Penguin’s Book Country Launches Self-Publishing Service

By Jeremy Greenfield, Editorial Director, Digital Book World, @JDGsaid

Penguin’s online genre fiction community, Book Country, has launched a self-publishing service, signaling the intention of big publishers to develop additional revenue streams in the face of a changing book-publishing landscape, even if it means letting authors bypass the traditional publishing process.

The self-publishing tool provides prospective authors with the option of either professionally producing their print and e-book or doing much of the production work themselves. It also offers the choice between distribution on just Book Country or a wider network, including Amazon, Barnes & Noble and other popular e-book stores.

“We’re at a point in the industry where there’s an understanding that there are multiple paths forward for authors,” said Molly Barton, Book Country president and newly appointed Penguin global digital director.

Related: Q&A With Molly Barton on Her New Position and Digital Books

Since its April launch, BookCountry.com has nearly 4,000 members who have posted 500 pieces of fiction, according to the company.

The self-publishing tool is integrated with Book Country’s “genre map,” a detailed classification system of many genres and sub-genres, offering authors fairly sophisticated marketing capabilities, including use of BISAC codes that help readers find books in their area of interest. Users are also given an online marketing guide and advice on pricing through a pricing calculator. Revenues from books sold are to be split between Penguin and the authors, depending on the price the author selects for the book and the distribution method.

“You don’t have to drive around with books in the back of your Subaru” anymore, Barton said.

Users can opt for professional print- and e-book production through outsourced firms for $549, produce it themselves for print and digital distribution for $299 or produce it themselves for e-book-only distribution for $99.

When asked who produces the books for authors who opt into Book Country’s most expensive package, Barton would not confirm a specific company but said it was of the “ilk” of well-known production firms LibreDigital and Aptara and that it was a set of vendors that Penguin would use for its own production.

Penguin plans on adding more a la carte services to Book Country in 2012, potentially like those found on other self-publishing sites like CreateSpace and Lulu, where authors can opt to pay for an online review of their book to generate buyer interest.

Industry observers who attended a series of special demos of the product left impressed. Several who asked not to be named agreed that the marketing integration, pricing and simplicity of the tool were significant selling points to authors.

Penguin was unable to comment on certain issues about the project before press time, including how much marketing support it would get, how much revenue it’s projected to generate for the company in 2012 and the specifics around trade rights for the site’s users.

Write to Jeremy Greenfield

2 thoughts on “Penguin’s Book Country Launches Self-Publishing Service

  1. Frank Craven

    I would like to publish a wonderful book of poetry and illustrations – withn a few translated into spanish/French/Italian
    (with the rhyme) I have it scanned into a PDF file and I’m ready to go so ….please help me proceed with this project.

    Reply
  2. Monica Brilli

    Dear Sir or Madam,

    I am an independent author. I have produced a work for kids (07 years old), the name of which is ‘The boy from the Emerald Island’ and it is inspired by the Irish Leprechaun. The tale is recorded in a CD and incorporates nine music tracts. All this work was done by myself in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, and it is in the Portuguese language.
    Now I am looking for ways to market this audiobook. I would like to know what to do next to have it published.

    The work is available at the fiollowing web site:
    http://www.omeninodailhaesmeralda.blogspot.com

    Thanks for your atention,

    Monica Brilli

    Reply

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