell of a lot of really bad books out there that HAVE been accepted by the large publishing houses…”
    That is so true. Now, think of how bad the books they reject are! Those are the self-published novels. 🙂

  20. I’m really curious – have these critics actually read the books they are denigrating? If not, what is the basis on which they make their comments?

  21. I find it fascinating that one poster above considers Booksurge a vanity publisher because they charge a fee but doesn’t consider Lulu a vanity publisher because the initial cost is zero. The difference in upfront cost is a testament to the service one receives, not the difference in whether it is a vanity publisher or not. By that definition (and I’m not saying I agree with the definition) both are exactly the same. Actually, I disagree with the definition. Vanity publishers charge fees to publish books AND hold the rights to the book. Booksurge, Lulu and the other PODs that anyone could mention (there are about 5-6 ones worth mentioning) are service providers who leave the rights in the hands of the author. They perform a service for a fee. Authors are paying for the convenience of having someone else complete the tasks necessary to turn a manuscript into a book. Booksurge uses human beings and Lulu uses machines; thus the price difference.
    PS. If you’re interested in the 5-6 worth mentioning, they are, in no particular order: AuthorHouse/iUniverse (recently merged, so now that counts as one), Trafford, Outskirts Press, Booksurge, Lulu, and Xlibris.

  22. I meant Random House in New Zealand, Mr Myers, not in America. Also, a question for Mr Montgomery. He seems to think that traditional publishing houses reject only REALLY REALLY bad books. How come, then, that many excellent books that go on to become best sellers (e.g. Harry Potter?)have often been rejected several times by those same publishing houses before being accepted? That proves beyond any doubt that an excellent book can fall through the system. I’m just trying to find the logic in your reasoning…..

  23. A book might receive rejections from some publishers before being accepted by another. That happens for a great many books. But how many that are rejected by all commercial publishers are actually “excellent”? Based on my experience as a book critic, it’s a very small number.
    A good book CAN fall through the system (as you put it), but I don’t think it happens very often. What is far more likely is that books are rejected because they aren’t very good.

  24. As I said elsewhere on this blog today…
    You have virtually no chance of success — monetarily, professionally or critically — going the POD route with fiction. No one is going to take your book, or your review, seriously…except maybe your Mom, your girlfriend, and your co-workers. POD is not the future for authors, it’s the sad rationalization the POD suckers use to justify their expense.
    The print-on-demand technology itself may be the future of publishing…in terms of traditional publishers using it for backlist titles and for printing galleys. But you aren’t going to see traditional publishers and brick-and-mortar booksellers replaced by individuals paying to be published by POD outfits and selling their books online.
    Very few novels “published” by Booksurge, iUniverse, Authorhouse, and the rest of the vanity press crowd will ever sell 100 copies to anyone besides the author…if even that.
    By comparison, the typical printing and sales for a mass market paperback from a traditional publisher is the *tens of thosuands.* And you get paid for it. A hardcover release by a first novelist in a traditional publishing house might have a first printing of 5000-15,000…and you get paid for it.
    (FYI – There is not a single professional writers organization that acknowledges printing your manuscript in book form through POD technology as true “publication”…and there are virtually no respected publications that will review POD/vanity press books. That should tell you something).

