Does anyone have any information or personal experience with Aventine Press, a self-publishing firm?
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Does anyone have any information or personal experience with Aventine Press, a self-publishing firm?
They're a vanity press. That's all you need to know.
Send me the money instead. You won't get anything from me, but at least I'm honest about it.
What's wrong with a vanity press? Do they not do the work they promise? Are they going to take my money and walk away without producing copies of my book? What experience have you had with them to substantiate your distaste of them?
Also, if I am willing to market my book myself, why not use a vanity press? Further, what is the difference between a vanity press and publish-on-demand press?
In Webster's New World Dictionary, the first entry for vanity is "any thing or act that is vain, futile, idle, or worthless".
That definition pretty well sums up vanity presses.
Aventine Press is reasonably priced for the services it offers (though there are similar services that are cheaper, such as iUniverse; also, add-ons can substantially increase the cost), and it has a pretty good contract--nonexclusive and easily terminable. The royalty is 80% of net, which looks amazing (more typical for POD-based self-publishing services is 20-25% of net) until you realize that the printing costs are deducted from net proceeds (other PODs don't do this--they pay a straight percentage of what they're paid for the book). Taking that into account, the actual royalty is more like 30%, which is still higher than average.
It's a good idea, before deciding on a self-publishing service like this, to order a book or two so you can judge physical quality. Some POD self-publishing services use cheaper cover stock and paper than others.
In the sense that both involve the author paying to be published, there's really no difference between a vanity publisher and a POD-based self-publishing service. "Self-publishing" is a more respectful name for it, and makes people who choose the option feel better about what they're doing.
Another thing vanity publishers and POD-based self-publishing services have in common: since the companies will publish anyone who is willing to pay, regardless of quality, books published this way aren't respected, and won't be considered a professional publishing credit. This stigma (as well as the high prices and poor availability that are typical of pay-to-publish books) will hamper any promotional efforts made by the author. It's true that some self/vanity/POD-published authors have achieved success; but they represent a tiny, tiny fraction of the thousands and thousands of people who've published this way. The odds of succeeding by paying to publish are a lot worse than the odds of succeeding by publishing with a commercial publisher, and those odds are bad enough. Successful self- or POD-published authors also tend to write nonfiction, and to have marketing savvy and a niche market they know how to access.
There's nothing wrong with using a publisher like Aventine as long as you know what you're getting into, and don't have false expectations about what you can achieve.
Very well explained, and well written, Victoria.
Thank you, Victoria, for that succinct reply. That is exactly the information I was hoping to get.
My book is fiction, but it is a niche market in that it's gay fiction and I have spent two years being rejected by every publisher in America who publishes gay fiction. The rejections have not been based on the work, since none of them have bothered to read it, but on the query letter. Many of the letters have been very nice, but they haven't shown any interest, so I think the only way my book will ever see the light of day is by publishing it myself and taking my chances.
I will look into iUniverse and check their prices as well, and I like your idea of checking out some of the books from these publishers to see the quality for myself.
Thank you, again for your message. Your information is very helpful to me.
pattgavin: You didn't mention how many times, if any, you re-worked your query letter. That letter is every bit as important as your mss; more so in this early stage of the process. Short, catchy queries that tease with promise just might pique a jaded editor's curiousity.
If you're having trouble getting your toe in the door you need to make sure you've got the perfect shoe on.
If you HAVE polished that query again and again and again til it shines, well then......nevermind.
Best of luck to you, whichever road to decide to go down.
I've done almost as many rewrites on the query as I did on the book.
I personally had a wonderful experience with Aventine Press. I published my book with them in March and they exceeded my expectations in every way.
I found another author who does a great deal of research on print on demand companies and she regularly posts the results on her site www.booksandtales.com and I'd say her remarks are right on the money.
Are there any good and reliable POD's out there?
I asked this question on Google answers and someone came up with great information! You can go there and see if my question is still there!:grin
Frank J. Middleton
Couldn't find any info and I'm thinking of signing with PageFree..do you have any info?
Why so interested in going with a PoD?
if you decide to go with POD (think long and hard about this) check out Booklocker. They have one of the better reputations.
