April 06, 2011
POD SECRETS REVEALED: Does Your POD Publisher's Homepage Tell Everyone You Paid to Have Your Book Published?
Previous installments of this series can be found HERE.
Last week, we looked at how expensive "free" POD publishing services can be. This week, we'll look at the homepages of the most popular POD publishers.
Your book is finally on the market. You print business cards, update your website, and send out press releases. You know you'll get higher royalties when someone buys your book from your publisher's website, so you send people there. But, wait! What does your publisher's homepage tell your readers about your book?
If your book was published by AuthorHouse, people going to the AuthorHouse.com homepage don't see a list of books for sale. Instead, they see one ad after another for AuthorHouse's services for authors. Heck, they even have a rotating banner ad...for their own publishing services!! Almost the entire homepage is a pile of flashy graphics and marketing blurbs designed to gather more authors into their fold. There's one tiny, almost unnoticeable link at the top, all the way to the right, that says "Bookstore" (in a font considerably smaller than their ad headlines) and, at the very bottom, there is an area that says "Our Featured Books", with five book covers displayed. Honestly, what book buyer is going to page all the way to the bottom of a publisher's homepage, past numerous ads, looking for books for purchase?! After all the blurbage on their website dedicated to upselling authors on AuthorHouse's incredibly expensive marketing services, why aren't they doing more to promote their authors' books on their homepage? Heck, that's free real estate! If they use that space to promote themselves instead of their authors' books, it sure seems pretty clear that they're far more interested in drawing in more authors than they are in selling their authors' books.
Xlibris is owned by Author Solutions, which also owns AuthorHouse (above), and iUniverse and Trafford (below). So, it's no surprise that the Xlibris page is also laden with promotional material about Xlibris's services and NOT about their author's books. There's a tiny link at the top that says "Bookstore", there's a small ad on the right that says Xlibris Book Search, and there are two small items at the bottom that say "Featured Books" and "Author Spotlight." Aside from those small items, their homepage is primarily designed to attract authors, not to sell their authors' books. Anyone coming to this website would also know you paid to have your book published.
If your book was published by iUniverse, people going to the iUniverse.com homepage see terms like "Publish Your Book" and "speak with a publishing consultant" and "compare packages." This is another site (like AuthorHouse) that has shoved the "bookstore" link all the way to the right on their homepage, apeparing at the end of a row of links promoting iUniverse's services. There is a small area at the bottom, on the right-hand side, that says "Meet Our Authors, which has two books listed. I wonder if those authors paid for that placement? Like the sites above, the iUniverse homepage is clearly designed to draw in authors, not to sell their authors' books.
Most of their homepage is devoted to promoting their authors' books, which is highly commendable since it's so rare in the industry now. Don't get too excited, however. There are numerous complaints from their authors appearing on Lulu's own forum.
This is yet another POD publisher (also owned by Author Solutions) that has a homepage devoted almost entirely to promoting their own services. Like AuthorHouse, they have a flashy, rotating ad at the top that says things like "Looking to Publish?" and "Publishing Upgrades." None of their authors' books are featured on their homepage and, like AuthorHouse and iUniverse, the link to their bookstore is a small one, pushed all the way over to the right. With the rotating ad and other flashy marketing verbiage, the link to the bookstore isn't even noticeable, unless you're looking for it.
While CreateSpace authors undoubtedly send their readers directly to Amazon to buy their book, if a reader did see the name of your publisher and went to their homepage, they'd see a huge advertisement for self-publishing services.
When you go to these sites, the obvious question is...where's the darned bookstore? Don't these companies publish books? Aren't they interested in actually selling their authors' books? I guess not...because the pages are all designed primarily to attract new authors, not to sell books. The homepages look nothing like online bookstores and it's obvious to anyone who clicks that their authors paid to have their books published. Gosh, maybe if they make it harder for their authors to sell books, the authors will then want to pay even more money for their pricey marketing packages? I know that's a harsh opinion, but I just can't figure out any other reason why they're not promoting their authors' books on their homepages. Can you?
At BookLocker.com (which is owned by the author of this article), the homepage is a bookstore, not a publishing services marketing page. On the homepage, the current best selling print books are lined up next to the best selling e-books. Under those lists are the most recent additions to the bookstore. It's a page designed to SELL BOOKS, showing book covers and short descriptions and, of course, providing a link to each. Our flashy, rotating ad at the top promotes our authors' book trailers. Please check it out. The trailers are awesome! :)
When you come to BookLocker.com, it's clear that the publisher is more interested in selling books to visitors than we are in selling publishing services to new authors. The only clue for new authors is one, and only one, small "publish and sell" link. Everything else on the entire page is for book buyers, including a drop-down menu of book categories and a search box for book buyers to use when shopping.
If you're already a client of AuthorHouse, Xlibris, iUniverse, Trafford, CreateSpace, or another lesser-known POD publisher, perhaps you should try to convince them to make their homepage look more like a publisher's homepage and less like a "publishing services" homepage. You can likely find fellow authors to support you in your request in the forums on each publisher's site. After you and your fellow authors have paid them so much money to publish your books, the least they can do is use their homepage to help you sell some of those books, right?
Angela Hoy is the co-owner of WritersWeekly.com and BookLocker.com. WritersWeekly.com is the free marketing ezine for writers, which features new paying markets and freelance job listings every Wednesday. According to attorney Mark Levine, author of The Fine Print, BookLocker is: "As close to perfection as you're going to find in the world of ebook and POD publishing. The ebook royalties are the highest I've ever seen, and the print royalties are better than average. BookLocker understands what new authors experience, and have put together a package that is the best in the business. You can't go wrong here. Plus, they're selective and won't publish any manuscript just because it's accompanied by a check. Also, the web site is well trafficked. If you can find a POD or epublisher with as much integrity and dedication to selling authors' books, but with lower POD publishing fees, please let me know."
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Read Angela Hoy's industry insider series POD SECRETS REVEALED:
TRAVEL WRITING 2.0 - Earning money from your travels in the new media landscape
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