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Epic Press Review

Epic Press are a small and new player onto the author solution scene. The company was established in 2007. They use Lightning Source UK and USA, and proclaim on their website that they provide print, distribution and fulfilment, but in reality, it is LSI who provide all this on their behalf, as is the case for many other such companies. Their website uses flash media in a ‘book style’ display, but this is the only book of any kind on the website. Epic Press also do not support their own on line book store.

“Because of our unique, innovative referral program, most of our author clientele come to us via referrals from authors we have worked with in the past.”

No, this is not innovative at all. AuthorHouse and many other large author solution service companies have being doing this one for years. It is like going into any high street store and applying for a loyalty card. Bring foot traffic in and we will give you a larger discount on your purchases from us. It is hard to know how well this ‘referral program’ is working, considering Epic Press list just 32 titles on Amazon UK.

From Epic Press’ FAQ pages (PDF):

“How much will I earn?New authors earn 22% of their book’s retail price. Your personal royaltiesincrease up to 32% as you and your referred authors sell more and morebooks. Additionally you will begin receiving significant bonuses from Epic Presswhen you successfully recommend us to other budding authors. See Royaltiesfor details.“

The whole premise for Epic Press is a concern to me. It is built on the platform of referral, author to author, and the only real benefits here are for the author solution provider, not the authors. Referral programs for author solution companies, or for that matter, any company, has nothing whatsoever to do with selling books. This is not only made clear by Epic Press but, it is bordering on a blatant mantra for their own company growth. The worry here for the author is that it is at their expense and their book’s ultimate sales and success. What is more of a concern is the fact that Epic has not demonstrated any evidence or track record to substantiate any claim to the benefit of the author. Yes, it provides the author with a potentially stronger royalty, but Epic’s business model and growth is what comes first and foremost here.

“If I refer an author to you, what do I get out of it?Firstly, their future book sales will be counted as part of your ‘Total Retail SalesValue’. This accelerates your progress to Gold and Platinum status where youearn significantly higher royalties of 27% and 32% respectively. In addition, untilyour referred authors reach your status, you will receive a bonus from EpicPress on every book that they sell. This bonus is around 5% and up to 10% ofthe Retail List Price of their book sales. Consider it a thank you from us forhelping us grow and build our company.”

At best, for authors, this sounds complicated, and almost has the potential to set one author against the other. How can one author’s book sales be ‘counted’ directly towards another author’s ‘retail sales value’? There also continues entirely misleading and erroneous information in the FAQ’s.

“Who’s going to do the promotion of my book?Everyone asks this question. The realistic answer is ‘YOU’. You are going toeither do or pay for pretty much every bit of promotion for your book. Buthere’s the really bad news…that’s true whether you publish your book yourself or you wind up with a nice, traditional, publishing contract that gives you ahefty advance and a 5000 book print run.”

While Epic are indeed correct about author’s having to invest time, effort and money into the promotion of their own self-published books – they are a little misleading about their view of traditional publishing. Certainly any small to medium sized publisher openly welcomes the support and self promotion directly coming from an author, but to suggest this is the widespread and the expected promotional model for traditional publishers is pretty wide of the mark. The average mid-range publisher is often spending £10 – £20k on promotion of each published title.

Epic Press offer three publishing royalty structures and all are built into the sales potential of every book and the referrals an author brings in so as to increase their future royalty earnings. This is a means to an end, certainly for the author, and at best, for Epic Press, a skewed view of self-publishing and publishing in general.

“What is an ISBN, and who does it belong to?The ISBN is the International Standard Book Number that uniquely identifiesyour book. In other words, the ISBN is just an identifier so that publishers,distributors and bookstores can keep it straight with all the other millions ofbooks out there.”

Yet, Epic Press still don’t answer their own FAQ. Who does the ISBN belong to? The usual for author solution companies is for ownership to rest with the publisher. If the ISBN is owned and registered in the name of the author – then most author solution companies will shout this from the rooftops as a clear benefit of their service provided.

“How will my book be distributed?Your book will be listed in Books in Print and the Ingram Distribution catalog.Virtually every bookstore in the world depends on those two resources toorder books. It will also appear on Amazon, WH Smith, Borders, Blackwell,Tesco, Booksamillion and many other online stores. “

Clearly, Epic Press is not demonstrating much understanding of the distribution and wholesale market for books in the world. Epic Press are UK based and one who have thought it important to emphasise their use of Gardners as well as Ingrams. Books in Print is a database of books administered by Bowkers and the Ingrams Group is a sole US book wholesaler and distributor who own Lightning Source, the printers Epic Press use for their POD book production.

Epic offer these publishing packages.

Classical – £149
Global distribution
Proof Copy
Basic cover design
3 author copies
Legal deposit

Epic – £749
Adds Customer Cover design
And Typesetting and layout

In addition, Epic Press do provide 100% ownership of rights, freedom to take your book elsewhere, should you choose, a publishing date of around 4 – 8 weeks, up to 44 to 48% discount on author copies (a 200 page paperback retails around £6.99), available to buy at £3.91 to the author (minimum purchase 10 copies), as well as a pack of marketing tools. Where Epic Press have the upper hand on other POD author solution providers – that is viral promotion and in particular their web segment trailers – I actually believe they undersell their real strength.

Authors can have the option of a hardback edition of their book. A website is available at(£749), yet, Epic advise ‘just supply us with some text and images and we’ll do the rest!’ The exclamation mark is ironically Epic’s, not mine. Even for a unique domain named website – this is way above the odds. Their press release comes in at (£299), but again, we soon learn that Epic are really providing assistance; ‘our team can help you prepare a high quality Press release that will help to get the word out.’ Many author solution companies are starting to provide book trailer services and Epic Press provide their service for (£399). When Epic started back in 2007, the web trailer was relatively new to self-publishing authors. This is far from the case now and Epic Press need to emphasise far more why they are ahead and apart from their more illustrious competitors.

You can argue the toss on custom websites and trailers and press releases etc. These all come in above the odds. If an author contracted the services or did the job themselves, I suspect their pockets would be a lot heavier. Epic Press will rightly argue that the author gets a tailored viral promotional package devised and designed by industry experts. Epic Press are certainly strongest in their retail pricing and the royalty discounts offered, about average for many middle of the road POD subsidy presses and self publishing author services, but they have let themselves seriously down in the fundamental area of core author solution services and what an author really requires. The author needs to see far more details of these on their website.

Personally, for me, I think Epic Press are attempting to do something different as an author solution company, and that can only be welcomed. It is this kind of approach which can set an author solutions company apart from its competitors. But I can’t help feeling that there is a distinct lack of understanding of author needs and crucially how the fundamentals of the self publishing business works. Epic Press may very well understand all this but they need to clearly show it and demonstrate it from their website.