If you've ever self-published a book, then you're likely to get a phone call from a publishing house. At least that's what the caller will tell you they're representing. The call might well come from Author Reputation Press, like the one I got this week. They'd heard that my 2012 novel Viral Times was for sale at Barnes & Noble. "How's the book doing?" In a few minutes, the caller was ready to help my self-published novel from nine years ago get better published.
All it would take was $6,799 and my willingness to send the book to the company for fresh editing, cover, and a marketing package. I'd get 45 printed copies, too. The reputation of my book was already nine years old on the afternoon I was called. They have "book scouts," a mythical set of creatures like wood nymphs, who scour the world for good books that can be better published.
I had to invite the caller to connect with me through email. I was on deadline, I explained, and didn't have time to talk about my first novel. That's a conversation to have before your book is published, not years afterward. A quick look into Author Reputation Press shows a thick sheaf of complaints and warnings.
The publishing world is full of corporations that want to dig deeper into the vein of self-publishers whose books already have a reputation in place. By some industry estimates, four of every five books fail to earn back their advances. The books themselves might be fine efforts, but they didn't find an audience and sell enough copies.
There's a much better time to talk about getting your book the reputation that it deserves. That's when the book is still developing. Re-releasing a book is a noble mission, of course. The movie business used to re-release good films, in part because the studios controlled the theaters where the movies were distributed. The movies didn't get a makeover, though, like the promised ones from Author Reputation Press. The studios turned the crank of marketing to find a new audience for the films.
Author Reputation Press doesn't control any distribution avenues. This is a hybrid publishing operation, one where the author arrives with a budget and the old books get spruced up and refined. I'd hope that any call to attract your expenditures might start with a better opening line than "How's your novel doing?" If the caller doesn't know that, you wonder how they'd know enough to get the book selling better? Some of the Author Reputation packages don't even include editing services.
There's nothing wrong with buying a package of services to get your self-published book into the world. Try not to pay for a lot of printed copies. The distinction you'll seek from a hybrid publisher is how well they've done to publish other books. That's publish as in "sell." You'd like to see the specifics for marketing and sales beyond a bullet point for "Professional Sales and Marketing Package."
I've worked in publishing since 1981, editing and marketing stories in periodicals and books. Creating a great book is a thrill, just like it was nine years ago with my first novel, or in 2019 for my memoir. Across the 40 years of publication work, I've learned that selling and marketing a book might be the hardest step on the way to carrying the story onto the landing of success.
When a press calls to offer you an improved reputation, keep the conversation focused on what they will pay you for your self-published book. If you've had professional editing and design, the next best step is to improve the chances of your book's discovery. That's what an accomplished press does with a good book.