Precious Cargo

Refreshingly Bitter And Twisted Observations On Life's Passing Parade.

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Location: Valley Village, California, United States

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

How Xlibris Targets Failed Writers

Here is part of an email I received yesterday.

"Dear Peter,

My name is Tracey Rosengrave, Marketing Manager for Xlibris Corporation, a print-on-demand self-publishing company. We obtained your name and email address from Blogger in an effort on our part to find people who might be interested in self-publishing. If you are interested, I’ve included a brief description of who we are below.

I do send out follow up messages, so if you are not interested in our company or services please click here and I will send no further correspondence. I completely understand how annoying unwanted email messages can be; if this is the case here my sincerest apologies.

For those who would like more information…

Xlibris is partially owned by Random House Ventures, the world’s largest trade book publisher. We have published over 14,000 titles and paid out over twelve million dollars in royalties. Everyday we help authors by offering flexible, inexpensive methods of publishing, editing, marketing, distributing and selling books both in trade and full color."

Xlibris knows that most bloggers are failed/wannabe writers.

As blogger Mark A. York recently wrote, "Blogs are vanity presses."

"Xlibris is partially owned by Random House Ventures, the world’s largest trade book publisher."

This is designed to mislead writers into believing that being published by Xlibris is like being published by Random House. It isn't.

"We have published over 14,000 titles and paid out over twelve million dollars in royalties."

This is also misleading. Most copies of self-published books are purchased by their authors. Still, when you purchase a copy of your own book, a percentage of the purchase price will be reported as a royalty.

These statements attempt to make Xlibris look like trade publishing, when it is really vanity publishing. These statements make Xlibris look more like PublishAmerica than Random House.


Blogger Mark said...

As blogger Mark A. York recently wrote, "Blogs are vanity presses."

They are but can work into something more resembling a paid job if done right. Real authors can have blogs and they get paid by publishers, so this gets beyond the vanity model. Not everyone can.

6:52 PM  
Blogger ceejay said...

I am a dissatisfied Xlibris author.
First I must say this is NOT vanity publixhing. I do not sell my books, all of which I would have had to buy, out of the back of my station wagon were it one.
Notable authors, such as Piers Anthony, publish with self publishers - in fact Xlibris. ( )
Xlibris does mislead its authors; for instance it has recently changed the contract charging for listing with Ingram, (the major distributing company) which was never a fee service before.
My book, A PAINED LIFE, a chronic pain journey, sells primarily by word of mouth. Of the books sold less than 35% were brought by me, to send out to reviewers, give to friends, and sell when asked.
The other 65% have been brought by strangers.
It is imporatnt that you read the contract to understand that you are publishing with Xlibris and not Random House.
They do however use that, to my perception, as a calling card.
John Feldcamp and I have talked, more than once, and he offered to make some changes for me but never did. I wanted to reduce the price of my book and therefore royalties. He said he did not usually do that but would for me since I asked.
(They now do this - for a fee.)
He was unresponsive to all calls and emails about that issue
as well as other problems with Xlibris.
That being said they made such a mess of my manuscript, in particular the copyediting service, for which I had paid extra, that they refunded all my money and published the book anyway. (If memory serves about $1600.00. This was in 2003. I doubt they would do that now given the ethical changes at the company.)
I would not, and have not, recommended Xlibris.
The fact of the outsourcing where, even when you call the local telephone number, your call gets sent to the Phillipines is not the kind of company I employed when I first went to their offices to check them out.
At that time I walked right in. They took me directly upstairs and showed me around. Now you are not permitted upstairs.
(For disclosure it was sometime ago the last time I went to the offices.)
I think the letter you received was misleading, however, self-publishing is an excellent way for authors who want control over their material, do not want to wait weeks and months to hear back from publishers/agents, and want their work to see the light of day in 2 - 3 months rather than a year or more.
Unless you are a major author a "legit" (for lack of another term) publisher will not pay for your marketing. It will still be up to you to arrange book signings, readings and so on.
Unless you know someone and have an "in" to the publishing industry, with care in making your choice, POD is a good publishing option.
It is not vanity publishing unless the author chooses to make it so.

10:01 AM  

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