A Review of Booksurge

December 20th, 2006 by Chris

On my plate of ways to further monetize my literature site has been plans to publish actual books. In one case I’m having a writer work on original content for a book that is encyclopedic in scope. In the other cases I’m publishing in book format the same work I publish in digital format.

For my first go at it I decided to make a pocket reading book of Shakespeare’s Sonnets. The reason is that Shakespeare is one of the most popular authors on my site, and I also run a sonnet newsletter with a whole bunch of subscribers to market to.

Since I have modest photoshop & PDF skills I did all my own formatting and supplied Booksurge with ready to print files based off their specifications. This meant my cost was only $99.

Since BookSurge is owned by Amazon the book will be included in Amazon’s catalogue. Additionally it’ll be included in the catalogues of many other online stores and be able to be bought by brick & mortar booksellers as well. Booksurge will print all orders on demand. The royalties vary, but in general I will receive 25% of the retail price of $13.95. This isn’t big bucks to be sure, and I’m not really counting on sales from all the various distribution channels. Rather, I plan to drive all my own sales through my sites.

Like with Cafepress, I can ask Booksurge to raise the price, however I do not get what it is raised to in additional royalties (like you would with a cafepress product) rather I still just get 25%.

Of course, when it is on Amazon, I can link to it as an affiliate link and get 30-35% overall.

So, I signed up with Booksurge on Dec 11th, and there was some back and forth with the files, but they were finalized on the 15th and today I received a copy of my book in the mail. It looks great. It is a trade paperback, though buyers have the option of a hardcover edition which will cost a little more.

All told, I’m very pleased with my $99 purchase. I think I’ll be able to sell a few hundred to a thousand of these just by marketing it to my own viewers, so it’ll be profitable. Plus, making your own books is fun.

You can see the book on Amazon here.

So, if any of you have content you think would work as a book, consider giving BookSurge a try.

24 Responses to “A Review of Booksurge”

  1. ToddW  Says:

    Wow, I didn’t even know such a service existed! This will come in handy in the future for lots of people I think.

  2. Timothy Fish  Says:

    I just submitted my pdf files for Church Website Design: A Step By Step Approach. Part of the reason I did was to discover how well it works. I figure spending $99 for publication and maybe selling 100 books is better than spending two years and who knows how much money looking for an agent and a publisher with the risk of the book not being published. Given the nature of some of the information in the book, part of it would have to be revised if I waited two years for someone to pick it up.

  3. Mike  Says:

    Sounds like a very useful service; self-publishing has become so much easier.

    I’d be very interested in getting a rough idea of your results (not monetary, but whether you considered it successful) after the book has been out for awhile.

    I’ve been reading a bit about works that are in the public domain and repackaging/republishing these in other useful forms. I guess Shakespeare qualifies as a public domain work?

  4. sherry brier  Says:

    Hi, Thanks for the above info. I was just starting to get info about printing my book with Booksurge or Cafepress. What
    do you mean by:
    Of course, when it is on Amazon, I can link to it as an affiliate link and get 30-35% overall.
    I guess you decided Amazon was better, why?
    Again, I thank you for being a trailblazer for me.

  5. Chris  Says:

    I was referring to Amazon.com’s affiliate program whereby I can refer people to Amazon and get 5-10% commission on what they buy, which would be on top of my royalties.

  6. Timothy Fish  Says:

    To update what I said before, Church Website Design: A step by step approach has been available on Amazon.com and has been selling fairly well. It is in no danger of being at the top of a best seller list anytime soon, but it is doing alright. I have no complaints about the quality of the final product and I have chosen to publish a second book through BookSurge. The second book is called Searching For Mom and will be available on Amazon.com by July 2007. The only complaints I have are these, I have not received any royalties and I have had some trouble getting them to respond to e-mails related to the second book, but they have been nice over the phone. I figure I just need to grease the wheels on the royalty thing, so I’m not worried about that, yet. The other issue, I think, is due to bad timing or something. One person said she was out unexpectedly.

  7. JR  Says:

    Today I was investigating book publishing options and I noticed that as of February 1st 2008 the rates are increased to 35%. I haven’t seen the rates of other publishers but this seems like a good option.