    Well Lee,
    I’ve been self publishing perhaps the most popular manual on the Yahoo search engine (and for a time #1 on Google as well, and perhaps again soon) for car painting, “how to paint a car” or “paint a car” and “paint your car” etc etc, and variation thereof.
    Besides the car title (admittedly a brief non-literary manual)I also make my entire living self-publishing my other 5 books, 20 CDs, and 2 feature film DVDs on brain and behavior science, amygdala, frontal lobes…just a bit of my qualifications here, (this is not a commercial 🙂
    I’ve run my OWN print shop, and printed with local presses, and have offered online digital downloads as well through my own website, and made my entire living for the past 7 years on my titles alone.
    Lately I decided to explore Print On Demand services for small runs, and figuring out how to get on Amazon.
    #1- If you are an author, and figure you can print your own books and then get on Amazon through their Advantage program– JUST FORGET IT. The take Amazon extracts in retailer discount, added to your print costs, added to your shipping (they don’t pay, what, are you kidding?) makes it virtually IMPOSSIBLE for the independent author, first to even navigate through the process, but more importantly, you will make so little money in this method, you would be better asking for spare change on the corner.
    #2- You can get a distribution deal through one of several online POD services like LULU, LightningSource, or BookSurge and it appears to be possible to make a little money– between nothing and 25% of the retail price depending on what you do.
    #3- I disagree with the blogger who said you will never sell more than a 100 copies of a fictional book if you go POD or publish yourself. I disagree, and there are many people who have sold THOUSANDS of books, if not more, through genius and/or hard work self-promotion, admittedly a lofty endeavor. I’ve sold about 50,000 books through my website ALONE, and I didn’t even have an ISBN on any of them, and wasn’t on Amazon or any other online website book portal. There are many other good examples. Granted, yes, the majority of writers will self-publish, or go POD, and sell next to nothing, but that’s extremely common, but not cast in stone. Writing and making a printed copy is only the beginning.
    Okay, onward…
    Now, nothing personal, but your leading paragraph in this blog is very misleading (and maybe its just outdated in Sep 2007), because although Booksurge does offer these expensive services (and I’m NOT defending Booksurge or any other gorilla sized corporation for that matter) they do offer a completely affordable Express package for $99 where you get an ISBN and submit your own press ready PDF file– bam, you’re in business and on Amazon.
    LightingSource offers a similer under $100 package, but you have to buy your own ISBN separately– $300 for a set of 10, or a LOT of MONEY just for 1. Oops. I made THAT mistake, and I now am sitting on 10 ISBNS that I don’t need whatsoever.
    Anyway, Booksurge or LightningSource, in the end it’s not hard to do at all (ONCE YOU FIGURE OUT HOW), you just need to convert your book copy to PDF, and do it correctly— so you have to follow some special instructions. On LULU (more on LULU later) it was a snap– you don’t even need to convert from Word, but if you do, its not that painful, and you can do it in minutes (again once you do it the first time) and LULU PDF conversion can be done with a minimum of fuss if you follow the directions.
    Do your homework, do your homework.
    I signed up for the $99 Booksurge PDF Express contract— you submit your own press ready PDF file, and they publish.
    Easier said then done.
    They also offer a $700 contract, where they prepare the manuscript for you.
    Well, if you write your book on Microsoft Word, and can make a cover in Photoshop, this should be no more than a few hours work at most. $99 sounds very
    attractive…… providing
    I have spent a FULL MONTH trying trying trying to submit my book (with black and white jpg. images) file to Booksurge for publication. 17 REVISIONS.
    I finally figured out the problem.
    The INSTRUCTIONS provided by BookSurge were FLAWED.
    There is NO WAY following their given instructions will you have an acceptable book file if you have images and use Acrobat 7 to convert to PDF. MAYBE works if you don’t have images, but that’s a coin flip again, depending on your PC setup.
    They did not recognize the errors in their submission guidelines, and I can only imagine there are THOUSANDS of customers who have gone through this exact same unbelievable frustration trying to meet their specs using their instructions.
    Do you think they left out ALL the needed instructions on purpose?
    Is it a $99 bait and switch to “I GIVE UP!!!!!!!!! Here’s your $700!!!!”
    You know, you want to believe people are good.
    Who are the CEOs of Booksurge anyway? (hint hint)
    I think I will write a book about it. HAHAHA! And sell it on my own site.
    “How to submit to Booksurge, and get it to work.”
    In any case, I’ve looked at LULU, and I have published a version of a couple of my books there for a year– through the fre set-up Lulu Marketplace, and get an astonishing 50% royalty (better even on digital downloads) IF I SELL ON LULU MARKETPLACE. I make between $200-$300 a month on my titles alone there.
    Please take note: IF I sell on Lulu Marketplace I make money with LULU. This excludes their RETAIL setup…
    They also offer a RETAIL contract, and for $50 you get and ISBN and they will distribute retail, through Amazon and others. Sounds great, right?
    Only to discover that although their retail agree looks good on the surface, once you calculate the cost of any reasonably sized book– say 300+ pages, the cost of the book skyrockets to above any reasonable purchase price, and your reduced retail royalty is absolutely absurd. Example: Make a 500 page book, the MINIMUM selling price is $24, and you make 31 cents.
    This is NOT a typo. 31 CENTS royalty.
    If you want a ful $1, the cost of the book minimum is $25.50. A paperback 6X9. Black and white inside.
    Lets say you want to make a 350 page paperback– minimum Lulu retail cost: $19.50,
    and you make $1.
    Who pays $20 for a 350 page paperback? Man, you better have a GREAT Publicist. The newest Harry Potter Hardback is a 750 page book and costs $20, and was $35 on the day of issue.
    So much for Lulu retail….
    At least Booksurge gives you a 25% flat royalty on the retail price, and their books cost less each than LULU retail— but from the sound of all the complaints people are making, plus the submission problems— gadzooks— be prepared to watch like a hawk just for starters. If you can get it to work, great. I’m am still trying, and think I’ve now got it after 4 weeks of trial and error.
    Have Fun with your frontal lobes.
    Neil Slade

