Authors have many ways to bring their books to market. On the one end of the spectrum are distributors like Draft2Digital which have no upfront charge but collect a cut of incoming royalties. At the other end of the spectrum are traditional publishers who take everything except the copyright and give authors scraps.
And then somewhere in the middle are vanity presses like Author Solutions and services marketplaces like Fastpencil. (It is sometimes hard to tell whether a company is the former or the latter; generally, you need to go by the reasonableness of the fees and by a company's reputation for screwing over its clients.)
And now there is Type & Tell, a subsidiary of Swedish publisher Bonnier.
Originally launched in 2015 in Sweden, Type & Tell pays authors 100% of royalties. It has been compared to Macmillan's Pronoun, but that would be a false comparison given that Type & Tell makes its money from selling services to authors.
From The Bookseller:
Type & Tell will give authors control over their typesetting, design and editorial teams, pricing and distribution via an à la carte model, which they will pay for up front. In return, authors will get "100%" of the author royalties after costs have been paid for, Bonnier said. The company will offer self-publising services in both print and digital.
According to Jon Watts, country manager for Type & Tell, the "new high-tech, hybrid" model has been made possible by investing in "pioneering" writing and typesetting technology - an investment representing, he said, "a statement of intent" for Bonnier and its commitment to the future of self-publishing.
He told The Bookseller self-publishing had come into a "golden era", with the costs of digital printing improving dramatically in recent times, actually giving self-published authors an advantage over traditionally published authors.
"For Bonnier, investment in this self-publishing platform is a statement of intent; not only in Type & Tell’s commitment to affordable quality, but also to the future of self-publishing," he said. "We see self-publishing’s growth partly as a reflection of a social change – society’s desire to share more and a sense of entitlement to speak and be heard – and partly as a result of the recent democratisation of publishing.
In a way, Type & Tell (also Pronoun) represent the next stage of traditional publishers cashing in on self-publishing.
In years past publishers like Penguin and Simon & Schuster partnered with Author Solutions to fleece authors. Now publishers like Macmillan and Bonnier are launching (or acquiring) service providers. This is a slightly more ethical pursuit of the same market.
The earlier attempts to fleece authors failed largely due to authors being smart enough to shop around and realize that Author Solutions was screwing them.
This new wave of service companies will have to show that they offer a better value or they will go the same way as Author Solutions.