  8. Dave  Says:

    I tried using Booksurge once and found them a joke from square one. A horror show is a good description. That was 100 plus titles ago and I’ll never ever go back, no matter if amazon does try to extort indie publishers into using them because they want the profits. No way. Just my two cents.

  9. Natalya I. Sabga  Says:

    Hi there- thanks for your feedback on BookSurge. I, myself, am considering entering into an agreement with them. But, my “Total Design freedom” package is being quoted at $1,299.00, so I am wondering what your $99 only fee included?

    Any light you can shed on this will help me make a sound decision.

    Thanks in advance!


  10. Robert  Says:

    You might find this interesting. I just checked the physical address for BookSurge’s Royalty submission form in Las Vegas. This is the form in which you provide your name, etc, and Bank Account Numbers for your royalty payments.

    It is a vacant lot!!!!!

    I have sent an email message asking them to explain but have not heard back.

    I’m not sure how this will play out as it’s only been a couple of days.

  11. Chris  Says:

    Oddly enough Robert, I also tried faxing them… it rang to a standard answering machine, not a fax line, AND I know it was generic because my phone has the same exact answering machine message.

  12. gary  Says:

    I would like to hear from booksurge and or amazon. i started researching today and have got the distinct feeling that amazon is unreasably biased toward booksurge (which is basically amazon)in that selling through other pods will be highly unrewarding through amazon and that booksurge is also awful quality and service.

  13. Jo  Says:

    I too am wondering about the dispairity between the $99 you mentioned and the $799 they quoted me. Can you clarify? Thanks

  14. Jane  Says:

    How do you get the $99 deal? I got quoted a lot more. I am not getting many sales on Lulu despite what I think are really good books and picture books. Marketing is key. What kind of marketing does booksurge do?

  15. fred  Says:

    Hopefully I can shed some light on author supplied PDF galleys and cover art when publishing through BookSurge. The cost for a 220 page trade paperback is currently $299. My novel will retail for $16.99 and I will receive 35 percent of the retail price for each book sold on Amazon.com. So far, the two-week process has been seamless, and my physical proof (first printed book) will arrive for my examination and approval withing a few days. As for faxing the Royalty Payment Information Form, my fax went through without a problem. BookSurge tells you beforehand that it takes about 3 weeks to process this form. Also, I like the idea of having a personal BookSurge Consultant and Account Managers to contact if I have questions. Although I have had very few questions, they have taken it upon themselves to keep me updated via phone calls and e-mails on every step of the publication process. If my physical proof is anywhere as good as the service I have so far received from BookSurge, I’m sure I’ll be happy with the result.

  16. elizabeth  Says:

    I am doing a full color illustrated book and I am EXTREMELY unhappy with Booksurge.I bought their “total design freedom” package $899, and while their customer service has been fast & polite, the proofs have been awful: high resolution files are pixelated, colors wildy shifted, illustrations are mixed up or missing, and the designers have awful ideas about layout.
    its taken almost 6 months, with multiple proofs, and I still have not gotten a proof that I would want to sell. I actually sent them a fully laid out PDF to show them exactly what I wanted and they STILL did not get a simple left page text/right page illustration layout correct.
    Of course, my customer service manager insists they will get it right, but its been extremely frustrating, slow and disappointing.

  17. John  Says:

    So much confusion between Book Surge, Publish America, Strategic Publishers…
    Why does Publish America require NO out-of-pocket expenses and promise to have your book not only on websites, but in stores???
    Anybody have the straight dope???

  18. Dean  Says:

    Booksurge gives different price options based on the services you require – some people already have their files setup properly to get through their workflow – hence, the $99 price. However their are many out there that prefer a professionally designed cover and page layout to catch attention while on the bookshelf. That’s when you get into the higher pricing.

    Unlike traditional publishers (who are invested in your book and want a return on investment) Booksurge could care less about what happens after if gets on Amazon. Unless they can upsell sell you a pricey BuyXgetZ package. You have to DO YOUR OWN MARKETING in order to make any real sales. This is trickier than you may think, but is worth the effort if you’ve already dedicated your time to put a book together. There are marketing companies out there that can help you get exposure.

