iUniverse Review

Frankly, I’m surprised that so many self-publishers use a service like iUniverse.  I’m an advocate of using a self-publisher that doesn’t call attention to the fact that it’s a self-publisher.  Though many people familiar with self-publishing immediately know the difference between iUniverse, AuthorHouse, Lulu, and so on, there are many more people who do not know the difference – especially readers who are not also writers.

Your least savvy reader is going to know that a publishing entity called iUniverse is not your typical press.  It has something to do with printing a book via a computer.  Right off, it sounds less legitimate.  The names AuthorHouse or Mill City Press do not have the same issue.  But iUniverse is one of the best known self-publishing services, so it is one of the most widely used.

The cost of publishing with iUniverse isn’t much different than the other subsidy services that fall under the Author Solutions umbrella: AuthorHouse, iUniverse, and Xlibris being the top three Author Solutions’ services.

  • At iUniverse the cheapest package is $599.  The most expensive is $2099
  • AuthorHouse: $598 – $1298
  • Xlibris: $299 – $12,999 (not a typo)

Let’s set aside Xlibris’s most expensive package, which includes 250 copies of the book, postcards, bookmarks, and other promo materials.  It’s likely out of most people’s price range.  So what do you get for the cheaper package with iUniverse that you don’t get with the other services?

Xlibris’s cheapest package is very bare bones – a book cover that looks like a pre-made template, interior design template, and ISBN.  Useful if you don’t want to do any work and don’t care what the book looks like.  The better comparison is between the cheapest packages at AuthorHouse and iUniverse, which are priced identically.

With both AuthorHouse and iUniverse you get: One-on-one author support (even the terminology is the same on both sites), custom cover, ISBN, and online distribution – the basics.  With AuthorHouse you get custom interior design.  With iUniverse you get 5 free copies.

What iUniverse does have is it’s Editor’s Choice and Rising Star programs.  Being that these programs are paid for based on the cost of the package, the jury is out how much booksellers take these designations into consideration.  There’s an argument that iUniverse books are branded immediately as being self-published, so the Editor’s Choice may not carry as much weight.

However, the quality of iUniverse books cannot be in dispute.  The cover designers at iUniverse generally design non-generic covers and the books are printed professionally, with no blurred images and with good interior design.  And Barnes & Noble’s comments about the Star Program are enticing:

“iUniverse has a thorough screening process to identify promising new writers, and then invests real dollars in promoting their books,” says Barnes and Noble Chief Executive Officer Steve Riggio. “Their editorial review process greatly enhances the quality of the books they publish. We see the Star Program as a great opportunity to discover new authors and bring them to market.”

That said, being a part of the Star program is no guarantee, and once in the program, there’s no guarantee of being picked up by a major chain.  Keep in mind also that Star designation is not available for those who choose the least expensive package.  Overall, the distribution will likely be the same with iUniverse as AuthorHouse, even if the Star program gives the impression of reaching interested buyers. There are certainly other subsidy publishers available, but Author Solutions has the cheapest packages available, so if you’re looking to cut costs, this is mostly likely where you’re going to start. Personally, if I were looking into a subsidy house and I had $600 to spend, I would go with AuthorHouse, as it could avoid being tarnished with the stigma of self-publishing.

  • shawn

    i wanted to say thank you for the article written about I-universe. It was very informative as I am working on a book which will most likely be published via p.o.d. I also appreciate the comparisons given on other known book houses. I wish you great success in your literary accomplishments,

  • lee

    Is iUniverse going broke? An author friend of mine who has published two books with iUniverse received a royalty check last week and it bounced! He called iUniverse and the customer service rep told him there had been an “accounting glitch.” (The fact that the check bounced was no surprise to the iUniverse rep.) Hmm . . .

  • are you aware of any changes at Iuniverse that are promising for authors of books that have been very well reviewed, but have not sold large numbers. They are urgung me to apply for the star program, this following a sharp note from me as to whether they had any interest at all in quality. I was able to get six newspaper reviews, locally, from papers with exacting book review standards and from two authors, James Brady and Bill Henderson. They were all raves. I also have two well received conventionally published books in the distant past, 1960 and 1975. They gave me editors choice & whatever the other one is called, but it seems to have meant nothing. On the other hand they do not seem to be requesting money for the star designation. What they do want is a contract that would make the authors’ guild wince. But then nothing is happening with the Dandelion War as it is. No agent or publisher has even wanted to look at it, despite the reviews.

    I aopprecviate your putting your observations and thoughts on the line.

