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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