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How The Independent Publishing Magazine Can Increase Your Profits


If you're an indie author, in addition to writing gripping prose, you are required to make difficult and costly business decisions in a rapidly changing, digital industry. Many authors find the myriad choices available to be utterly baffling. The Independent Publishing Magazine (TIPM), an online affiliated website, guides authors toward making smart choices through ratings and reviews of publishing services, and meaty trade news.

Founded by Netherlands-based editor/journalist/author/publishing consultant Mick Rooney in 2007, the blog averages about one post per week, comprising a newsy and analytical resource for authors and small publishers who are developing a brand.

Commended by Writer's Digest 101 Best Websites for Writers, and Feedspot's Top 100 Self Publishing Blogs and Websites for Independent Authors, among other fans, TIPM is listed among scores of websites that review publishing resources. It is unique, however, in featuring the originally researched and synthesized Publishing Service Index.

The Publishing Service Index not only rates and reviews publishing services, it ranks companies over time, providing a picture of overall industry trends, and enabling the author to evaluate a company like a stock. Hey, you might as well hitch your fortune to a star! For instance, a trip through the archives shows the closure of CreateSpace was foreseen by TIPM analysis at least a couple of years ago. Armed with this knowledge, the savvy and efficient indie author might have opted to invest resources with Ingram Spark or Smashwords. (More about the Publishing Service Index later.)

Indie authors must be savvy to achieve success in book sales
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A roadmap for accessing TIPM intel

Writers new to self-publishing should immerse themselves in the New to Publishing articles under the Author Resources tab. A seven-part series entitled "The Future of Publishing 2020" makes an excellent primer of industry dynamics. Rooney discusses the evolutions of traditional and self-publishing business models with an entertaining, insider voice. Guest posters provide step-by-step "How-to" articles and videos to quickly get the new indie author up to speed. Or progress more quickly with searches for key topics by using the red-boxed tags.

After digesting the fundamentals, assess your own skill set before deciding what services you are going to need. How much of the publishing work do you want to take on yourself? Do you want to design your own cover, or prepare an entire book file for publication? Which jobs do you want to contract out? There is no right or wrong answer. There may be as many logical choices as there are writers.

It's important to articulate your requirements and expectations, then match your needs with the best services and companies for the project. Some companies offer a whole gamut of services presented in packages. Others specialize in particular services from an a la carte menu.

In addition, you can use TIPM's powerfully informative Publishers Service Index to identify the companies that will best meet your objectives. Launched in June 2010, the Publishing Service Index is now released twice a year.

Service providers such as Matador, Ingram Spark, Kindle Direct Publishing, Kobo Writing Life, and about eighty or ninety others are rated according to TIPM's proprietary algorithm. The formula considers both anecdotal author feedback and objective, weighted criteria, such as (not listed in any particular order):

  • Volume of titles
  • Years in existence
  • Fees charged
  • TIPM review rating
  • Service range
  • Distribution range
  • Customer support and transparency

These factors produce an index rating, which determines each company's rank.

Remember that the companies profiled offer differing services. So, to avoid comparing apples to pears, reviews focus on what a company claims it will do, and the extent to which it delivers the promised service to customers.

Different companies offer different services to indie authors
Photo by Edho Pratama on Unsplash

More about The Publishing Service Index

The Publishing Service Index is not presented as an exact science, nor is it exhaustive. There are hundreds of self-publishing service providers in the USA alone. But the Index is a powerful mass of information in one website. Check out the November 2018 Publishing Service Index.

Results are ranked in a clickable table that links the author to detailed, in-depth reviews and updates for each publishing service listed. First, survey the Index to decide the kind(s) of service(s) that best fit your needs. Then drill into the individual reviews.

Be sure to read or scan all the way down to the Comments section, where real live authors who have dealt with that company may flag a warning, or sing praises to other authors who are considering using the same service.

Don't feel you need to choose a company listed in the top five. Some authors will find it optimal to use a combination of companies, particularly if you are publishing in both e-book and print formats. Just because a company and their services don't fit with your requirements, doesn't mean it's a bad company. That said, the further down the Index your choice falls, as an author, the more likely you may be to find a company with mixed or negative feedback, and less flexibility.

