Simon & Schuster Announce Self-Publishing Service

Simon & Schuster Announce Self-Publishing Service

In a move that reflects clear changes (and possibly fears) in the traditional publishing industry, Simon & Schuster recently unveiled Archway Publishing, a self-publishing service that, according to their website, "offers the highest quality design, formatting, editorial and marketing services" to customers interested in cutting some of the legwork out of self-publishing a novel. For a fee, writers can see their work packaged in print and digital formats, with promotion and distribution included in the price tag.

Carolyn Reidy, president and CEO of Simon & Schuster, said in a statement, "Self-publishing has become a viable and popular route to publication for many authors, and increasingly a source of content for traditional publishers."

No doubt she's referring to authors like E.L. James and Cora Carmack, whose novels began as self-published endeavors that eventually landed them major book deals, lucrative for both the author and the publisher. By launching their own service, it seems Simon & Schuster wants to cut out the middleman and have direct access to potentially best-selling manuscripts.

Obviously, it's a beneficial move for S&S, but what about writers interested in the service? GalleyCat writer Jason Boog offers a nice breakdown of the different packages and price-points offered by Archway: "Fiction options range from a $1,999 Author package to the $14,999 Publicist package. The business book options start at $2,199 and go as high as $24,999."

Steep, right? But is it worth it?

Since most writers are, ahem, financially handicapped, let's take a closer look at the cheapest option, the "Author package," which you can read about in full here. Briefly, the package includes copyright registration, cover and interior book design and layout, cover copy review, editorial assessment, distribution to over 38,000 retailers, eBook publishing, as well as numerous other bells and whistles.

Note that the "editorial assessment" is not a full and meticulous combing by a professional editor, but rather a sample edit of about 1,700 words. Complete editorial services can be purchased for an additional fee.

So really, this is less a "self-publishing service," and more of a vanity press. Authors would be well-advised to research such services thoroughly before committing their own money. For a solid examination of vanities, I'll direct you to our own Rob W. Hart's column, The Dark Side of the Publishing Industry: How to Avoid Scams.

For further insight into the potential downsides of Simon & Schuster's service, consider that Archway was not built from the ground up within the company, but rather is the result of a partnership with Author Solutions, a company mired by numerous scam accusations, which you can read about in full here.

And finally, never forget that the likes of E.L. James and Cora Carmack simply made their books available through Amazon and promoted the hell out of them on social networks, all for very little cost. If you're really not interested in doing the work yourself, Archway might be the way to go, but it's not impossible to find success without spending an arm and a leg.

Now, there's plenty to chew on here, so chew away in the comments below.

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Brandon's picture
Brandon from KCMO is reading Made to Break November 28, 2012 - 2:17pm

I'll just say it: you're fucking retarded if you do this.

Not only is it overpriced but the fact that Author Solutions has a hand in this is like having Bernie Madoff in control of your finances.

JEFFREY GRANT BARR from Central OR is reading Nothing but fucking Shakespeare, for the rest of my life November 28, 2012 - 2:26pm

I think it's a fair move. How many times do we hear 'Everyone wants to be an author!'--all this service does is allow you to pay up front for services which you would (is successful) eventually pay for anyway. So, if you're so confident that all it takes is a good cover, a publicist, and a book trailer to become the next viral author, I say go for it. Thern, the only ingredient you'll have to think about is writing the best book you can. To be honext, if I had 15k kicking around, I would consider it.

What's worrisome is the connection to Author Solutions, which has a shady past.


EDIT: I should say that in my opinion, the lesser priced options are pointless and unnecessary. If you just want to self-pub a book, you can DIY for a fraction of the cost this service offers.

.'s picture
. November 28, 2012 - 9:20pm

I see big publishers offering a "self-publishing" option to keep up with the competition. 
For 25,000 bucks, you could start your own press. 

R. Leo Olson's picture
R. Leo Olson from Grand Rapids MI is reading The Business of Being a Writer - Jane Friedman November 29, 2012 - 7:01am

I read a great book a couple years ago that evaluated dozens of self publishing companies: The Fine Print of Self-Publishing 4th edition by Mark Levine.

Erin's picture
Erin from Omaha is reading manuscripts... November 29, 2012 - 8:30am

IF and only IF the expectations are very clearly defined at the beginning of the process and no promises are made to the author on behalf of the publisher; IF the author experiences 100% quality throughout each stage of the process; IF the author isn't otherwise jacked around throughout the process; and of course, if the author has the funds to do this, then there's no problem here. 

But. That's usually not the case and you're going to be seeing more variations of this, unfortunately. 

There are always free or low cost ways to get your book published but it takes a lot of time and research, so plan on doing a tremendous amount of work. A few friends of mine have published through Amazon's Create Space and the process was a breeze for them. If you don't want to deal with that, hire a reputable editor or consultant who's been in the industry and expect nothing short of excellence from them.