Ben Peek (benpeek) wrote,
Ben Peek

The Archway Publishing Scam

This morning, I woke up to discover that Simon and Schuster have begun a self publishing service. Or, as I like to call it, a gouge and leave you bleeding in an alley service:

Simon & Schuster has created Archway Publishing to help writers self-publish fiction, nonfiction, business and children’s books.

They will run the new service with help from Author Solutions, the self-publishing company acquired by Pearson for $116 million in July.

Archway Publishing will include “editorial, design, distribution and marketing services” for its authors, all these tools coming from Author Solutions. Fiction options range from $1,999 Author package to the $14,999 Publicist package. The business book options start at $2,199 and go as high as $24,999.

It's a fairly impressive business they've begun, one that, if you're curious, will ensure that your self published books are sold at the same cost as books from publishers, which would certainly be cynical of me to point out, given other self publishing successes who have undercut traditional publishers. Certainly would be.

Here's the cost breakdown:

Royalties are based on the net payments we actually receive from the sale of printed or electronic (e-book) copies of your book, minus any shipping and handling charges or sales and use taxes. Since retail and wholesale customers purchase at a discount, the royalty amount you receive depends on what types of customer bought your book, the channel through which they purchased, and any discount they received.

Here are two examples of common sales transactions.

The cover price (list price) for your book is $17.95. Your Archway Publishing royalty rate is 50 percent.

Wholesale Example:

A retailer places an order for your book through Ingram Book Company, a wholesaler. Ingram, in turn, purchases your book from Archway Publishing at a discount. Your royalty on this sale is calculated as follows:

$17.95 (SRP "Suggested Retail Price")
- $9.87 (55% Wholesale Discount)
= $8.08 (Net after Wholesale Discount)
- $4.97 (COGS "Cost of Goods Sold")
= $3.11 (Net after COGS)
x 50% (Royalty Rate)
= $1.56 (Royalty Earned from a retail sale)

Web Sale Example:

Another scenario occurs when a consumer comes to the Archway Publishing bookstore and purchases your book directly. Your royalty on this sale of the same book is calculated as follows:

$17.95 (SRP "Suggested Retail Price")
- $4.97 (COGS "Cost of Goods Sold")
= $12.98 (Net after COGS)
x 50% (Royalty Rate)
= $6.49 (Royalty Earned from a web sale)

Please be aware that the largest retailers, including Barnes & Noble and Amazon, place orders for print copies of Archway Publishing titles through Ingram, so those orders will appear as wholesale sales on your royalty statement.

But to me, the best part, the part that says, I-Am-Here-to-Take-Full-Advantage-of-You, is the different kind of publishing packages you can purchase. Beginning with the small sum of but two grand (it's actually $1,999, but c'mon) you can get classic author support, a standard cover design and a standard interior layout. Well! Let the jokes begin! Classic support! If it's anything like the classic support I know, then you'll be lucky to hear from anyone, your cover will be a recycled image, and the design and layout will be put into a program. Or, of course, you could throw down $3,799 dollars and get some elite cover and book design, which may or may mean an original image, but still a vague sense of author support. You have to pay at least six grand to move up to 'concierge' author support (okay, it's $5,999) and that'll grab you a DIY audiobook--the DIY says it all, really, doesn't it--and a couple of tickets to the BookExp of America. Fly yourself, of course. Moving up to ten grand ($9,999) will grab you all that and then a premium book trailer to be housed on youtube. Really, four grand for a trailer about your book. If anything, this next step says you should get into film, because that's where the money is. Or, you know, become a publicist, because for fifteen grand ($14,999) you get one of those. It's a social media publicist, of course, and they'll help you get onto twitter, facebook, blogging, and tell you who to target yourself towards, based on your book. Truly, such help is worth a full five grand after that stylish book trailer you just paid for.

Here's the link to it all.

At the end of the day, when reading this, if you wanted to self publish your work, the best bet is to take your fifteen grand and do it yourself, then continue to undercut the traditional publishers. Simon and Schuster's program offers the air of legitimacy, but it really doesn't give you any more than if you did it yourself (which, lets face it, is an ever evolving state of legitimacy anyhow). If you don't want to self publish it, then you're on the trail of agents and publishers, both big and small, and you want someone who will actually be supportive and believe in your work, which is not what this program will provide. As we continue into the century, the divide between self published and published is starting to reduce itself to how much of a gamble you'd like to take on payment (none upfront vs some upfront) and how much you value yourself as a designer, advertiser and publisher of your own work.

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