Sunday, February 5, 2012

Spending time and money to make you and your book look foolish

iUniverse Marketing

As any publishing professional will tell you - "A really bad book with good marketing will outsell a really good one with bad marketing".
In iUniverse's case, their marketing department is beyond bad. They are the sole reason I am considering recommending against iUniverse.

Their follies have included:
  1. Promotional materials delivered with misspelled words, incomplete sentences, etc.
  2. Two awful cover designs. Genuinely bad, with flaws even a complete novice would (and several did) remark upon. One portrayed starting a business with the visual metaphor of casting a piggybank into the water - literally throwing money away. The other emphasized the two words "Making Bad" out of the rest of the original title. I am beggared for words.
  3. My first marketing rep went 1-for-7 in calling back on-time. These are appointments when he picked the time & day. Bonus points for no apologies, and also for lying (yes really) to his boss about when he'd contacted me.
  4. My second marketing rep was hard pressed to understand English on a higher-than-high-school level. For instance, after 30 minutes of explanations on the phone, she was unable to understand the difference between "I want to pay for and receive a book review and then decide how much I want to spend marketing my book" from "I will only pay for any marketing program if you guarantee I will get a good book review". She just couldn't get her mind around the idea that I wanted to make an informed marketing investment.
  5. My third marketing rep was so addicted to his script that he ended up speaking this sentence: "I understand, Mr Evarts, that you don't want to be portrayed as 'the expert' on this subject, but the way we're going to market this book is by marketing you as the expert." Seriously. At that point I said "Please don't call me again". He ignored that request and contacted me three more times. I asked to speak to his manager the last time. He promised the manager would call me back. No contact from either of them since.
  6. None of the marketing or promotional materials used the recommendations I'd secured from both a well-known entrepreneurial author and a director of The guy's an E-10 for goodness' sake. His words carry weight with my target audience. Nor, of course, did they get any of their own.
  7. Virtually none of the marketing and promotional materials were correct on the first delivery. Certainly, if taken as a whole, they were not worth the money I paid for them.
iUniverse offers no service in any of their packages where a professional publisher estimates the size of the audience for your book. Such an estimate would be a very useful offering to a budding author. No one can make guarantees or commitments - but professionals can and do make good estimates - publishing houses need estimates to scale print runs.

It is possible that such a service not available because it would cut down on marketing revenues. The marketing folks at iUniverse work on commission and have no stake in the sale of your book. It's in their best interests to sell you a $30,000 quarterly plan for selling your book "300 incorrect ways my daughter has tried to spell Welsh place-names" (i.e., something that will not have a wide audience) even though this will be a complete waste of your money as an author.

Professional and Affordable

The front page at says:

Let our expertise work for you

iUniverse has helped more than 35,000 authors publish their books professionally and affordably.
(bold in original text, not added)
Unfortunately my experience puts a lie in those words- the image I would have had at their hands would have been both unprofessional and very very costly.

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