SpeakerNet News Compilations

iUniverse.com and 1stBooks.com

David Granirer

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Here's a compilation of responses to my question: "Has anyone used iUniverse.com or 1stBooks.com for print-on-demand publishing?"

-- Ariane Goodwin

I did a lot of research before settling on Infinitypublishing.com or buybooksontheweb.com. Here's why they stood out:

  • They simplify life by offering only one, complete package for one price -- way under everyone else I researched. ($400 then and possibly still)
  • They answer their phones.
  • They offered me the option of a gift book -- 8x8 -- a size no one else had.
  • They let me do stand-alone pages instead of wrap-around text; no one else would.
  • I have friends who have used iUniverse and have been incredibly unhappy with sloppy service, unanswered questions, and folks too busy to help after they paid the fees.
  • They are author-friendly. Royalties are paid every month!
  • They are infinitely patient. I think I tested this with a hundred refinements of my cover art.
  • You get the sense that the place is filled with good people at all levels.
  • They were one of the first into the POD market and have worked out the kinks.
  • They aren't so swamped with customers that you have to wait weeks and weeks for your book.
  • They turn around customer orders for my book in less than 48 hours -- way below the 2 to 3 weeks iUniverse was quoting me.

-- Patty Kreamer

I published last year with 1stBooks and it took close to 5 months to get the book in my hand from the day I submitted it. They appear to have a very high turnover rate in employees, and many times the person I was in contact with would quit and two weeks would go by before I'd finally ask if they were getting my voice and emails. I would then find out they had quit!

The end product was not what I had planned, but after 5 months, I gave up trying to fight the battle and settled for an okay book (formatting-wise).

I can't say for sure if I would use them again. My guess is that no matter who you use, there will be complications along the way, but I documented those troubles and they were extensive.

The benefits of national distribution, amazon, and bn.com are great.

-- Susan Pilgrim

I have two clients who used 1stBooks.com to publish their book. I'd say on a scale of 1-10 they were 6-7 satisfied. Because the company was growing so fast, their contact person changed a couple of times and apparently they didn't keep good records of their conversations. Eventually they were able to work out their differences. 1stbooks did the artwork for the cover and it was satisfactory. They could have done a better job of laying out the pages -- each page needed more white space. My clients purchased the marketing kit which they were very satisfied with. The royalty checks come on time.

Another of my clients used xlibris.com. I think they might be a little more expensive, but I think he had fewer problems with them -- at least he didn't share them with me, and I'm sure if he'd had problems I would have known about it. The book is very well laid out; its paperback cover is sturdier and looks more professional than the 1stBooks cover. Unfortunately, I don't have any feedback from him because he suddenly passed away before the book was ready.

I'm very familiar with iUniverse.com also; however, none of my clients have chosen to go with them, so I can't speak about their performance.

-- Anita Jacobs

I used 1stBooks to publish my newest book. In general I am pleased with the product, yet there were problems in the development that can be avoided from my experiences:

  1. Their staff seems to change rapidly. It was hard to find an experienced person and then find them again. I had a new customer service representative. Their job is to deal with everything regarding your book. As it was also my first time at the company, it would have been better for me to insist upon an experienced person.
  2. Anything you write in the initial paperwork is "in stone," so be very careful. You will be asked on that paper if you have a cover idea; even if you don't, say "yes," or you will never be consulted about the cover. My original cover was really poor.
  3. Proofread very carefully when they send the galley -- not just your words, their words on the copyright page, cover, etc. If it is their fault you should not pay. I found they used a small font size for the text in the book and the spacing was cramped. I was never consulted on font size and when I objected I was told that this was standard. So be careful when you send your original text and insist on knowing the font and size that will be used.
  4. I found some of their promotional packages to be a waste. Their book-signing kit, PR release, and faxing the PR release to hundreds of names with no follow-up just were not necessary. However, the kit of bookmarks, business cards and postcards were well done and useful to me. Make sure you write on these materials how to reach you for lectures. You are responsible for writing the back cover of the book, the inside flaps of the hardcover, the marketing materials. I had to find someone to help me do this and would recommend you use someone other than yourself. I used Emily Coleman, who can be reached at 201/836-9070, and highly recommend her.
  5. 1stBooks always seems to run new specials so make sure you ask. I got double marketing and promotion for the price of single and a free hardcover edition. They also have deals for meeting planners of non-profits to purchase bulk books. Ask. The real difficulty is that you have to buy back unsold books with print-on-demand.
  6. 1stBooks will give out books free for promotion upon request of the "working media." They do not understand meeting planners as being important people to receive books, so phrase all requests as "working media."

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