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Thread: [Publisher] iUniverse

  1. #1

    [Publisher] iUniverse

    Can anyone provide me with information regarding IUniverse-POD Publiser

  2. #2

    Re: Info on IUniverse

    iUniverse is an electronic vanity press. If you want a few copies of a book to show your friends, it may be useful. If you want people to buy your book, and to have even the slightest chance of making money from it, they (like all of their ilk) are a royal ripoff.

    Money flows toward the writer.

  3. #3
    MInd Blowing

    IUniverse? Please reconsider


    I know it's hard to land traditional contracts, but please reconsider print on demand publishing. Some may think it's a good alternative but it is not. I can't stress this enough. Companies like IUniverse are okay if you are writing to a local audience and don't expect to sale anything on a national level. But if you are considering a long and successful career as a REAL author, than POD is not an option. You will find yourself shunned and shut out from all the prizes authors deserve such as prestigious guilds such as the Author's Guild. They and many others do not accept POD authors as members. These people can give you inside information to the big houses and you can network with successful writers from all walks of life with the Author's Guild and many others. POD will not help in getting your work noticed for book awards, marketing opportunities, bookstore placement, book club promotion and reviews in major media outlets. You'll find many doors slammed in your face and it's a hard enough world for a writer as it is. If you plan to do anything more than sell ten copies to family and friends, you need to forget POD publishing. A real alternative to a huge publishing house is small press publishing and niche publishing houses. These are people who are smaller than houses like Random House but are still traditional. Some pay advances, some don't but they are REAL publishers who get your books in stores and get you exposure. They are a little more accepting to new authors and there are still a few who accept unagented manuscripts. Niche publishing houses are houses that may publish one kind of subject only such as Cookbooks, Self-help, Biographies, even certain fiction. It took me a long time to find a real publisher...but it's worth the wait. Trust me

  4. #4


    Thank you so much for your responses to my question. I will take into consideration all that you have said and continue my research. I am a very serious writer. Also, I am a writer with very very very limited funds and access-single mother in the truest form. At 40 years old and the clock is ticking:lol , I don't want have the luxury of having my manuscripts just sit on desk. Hopefully, I will make the right decisions.

  5. #5

    POD is successful for some

    > A friend of mine in Seattle was able to grab the attention of a NY agent after his iUniverse book was successful. I don't know what his numbers were, but I do know the author and he has an excellent book.

    > Mark Twain, Charles Dickens, Chicken Soup for the Soul, and other household names have self or "vanity" published.

    > Read the iUniverse site. They are partnered with Barnes and Noble, you've heard of that bookstore, right? They have a new program wherein they will display iUniverse authors meeting certain standards in their stores. Not bad.

    Having discussed iUnverse vs. other POD houses in writers meetings and online, I have a strong impression that co. in particular has a good reputation and author books DO sell. iUniverse is becoming a household name...brand familiarity.

    I have heard publishers speak at writer's meetings and say that POD books are not looked down upon as they once were, and an author that has gone that mile and has a good product shows a "traditional" publisher they are serious. This was a shocker to me, as I used to look down my nose at POD authors

    I don't say if I'm for or against POD/Vanity/Self-Publishing. But do continue your research based on hard facts. Get both sides. The world of publishing has dramatically changed because of the Internet and the Information age.

    My feeling is that POD isn't the way to go, if only because a writer feels insecure, or if the quality isn't there. The iUniverse authors I know have great books and were determined to get them out there...and yes, I know some POD/Vanity books that are lousy and people laugh behind those writer's backs. (Not me, I admire anyone who pulls together a book. It ain't easy.)

    Again, many, many famous and useful writings would've never been made available to the public if those authors hadn't been determined to get their work out there.

    Good luck.

  6. #6

    Re: POD is successful for some

    Get used to one fact: the vanity presses lie.

    > Mark Twain, Charles Dickens, Chicken Soup for the Soul, and other household names have self or "vanity" published.
    Twain didn't self-publish (he most assuredly did not use a vanity press) until after he was an established author. Same with Dickens. His books were massively popular due to their publication in standard royalty presses.