  26. Neil, your experiences with these companies seem to confirm the generally held impressions around here that they are (at best) questionable and (at worst) outright frauds.
    What you’ve written has only strengthened my position: writers should avoid these companies like the plague.
    A writer would be better off just leaving that unpublished manuscript in the drawer than flushing it down the toilet of Booksurge.

  27. PS: The main point here being– if you write a book, you can print it yourself, or get a POD to print it. I printed my own books for years, and finally when I could afford to, I gave up this practice, and will let someone else do it now. But there are distinct traps to avoid, including being misled and being given insufficient instructions to complete a submission process. But if you can market your book– heck, you can print and bind as you go with nothing more than a few good inkjet printers and a comb binder. And you can sell ONLINE with NO physical book as well. You can make AUDIO book cassettes and CDs. These are all options, and THEY ALL WORK. I am qualified to tell you yes, indeed.
    This is ONLY the beginning of being an author. The BIGGEST problem is getting word out, getting people to buy your book. That’s a whole universe to explore at another time, on another blog.
    Neil Slade

  28. Okay, for those who would like to spend less than 4-5 weeks figuring out how to submit to BookSurge- I’ve told the whole story here
    Finally figured it all out.
    I am a PHOTOSHOP and ADOBE ACROBAT kinda guy–
    and it STILL took me weeks. I make my LIVING selling Acrobat online downloads and books.
    Imagine a novice trying to submit!!!

  29. thank you for your website…I have tried to contact Booksurge twice…no calls were returned. I have used another POD service (the well-known one in Canada), and one must understand that POD’s and their variants are in business to MAKE MONEY. You are NOT going to make very much at all, given the cost of producing a book on demand. You, the prospective client, will perforce become a cash cow for the POD service, you will not be well-supported re: exposure of your book, unless you think a few posters, some bookmarks and 200 postcards constitutes ‘marketing.’ There is a lot of hype, there are a lot of promises that are made, and most of the people working for these services sure as hell are not writers. I am content/resigned to continue looking for other POD publishing options……….