I dunno, Booklocker looks a little below par if you ask me. the same boring stock looking design. do you know how much control you have over the look of your book? then again, i guess its the same thing with pub. America too... templates that are easy for them to pop your or whoevers book in and out of.:smack
I wouldn't use Booklocker, either. I have heard from others about issues they had with them, both production-wise and personal.
If I go with a POD, I don't want too many hassles, so Booklocker are out, as well as xlibris, and others.
In my opinion, the only two PODs I would look at so far would be iuniverse or pagefree.
But my mind can change....
I had a book done with Aventine and had a good experience with them. They made a genuine effort to put my novel together the way I wanted it to be, and were easy to get in touch with over the phone. Their fees were reasonable--much better than many of the other pods. My over-all feel with them was that of an honest group of people, trying to do a good job.
I also had a good experience with Aventine press. They are not a Vanity press. Vanities are companies who claim they will be marketing your book as a normal publisher would. There really is no such claim with Aventine. POD is what it is, an inexpensive way of getting hard copies of your book to then use as you need to. You should not be naive enough to think that using a POD is going to somehow make you a sucessful author. It won't. It WILL get you copies to then use in trying to get a real book deal going.
I’d like to introduce myself and discuss my iUniverse experience for those contemplating consigning their book-to-be to a “U Write It, We Print It” service of some sort. I have had articles printed in national magazines and newspapers but do not consider myself an Author as my only book to date was printed by iUniverse. I am following the board’s advice, working on a second book, and strenuously shaking down a prototype query letter to send out into the “Real World” of agent queries and refusals.
First off, thank you all for offering your expertise to fledgling authors, and confused neophytes. This board has been a wealth of honest, upfront information from authors who display the same generosity of spirit virtually as they do in their own works. Some who post on this board are names that I routinely look for on the bookstore shelves and purchase their works as soon as they are out. Part of me feels like I’m posting among giants and shudders at my own temerity.
I found iUniverse to be primarily honest about what they offer (and perform) for the money charged. There was no pretence about what the contract paid for or guaranteed. This is unlike some of the other printing houses that are out there. I went into the venture knowing I was utilizing a service, not becoming a true published author over-night. That knowledge helped keep me centered as I wandered through the maze of book production.
My book is a series of non-fiction essays targeting a specific audience. It’s been out six months and sold a little over three thousand copies, of which I purchased fifty myself for marketing and promotional purposes. The numbers of books sold is meager compared to sales figures from a new author at a traditional publisher, but it is vast compared to what my original expectations were. The sales numbers appear to be climbing, but I ascribe that to word of mouth and current nature of the topic rather then to my amateurish attempts at publicity. I discovered through trial and error the sad realities of what is not there for self-published authors:
1.        Professional reviews (impossible if one does POD)
2.        Brick and mortar bookstores. Very few have picked up my book for sale and then only because of repeated requests for special orders.
3.        The importance of starting a marketing plan at least six months before a book is released. A traditional publisher would have initiated it with my assistance where solicited.
4.        Editing. Fortunately, I had no pretence that my skills carried over to content or copy-editing and utilized the skilled services of a professional editor for my book upfront. The editing services of a publishing service do not extend past checking font and typeface for formula and template fit.
5.        Cover design helps sell books. iUniverse uses either stock designs with Yawn appeal, or the fevered nightmares of the cover designer’s last anchovy pizza late night repast. The first cover offered by iUniverse was patently hideous, and featured a pea soup green background with pink caricatures cavorting across it. I blandly responded that “It” was not evocative of my book and went elsewhere for a cover design to submit to them. My book’s cover is palatable, but credit goes to a graphic artist, not the publisher. This was one of the biggest shortcomings I, and others, and found with iUniverse. If the book is not in one of several genres (Romance, Religion, and Mystery), they have little ability to design a cover for it.
6.        LOCCN. I had to inform the associate at iUniverse repeatedly that they had access to getting and assigning a control number to my book. Without this critical number, libraries could not order my book.
7.        Copyright is up to the author. Apply early; it takes longer then the publishing of the book in the POD world.
8.        Expected discounts at online stores. After six months, Barnes and Noble is finally offering my book at 10% off, Amazon at 20%. I ascribe this to an anomaly and am quietly grateful rather then inferring anything from it. Most POD books suffer from a surcharge on these sites that inflates an already ballooned price past reason or pocketbook.
