AuthorHouse is one of the best known, and most widely-used, print on demand self-publishers, but it did not begin so auspiciously. It was started in 1997 as 1st Books by an author who was fed up with rejections. Unfortunately, 1st Books was met with a barrage of complaints about the service – including print quality and being overly-charged at an hourly rate for services. In 2001, 1st Books got a facelift and changed its name to AuthorHouse. Since that point, it has grown steadily and hasn’t been targeted with the same type of complaints as 1st Books – which some call a scam, some call growing pains.
I would side with the latter, as AuthorHouse has become one of the central subsidy publishers, along with iUniverse, which is owned by the same corporation, Author Solutions. This is due to the quality of AuthorHouse’s books. It is used frequently by authors who are more serious about the quality and marketability of their books – unlike a service like Lulu, which is used by anyone and everyone, and are often published using the same pre-designed templates.
AuthorHouse has three main packages, starting at $598 to $1298. The $598 package has everything you need, and the premium packages do not offer a lot more for the much heftier price tag: nearly $400 more for the next level package. The Essential package includes:
- One on one support – work with the designers to get input on the direction of your book’s cover. By all accounts, AuthorHouse actually does take its author input seriously.
- Custom cover/interior design, including interior images – AuthorHouse generally has higher-quality book covers
- Galley copies to check quality
- Online distribution
- Marketing consultation (basically amounts to them selling you extra marketing services, but nice that the consultation is gratis)
That’s a pretty good list of features for the low level package – the same price as iUniverse’s basic package. The next level up offers ebook publishing and distribution, which you could handle yourself, plus a book buyer’s preview, which is nice, but doesn’t quite seem worth $400. The Premier program will also send you 10 copies of your book, which could save you $150 and up, depending on the length of your book.
The top tier Premium package offers an author photo on the back of the book. Really, ebook distribution and author photo should be included regardless, so this seems like an oversight. The more expensive packages should include more-advanced book design and marketing, as is the case with other subsidy publishers like Outskirts and Mill City Press. As with other self-publishers, there are a number of other add-ons available: custom cover illustration, online and offline marketing, editorial services, and the like, which are decently priced. Some of these can be fairly expensive for the most-extensive programs: the Premium Publicist program, for example, costs $9,999.
For someone who wants a hands-off self-publishing experience, in which someone else is handling most of the work – and you’ve got money to pay for more-extensive marketing – AuthorHouse is a good choice.
Update 7/11/13: This post was written before the Kindle/ebook revolution when hiring a print on demand firm was more viable. It was also written before many of the problems with Author Solutions had come to light. Leaving the post up for all of the comments from writers below.