Is Self Publishing With Xlibris A Scam? A Real User Review
In recent years there has been a huge rise in self publishing platforms for aspiring authors.
This is a comprehensive review from my own experience of Xlibris, a company that offers a variety of self publishing deals.
But is self publishing with Xlibris a scam?
In this article we will look at the pros and cons of using Xlibris as a self-publishing service, and discuss common problems authors, including myself, have encountered.
Hopefully this will help anyone considering using Xlibris to make an informed decision.
While Xlibris are a legitimate company with a wide distribution base, there have been concerns regarding value for money, customer care and marketing strategies. Also if you are not a US citizen, you will need to comply with US tax requirements before claiming your full royalty amount.
In 2015 I purchased a self publishing package with Xlibris to produce and publish an ABC book that I had created: ABC Is Easy.
I started out full of hope and excitement, but if I am honest, I ended up unsatisfied with the end product and experience.
While Xlibris do offer an easy and reasonably swift process, I had concerns about the product quality. Also the relentless emails from Xlibris trying to get me to buy hundreds and thousands of copies of my own book for discounted prices, and to offer pricey marketing strategies became very annoying.
Perhaps the most frustrating thing for me was that because I am not a US citizen (I am from the UK) any royalties I am due will be taxed at 30% unless I fill in the very complicated W-7, and return it to the US Department of the Treasury, Internal Revenue Service in America along with my passport.
This was not made clear to me at the point of sale. Xlibris offered no assistance and simply referred me to the contract I had signed which stated I needed to provide all relevant tax information or royalties would be withheld.
Now I do concede that this is listed in the contract, but I believe a more thorough explanation of the royalty tax process as a non US citizen should have been offered before payment was taken.
If you are an author looking to publish with Xlibris and are not a US citizen, I would recommend thinking very carefully about this aspect of the service.
In the interests of fairness, lets have a look at some of the positives that Xlibris offer as part of their publishing packages.
The Pros of Self-Publishing with Xlibris
Accessibility and Ease of Use
- One of the primary advantages of Xlibris is its user-friendly interface, making it accessible to authors with varying levels of technological expertise.
- The platform offers straightforward tools for formatting, designing covers, and uploading manuscripts, allowing authors to navigate the self-publishing process with relative ease. Currently the different pricing options are listed as: Classic $1,999, Prime $4,999, Expert $9,999, Signature $14,999.
- There is an Author Centre section of the website that you can log into to view your sales.
- They offer Ebook formatting and distribution as part of all packages.
Global Distribution Network
- Xlibris has a large distribution network, allowing authors to reach a global audience.
- This includes distribution to major online retailers like Amazon, bookstores, and libraries.
- The platform’s reach can potentially increase an author’s visibility and book sales, providing exposure that might be hard to achieve through traditional publishing channels.
Author Retention of Rights
- Unlike traditional publishing, where authors often give up a significant portion of their rights, Xlibris allows authors to retain ownership of their work.
- This means that authors maintain control over their intellectual property, deciding how it is used and distributed.
- Xlibris uses a print-on-demand (POD) services, a cost-effective method that means books are only printed when they are ordered.
- This removes the need for authors to invest in large print runs, reducing upfront costs and the risk of having excess inventory.
- This also means that (according to the Xlibris website) “Your book will never go out of print.”
Range of Publishing Packages
- Xlibris offers a variety of publishing packages tailored to different author needs and budgets.
- From basic packages for authors on a tight budget to comprehensive packages that include additional marketing services, authors can choose a plan that aligns with their goals and finances.
The Cons of Self-Publishing with Xlibris
Costs and Hidden Fees
- While Xlibris provides various publishing packages, some authors find the costs associated with these packages to be higher than anticipated.
- Additionally, there have been complaints about hidden fees that authors discover only after committing to a package, leading to frustration and dissatisfaction.
Constant Emails And Calls
- I have found that Xlibris constantly email or call me with endless promotion offers, but when you read the small print these come at quite a high price.
