By Janet Spencer King


Self-publishing technology has truly opened the door for writers everywhere. No more lengthy searches for an agent and a publisher in hopes of a contract. Through self-publishing writers have the exciting and invigorating opportunity to make their book a reality.

Wrapped in red TapYou may plan to go this route on your own, but self-publishing is complex. Writers are best served by professionals who have extensive experience supervising the process — including interior and cover design — to achieve maximum results.

No doubt you have seen offers from “author service houses” to self-publish your book. They may look good, and costs may be modest, but many of these ads should scream: author beware. There are traps lurking in many service contracts that can ensnare authors — and the potential success of their book.

Trap: Giving up your ISBN ownership

Every book must have an ISBN — a number/bar code that identifies the person or business that receives profits and information about book sales. It is crucial to be the owner of your ISBN. Many author service businesses keep ISBN ownership, which gives them complete management of your book sales and royalties forever. Should you want to switch to another publisher or service, your book will need a different ISBN. Will distributors use the new ISBN to report future sales? There is no way to guarantee that.

Trap: Pricing your book too high

Price of books must be appropriate to the subject matter and books’ size. Some author service businesses insist on an unrealistically high retail price, thus reducing potential sales.

Trap: Lack of production standards

Author service businesses have reps who work with writers, but many times they are difficult to reach and lack knowledge about book production. The result for authors is frustration in the process, and disappointment with the final product. To be taken seriously in the competitive world of publishing, books must match the highest standards of traditional publishers. Constant communication with a professional project manager is how authors can achieve this goal.

Your Best Bet

By working with a professional independent editor/project manager — including those of us at Book Development Group — you can avoid these traps. A good project manager will stay in touch with authors at all times, answering any questions that arise. And, unlike author service businesses that take a large percentage of profits from your book’s sales, many independent editor/project managers give their clients 100% of all net profits.