9.        Read the small print, and then read it again. iUniverse puts the full text of books up on their site and requires the author to opt out of this “feature.” I had a good publishing associate who informed me of this practice up front and was able to circumvent this before the book went to their online bookstore for display.
10.        Royalties. iUniverse pays quarterly and does post a monthly sales report to give guidance on what is selling where. The royalties are based on Net rather than Gross book price and bear no resemblance to traditional publishing contracted rates. There is an unspoken bias towards directing people to the iUniverse bookstore (royalties from these sales are based on the retail price of the book rather then wholesale). Sales from other venues are computed when the book is printed and net pricing is based on which wholesaler or retailer has ordered it.
Overall, my experience has been positive and I have recouped my investment allowing future royalties to go to my chosen charity. This part of my original goal was considered least likely and I am pleased that it proved attainable. Of primary importance, getting my message out there, appears to be started. The book has led to speaking engagements, two paid for articles in a national magazine and interest in what I am advocating. I’ve done a few book-signings and one museum is now stocking the book in their gift store. Not success but not failure either.
Would I do it again? No! My next book will venture out into the cold, indifferent world of agent and small publishing house queries in the traditional, pay my dues, manner. I’ve learned that there may be a market for my writing and the only way to find out is through accepted channels.
Great post lastr; very informative and should help a lot of folks considering the POD route.
Congrats also on your sales figures. From what I've read they're far beyond the norm. I hope starry-eyed newbies read deeper than the numbers though and realize that you were a published writer targeting a niche market with a nonfiction book.
Most of the unhappy clients of POD services seem to be novelists in the formative stages of their writing careers.
Aventine is one of only four POD publishers, out of many, that get a recommendation at the Burry Man Writers Site or, rather, as I recall, at some other site linked to there.
Thank you for the kind comments "oh mighty fish expert" (I am planning on signing up for your newsletter as soon as Yahoo decides to stop playing yo-yo with their email accounts).
My book's sales figures are not the norm for POD and should not be construed as being a result of any dream about "if you build it they will come.” POD services provide a commodity that will not sell itself, and can rapidly place the writer into the position of being a snake oil sales person standing on a box at the crossroads chanting "Try it, it's good for you, I promise." As life provides no stop and look sign at that crossroad, then being spry enough to jump away from indifferent denials of one's work is a necessity, as is a tough skin.
For many, POD only leads to bitterness. It not only shuts the doors to opportunity, it locks the windows and draws the blinds. For someone who went into self-publishing with a dream, it can turn into a nightmare. I know someone who self published a fiction novel a few months before my book came out and she has yet to break the 100 sold mark. From conversations with others, that appears to be the norm for self-publishing novels.
Non-fiction appears to fare better, if the genre has an audience, and the writer an established following. My own book sales, although respectable for the medium used, are undoubtedly abysmal compared to yours. I do not presume to compare the quality of the two books, only the fact that both are in specialized genres of complementary audience size.
No one should chose to go into self-publishing without considering the self-imposed limitations of that route. If someone does elect to go with a POD, they need to get a sturdy soapbox and be prepared to hawk their wares assiduously.
I have no idea why no one has mentioned this one: <a href="http://www.novelbooksinc.com/" target="_new">Novel Books </a> They do POD (thye list it as trade paperback) and ebook.
I know an author who has done pretty well with them--I edited her first book and wrote her synopsis for her. She'd rather I didn't mention her name so I will respect that.
Well, actually, "vanity" doesn't depend on the publisher's claim to marketing. "Vanity" (as opposed to self-publishing) depends on who has the rights to the book and which way the money has flowed on the day the first book comes off the press.
The agreement with Aventine is non-exclusive. That makes them more of a book manufacturer than anything else, and moves the entire deal closer to self-publishing. The talk of "royalties" is troubling. I wish they'd find another term.
"We pay you 80% of the payments we actually receive...." means payment on net.
See also the <a href="http://www.booksandtales.com/pod/aventine.htm" target="_new">books and tales</a> review.