  30. Maybe I can clear up a few things here about Booksurge.
    First, self-publishing is no longer considered “vanity publishing” by anyone in the small press business. Instead, self-publishing is becoming the avenue of choice for small niche-market authors. For example, when I was in the chemical business I wrote a book called “How to Formulate and Compound Industrial Detergents.” Not exactly a best-seller list barn burner, and not something any mainstream publisher wants to invest in. The market for a book like this is just too small.
    Nonetheless, it does sell reasonably steady on Amazon as a Booksurge product. It cost me $99.00 to have Booksurge publish it, and has returned to me just under $10,000 in royalties. Not a bad investment.
    But the key is that the book’s price is priced at $34.50 retail, of which I earn 25%, or about $8.75 off each book. Do the math and you’ll see the book averages just under 300 copies each of the four years I’ve had it on Amazon. As I said, not a barn burner; but still, the book is about the only one of it’s type designed for the small compounder just beginning a business in industrial detergents.
    This is the key to self-publishing: niche markets, small sales, good royalties.
    On the other hand, I have also written a travelogue and a novel. As a lark, I put the travelogue on Booksurge and got nowhere with it. Which is pretty much what I expected, but what the heck.
    Therefore, for my travelogue and novel I am searching the traditional way for a standard publisher. After all, to be successful here I need mass market sales, and a regular publisher (I hope) can provide that.
    So that’s my take on companies like Booksurge. Use them for specialty work, and stay on the traditional path for other work, especially fiction.
    Also, I have to disagree with the poster who said the self-formatting and pdf work was too much to handle in self-publishing (he had trouble with Booksurge in this respect). I disagree. If you are going to self-publish, then these are skills you must learn to master if you are going to be successful.
    Self-publishing is not for everybody, but it can be a successful venture if you know what you are doing.

  31. Okay- here’s the latest in my self-publishing adventure… Thanks to Lee for making this popular blog available to all seeking authorship…
    Dear Book Writing Friends,
    My lastest experiences publishing are now posted on my publishing page at
    Here’s a synopsis:
    I recently finished publishing a book with LightningSurge after disastrous results with BookSurge and So-so results with LULU.
    As previously noted– Lulu is great when you sell on Lulu Marketplace (their own site), but completely inappropriate, and not at all practical if you go retail- their costs are just too high and your take-home profit will be very marginal.
    I tried for FIVE WEEKS to get my illustrated black and white interior book published through BookSurge– to very disappointing results. Not only do they make their submissions very difficult, but if you have illustrations, they don’t even give you the correct instructions– and it is literally IMPOSSIBLE to submit your book to meet their guidelines following their guide. I’ve noted this on my website with the missing pieces they leave out at
    When I finally got my proof back from Booksurge, it look terrible– printing smudges throughout and the images, despite their submission guidelines, despite me finally adjusting to meet their guidelines- the images looked dreadful. Initially Booksurge was tempting because they promised a flat 25% royalty from retail sales- but after seeing the book they made, I wouldn’t sell their version for anything.
    Finally I returned to LightningSource, the original contact I had coming from a friend who self-published a book on Medical School Entrance Exams. I didn’t go with them because BookSurge promised a higher royalty, and gave you an ISBN with your setup fee. In the end, the Lightning Source Royalty was actually nearly 30% of the retail– MORE than BookSurge. I make just over $5 on a $15.95 retail book.
    This isn’t as much as a Lulu Marketplace royalty (nearly 50%), but Lightning Source gets me a listing on Amazon– and that’s the strategy here. Many Lulu Marketplace customers don’t buy on Lulu, they go to Amazon after they see a book on Lulu. And, Amazon, even though I really hate this– people are conditioned and programmed to buy stuff there– the audience and market is huge. So the experiment for the next few months after my book is listed on Amazon, is to see if this causes a dramatic increase in sales beyond what my excellent sales on my own web site create
    also see
    The trick for making LightningSource a bit easier is this:
    1) Follow the Lulu instructions for embedding fonts and making a robust PDF file.
    (The instructions are also on my page i.e.,
    create your book, then convert to PDF using Adobe DISTILLER)
    2) Submit your book to Lulu with DISTRIBUTION for retail. This costs you $50, but you get an ISBN that belongs to YOU (Don’t choose the LULU Distribution where THEY own the ISBN).
    3) You can create your cover art easily with any program, and submit separate front and back covers. Lulu will then create a SPINE for you. You can also use the Lulu generic cover designs if you are incapable of doing cover graphics.
    This is a bit easier than making a “one piece cover” (front, back, and spine together). LULU will actually place your ISBN on the back cover- nice! After they do this, they create a one piece cover with spine lettering that you can then download to your own computer, then upload to LightningSource. NEAT!
    LightningSource CAN USE THE SAME ISBN than you bought from LULU (providing you were smart and got the $50 package where YOU are assigned the ISBN.)
    4) After Lulu Makes the one piece cover and gives you the ISBN, then CANCEL the project (delete project), but upload all the stuff to LighningSource. It will cost you a little over $100 for the submission and the proof, although this may vary some with the book length.
    5) You may save all the information, and then republish a new revision on LULU using the files already uploaded on your LULU account, but ONLY sell on Lulu Marketplace, and get more royalties if you sell there, and also get more web coverage and another search engine result by also being on LULU.
    Have Fun!

