Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Book Country Fail

Okay, I gotta interrupt my blogging hiatus to warn newbie authors against a new program from Penguin that made me throw up in my mouth when I read about it.

Book Country, which debuted in April as a place for authors to post their work for critique, recently announced a program to turn manuscripts posted on their website into ebooks and paper books:

Our self-publishing process has been designed by a team of book industry professionals to make the experience as accessible, convenient, and affordable as possible.

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 at is less costly than Book Country, and Rob does an incredible job.

After formatting, you should upload your books to Createspace, Kindle, Nook, and Smashwords on your own (takes about an hour) for FREE and you're done. You're published. That's all there is to it.

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.

They don't do any editing or proofreading, as far as I know. They don't create covers. They charge you upfront, and keep charging you for every sale.

According to their site:

For a $2.99 eBook sale of a Book Country title on Amazon, Amazon takes $0.90 and then the author is entitled to $1.47.

Why would anyone but a total newbie do this? What is Book Country doing for you that entitles them to 30% royalties? Especially if/when you pay for the formatting?

I'm blogging about this to warn newbie authors NOT to use Book Country. This blog gets more traffic than Book Country does, so hopefully anyone looking for "Book Country" on search engines will find this post and learn what a Very Bad Idea it is to use Book Country's services.

Look at my sidebar. Those are people you can hire to assist you self-publishing. Carl Graves does covers. Rob Siders does ebook and print formatting. Cheryl Perez does print formatting. can help you set up your own ebook store. Diana Cox does proofreading.

These people charge a flat fee and you keep all of your rights. Which means that when you upload to and sell an ebook for $2.99, you keep $2.05, not the $1.47 Book Country gives you.

And trust me. That adds up.

I've sold 500,000 ebooks. If I'd published with Book Country, they would have taken $290,000 in royalties from me. That's just awful.

If you want to use Book Country to workshop your book and get critiques, that's great. I've heard good things about it. But I would NOT recommend paying them to format your manuscripts.

If you want to self-publish, read and learn all you can about the process. Hire smart people with references to do the heavy lifting (proofing, formatting, cover art). Then keep your rights and keep all the money.

But don't take my word for it. Arm yourself with information and figure it out for yourself.