    > Read the iUniverse site. They are partnered with Barnes and Noble, you've heard of that bookstore, right? They have a new program wherein they will display iUniverse authors meeting certain standards in their stores. Not bad
    And practically none of the iUniverse books are ever displayed in any of their stores. This "partnership" meant iUniverse paid B&N so that they could claim the books were there. Try going into a B&N and find any iUniverse books.

    You said that you don't have money to waste. All the more reason not to go to a vanity press. There is zero chance that you will earn back a cent from anything sold to iUniverse.

    If you're in it for the ego, and have the money to waste, vanity presses are a way to go. But earning money from them is less likely than escaping a black hole in a rowboat.

    And remember -- their publicity is filled with lies and misrepresentations. Do you really want to trust you book to someone who misrepresents the facts?

  7. #7


    Perhaps your facts are out of date regarding this particular company.

    I want to emphasize again to the starter of this topic they look at the facts from both sides, and make an enlightened decision.

    The person who asked the question is capable of researching info and making an informed decision. I have every faith that will be the case. I don't feel it my job to sway them one way or the other, only to share my knowledge in a rational manner.

    Some writers publish their books from their laser printers and hand them out for free, because they want their message known. I have no problem with that sort of vanity publishing, if that is what the person is called to do. I am not at this time. Others post their missives online, and for that I am grateful for the plethora of free info out there. Others publish via iUniverse, or a traditional publisher. I have spent my hard earned money, and plenty of it, in support of those works as well.

    I don't feel it's my place to slander those who make different choices as writers than I do. I admire anyone who makes the effort to write and publish a book in the format they are called to do so. That's all.

  8. #8
    Mind Blowing

    Barnes & Noble

    I agree that writers should choose the path that works for them. The only problem I have is with dirty POD companies who lie to writers claiming things that are simply not true. I know more than four of the most popular POD companies, ( I won't mention names ) that lie off the bat about getting top magazines to review work and getting in bookstores. As far as B&N and IUniverse is concerned, Barnes & Noble has stated millions of times that they DO NOT carry POD books. This is a huge misconception and authors believe it's true. IUniverse used to be able to use B&N as leverage, but now they cannot because any B&N manager will tell you straight up in your face they will not carry POD books. Most of them have never even heard of IUNiverse. Anyone who calls up a B&N can expect that response. And they will not be polite about it either. It takes a heck of a lot of convincing for sellers to even speak to a POD author. I know tons of POD authors ( with great books ) that have selling potential and still got the doors slammed in their faces. And when they asked for a little help from their POD companies like lowering prices after a book order...they got a fat NO! Which meant the company could care less about the author's book selling past two copies. Not to say convincing B&N managers can't happen, but it depends on who the writer is, who they know and whether a particular bookstore cares enough to give a POD book a chance. It's not fair, but that's the way of the writing world. There used to be a time when the smaller bookstores would accompany POD authors. Now as the economy is falling and books are struggling, some local small chains won't even take a chance on a POD author. Not to mention the POD companies who were once good and now going out of business. And what about POD companies who are now making their contracts more complicated and charging fees higher than vanity presses? Whatever people believe, POD is not going to take over traditional publishing because that stigma is always going to be there and that itself hurts a POD author. I'm not trying to bust anyone's bubble or make up their mind, just stating facts. The topic starter asked for honest opinions and I wouldn't feel right not sharing what I have learned about POD.

    If it quacks like a duck and looks like a duck, it is a duck. Just my 2 cents.

  9. #9

    Barnes and Noble will carry iUniverse

    Please! Check your data. I talked to a Barnes and Noble Community Relations Manager within this week, and indeed, iUniverse will have a bay in the store! This is a new program.

    Please know I would never make such a statement falsely. I am in touch with an author who is in iUniverse's Star program (and doesn't pay to be in it). She shared her manuscript review and contract at a meeting last week. I have faith in this author's integrity and reasons for going this route. Believe me, the group grilled her mightily over her choice, and over the detail of being in the store was true or not.

    It can easily be verified. Thank you.

    Dear Author of this post--you are getting a taste of what you'll be dealing with out there from your so-called fellow authors, depending on the route you take. You may be treated as a fool or less-than by some. But not by all Good luck to you, and I won't trouble you with any more about this, as I know you'll check the facts for yourself.

