Anybody have any experience with this service? On the surface, it seems like a dream come true for authors who have a hard time getting published (like certain members of the SDMB with a post count in the low-500 range :wink: ). Do you have to pay them a fee? Or do they just take your manuscript and say “Wow, you’re published! Sit back and wait for the royalty checks!”

And about those royalty checks… does anybody actually make any money with this service?

“If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.”

That’s my first comment.

My second comment is that, if you want people to answer your question, you’re pretty much asking them to go to that web site and research it. Perhaps you’d get better feedback if you told people how the system works.

Rasta, I haven’t looked into iuniverse too much, but you might want to poke around on usenet newsgroups like alt.writing, misc.writing, and alt.journalism.freelance. I know people there have discussed it, and you might be able to go through the messages from a few weeks ago to search it out (for example, using Deja to look for it).

The Straight Dope on iuniverse is this:

Yes, they will put your book’s name on their website for free and will print out copies (through a subcontractor, BTW – despite their implications, they don’t print on demand themselves) as orders are made. For this you get a spot on their website and a generic cover. For this they are currently charging between $100-334 for unpublished authors. The more you pay, the more editorial review you get.

What they don’t do:

  1. Anything that might accidentally publicize your manuscript.

Your book will be just another name on their website. You’ll have to go out an promote it – and do so without enough copies to do the job (you get between 1-5); proper promotion requires considerably more, since you need to get the books in the hands of the reviewers (assuming the reviewers don’t quickly learn that iuniverse is essentially just another vanity press). You’ll sell a lot of copies to yourself and to your friends and relatives, but practically none to any actual readers. You will be at a disadvantage when promoting the book because you won’t have copies to hand out to sell (if you press a book into someone’s hand, there’s a chance they might buy it on impulse. If you tell them to visit your web page, the impulse goes away by the time the get to the computer.).

It’s especially bad for fiction. You might have a shot a nonfiction in certain cases (if you’re a professor and you require the book for your own courses, for instance :slight_smile: ).

It’s a shortcut to get your book published. But overall, it’s just a cut-rate vanity press.

It is not true that a buyer needs to go through the iuniverse website to buy your book. They also sell through the big three online book retailers, amazon, barnes & noble, and borders. In fact, Barnes & Noble owns 49% of iuniverse. There was some talk of selling iuniverse books at b&n’s bricks-and-mortar locations, but I don’t know if anything ever came of it.

If you decide to go this route, probably the best way to get people to know about the book is to do book signings. Bookstores are often happy to highlight local authors. I honestly don’t know exactly how it works, but you may need to buy copies of your own book from iuniverse in order to have enough to sell.

I published my own book (Overcome Your Fear of Flying), but having been a shareware author for ten years, I was in the habit of “do it yourself”. So I formatted the whole thing on PageMaker (sort of a word processing program) and had it properly printed on a Linotype machine by a local printer, who also gave it a nice cover. (It was in black and white because I couldn’t afford color, but they could have done that, too.)

I ordered 250 of them (costing about $1400 Canadian) and I’ve sold around 150 so far, through my web site and Amazon.com’s “Advantage” program.

I could have gone to a “vanity press”, but I’ve heard time and again that all they do is make the book and maybe mail out a token letter or two. The way I figured it was this: have I ever in my life seen a book by “Vantage Press” (the best known “subsidy publisher” I’m aware of) in the book store? No. So why give them money for something I can do myself?

Of course, I put out my book simply because I wanted to help people who suffered from the fear I used to have. I didn’t figure I’d get rich at it. So far, that prediction is spot-on! :wink:

Oh, by the way, the Amazon.Com program can be reached at http://www.amazon.com/advantage. It’s designed for authors who have books for smaller markets. I have one book there, and my father another (his is a book of Sherlock Holmes stories). Please note that before you list with them, you have to get an ISBN number for your book. (I don’t know how you do that in the U.S.; I’m in Canada.)

Still, you do have to do the promotion yourself.

Oh, and if you tried that link to my site, I left off the .htm, so it didn’t work. The actual URL is http://members.aol.com/psoftinfo/info_ff.htm

Aaargh, now the Amazon link didn’t work! Don’t click on it in the post, just type it as shown into the Address input box of your browser.


Timothy – What you have done illustrates the difference between self-publishing (what you did) and a vanity press. A vanity press claims it’s self-publishing, but they’re the publisher, not you.

Since it was a nonfiction book, you had a better chance of success than a novelist. But if you had gone to iUniverse, it’s extremely unlikely you’d have the success you did.

RealityChuck: “if you had gone to iUniverse, it’s extremely unlikely you’d have the success you did.

Selling 150 books is considered successful?

Of course, the problem with self-publishing is that you’re always looking for opportunities to tell people to go to your web site to check out your book. This can, of course, incur the wrath of the moderator of whatever web site you happening to be writing on.

P.S. Anybody read any good books recently?

(Looks like I’ve licked my problem with the URL’s :slight_smile: )