Friday, October 07, 2005

Shadow Review: iUniverse

Adventures in self-publishing should venture outward. Here's a basic review of iUniverse, which is pretty much a straight-up vanity press with few redeeming features.

The specifics:

What they say: "An innovative book publisher"

What they really do: Take your money; make your book; let you buy it; display it for sale online (they don't do any other marketing, though they'll sell you all kinds of marketing materials)

Details:

What kind of printing: Interestingly, they never come out and say. However there are several places where digital printing is implied. "Offset printing" is not mentioned on the site anywhere.

Whose ISBN: theirs (no option to use your own)

Costs: Packages run from $299 to $799. Includes things like cover design; marketing materials with the higher-priced ones. Not actual marketing, though. Just materials, templates, and "toolkits" to do your own.

Breaking out: (Opportunities for getting picked up by the "real world")
"Editor's choice": if their editors like it, it gets a special seal with enhanced placement on their website. You have to pay for the "editorial evaluation", though ($249)
"Reader's Choice": Editor's Choice plus sales of 250 books, at least half retail (ie, you can't just buy up 250 books yourself) gains you another seal and special website placement; plus publicity seminars, a newsletter, and a "free book on writing" (choice of 2.)
"Star Program": All of the above, but have to sell 500 (again, at least half retail). You also have to use one of the two highest priced packages initially. Gets you yet another special seal and website placement.

Redeeming features: Barnes & Noble contract; all it means is that your book can be special-ordered by someone walking into B&N.

Bottom line: Vanity press, pure and simple.

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