    Best of Luck!

    Dean Cowart
    Vista Designworks

  19. Eric H. Roth  Says:

    Booksurge, due to the Amazon connection, provides several advantages for new authors like myself. Amazon seems biased to help Booksurge authors, the percentage is fine, and you get paid on time with a dependable direct deposit.

    Yet Booksurge, as I’ve also discovered, has a significant flaw: books are NOT listed in Ingram, the industry’s bible of published works. This oversight, an attempt to end-run physical bookstores, makes it quite hard for bookstores to even know that your book exists, let alone purchase it. My book, Compelling Conversations: Questions and Quotations on Timeless Topics, for example sells in the top 50,000 regularly – but few college bookstores or academic/ESL catalogs carry my ESL textbook.
    Consequently, it appears that I will have to republish the book with either Lightning Source or another POD publisher.
    Bottomline: Booksurge has helped me get my feet in the publishing pond, sell a few thousand books, and gain confidence. But I will need to supplement it to realize my book’s true potential as an oral skills textbook for English Language Learners around the world.
    Or so it seems today.

  20. Rita  Says:

    Hey, Thanks for the positive feed back… The Royalty part i was worried about giving my Social secruity number, but now I feel better about filling out the form and maybe I can make a living from my book since the employment Market here In Tampabay is so slim! Thanks, artist101@live.com

  21. ROBERT A. FLOWERS  Says:

    My book was published by AUTHORHOUSE THIS YEAR 2009. They have been marketing it since June and I am looking for other sources to market it. I do not know if the book is selling well because AUTHORHOUSE won’t tell me untill the end of their quarter.I like the 35% royalty idea etc your company offers.On the internet “book finder 4 you” shows over 1,000 reader reviews plus professional reviews and 99% of them have 3,4,and5 stars . The book is a true story of my life featuring my experiences mostly with Abbie Hoffman, James Hoffa, and many others. It is only 196 pages and gets great pro reviews.Are you interested in marketing my book? If so please contact me at 407-354-3709 or raf3rd@webtv.net .

  22. h.m  Says:

    I am a new author and the experience with Booksurge has been nothing but frustrating and terrible.

    I bought a premium package that was over $5000 to do edit and design/layout for less than 200 page color book. Their edit had inconsistent usage of capitalization, too many hyphens (sometimes three in one short sentence that drove me dizzy), misspelling, deletion of whole paragraph that I almost didn’t realize, duplication of sentence that they did not catch and many more. I spent more time cleaning their mess than writing the book, it seemed.. I told the manager how unhappy I was with their edit and he agreed after he read it.

    To make the story short, I received a partial refund for their incapability of doing the layout. I ended up doing it myself spending a lot of time during the holidays. I am EXTREMELY UNHAPPY with Booksurge. I feel I waste a lot of time dealing with so many different people who contacted me every time when I make a step towards publishing the book.. and I have to explain to them it is theirs not my mistake. (they claimed that I have wrong specs and I have to redo everything on layout. I confirmed the specs with a real person on a phone and followed the specs via email so that I had in writing. I knew not to trust them at the point) There was a time when no one contacted me for 30 days after submission of the file.

    I wish I knew how incapable and insane Booksurge runs their business. How can they associate their business with Amazon? Please get your stuff together.

  23. Robert A. Flowers , Author  Says:

    My book cover picture and my information inside the cover information is on my web site http://www.raflowers.com , but only I can find it because potential readers do not know its web site address or the books title . How can I tell potential readers how to find the website ? I have a email address too at raf3rd@webtv.net . Maybe you can use my email too tell them how to find info about my book on its web site ? What is my least expensive means to solve this problem and reach many people ?

  24. Ann Anonymous  Says:

    Hi, my name is Ann and I’m a new out of the closet writer that finds your topic very interesting! I actually created a blog reviewing some of the popular Self-Publishing Companies. You should take a look at my site at anonymousann.blogspot.com. You might find some interesting information on my site. If you wish to add anything that is currently not there please feel free to do so. I’m still researching on some of the companies listed and I should have a complete list by end of the month. Thank you and enjoy!

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