A Big Five House Joins the Self Publishing Revolution
Traditional publishing has taken a significant hit in the last few years as e-books and self publishing companies have sliced into its conventions of putting books in readers’ hands, so when Simon & Schuster recently announced they were launching a self publishing service, I couldn’t help but find the news intriguing.
It may seem counterintuitive for a big house to embrace indie publishing, but when you consider what’s to gain, it actually makes perfect sense.
Think about it:
When an agent sells your book to a publisher, all the expense of producing your book—editing, interior design and layout, cover design—falls on the house. Then they pay the author an advance—more money out. If you’re lucky, you get some marketing attention from the publicity department, again at their cost. This investment on their part is, of course, with the expectation that your book will delight readers to the tune of earning back their gamble and more.
Imagine now the wheels turning in the minds of those running the publishing houses.
What if we could offer what CreateSpace or Lulu does, leave the control in the hands of the writer (which is a huge benefit of self-publishing), and reap some of the profit?
Bingo. Simon & Schuster clasps hands with indie pub company Author Solutions (which, by the way, is now a member of the Penguin Group), calls the division Archway Publishing, and a new channel for working with authors is born where the publisher gets paid to produce a book.
So the question is: Is Archway Publishing an imprint of Simon and Schuster?
In a word, no. Their website states:
Simon & Schuster has teamed up with Author Solutions, the leading self-publishing company worldwide, to create Archway Publishing. While Simon & Schuster has provided guidance and helped develop the publishing packages and programs available through Archway Publishing, the actual services are provided by Author Solutions.
So what’s the advantage?
After perusing the Archway site, I can tell you that they offer much the same as other self-publishing companies in terms of the expected services. They perform everything from editorial to design to marketing, the packages running from $1,999 for the basic “Author” option to as high as $14,999 for the ultimate “Publicist” bundle.
Add-ons abound for extra services, such as additional cover design concepts, developmental editing, and the like, and they have quite an all-encompassing menu that includes everything from copyright registration and channel distribution to placement in their bookseller catalog and premium book trailer production. In addition, they claim the following in terms of promotion:
Archway is dedicated to helping new and emerging talent find its own path to publication, and will help you bring your book to market using an effective combination of self-publishing and traditional methods. Additionally, we will alert Simon & Schuster to Archway Publishing titles that perform well in the market. Simon & Schuster is always on the lookout for fresh, new voices and they recognize a wealth of talent in Archway authors.
Whether or not Archway Publishing, with its Simon & Schuster affiliation, will prove to offer more pathways to success for aspiring authors remains to be seen. What I can tell you is that where royalties are concerned, wholesale revenue will result in a similar payout to a traditional house—a paltry 8-10% of the list price; web sales are closer to the norm—but still less than Amazon—at about 36%. (These percentages, of course, are predicated on the book’s type and length.)
If the care, attention, and outreach they promise lead to more sales than a rival company, these royalty percentages may balance out to the author’s advantage. But owing you the devil’s advocate viewpoint, I must offer a reminder. A big house’s entry into the world of indie publishing is inarguably slanted toward one goal: to make themselves—not indie-published authors—the recipients of much-needed revenue.
What do you think about publishing houses joining the indie pub bandwagon? I'd love to hear your comments! I'd also love if you'd give this post a “like” and share it on Facebook, Twitter, and the like with the easy-peasy buttons if you think other writers may benefit. Thanks so much!
Stay tuned for my next post, “Can Self-Published Authors Acquire Shelf Space?”, where I'll share some insider info from chatting with local bookstore owners. You won't want to miss it!
In the meantime, I send much love to you on your self-publishing journey. :-)
Write from the heart …
Stacey Aaronson is a professional Book Doctor who takes self-publishing authors by the hand and transforms their manuscript into the book they've dreamed of—from impeccable editing and proofreading to engaging, audience-targeted cover and interior design—rivaling or exceeding a traditional house publication.