Update to “Interesting Timing”

Back on May 21, I mentioned that Bowker was recommending the vanity press Author Solutions as a great place for self-publishers to find needed services.  And now–Hooray!–the endorsement of Author Solutions has been removed.

However–Boo!–the first choice on the list is now Vook.  This is a company that charges $6 per page for copyediting.  This is a company that calls ebook retailing “complicated,” thus justifying the percentage of royalties they will take.  Oh, and the payments from ebook retailers go to Vook first, and Vook will pay its customers (the writers).  Is Vook more acceptable because it doesn’t have as many complaints against it as Author Solutions?  I’m not sure.  It looks as if I’d have to “sign up” to get more information.

Never trust a company that requires you to “sign up” to learn about what you will be paying for.

If Bowker understood self-publishing, their links would be instead to the various self-publishing platforms and information centers rather than companies that charge huge fees for work that can be performed by professionals at reasonable rates

(As an aside, Vook works in partnership with Publishers Weekly on a program that has self-published writers paying a fee for a line listing in PW publications that go to folks working in the publishing industry.  Truly, if one wants to spend money marketing, it would likely be best to target readers.)

This stuff drives me crazy.

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3 thoughts on “Update to “Interesting Timing””

  1. This is Matt from Vook. I want to reply point by point to these allegations. We try to be as transparent as possible and the inferences here that we are trying to take advantage of authors in no way reflects a business where, day in and day out, we spend hours with authors on the phone, often recommending they NOT do things in order to save them money. Digital is easy for some, but it’s complicated for others.

    1. Copy editing — Yes ! We absolutely charge $6 per page for basic copyediting. And we couldn’t be any more clear about this. We put it on our page (http://vook.com/services/) And we are quite happy with this rate. Maybe it seems expensive. It’s quality work. We spent a long time finding a source that could provide quality copy editing at a rate that we think is acceptable; this was the solution we settled on. We absolutely stand by our copy editing services. Frankly, paying $1800 for a 300 page book for an in-depth, professional level copy edit seems completely reasonable to me. It might not be for everyone, but it’s guaranteed work. And by no means do we force anyone to do this. We offer it as an option. We were asked for copy editing over and over. And we found a solution. It works for some, if the price doesn’t work for everyone — that’s fine. I’m perfectly happy with the fact that we are offering quality copy editing and that we are totally transparent about the cost. On an entirely personal note, having done copy editing as a freelancer, I consider this to be a totally reasonable rate.

    2. Ebook retailing — I absolutely think ebook retailing is complicated. Even KDP is complicated. In the Bowker deal, in our terms with Bowker — which are detailed on the Bowker pages very clearly — the Bowker/Vook service take 10% of the net revenue. And we offer complete detail of what our splits are with the retailers on our Webpage at (http://vook.com/distribution/). We’re totally transparent about this. It ends up being substantial work to manage distribution, accounting, royalties, etc. 10% of net for the Bowker relationship is the rate at which we’re comfortable managing distribution. Again, it’s very easy to self-distribute if you don’t want someone taking the 10% — but not everyone wants to do that. It can be a pain in the neck. And if you’re doing more than one book, it can get painful faster. Of course I understand that some authors will want to self distribute — through Vook.com, we provide services where we’ll just create your ebook for you and give you the files and you can self distribute. More power to you! But, again, that’s not the best solution for everyone. We’ve found, over and over, that people do need help with distribution and they need a human being on the phone they can reach if they have problems. We are that human being. When you email us, you get someone in New York who will work with you.

    3. Sign up to get more information — Again, I absolutely stand by this. We quote ebook production on a case by case basis. That’s why you have to sign up and send us your file. Some people just automate this and often it works great — like Smashwords — but we chose to go the route of working with authors on an individual basis and custom quoting ebook creation for them. Because it can cost money. People do need more difficult things done with ebooks. That’s what we do. That’s why we need you to sign up before we can tell you how much it costs to create your ebook. But we have all the terms for our additional servies on our site, and we are very clear about distribution. At some point, we’ll probably standardize creation rates, but right now we’re really enjoying working with authors on a case by case basis to create ebooks to their requirements. Again, with things like internal linking, complicated fixed lay out designs, footnotes, tables, charts, etc — some people just need more custom services. We provide those. But we have to actually see your book to figure out how much it’s going to cost first. And you’re always speaking to and dealing with a human at our New York office who is looking at your book.

    If anyone has any questions they can always email me at Matthew@vook.com. You should probably cc Allison@Vook.com as well. We’ll get back to you as soon as we can.

  2. Fair enough.

    I come into self-publishing with a long history of self-employment, and with that comes a great aversion to being told I should probably let other folks take care of my “complicated” business affairs. So when a company with the “presence in the field” such as Bowker makes a list of core recommendations that includes primarily those services that charge the most, I will point out that costly services are not the necessary point of entry for new writers. That paying a premium for such services is not at all required.

    And I urge writers to devote a bit of time to understanding the difference between “This is so complicated!” and “This is something I can learn.” Ordinary people–even writers–perform complicated tasks every day. Yes, there are many who do not wish to learn, and there are many who will believe–task untried–that they are incapable of such learning. But I do grow weary of trade publications and organizations pointing new writers to some of the most costly options as the best option.

    Copyediting at $6 per page does sound high to me; if I calculate it out by word (standard manuscript page count, 250 words per page), it’s in the same range as other high services. It would not by my first choice, nor my first recommendation to a new writer, as finding a reputable freelancer with a track record is fairly simple these days. And if I’m going to pay a premium, I’d like that entire premium to be for the copyediting rather than split between the copyeditor and the connecting service.

    Distribution to most other channels isn’t complicated. Really. iTunes is an exception for folks lacking a Mac. Kobo’s platform has improved greatly. Also, I’m not certain why the BN rate on your distribution page is 50% of set price. That’s below the current rate BN quotes.

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