My first three books was placed with them after careful, but not careful enough, consideration. Throughout my career, I have published more than three ebooks, but the rest have been partnered with Smashwords.
Why is that? Because Bookbaby is a greedy, hungry cooperation that will nickel and dime you for the simplest things.
In the beginning, there were three choices when you decided to publish your work with them. Basic, Standard, and Deluxe. This was a way to make it affordable if needed while making it fair for those who are willing to spend more in order to get the perks. Basic was less than $100, and Standard was less than $200; Deluxe being the much higher choice. For an ISBN with them, you paid $19 ($29 now).
Not bad if I do say so myself. The first book, The Way To Dawn was put up with Basic or Standard, I don’t recall. My second was Deluxe, mainly because I wanted 100% of the profits. Bookbaby sounds great, right?
It got even better. Sort of.
They later removed the Basic package and raised the price a bit of the other ones by fifty bucks or so. However, they gave users their Free option if they can successfully convert their own files to their standards. Now most indie authors know how much of a pain it can be to make an .EPUB or .Mobi if you don’t know how. Even if you do, there can be hiccups from time to time that still makes your file not upload friendly. At the time, money was tight for me, so I chose the free option and it was all good. I figured I would keep publishing this way.
Wrong I was.
Bookbaby had more ideas. More is better after all. They removed the free option and the basic option and gave only one, EXPENSIVE option. Now that was the first line that turned me off. But I wasn’t willing to leave. I’ve made profit here and wanted to stay. Bookbaby’s reasoning for this is that the added features make buying the only option available worthwhile. I disagree, but hey, it ain’t my company, so comply or die.
I can’t speak for how it is done and priced today, but I can bet my life it is over $130. But at that point, I decided to just find another solution around my issue, hence Smashwords. But I still didn’t’ want to leave my abusive girlfriend, Bookbaby, so I just went and found new ways to get more of my work out there.
Now there comes a time in many indie author’s writing career that your older books may need some tweaking because of spelling or clarification. SO! Enter the process of editing on Bookbaby. Since you are not allowed to make your own Ebooks, you can only submit to them the corrected document… for a price. Yeah, they charged you back then and now for corrections, claiming it’s because it’s a lot of work on them to upload a file.
*cough* Smashwords, free edits. *cough*
Back then you were charged every ten words. This can range from $25 to $50. Fifty words was $100, I think. Sooooooo beautiful!
In hindsight, this was their way for punishing you for being imperfect. But hey, I reasoned with it by saying it’s because they have to deal with so many people’s need for corrections, so they charge you.
Later that was changed to a flat $25 per book for as many times as you wish to make changes and resubmit. Still ridiculous, but far more reasonable. So, I did that. Then they came with an even better (no sarcasm intended) solution. You can edit your book for free every sixty days. Cool, right? It was.
Bookbaby, as of February 2017, decided that you can make changes whenever you wish. Just cough up a $100 flat fee each time you wish to do so. I literally opened my reply with, “You’re kidding, right?” Because that’s how ludicrous it sounded to me. That’s a lot of money to charge someone to fix their own work.
In a nutshell, speaking for authors who do not make much through self-publishing, Bookbaby has created a way to take more than they will make within five to ten years of selling through them. It’s an investment with no reward on your return.
The company holds your works as hostage by not giving any real control of what happens to it. It’s yours, but we’ll decide if it will have edits or get a cover change and so forth.
So I left.
But that decision as well came with a price, but not a financial one. See, in the fine print, they admit they don’t own your books, and the ISBNs you buy from them is yours. But if you leave and try to use those ISBNs, they are treated as the property of Bookbaby. They are yours as long as you are with them. It is treated as copyright infringement by retailers and they will reject you by blocking YOUR content. They won’t believe it is you, no matter what proof you present (Amazon). As of today of when this post is published, my three ebooks cannot be added to retailers, even with new ISBNs.
I asked Bookbaby to help out and give me a written “statement” that the ISBNs and books are mine because I wanted to reupload them. Their response in few words was, we don’t have a contract or anything of the sort and your books are down, so you should be able to upload it just fine…
I didn’t ask for a contract, and I just told them I can’t upload. Admittedly, I didn’t fight that hard to get that statement, but I was just fed up. And sadly, I’m sure this glaring issue is also something I will face with Smashwords if I left because of the same means of getting an ISBN from them and not your own. I read the pages many times on both sites and I understand it better. And in a quick sentence to explain it outside of these companies’ words, the ISBNs are yours, as long as you stay with the company that supplied them.
If I learned anything from this, ALL, I repeat, ALL self-published authors should buy their own ISBNs. Don’t stay with any publishing chain that is going to hold YOUR work hostage and nickel and dime you for every choice you make involving that content. And last but not least, don’t fall for expensive bells and whistles if you know that you can supply much of it yourself.
If I can give anyone who’s an indie author advice, I would say Smashwords is much kinder and helpful in emails. They provide real freedom of publishing and control over YOUR own work.
I still say buy your own ISBNs, something I didn’t do with almost all my ebooks, but I will from here on. Also, if you are one of those people who wish to have your work on Amazon, but know Smashwords won’t do it for you unless you hit a level of popularity, there is a way around all of that, and they tell you how on their website. Now that’s kindness without concern of self profit since they won’t make any by telling you this.
Smashwords is and has been a great move for me and I wish on everything I started with them when I had the chance. Back then, I debated between them and I made the wrong choice. I’m paying for it and I hope I will be able to get around this ongoing mess.
Until then, all I can do is bob and weave through the neck high piles of feces raining down upon me.