Your experience of Authorhouse / Trafford

Wednesday 20th May 2009 03:28pm 1
Harry
Harry
258 Posts
Authorhouse is the biggest self-publisher around. Its parent company also owns Trafford, iUniverse, Xlibris & others, so the group is even larger than it appears to be.

I thought it would be useful to set up this thread, so that people with experience of the company could report back to others and offer guidance and tips. If people have queries about the company, then this would be an excellent place to ask them too.

But please, please keep it legal! If you've had a bad experience, then feel free to say so, but just state the truth in an unexaggerated way, so m'learned friends don't come a-knocking on the Cloud's nebulous door. My own view, I have to say, is that the company fails satisfactorily to explain what clients can expect from its services.

Prior to writing this post, I called Authorhouse in the UK to ask them what their average (median) sales are per title. It seems to me that this is essential info for any client and no decent self-pub company should be reluctant to supply it.

But they spent ages not telling me. They did say that they were 'the world's largest publisher' ... by number of titles published.

They did tell me that there are some people who sell a whole load of copies - one person sold 2500 books in one quarter.

But that's not really an average now, is it? After A LOT of hassling, I eventually discovered that last year they published 800 titles and sold 95,000 books - or a little bit more than 100 books per title. That's better than I'd expected, in fact, but should the figure have been so very hard to extract? I think not. Also, because a small handful of titles will have sold a fair few copies, then the median sales is probably somewhere under 100. I'd guess a median of about 50 or 60 would be about right.

I think if I went the self-pub route, I'd be unhappy with that - particularly if I'd shelled out a lot of dough for the publicity packages etc. But I don't want to foist my views onto this thread. It's here for you - so now over to you all.
Tuesday 9th June 2009 08:23pm 2
mockingbird
mockingbird
44 Posts
When I was researching self publishing companies I did look at Trafford - and received their blurb, which on the face of it looked ok. But then I dug a bit further and found one of those independent bods who look into publishing companies and does comparisons on consumers behalf. And he said that Trafford was not recommended by him, indeed he had a big file of negative reports on them.... so I went elsewhere.

In case you havent picked it up from my other contributions on the site I went to Matador. And although there were little gripes along the way, overall I was pleased with what they did - the book looks good, touch wood is selling ok, but did cost a lot to do. My local independent bookshop, where I did my book launch, and which is the only bookshop to sell it off-the-shelf, is owned by a very helpful bloke. He said if you self publish you must be prepared to lose what you pay out - in other words you may not make a profit, you may not even break even, and you may make a significant loss. With those words of wisdom I published (my first book) with Matador so I have the satisfaction of a 'first' done well. For my second book I may not be able to afford it so would be interested to hear of anyone using others...
Wednesday 10th June 2009 02:26pm 3
Bren
Bren
134 Posts
Hi Mockingbird,
Congratulations on achieving your first book. I seem to have been procrastinating for ages. I promised the kids the book in Feb it is now June and no closer. I sit at the computer and try Lulu but can't seem to do it, I have had the packs from matador and authorhouse and a couple of small places but it is an indulgence. I don't mind spending £600 but it is nearer £3000 for the complete package. Quite a good business for them. As we authors are desperate, naturally, to hold our book.
I am so stuck now and about to leap but don't know where to. The only thing about authorhouse is they at least phoned to follow up about five times, and seem okay but then they would, they want my money.
Maybe I will just pay a printers to print some copies.
Help.
Best, Bren
Friday 12th June 2009 01:30pm 4
Harry
Harry
258 Posts
Hi Bren, have you ruled out regular publishing - getting an agent, selling the MS, etc? I think that self-pub only makes sense in some quite specific circumstances, or as a fallback if the main route has been tried properly first.
H
Sunday 21st June 2009 12:18am 5
Bren
Bren
134 Posts
Thank you Harry, no I haven't, not with this story. I thought all the news was bad and the liklihood of anyone considering a children's book slim.
I bought a couple of envelopes and a the writers year book.
Also my mum has heard me talk about writing for 40 years and she is 87 now and I panicked and wanted her to see a copy while she is here.
I will try. Do you have any suggestions? :)
Bren
Friday 30th October 2009 06:52am 6
billy
billy
1 Posts
is it worth going into self-publishing rather than getting an agent and stuff, i guess self-publishing is more work for the author, i dont really know, anyone help? x
Saturday 31st October 2009 08:27pm 7
EmmaD
EmmaD
662 Posts
Self publishing costs you money - specially if you want to self-publish to a professional standard, so use a copy-editor and so on - which you won't make back. Whereas if you can get a publishing deal then it costs you nothing except paper and stamps, and they pay you.