  10. #10

    POD (for or against)

    Thank you so much for all of your responses. It is true that I will conduct a thorough research before making any final decision. But, you have expanded my views simply with your comments. Gala, thanks for the vote of confidence, it is really appreciated. I will jot down some of the concerns about PODs agencies and try to locate documented occurences. Also, I think it might be a good idea to try to contact some of these bookstores mentioned. If anyone has an idea of the best way to do this let me know. I am weighing all of the options, infact I have just completed several queries to literary agents. So we shall see-hopeful it will all come out okay in the wash:lol . I will make it my business to always check and respond if I can help on this board. It has been a true asset to me. Keep your comments coming as they are so valuable; regardless of the final decisions made.

  11. #11

    something to consider

    One thing to ask yoursel about self-publishing, vanity presses and POD is, who has a stake in the success of my book? With a traditional publisher, the publisher has an upfront investment that motivates them to try to sell your book--they have a stake in its success. With all of the other approaches YOU are the only one with any stake in the success of your book. Everything falls on your shoulders.

    Now, I'm not saying this is a bad thing. If you go into it with your eyes wide open, understanding where you stand and who will do what, then I have no issue with the basic concept of self-publishing or POD (though, you do have to be careful about the disproportionate number of dishonest people who are involved in these businesses). Just be aware that when it comes to distribution, reviews, sales, and everything else, YOU are going to be the one who makes things happen. No one else has any motivation to make your book succeed except you.

    If you want and expect someone else to handle these issues, if you just want to write and let someone else do the selling, then you NEED to go the traditional route!

  12. #12
    Mind Blowing

    No Need To Check My Data

    I am not a POD author, so going to a B&N and asking them to stock a book has never been anything I had to do, since I have a traditional publisher. As far as checking data, I get my data from millions of POD authors on hundreds of websites ( the horses' mouths themselves ) speaking on how they have been lied to, jipped and treated unfairly. Many of them say they would never have gone with a POD company if they had known they wouldn't be in bookstores. No one here is treating the poster like a fool. As a fellow writer I am trying to be as honest about things with her as possible. No one here is undermining her decision. But unless I am mistaken, she asked US for our input and we are giving her our input. I'm not going to make POD seem all rosey and sweet and not tell her the honest truth about what to expect. I'm sure she's smart enough to choose her own route, but don't forget she asked for our opinions and we should be truthful on both sides. We can't make POD seem like it's a great deal for all authors all of the time because that is terribly untrue.

    The poster may want to call up some B&N and Borders bookstores and ask if they carry POD books IN the store. That way she can see the deal on her own. When a B&N says we " carry " POD books, it doesn't mean they are stocked in the store. If they were stocked in the store POD authors wouldn't be so pissed off about their company's empty promises. It means the books can be ORDERED. It's a big difference. As far as the poster being treated like a fool, no one here is doing this just because they don't agree with POD publishing. I believe she deserves to go with a real publisher. As a fellow author I believe all writers should have a REAL chance at success.

    BTW, Just because a FEW POD books out of millions get in bookstores, does not mean anything to individual authors. Authors only care about their books so telling someone one person's book was in B&N means diddily squat to a writer if there's isn't treated with the same chance. Even if a POD book got in one or two bookstores, it would be only a few in that city. A POD publisher is not going to send books nationwide to big chains because they WON'T accept them. Bottom line is the return policy of books along with the expensive prices and the president of B&N has discussed their take on POD books. Not to mention that POD authors have to buy their own books for reviews and etc. Imagine buying ten small paperbacks at $22 of your own book. You've already spent loads of money just to get your book to reviewers who are less than enthusiastic about POD.

    It takes some digging on the poster's part and she will be able to see how things are truly handled.

    I wish the poster well with what she chooses to do.

  13. #13

    Star Program

    Gala is right about the Star program, which will bring at least some iUniverse books into Barnes & Noble stores. However, this is a restricted exposure, available only to authors who first manage to sell a high volume of books and then are assessed for quality. It involves a new contract (more restrictive, like that of a commercial publisher) and limited availability at B&N stores (not necessarily national distribution). Details are here:

    If B&N is indeed planning to put all Star Program books together in a special display, it'll probably limit sales--segregating the books like that is like slapping on a big label saying "not a normal book". IMO the way to test these books would be to shelve them with commercially-published books.

