Writers, avoid Book Country

So, if you’ve been following the self-pub news at all this week, I’m sure you’ve heard of the massive scam rip-off that Penguin’s Book Country is trying to pull on new writers inexperienced in the self-publishing arena. “Scam” Rip-off (I am informed by my very detailed father that as long as they’re being upfront about this ridiculous scam rip-off, it is not a scam. So I’m clarifying.) sound too harsh? Well, look here, here, here, and here.  I’m not being rash saying this. I’m not even saying anything new in this post, but I agree with David Gaughran when he wrote that “this message needs to be repeated again and again to reach as many writers as possible.”

Self-publishing is both one of the easiest and hardest things I have ever done. Writing the best book I could, going through the critique process with trusted readers and the editing process with my editors, finding the courage to send this book out into the public sphere and open myself up for criticism…those things were hard.

Sending the book to the Kindle store and Barnes & Noble? Not hard.

And that’s really all you’re paying Book Country to do for you. That’s it. For $549.00, their “Professional Option” is going to format your book for print and electronic format, send it to online retailers, and give you “instructions for preparing your…front matter for production, a checklist to keep you on track, cover design tips and recommendations, and ideas for marketing your book after it has been published.”

Ooooh, a checklist.

And that’s all they’re giving self-published writers for the ridiculous fees they’re charging AND the cut of the writers’ royalties. That’s right, they’re charging you upfront for their formatting and distributing services, AND they’re charging you a percentage of the money you would get from online retailers if you just did the uploading yourself.

Walter does not approve.

So, I’m adding my little voice to the chorus of smart people trying to warn writers away from this. (So far, I’m the only one including pictures of a disapproving Walter, though.) There are a lot of resources (free ones) for writers interested in self-publishing.  Read Dean Wesley Smith’s series, “Killing the Sacred Cows of Publishing.” Read Passive Guy’s blog for funny and smart commentary of the publishing industry with a legal bent. Read David Gaughran’s book, Let’s Get Digital, it’s a fantastic resource that I’ve referred to many, many times in my own publishing journey. (In fact, David made the incredibly generous offer on his blog to send a copy to his book to anyone seriously considering Penguin/Book Country’s scam. Really though, just buy the book, it’s great.)

If you’re interested in self-publishing and you don’t know where to start, check out these resources. Find a writer whose book you admire and email them. Ask them who they used as an editor, formatter, cover artist, etc. Most self-published writers would be happy to tell you. That’s how I found my own editor, Amy Eye. There are great, reasonably priced professionals out there who would be thrilled to help you on your journey toward self-publication, don’t fall for the scams.

Save the gut-wrenching nerves for that moment when you send out ARCs to reviewers.

Thanks for reading,


Posted in Books, Publishing, Scams, Self-publishing, Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , , .


  1. They’re a subsidiary of Pearson, so this doesn’t surprise me one bit. They’ve been quick-bucking off education publishing for years now. It’s all a bit of a desperate ploy to stay relevant rather than modify their business practices to any real degree.

    • I feel like if you’re going to go to all the trouble of self-publishing, you would be a fool to hand it over to someone else like that for that amount of money, for so little value.

      Pearson has begun marketing itself as a “technology company” instead of a publisher, as of late. They’re also an investor in CourseSmart, the major hub for e-book textbook distribution. They’re very poor at actually deciphering what the market wants, instead opting to ram what they think it should want down their throats. This seems quite true to form in Book Country.

      • It’s a quickly changing landscape, but it sure seems like they’re getting some very bad word of mouth from this news. A misstep for sure, but from what you’ve written, one that doesn’t sound out of character.

  2. Pingback: Self-Publishing – A Cautionary Tale « Stringing Beads

  3. Glad to read your post, Elizabeth. So good to see others spreading the word. You’re so right. Writing the best book you can is the hard part. Formatting and sending it to Amazon & B&N is not hard. 🙂

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