You could have a browse through this, to get an idea of how it works and what the pitfalls are.

http://howpublishingreallyworks.blogspot.com/search/label/self-publishing

Emma
Saturday 31st October 2009 08:39pm 8
mockingbird
mockingbird
44 Posts
Just a little update - this week I have been doing a bit more marketing. Ok I know I should have been doing more of this than I have since my book was self published at the turn of the year - but sometimes family events mean you dont get round to it. Anyway I have been visiting independent bookshops in central London to see if I can sweet talk some of them into stocking me on the shelf. I got three for definite - Bookmarks just off Russell Square, The Big Green Book Shop in Wood End and Muswell Hill Bookshop. So now with a bit more time and effort I should be able to increase my sales a bit more...
Saturday 31st October 2009 10:37pm 9
Weens
Weens
698 Posts
When I finished the first draft of my book, I was browsing online looking at publisher's requirements etc. I stumbled onto an advert for Authorhouse. Unsure exactly what they did, I filled in an on screen form requesting their catalogue. A few days later I received a call from ... well, I can only say a salesman. Talk about the hard sell. I had much the same experience as Harry. He talked about everything except cost. Eventually, I managed to escape, and he sent me an email with an attached price list. They are very expensive, every add on is an extra, so if you want to do a professional job, it would cost a huge amount of money. Since then, they send me at least one mail a month, and it was only on the last mail, that I managed to find an unsubscribe tab. I'm sure they do a professional job, but if you approach them, prepare to be sold to.
Wednesday 4th November 2009 03:05pm 10
Bren
Bren
134 Posts
I went through this too Ed but if we want to be published then surely we must do it with a company that are keen. They are def keen to get our money. It is knowing who best to go with for the follow up selling. An advert in a newspaper sells but they are costly too and you have to do your own distribution.
There is no easy answer.

Good fortune to us all.
Bren xx


Wednesday 4th November 2009 07:16pm 11
Harry
Harry
258 Posts
Really, if you want to sell books and have anything like a career as a writer, then you need a mainstream commercial publisher - that means one of the big uns (Hachette, Random, Penguin, HarperCollins, PanMacmillan, Bloomsbury) or one of the big/good indies (Canongate, Faber, Quercus &c).

To get there, you'll almost certainly need an agent. Self-pub is a perfectly decent fallback option if you enter it with open eyes & realistic expectations. But really, most writers will be aiming at commercial publishing as a first, best option. It ain't easy though ... even when you're published!
Wednesday 4th November 2009 07:52pm 12
mockingbird
mockingbird
44 Posts
I think the first part of your sentence is probably absolutely true - but I didnt go in for writing a book and having it published because I wanted to sell -let alone be profitable - or have a career as a writer. I wrote because I wanted to - to prove to myself that I could. If in the end I make even I will be happy - but thats not important. My book looks great, I have had good feedback from those who have read it and its had a couple of good reviews. Thats ok.
Monday 16th November 2009 02:55pm 13
Matador
Matador
3 Posts

I haven't had any direct experience of either AuthorHouse or Trafford, but as the thread mentions Matador I feel justified in contributing, because I run Matador! I'm not going to comment on either AuthorHouse or Trafford, though I know a lot about them... but it's bad business practice to comment on competitors.


Entering into self-publishing is a step that should not be taken lightly. If an author is expecting to make money at it then my advice is don't do it. If you hope to recoup your investment then I'd say that only about a third of our authors do... of the others, a third don't sell well enough, and a third are not publishing with that in mind in the first place (everyone assumes that an author publishes a book to sell lots of copies, but many are dong it for other reasons).

The hard part of self-publishing isn't producing the book itself, there are lots of companies who can do that for you (though to varying degrees of quality). The hard part is selling the book (if that's what you are intending to do). Most self-publishing companies don't do much by way of real marketing but rely on the author to do it all, perhaps offering "advice" about marketing... in a multi-million pound industry that is fairly conservative, that isn't going to sell many books. You have to play the industry game to sell in any real volumes, and that means having proper marketing activities, distribution and real sales representation. And even when that is all in place, you are still placing your book in competition with 10,000 other new titles that are published in the UK every single month.

Harry's right in that it is a jungle out there and self-publishing is one option that is right for some, but not for others.

I won't mention which self-publishing company does offer full trade distribution and sales representation, that would be far too much like a hard-sell sales tactic, and we don't do that....!

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