  32. Susan Driscoll, who has been involved heavily in traditional and subsidy publishing recently said that the selection criteria for books has changed. She says that the elitist attitude is now outdated. At one time, publishers selected books based on the quality of the work then they would push the book because it was worth selling. Now, publishers select books based on the audience that he author brings with it. A football player, for example, can write a children’s book and get a contract because he brings an audience to the publisher. On the other hand, a college educated, well experienced physician can write a quality book that could save lives and it will be rejected because his audience is too small.

  33. I publish primarily niche books, picture books, and quite literally “Granma’s Memoirs” for people who want them for Christmas presents or family reunions, etc. The latter rarely want to share these books with a large audience of strangers. They are admittedly the literary equivalent of the dessert which every family has at the weekend but which the rest of the town finds uninteresting. They are Coke Jello.
    Although I went to college for publishing and have all the experience needed after working at a few magazines and as an in-house cover designer, I go with POD.
    I think the main difference between a vanity press and a POD service is that traditionally vanity presses charge upfront for copies and services, whereas a POD does not. The aforementioned Lulu, or God forbid, Cafepress, while catering to vanity, are not vanity presses. There is zero upfront cost.
    Lulu’s and Booksurge’s ISBN fees I would argue are not vanity press related. Although overpriced, they are legitimate service fees. Lulu’s is optional and Booksurge is not.
    Incidentally, the reason distribution by Lightning Source is cheaper than Lulu is because Lulu uses Lightning Source (LSI) to print their Global Distribution books. If you use Lulu for distribution you are paying for Lulu and LSI.
    Booksurge has the added advantage of allowing 32-page color distribution. This cuts about $12 off the retail price for a children’s picture book which everywhere else needs to be 48 pages. They also offer a “returnable” service (for a fee), which makes their books more palatable for bookstores than Lulu books. In addition, for $1000 in advertising fees they will market your book next to a bestseller for a month. This makes them better for picture books, (for which I don’t charge an upfront fee but share royalties), but not for family reunion books, (for which I charge a flat design fee and nothing further).
    However, Booksurge quickly turns into a traditional vanity press with their $399 postcard service, and for charging $75 to apply for a Library of Congress Number (normally free) as long as you use their $699 manuscript service. On top of that, you cannot just sign up and upload your pdf, you have to wade through a salesperson before you can even get an account.
    In short, Booksurge can be a convenient low-run printer for people who know their way around a pdf and an LCCN and who have enough experience to know when a pile of postcards is overpriced, but for the novice who wants to self-publish because they are too sensitive or shy to write a cover letter, someone could really get scammed there.
    I would have to agree with the original post that states that Booksurge is, primarily, a vanity press, as much of their cash seems tied up in unnecessary services.

  34. BOTTOM LINE: Whatever you do, do NOT go with BookSurge. They will rip you off and treat you like crap once the sales cycle is complete. Payments will be wrong and not on time, quality will be questionable (at best), royalty will be negligible (read their fine print!), and they will extract money from you (and even change your contractual agreement) midstream. BookSurge has to be one of the most unethical companies I (and the posters above) have come across. Steer clear of them. – S