    - Victoria
    Writer Beware

  14. #14
    Jennifer C

    Just My 2 Cents

    I've heard a lot about this Star Program from fellow POD writers in a group I'm in. They aren't too thrilled. I wasn't impressed either because it seems to me IUniverse doesn't have confidence in all of their authors because if they did, they would make sure all the authors got this opportunity. To me and probably a lot of other authors, this suggests that IUniverse knows that they do publish less than quality work because they wouldn't have to separate their authors by choosing who has the best work or who doesn't. All the authors should be on a certain level to be published in the first place. Is the company saying some are good and others not good enough, so they won't promote them in their little program? I think this is a gimmick and though it may seem like a good idea to some people, it's not because in the end it's going to put IUniverse authors against one another. Some are going to wonder why others books are seen as better than theirs. In my literary group there are a lot of people who work in B&N bookstores and they have the inside info to a lot of things we don't. I've been told that this program only depends on what IUniverse thinks will sell and not what may be the best writing from authors. It has to do a lot with what the person writes that determines if they will be chosen into the program. If someone wrote a great Literary novel and they were up against someone who wrote a terrible book about the terrorist attacks, you can bet IUniverse is only going to enter what they think will sell ( the terrorist attack book ) and not always the best works from their company. Some authors who deserve this break will be screwed big time. Seems like a step backwards to me. I'm also confused about how many authors would be chosen in the program. If there are only five who are chosen to get in bookstores and you have over ten thousand authors, that's not a great deal. The point is, even with this program, B&N still has no obligation to sell the books. It's based on whether they choose to or not. They still have an option to turn down POD books. And since the authors they choose have to sell tons of copies first then where does IUniverse's help come in? The authors are still doing it alone.

  15. #15


    You have all given me so much to consider-thank you very much. Tomorrow, I am going to go to Barnes and Nobles to see if and how POD books are made available. Also, I want to know what proportion of PODs ordered to chain bookstores. I am doing this as my own personal research on the subject. I have collected the names of several literary agents and will research them thoroughly before making any decision. In the end, I may decide to find a good agent and let them handle some of this. These are a couple of agents/agencies that I may contact: James C. Vines at The Vines Agency and Jennifer Jackson at Donald Maas Literary Agency. My queries and synopsis are ready to be sent. Does anyone have any personal knowledge about the repretation of these agents or agencies? Thanks for all of your input-it is really appreciated.

  16. #16


    Well, I guess I should weigh in here. My name is Bill Pottle and I published my first book, DreamQuest, though iUniverse in march 2003. To date, it's sold over 600 copies.

    There are many disadvantages to going the POD route, but dishonest companies is not one of them. I knew exactly what iU's business model was before I signed up, and I knew that I would bear the brunt of the publicity efforts. I think any reasonable consumer would know this by reading through most POD companies' web sites.

    As for 'not making back a cent' that's obviously untrue. I have yet to meet any author who can't sell 30-40 copies of their book just to friends and family. I had made a few hundred dollars at one point, but I decided to operate everything like a zero-sum game and put all profits back into marketing, donating copies to charity, etc.

    I think the best thing about POD is that it puts the fate of a book in the hands of the author and the reading public. If a book is good, and marketed well, it'll sell. And if you sell 20 copies and make 20 kids happy reading it, I think that's a pretty good thing by itself.


  17. #17

    Publish America

    You know, if you do your research, you'll find that even the 'big houses' don't do alot of marketing and promotion. They give a standard 3 months promotion package. If it doesn't skyrocket, it's done. They just have the foot into many markets. If you can get your book into a book club, you're in the money.

    Even the big houses say that author promotion efforts are key to successful sales. And the truth is, unless you're already famous, getting those prime shots like a moment on Oprah or Good Morning America to promote your book, well, they just don't happen often to the regular writer.

    As for iuniverse, I have a friend who was published by them. Shirley McCann. She's happy enough. She didn't have to pay to be published by them either, which was something I didn't realize they were apt to do. I thought they were all self-publish, where the author pays them.

    She said that there is a stigma on their books, though, and many places won't carry them, and other authors don't give her much respect because they think she paid to be published.

