Thursday, May 10, 2012

e-Publishing Revo: It's a New Electronic Self-Publishing Service, But There's a Catch

Posted by Victoria Strauss for Writer Beware

Zooming into my inbox last week: a press release for a brand-new ebook self-publishing service called e-Publishing Revo. Per the website:

What makes e-Publishing Revo different from the rest?

1. Permanent 100% royalties. Need we say more?

2. We treat your e-book publishing seriously. Never will we rely on “meat grinding” application software. You will have to upload your manuscripts. But our eBook Associates will carefully format your work. We don’t automate.

3. e-Publishing Revo is hassle-free. Our two-way publishing process is very simple. Just submit your manuscript and we deliver. No need to learn technical manuals.

4. We guarantee tasteful designs. We house globally competent artists, illustrators, and designers. Your e-books will surely standout.
Sound tempting? Not so fast. This new attempt to cash in on the electronic self-publishing gold rush is owned by Bookwhirl.

You may recognize the name of this notorious Internet spammer. If you don't, it's a so-called marketing service that has become infamous for its prolific spam emails and cold-call phone pitches offering writers cheap (for Bookwhirl--for authors, the costs range from around $300 to over $10,000) spam-style PR such as mass email campaigns, press releases, online directory listings, and the like.

Testament to Bookwhirl's relentless spamming and cold-calling can be found across the Internet in the form of complaints, mockery, and angry blog posts. (Many of the commenters note the poor grammar of the company's emails and the heavy accents and broken English of its phone solicitors--which would appear to be no accident, since the company, which claims to be based in Iowa or Wisconsin, is owned by an Asian business called Yen Chen Support.) So widespread did the negative discussion become, in fact, that Bookwhirl felt obliged to disseminate some counter-propaganda, publishing a press release refuting the criticism, a blog doing the same, a "phishing email alert" attributing complaints to a phishing scheme (and suggesting that "victimized" writers contact Bookwhirl), and an "email scam warning" alleging, with no doubt unintentional irony, that it is the victim of negative statements by "a professional scammer."

Still interested in e-Publishing Revo?

If you are, here's the rundown on its services. It offers two packages--e-Pub Revo Lite for $299, or e-Pub Revo Pro for $399 (for the additional $100 you get extra revisions plus some garbage marketing). A possible catch, though: while the description of the packages on the e-Publishing Revo webpage gives the impression that formatting, layout, book cover design, and distribution are included in the price, the order form suggests that they cost extra.

What about those attractive-sounding 100% royalties? This is a meaningless claim, by the way--royalties are by definition the author's share of a book's revenue, so all royalties are 100%. The real question is, what can e-Publishing Revo authors expect to earn? It's a major challenge to find out--the information appears only in e-Publishing Revo's Terms and Policies, which are accessible only on the Signup page--but hey, that's why I'm here, to dig this stuff up for you. What it all boils down to is that authors receive 70% of list for books priced at or between $2.99 and $9.99, and 45% of list for books costing less or more. (Royalties are paid quarterly and only if the amount due is at least $50.)

The Terms and Policies also include this important provision:
Publishers should agree to receive promotions and updates through e-mail, newsletters, and calls from BookWhirl.com.
So if you decide to use e-Publishing Revo, be prepared to be solicited to buy lots of other stuff.

The easy availability of free electronic self-publishing options means that no one has to pay to publish an ebook. Nevertheless, fee-based self-pub services have their place. For people who are time-crunched or non-web-savvy or just uninterested in DIY, they can provide a good solution, as long as they are reasonably priced.

Price isn't the only determinant, however, and cheap isn't always good. Choosing a reputable provider is even more important--even if, sometimes, it charges a bit more. It's vital to carefully research any company you're thinking of using (you can always contact Writer Beware to find out if there have been complaints). It's also a good idea--especially if you're not sure of the company's reputation and expertise--to give new self-pub services a year or so to settle in before jumping on board.

8 comments:

LJCohen said...

Gah! It frustrates me to see stuff like this taking advantage of authors interested in selling eBooks.

It's NOT hard to format your own eBooks. You can do it free, fairly simply. It all starts with learning how to use styles in your source document. Then download the free Calibre program.

If anyone's interested in learning how to do this, I have a free/cc-licensed illustrated manual, free for anyone to use.

http://www.ljcohen.net/downloads.html.

PT Dilloway, Superhero Author said...

It really is dumb to pay $300 or more to load an eBook. Not only is it virtually free to do it yourself, but also you're probably not going to make that much money back unless you're extremely lucky.

Janet Reid said...

every time I see a post like this I'm so thankful for you and the other folks who keep an eye out for this kind of gouging.

Thank you!

Anne R. Allen said...

Ditto what Janet Reid said. This is going to look very good to a lot of newbie writers who won't look beyond "100% royalties." Thanks, Victoria!

LJCohen--Thanks much for the link!

Karla Gomez said...

Jesus...some serious scam artists out there....

Doug Brunell said...

100% royalties! An inbox full of spam! Unwanted phone calls! A company of known scammers! What's not to love. Oh, yeah. The 100% royalties. Yes, it is misleading, but only if you care about such things. These leeches know that people will swim in tempting waters no matter how many warning signs are posted. Man ...

Shawn James said...

This is SAD. $300 to format an eBook is a rip-off.

The chances of an author making that money back are slim to none. What makes it sadder is that most eBooks can be published for FREE.

I do eBooks using just plain old Microsoft Word and publish them directly to amazon, Barnes & Noble and Smashwords for FREE. It's not that hard.

There's no such thing as 100% royalties. Not unless a person has their own dedicated server.

Doug Brunell said...

Well, as the article correctly pointed out, royalties are monies due to you, so unless you are being ripped off, your royalties are 100%.