With the launch of Book Country, Penguin is the latest major publisher to open a "self-publishing" division aimed at taking advantage of the desperation and naivete of aspiring authors and charging them outrageous amounts of money for useless publishing "services."
For $549 they will format your ebook and print book, and then upload it to retailers.
Or for $299 they will let you do your own formatting, and then upload the book to retailers.
Formatting ebooks and paper books is tricky, but Rob Siders at52novels.com is less costly than Book Country, and Rob does an incredible job.
Why would you pay Penguin to upload your titles? That's the easiest part of the self-publishing process.
But wait, there's more. Penguin also keeps 30% of your royalties.
So not only do you pay them, you also keep paying them.
It's a con job aimed at people too naive to know how badly they are getting screwed…usng the same playbook as scammers like Authorhouse (the vanity press that Harlequin and Thomas & Nelson partnered with for their "self-publishing services")
The one smart thing Penguin has done is make it very clear that this "service" has nothing to do with their esteemed publishing division, thus avoiding the big landmine that Harlequin stepped on when they initially announced their own division aimed at gouging aspiring authors.
If you click on the Penguin logo at the bottom of the Book Country site, you get a disclaimer, which reads in part:
Book Country, LLC is a subsidiary of Penguin Group, a Pearson company. Though owned by Penguin Group (USA), Book Country is a separate entity, both legally and practically with full-time Book Country staff members.
In other words, they've erected a Chinese wall between their reputable, classy publishing imprint and this sleazy, vanity press-style cash-grab from aspiring writers.
They are being careful not to potentially tarnish their brand, provoke the ire of their established authors (who don't want their work associated with a vanity press), or face possible delisting by the major, professional organizations for writers.
But that doesn't make Book Country any less of a rip-off. Shame on Penguin.