Barnes and Noble operates a self-publishing program called Nook Press. The second generation platform launched in early 2013 and focuses on getting indie authors to submit their books for inclusion into the Nook bookstore. It is my belief that Nook Press is bad for authors and solely exists to financially gouge them at every opportunity.
Last year, the former General Manager of Nook Press and VP of Content Acquisitions Theresa Horner wanted to devise a way for the self-publishing platform to make some serious money. She opened up a dialog with Author Solutions and deal was struck in October. One month later she was fired from Barnes and Noble.
The Author Solutions deal finally allowed Barnes and Noble to make a lot of money from their cadre of self-published authors. This includes a $999 package to get e-book cover art and formatting done or a $2,100 package that includes “Expert Editorial Assessment”, which basically informs the author what they are doing wrong and how B&N can fix it. There is also an illustration option starting at $275 or 3 different tiers for book editing. Basically if there is a way to gouge an author to pay money for something from e-book formatting to an ISBN number, they are doing it.
Many aspiring authors are unaware that it is not Barnes and Noble that is conducting these services, but instead everything is outsourced to Author Solutions. Whenever an author is sent over to the 3rd party company, B&N earns a hefty commission.
Author Solutions has a terrible reputation in the writing community for the deceptive methods it uses to ensnare authors, its sub-standard and over-priced services, and its high-pressure sales tactics aimed at selling completely ineffective (and ridiculously expensive) marketing packages. The company is also being sued by many different authors who claim they exist as predatory monsters, who see authors only as profit. Things are so bad right now that even the Authors Guild has severed ties with them.
The fleecing of indie authors does not begin and end with Author Solutions. Last week at Book Expo America Blublish announced a free two month trial for Nook Press authors and after the term is up will automatically be upgraded to a $99 a year package. Lots of people have said that Blublish is basically the equivalent of installing Google Analytics on your website. In reality it’s basically the paid version of hosting a free WordPress website.
“I applaud any new platform that can legitimately prove a resource for self-publishers, and this one looks quite professional.” Said author R.E. McDermott, “I have a pretty simplistic way of evaluating things. This is touted as a marketing site, so I had a look at the authors offering testimonials as to how Bublish had helped their sales. The problem is, if you look at them on Amazon, NONE of them are selling very many books. That’s not a put down of either the authors or their work, for all I know, they might all be wonderful. But if this is a MARKETING site, showcasing authors who aren’t selling books.”
Barnes and Noble Nook Press is obsessed with charging authors for everything they can. Have whack cover art? You can pay for that. Need assistance with Word to EPUB conversions? You can certainly pay for that too. Not sure what you need done? You can pay for that knowledge and then pay for whatever they recommend. All along the way you can expect emails, newsletters and telephone calls trying to get you to upgrade your existing package. All for the good of your book of course.
Nook Press is not inherently bad for authors, but lately all of the agreements they are signing certainly are. If self-publishing is something you really want to do, Kindle Direct Publishing would be a more viable options. They give you a free author page, where you can promote yourself and empower yourself with knowledge. It is important for an author to understand the marketing process, instead of mindlessly paying Barnes and Noble.
Michael Kozlowski is the Editor in Chief of Good e-Reader. He has been writing about audiobooks and e-readers for the past ten years. His articles have been picked up by major and local news sources and websites such as the CNET, Engadget, Huffington Post and Verge.