    My regards to you.

    Richard Rosenthal

    • Richard: Publishing with iUniverse boils down to two choices for an author, and their Star program changes nothing (I had at one point 3 novels with iUniverse and one was a Star Book). If an author is publishing just for vanity–for the pride in having a published work and cares nothing about making a profit, then iUniverse is okay. If an author wants to make a fair royalty then stay away from iUniverse. Personally, I write books to earn some extra cash so I had to get my books away from iUniverse. For authors who wish to make money, I suggest checking out Lightning Source or Createspace (you can Google the names and their websites tell you all about it).

  • Authorhouse, IUniverse and Xliberis are all owned by the same people? The comparison is worthless.

  • My first book published through iUniverse went okay, “the MidLife Health Guide for Men.” I had one PSA and they did what they said, only the editor made more mistakes than they corrected-more from formatting problems going from pDF to Adobe. Recently, tried doing the women’s version and it’s a different story. Many PSAs that don’t know squat about you or the work, what stage you’re at, etc. Once they got the $1.5K, then they wanted another $500, supposedly because of the book’s size-about 300 pages. When I got the formatted book in Adobe there were so many errors, I couldn’t really use a proof form; they agreed I could resubmit. Now they want another $750 about to correct 6/7 of their errors. This has been nothing like before. They don’t return calls or offer any help. DON”T USE THEM!!!! Chris Rao, MD

  • John Lima

    Do NOT USE iUniverse. I published my book in November2010. They made serious mistakes even on dedication page. IT WAS COMPLETELY THEIR FAULT. Then they wanted 500 dollars to correct. They are rip off. STAY AWAY FROM THEM. They are owned by same person who owns authorhouse.So same woulf in two uniforms! Authorhouse ripp me off of 400 dollars and iUniverse ruined my book! WHAT A SCAM !

  • Joan

    If you’re an emerging author with no experience, DON’T even consider using iUniverse. They’re a book factory whose primary goal is making as much money as they can from author services, designed more for their success than yours. On the production end, they’re inefficient and uncaring to the point of being discourteous. Never mind the warm and fuzzy greeting you get from them before you write the first check. Once they’ve made the sale, you’re history.

  • I just completed publishing a book with iUniverse.com. I was very satisfied with the whole process and especially satisfied with the editorial review and the finished book. The quality is first rate. All of the staff from my first contact to the lasy who ordered my free copies were top notch. The only thing I didn’t like was losing control of the pricing. And they price them right out of the market. $22.95 for a softback. But I have to admit, that is the only negative I experienced. I don’t regret one cent of the fee. If you do your job as an author, they will package it as well as anyone can.

  • Tony Roma

    Please, avoid iUniverse at ALL costs (or it will COST you a ton)
    I published my book during their move to another city/state and they dropped the ball on my project. The rep left and left me hanging. It took a long time to get back on track. When I was not happy with the quality of the printing in my book, I overnighted a copy of the book with a letter to the CEO of the company. NO REPLY at all from anyone. I spent THOUSANDS of dollars on the publication, promo copies and even a PR consultant…the results?
    I’ve earned royalties so low, I’m embarrassed to even state them here. iUniverse is ALL about making money on selling services and copies of your book to you. They don’t give a FLIP about doing any promo for their authors. Even if you do generate some book sales, your royalty fee is SO LOW, you’ll never recoup your initial investment.
    Stay AWAY from these scammers!

    • And it is worse now. I have evidence that they do not fully report sales

  • emilia

    Can some one please tell me how hum royalty will I get from each book from IUniverse?

  • Joan

    I’ve never been able to figure out my royalty checks from iUniverse. With so many book sellers who sell at varying prices, plus the book being in soft cover and e-book formats, it’s impossible. However, iUniverse offers a choice of two royalty cuts – 10% or 20%. The choice is yours – if you want to take the risk of having a frustrating publishing experience.

  • Katherine

    I’m hearing alot of bad stuff about IUniverse, i’m a newtime author, and i dearly love my book. So if you guys are saying No to IUniverse, do you guys know a good place to go to? and is the royalty check really worth it?

  • Joan Ashley

    I self published my debut novel through iUniverse. I will NOT repeat that mistake. All the above complaints/observations of other authors who have commented were my unfortunate experience. Katherine, save yourself the hassle and publish your book directly on Kindle. You control the pricing and I think the author’s cut is 70% – though don’t hold me to that. Whatever it is, it’s more than double what you get from iUniverse. Kindle is the best way to go for an outcoming author without a track record, unless you want your book distributed in libraries.