    Now, I have plenty of friends who are self-published and happy, making good money on hawking their own books. (Peggy Fielding, W.C. Jameson, Velda Brotherton, to name a few.)

    I say, if we learn from the self-published authors and sell our books like they do, we can make some money. And if we get lucky enough to be published by a bigger house that fronts all printing costs, we're doing pretty good.

  18. #18

    Re: Publish America

    iUniverse charges $199; doubled in the last year. It was never free, although Xlibris was. I think this is wishful thinking based on facts. I have an IU book. In fact PA bought it for a dollar and doubled the price without my consent as it was their "discretion" to do so. How bout them facts?

  19. #19
    James D Macdonald

    Re: Publish America

    Some iU books were published free.

    For example, at one point Barnes&Noble bookstore clerks could get their own books published without charge. I'm aware of one such -- he has three books out (they sank without a trace, though they are technically still available).

  20. #20

    Re: Publish America

    I was unaware of that James. Do something with those mindsight people would you?

  21. #21

    Re: Publish America

    I'm utterly desolated to have to say this, Poorboy, but you don't know jack sh*t about publishing. For starters, there's no such thing as a "standard 3 months promotion package." Every house is different, every book is different, every promo campaign is different.

    Having a book -- any book -- published by a reputable trade house gets you more marketing and promotion than you're going to see from any e-, POD, subsidy, or other euphemistically nonstandard publisher. A conventional publisher's investment in a given title goes far beyond the advance paid to the author. Some of that goes into making it a better and more attractive book -- that's editing, design, art direction, copyediting, proofreading, etc. Even more of it goes into selling the book, repeatedly, at many different levels and through many different channels.

    Getting published by iUniverse, Xlibris, PublishAmerica, etc., is only publishing in the most nominal and minimal sense. If you're an unknown, especially a first-time fiction writer, it will do absolutely nothing for you. If you want to throw your work away, it's your lookout; but you should know from the start that that's what it is.

    If scuttling around distributing bookmarks and talking to your local bookstore managers and getting interviewed on your local 0300 radio talk show were enough to sell a book, the industry would be selling books that way. Those things do help, just a tad. But if your publisher doesn't have little extras LIKE A SALES FORCE, your efforts aren't enough and never will be.

    You will not make money.

    The way to get published by a real publisher is to write a book they want to publish. If you're a writer, you should be staying home and working on writing that book, not running around in an futile effort to hand-sell an unsuccessful early work.

  22. #22
    Ed Williams 3

    The fact of it is... that POD is laughed at by the publishing world. Pretty much nothing is turned down, and POD publishers make their money either off fees or through what sales the authors can manage on their own, which is typically gonna be sales to family members and friends.

    In the past couple of months, I have been fortunate to have been sent to some major Southern book conferences by my publisher, River City Publishing - conferences like the Southern Independent Booksellers Conference, the Atlanta Literary Festival, and the Southern Festival of the Book up in Nashville. To a "T," whenever the subject of POD was mentioned people would laugh out loud. In one session I attended, even the term "POD author" was questioned, which should speak volumes for how the industry sees them.

    One more thing - iUniverse had booths at both the Atlanta Literary Festival and at the Southern Festival of the Book. Authors were there, and paid iUniverse for the privilege of being there, something like a hundred dollars a shot. They would let them be in their booths for an hour or so, and at the Atlanta Literary Festival they did not even have chairs for their authors to sit in. They had to hawk their books standing up the whole time. In Nashville, one guy sat outside their booth and played his guitar and sang - you can't imagine how much derision that picked up. Bottom line, if being a serious writer is your goal and mission, avoid POD like the plaque. If POD were a serious vehicle for publishing happiness, everyone would be doing it.

  23. #23
    Ed Williams 3

    One more thing...

    ....check and see how many POD books are listed in the Library of Congress. From my understanding, the LOC will not list them, which should also speak volumes....

  24. #24

    Re: One more thing...

    None are, but funds were collected from the PODs Xlibris, iU Istboooks et al to place them there. How legal is that? The POD stigma is real to me. I can't even use them as writing samples. That's how worthless they really are.

  25. #25

    Re: One more thing...

    As I've said elsewhere, they make a very stable backup medium.

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