  35. I have had reasonable success with PublishAmerica: One options trading book and 3 fictional novels. I’ve written a true story called Irrational Indictment and Imprisonment of a loyal American guidance and control engineer. I thought this could be a big seller, since it would have interest on the TV shows that covered this engineer when he was indicted and then when he was extradited from exile and imprisoned. However, Publish America was not interested in publishing this prison book. As a result I have been reviewing the POD publishers such as Booksurge and LuLu. I contacted LuLu a year or so ago, but have only contacted Booksurge during the last couple of days. I have found what one of the other posters had to say: It has been impossible to set up an account to get started. But I suppose with time I’ll be able to open an account. I was disappointed to hear from one of the posters that the Booksurge quality of the printing was poor. I was always pleased with the quality of PublishAmerica printing and the charts which were included in my Options Trading book. My first two options trading books were published by a small NY publisher. He stopped publishing but continued selling my books. He even buys blocks of my Options book published by PublishAmerica and sells them to my loyal options book readers worldwide.
    So my dilemma is who to get to print the prison book and 3 more fictional novels I have ready to publish: LuLu, Booksurge or one of the other POD publishers, or find a literary agent and let them find a regular publisher. So far I’ve emailed every agent with an email address without much success. A number of rejections and many undeliverable emails. If the traditional route: agent-publisher continues to be unfruitful, I will be forced to go the POD publisher route. Does anybody have any thoughts of the best POD? From what I’ve read reviewing these blogs, I am inclined to LuLu first and Booksource second. Also I liked what I learned about Lightningsource.

  36. This site ranks high when you type Booksurge on Google, so some clarification is needed. There has been a major revolution in book publishing since 2005 and having a POD book is totally unrelated to “vanity publishing.” Even major publishers are using POD to get books out the door. It is just a reproduction technology.
    Also, “small press” and “self-publishing” is no longer associated with “vanity publishing.” Each has it’s place in the publishing world. Today we have Blogs, some of them with as much traffic as the circulation of long-established daily newspapers. No one complains that these Blogs are “vanity’ or “self-published” newspapers. The authors are usually acclaimed as “Citizen-Journalist.”
    My advice is that you doubt the motive of anyone who slags off small press or self-publishing. It is a snooty, elitist point of view, now outdated. The reality is that mainline publishing and book-selling is a snake-pit and best avoided.
    Self publishing has worked for people like Benjamin Franklin, D.H. Lawrence and Tom Clancy and it can work for youm too.

  37. “Wango” is wrong. POD is only used by major publishers in a small way — for Advance Reading Copies and a few copies of their backlist titles (see the Publishers Weekly article that Lee Goldberg posted in the comments to his “Amazon Deals Blow to POD” post). The majority of POD titles are still overwhelmingly vanity presses shit that nobody takes seriously. It has nothing to do with elitism or snootyism. Readers are rejecting POD books, too. The only ones buying them are the authors who wrote them. You are fooling yourself if you think a POD book makes you comparable to Tom Clancy!!

  38. I chose BookSurge for my book Side Step Me, because it’s poetry&fiction. It’s experimental in so many forms, I don’t believe that a main stream publisher would ever be interested in this work. I also enjoyed the process of bringing a book to market.
    So in this odd way, I’ve needed to be a strange hybrid. I’m hoping to have another writerly notch on my belt as I build my body of work. So BookSurge so far has been a good fit for me, yet, I’m curious and anxious to see how it works out.
    As PR, I already have a mention in allure, a national magazine, I’m blown away that they plugged it. For poetry it’s unheard of.
    It’s an odd balance, because often main stream publishers require authors to find an audience before publication. So this is one way, I’m trying to find that audience.

  39. Well, this is quite a blogroll of comments. on an incredibly important subject as many authors are being ripped off, as I mention on my blog.
    I have been courted by booksurge, xlibris trafford all of them. I went with Trafford as it said it was based in Europe as I am. Instead everything is done in Canada and they have a rep in oxford England.I have to pay for postage for every piece of paper. They aren’t interested once they have your money. That’s a common theme running through all these posts. I’m still waiting for my free copies from them, they have make enough c.. ups to fill a book on how stupid they are.
    I also went the random route and was waiting for the agreement to sign when their editor changed. So back to square one.
    Not all authors who self publish are bad or desperate, some just don’t want to deal with a publishing industry that’s so far up its own rear end that it can’t see the light of day. So Mr Arrogant here who keeps insisting that vain people self publish. Go and relieve yourself I say to him.
    I will in future publish books I need with Lulu since I did all the set up and cover design work anyway. Self publishers give you nothing really except false hope.
    With Lulu I know the price and I’ll print what i need. I’ve always known I’ll have to do the selling myself anyway.
    my website covers these scams