    • Joan, please be in touch with me info[at]killmenow[dot]org

  • I am fighting iUniverse in a big way. I am published with them and here is my story:



  • Robert James Shand

    I just received my copies of my book, MUSINGS OF MAINE MAN ABROAD, and couldn’t be happier with the quality, style, and appearence of the product. Yes, all of the editing and content needs to be exactly perfect before sending it to IUniverse, but a standard publisher would expect the same. Value for product is above average. I’m satisfied.

    • Robert,

      I am glad you are happy with the quality. That is fine.

      But how would you like it when they say you have no sales when there is evidence that there are sales? Even from their own website? Order Id and others?

      Evidence of Kindle sales and they say there are no Kindle sales?

      I have a group of 30 authors in which this has happened to each of us.


      • Joan

        Lawrence, the same thing happened to me. Aside from the loss of income, the lack of sales reports cost me a lot of wasted time and effort with promotions that would have taken a different slant if I had known my book was doing well.

        Just saw your message to contact you. Will do so as soon as I’ve clicked that post comment button.

        One other thing – obviously the decision makers at iUniverse aren’t literate enough to be familiar with the saying, “The pen is more powerful than the sword.” One customer a company should never mess around with is a writer (:

        • I got your message. I have been involved with a massive fight with the company and have not had a chance to reply

          • Joan

            I understand. I pulled my book from them.

  • Like Robert, I never had problems with book quality from iUniverse. It’s the extremely low royalties, and the apparent unreported royalties that is a problem with iUniverse. If you don’t care about making money on your work, if you’re publishing just for ego, iUniverse is fine for you. If you want to make a decent royalty and have all your book sales honestly reported, stay away from iUniverse. Go with Createspace or Lightning Source.

  • It turns out that the company and its parent company are up for sale.

    They did not make enough money by taking our money and not doing anything with it and then withholding sales?

    Anyone who goes through this company needs their heads examined, like me

    • I agree. About 12 years ago I published my first novel with iUniverse because I couldn’t get a traditional publisher to even read the book, let alone read it and turn it down. The novel, Invitation to Valhalla, did very well with iUniverse — a least did well for them. They made it one of their Star Books which they only do for books that sell well. But my royalty checks were always pathetic and remained pathetic even after the novel becoming a Star Book. I have since been picked up by a publisher that pays authors a fair royalty and the checks went up many-fold immediately — the first month.

      • Well, I am looking for a publisher. But I will go this my own route

  • This is my continuing saga


    • I am happy to announce that I was given a full refund by iUniverse.

      Unfortunately I am still out of pocket with the almost thousand dollars that I spent on business cards, brochures, flyers and other material to fit in with the book that iUniverse came up with

  • Dear Lawrence,
    my name is Yuliya, I self-published with iUniverse in 2012 and regret it very much, I found your contact info on this blog: http://www.selfpublishingreview.com/2009/05/iuniverse-review/
    All the complaints/observations of other authors who have commented on this blog were my unfortunate experience, they sold me my books for over 2000$ and disappeared owing my 600$ worth of my books. I don’t know what to do.. they are not answering emails and calling is just useless …. they pretend they want to help and promise to call back in 10 minutes and never do … If you have experience solving these types of issues or if you know someone who succeed – I would appreciate very much your advice..

    Thanks in advance !!

    Yuliya Bond

  • kj force

    I regret not finding this site sooner. I published with iUniverse in 2011-2012…what a fiasco year that was..
    I did my own cover…then someone did a re-write in parts of my book, altering the meanings of what I had written…went back and forth for months. *** and I PAID big bucks for this ?
    Then after publication there were purchases made by others, that NEVER produced checks for sales, royalties…when I questioned this..iUniverse stopped returning my calls…I never got any satisfaction and the website ( my acct ) had multiple issues 24-7.
    HOWEVER…I got and still get ( 2015 ) 2-5 calls from a different rep…almost every day….( hardly speaks ENGLISH ) asking if I am ready to publish my book..the same one that I published in 2012
    ” Whatever…I’m Still Here “…( that was the title of ) must have been kismet !!!!
    PS : My book can be purchased in many bookstores in other countries..and on amazon.com…hmmmm
    still NO royalties..due to the fact they have to buy them from iUniverse….but even my account shows NO info regarding my publication !!!
    I would not recommend this company to anyone….
    thanks for listening…
    ” weedbychoice “…kjforce