Avoid ‘publishing packages’ if self-publishing

A number of companies offer “publishing packages” – often costing several hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars – to format your book, design a cover, and then upload it so it can be sold online as an ebook or paperback. Are such services worth the cost?

The straight answer is no.

The whole idea of “self-publishing” is that it’s a do-it-yourself operation. You write the book, you find volunteer editors for it, you format it, you design it, you purchase it, you upload it, you market it. Theoretically, this all can be done for free or at worse for the minimal expense of an ISBN. Granted, to a first-time author, self-publishing can be a daunting task. But there are a number of online tutorials and inexpensive (and even free) books available that take you through the entire process. Other than the commitment of time, you really can do it all yourself.

Let’s suppose, though, that there is one task you just absolutely can’t do, such as cover design, maybe because you lack an artistic eye. All too often, these “publishing packages” aren’t offered à la carte, though. So, you can end up signing for consultations (read “hard sell for more services”) and paperback copies of your book when all you really want is a cover designed for your ebook.

Even if you can purchase just the specific service you need, most of these companies are way overpriced. By shopping around, you can find those services for a significant fraction of the cost from freelancers with as much – if not more – experience and expertise. Often, freelancers also will provide you with just the specific service you need rather than forcing you to pay for services that you don’t need or want.

Companies offering “publishing packages” tend to eliminate a major advantage of self-publishing: If you spot an error in the text, you can quickly correct it and upload the revised manuscript for sale, again at no cost to you other than time. Packages generally limit the number of corrections you can make before you are charged; in addition, there’s often at least a several day lag between you requesting the corrections and the new version being uploaded and put out for sale.

Be forewarned, a number of companies offering publishing packages engage in unethical business practices. They are not interested in helping you become a successful author but in making a profit by preying upon novice writers. Do your research, and you’ll find several reputable and inexpensive freelancers who will help you achieve your dreams, should you even need assistance at all.