  40. “Not all authors who self publish are bad or desperate, some just don’t want to deal with a publishing industry that’s so far up its own rear end that it can’t see the light of day.”
    So you’d much prefer to PAY to deal with sleazy POD companies that “aren’t interested once they have your money” and will rip you off at every turn.
    Yes, that makes much more sense than dealing with legitimate, reputable and established publishing companies.
    You don’t see the lunacy is that approach?
    The bottom line is that you, like most people who chose the vanity press route, don’t want to be rejected or face the fact that your book might not be marketable (or any good) in its present form.

  41. In most of the above discussions, I’ve not seen many references to quality. I recently talked to someone who had published a couple of things with LuLu. He said books with color reproduce like good laser pages but are quite expensive. Photos in black and white books look like they were xeroxed. Any other examples from the various companies in this blog?

  42. I’m a new author with Booksurge, and want to attempt to get my book into brick and mortar bookstores. My book will be listed with Baker and Taylor, but found out this is essentially useless as major chain booksellers will see quantity on hand on their computer showing zero (because it’s a POD book). Booksurge has a “Baker and Taylor Returnable Program” which seems as though it will level the playing field with traditional publishers. The program cost $600. Has anyone used this program, or had personal experience with it? Will it truly level the playing field for me?

  43. Brick and mortar stores won’t carry your print-on-demand Booksurge title. You might get your hometown bookstore to carry a few copies, most likely on consignment, and host a booksigning for you, where you will sell a few copies to family and friends. That’s about it if it’s a novel. If it’s non-fiction, and you give seminars, or teach classes, or on the speaking circuit, you might makes some money…but you’ll have to buy a bunch of books to carry around in your trunk to sell at the events. Paying $600 to make your book returnable is just throwing good money after bad. It will not level the playing field for you because bookstores, especially in this economic environment, aren’t going to risk money and shelf space on a self-published POD book by an aspiring author (especially since most Booksurge POD books look like amateurish). Traditional publishers have the benefit of having editorial controls…and reputations…that the booksellers can count on for dependable product. Plus their books don’t look like crap. Go down to your local bookseller and ask them how many Booksurge titles they stock. The answer will be zero.

  44. Paul, if your book is listed with B&T that means it can be purchased by all libraries and booksellers at B&T’s standard T&C, which includes returnability. If the quanity in stock is indicated as “O” on B&T’s website, that only indicates the amount currently in B&T inventory, ready for immediate shipment. Libraries and bookstores understand that they can still ORDER the book even if the current inventory level is O. Thus, from a distribution POV, you are on parity with other publishers.
    Whether libraries and booksellers want to purchase your book, however, is an entirely different matter. It will need to be a good book, get good reviews and be competitively priced. If that happens, you will get sales.

  45. Dear Lee,
    I had the misfortune dealing with so called “traditional” large publishers, and have quite a few nasty tales to tell about them. For instance one of them showed interest to re-publish my father’s memoir, but when they found out, that I now own the copyright and they have to get into a new contract with me, they dropped the offer, even though the date of the publishing was already advertised on Amazon. When I offered my book to them, also a memoir, written about the same period, but from the child’s perspective, they showed no interest. I decided to go and publish through Booksurge. In addition I’ll also re-publish my father’s memoir with additional, new material and take my chances on Booksurge on both books.

  46. I just did a quick net scan on Booksurge and learned a bit about “Vanity Publishers”. e.g. This ‘forum’/blog.
    This I did, after I got solicitations from “People to People Citizen Ambassador Programs” pretending I had been selected, on merit, to participate in a trade delegation to China, at a cost of more than $5,000 out of my pocket!;
    and, in the same week, from “Princeton Who’s Who” who want a substantial sum to print my name in a list. 🙁
    A bit more sophisticated than wanting to use my bank account to save a few $$$million from a dead wealthy uncle in Nigeria, perhaps.


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