- There seems to be several companies that try to contact me all the time with offers of republishing my book, and when you Google the company it is just another subsidiary of Xlibris or their parent company Author Solutions.
Quality of Services
- Several authors have reported issues with the quality of products and services provided by Xlibris.
- Authors have reported issues with the quality of the physical books produced through Xlibris’ print-on-demand services. Problems with cover designs, formatting errors, poor paper quality, misaligned printing, and inconsistent colour reproduction have been cited.
- These concerns not only affect the author’s satisfaction with the final product but can also impact the perception of the book in the eyes of readers.
- The inconsistency in the quality of services has raised concerns about the platform’s commitment to delivering a professional product.
- In my personal experience, the book I received after completion was flimsy and low quality.
- There were white lines between the images (my book is an ABC book) and I had to wrangle with them to get these removed.
- They refused at first until I pointed out correspondence in which I had specifically requested these lines to be removed before the first draft.
- Eventually they reprinted the book without the white lines but the overall quality was still limited.
Customer Service Challenges
- Customer service is a very important aspect of any service-oriented industry, and Xlibris has faced criticism for its customer support.
- Authors have reported difficulties in reaching customer service representatives, delays in response times, and a lack of resolution for their concerns.
Royalty Structure and Transparency
- While Xlibris allows authors to retain their rights, concerns have been raised about the transparency of the royalty structure.
- Some authors find it challenging to understand how royalties are calculated, and there have been allegations of discrepancies in the reporting of sales and royalties.
- There have been some reports of authors trying to access the royalty section of the website to check their earnings, only to find that it is not working or “under maintenance”.
Common Problems Encountered by Authors on Xlibris
Editing and Proofreading Issues
One recurring problem authors face on Xlibris is related to editing and proofreading. Some authors have reported that the editing services provided by the platform are subpar, leading to published books with grammatical errors and inconsistencies. This can significantly impact the professional image of the author and the overall reading experience for the audience.
Delays in Publication Timelines
Timely publication is crucial for authors, especially those with specific marketing strategies or time-sensitive content. However, Xlibris has been criticised for delays in the publication process. Authors have reported unexpected delays in editing, formatting, and distribution, leading to frustration and missed opportunities.
Lack of Marketing Impact
Authors who choose Xlibris with the expectation of robust marketing support may find themselves disappointed. Authors who opt for the basic publishing packages may find that the marketing and promotional support provided by Xlibris is limited. Effective book marketing is crucial for success, and some authors feel that the platform falls short in this regard, leaving them to navigate the complex world of book promotion on their own, or pay large fees to add it to their package. The effectiveness of the marketing services offered by the platform has been questioned, with authors struggling to see a significant impact on their book sales. This underscores the importance of authors taking an active role in marketing their works.
Difficulty in Obtaining Rights Reversion
While Xlibris allows authors to retain their rights, some authors have encountered challenges when attempting to reclaim these rights. The process of rights reversion can be complex, and authors may face obstacles in regaining control of their work, limiting their flexibility in exploring alternative publishing options.
Concerns About Book Quality and Print-on-Demand Issues
Authors have reported issues with the quality of the physical books produced through Xlibris’ print-on-demand services. Problems such as poor paper quality, misaligned printing, and inconsistent colour reproduction have been cited. These concerns not only affect the author’s satisfaction with the final product but can also impact the perception of the book in the eyes of readers.
In conclusion, the decision to self-publish with Xlibris involves a careful consideration of its pros and cons. The platform provides accessibility, global distribution, and author retention of rights, making it an attractive option for many aspiring authors.
However, challenges related to costs, limited marketing support, and concerns about the quality of services raise legitimate questions about the platform’s suitability for everyone. While some authors have had positive experiences with Xlibris, others have faced difficulties that highlight the importance of due diligence in the self-publishing journey.
Authors considering Xlibris should conduct thorough research, carefully evaluate the costs and benefits of each publishing package, and be aware of potential challenges they might encounter. Make sure you read and understand the contract before signing.