TIPM Editor-in-Chief Mick Rooney expounds on the November 2018 Publishing Service Index with this analysis:

With CreateSpace shuttering and Amazon continuing with its longer-term strategy to merge and streamline its print and ebook platforms, I have dropped CreateSpace to the bottom of the index ahead of its imminent closure.

The recent indices reflect something of a mini-resurgence for some of the top-rated Full-Service Providers. While IngramSpark maintains third position, Kindle Direct Publishing has now slipped to second, and Matador for the first time hits the top spot.

I am finding it increasingly difficult to suggest a large and varied pool of reputable full publishing service providers to authors looking to go in that direction, particularly if an author wants both print and ebook editions of their book.

We are moving to a publishing landscape where authors need to take greater control in the management of their book projects, and that means looking to publishing marketplaces to connect with professionals, whether an author is looking for a book designer, a skilled book formatter, an editor, or marketing and promotional assistance.

IPM Editor-in-Chief Mick Rooney

If that's the case, trustworthy reviews and ratings of a la carte publishing service providers remain essential.

Beyond the publishing service index

Additionally found within the site, robust articles, not promotional puff pieces, are catalogued under the headings of Self Publishing, Traditional Publishing, and Digital/Traditional Marketing. From News and Opinions, to Advice and Technology, Forums,TIPM's editorial scope thoroughly covers independent publishing, as well as its intersection with traditional publishing in the United States, the United Kingdom, and Western Europe.

Going back to 2013, frank reporting covers innovations, and mergers and splits, from notable industry players down to startups that have already gone bust. Penguin imprints, Vantage, Kobo, Reedsy, prestigious awards to self-published authors, the London/Frankfurt Book Fairs, Blurb, Lulu, Nook, BookBaby, Bowker, Liberty Hill, Barnes & Nobel, WattPad, BooksAMillion, Pronoun/Vook, Fast Pencil, Blurb, Troubadour, Unbound, Google Playbooks and PubSlush, are among many more subjects.

You can read, for instance, the Author Solutions exposé as events unfolded resulting in the first class-action lawsuit filed against Author Solutions in the summer of 2013, by several authors who charged the company with fraud. The Author Solutions model of gouging and exploiting authors (often new writers) was denounced in a second lawsuit alleging deceptive practices and the exploitation of seniors. The cases were dismissed in 2015.

A rigorous education for authors

TIPM archives trace the exciting evolution of independent publishing and offer the website user a rigorous education. Authors turn to The Independent Publishing Magazine for extensive knowledge of all aspects of self-publishing, for consistency, and for passion on the part of its Editor-in-Chief.

In the November 2018 Publishing Service Index, Mick Rooney stated:

I rarely now review new companies in the full-service provider arena and even updating existing provider reviews takes a significant amount of time and effort. I continue to have a backlog of reviews that need updating or a complete rewrite. I appreciate that companies keep me up-to-date on their development plans, but if I am brutally honest (and you know I often am!), I don't see the innovation in publishing I experienced going back over the past five years. Also, bear in mind that TIPM is no longer a full-time occupation for me and I'm very grateful to our many guest posters.

IPM Editor-in-Chief Mick Rooney

With this admission, it's fair to ask if TIPM will continue to provide the timely and critical decision-making information credited with by this review, and that serious indie authors have come to rely upon. It is certainly feasible for the Magazine to continue with quality, efficient delivery of industry news on the strength of its guest posters, because we need a lot of perspectives to really see the field of indie publishing.

As it stands today, the blog can have a huge, positive impact on your self-publishing success by serving as at least one guidepost to help you find the most fitting service, and saving you from falling into the hands of scammers and companies not keeping their promises.

You worked hard to write that book. You deserve to profit from its sale. Transform yourself from a dreamy creative into a savvy indie publisher in the time it takes to thoroughly study The Independent Publishing Magazine and its archives.

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