First time or independent authors face a real dilemma when bringing their work to the literary marketplace. They want to devote their efforts fully to the research and creative endeavor of writing a great book and they’ll have to devote many months or years to doing so.

An old friend of mine recently launched her first novel on the crowdfunding platform Publishizer which I supported enthusiastically.

It’s a crowdfunding platform, so they provide the tools and eCommerce checkout for a book launch campaign. You bring the readers. It differs from IndieGoGo or Kickstarter in that those very popular websites are frequented monthly by millions of potential customers of your product. There’s value in being found in their thriving marketplaces. With Publishizer you bring all the customers to them; you’re going to be emailing, calling and asking your friends and family to plug their credit card details into their website to support your book launch.

What happened with my friend’s project is very revealing…

The vast majority of publishing deals that Publishizer brokers are with these kinds of independent publishers. These guys are not going to get you into Barnes & Noble. Basically, they’ll just get you onto Amazon and a few other online retailers. Which is honestly, something that you can do yourself.

I’ll make the case that this is a worse deal than self-publishing…

  • What do these publishers bring to the table in terms of marketing? Do they focus on a literary niche and have a loyal base of interested customers? Do they have hundreds of thousands of engaged followers on social media? Do they have a popular podcast or Youtube channel where they can interview you and promote your work? Or do they merely list your book on their eCommerce store?
  • If you self-publish you get to set the book price at whatever you want.
  • They may do some editorializing of your work. You give up some control over your book.
  • Ultimately you can maximize the profit margins from the sales of your book by spending a little extra time subcontracting or doing yourself the cover design, copy editing, digital formatting and book printing.

I’m sure that some niche-focused independent publishers provide value but in general, I’d be very skeptical of them.

Very few of the crowdfunding campaigns on Publishizer sell over 500 units. To sell over 500 units of a book you either need…

  1. To be an established writer with a popular blog, large social media following or some other measure of celebrity.
  2. A professional marketing campaign; viral Youtube videos, search engine optimization, banner advertising, hosting live events, influencer outreach campaign, Facebook advertising, doing a bunch of podcast interviews, etc. Unless you’re a marketing powerhouse yourself this requires a marketing team and at least a four-figure budget.

It’s well said that…

A bank is where you should go for a loan if you can prove that you don’t need it.

Similarly, book publishers are increasingly…

Where you should go publish your book if you can prove that you don’t need their help to market it.

The Author’s Dilemma

In regards to Publishizer, there are three conspicuous red flags…

Red flag #1 They take a 30% cut

Red flag #2 Claims to be your literary agent

Red flag #3 They don’t read your book

My friend ultimately canceled her Publishizer campaign and refunded her customers because per their terms and conditions authors are required to fulfill all orders placed. So upon completion of her campaign, she would have to choose between self-publishing with only 70% of the funds she raised or lowering her standards and signing a contract to pay 15% — 30% royalties of her book’s sales forever to a 3rd rate publisher that did almost nothing to meaningfully contribute to her book’s success.

I’m not going to go as far as calling Publishizer a blatant scam.

Or better yet you can install crowdfunding software (it costs $34) on your own website, figure out eCommerce on your own (it’s NOT that complicated) and you get to keep nearly 100% of the money your launch makes.

Spend a couple of hundred bucks on cover design and getting proper copy editing done and reinvest the thousands of dollars your publisher would be making on marketing or researching your next book.

I should note that…

I am not an author-client of Publishizer.

Adventuring philosopher, Pompous pontificator, Writer, K-Selected Biohacker, Tantric husband, Raconteur & Smart Drug Dealer 🇺🇸