In 2005, David Buttle, a financial accountant, began to look at the development of ebooks long before many publishers and authors acknowledged their significance. He decided to set up UKUnpublished, with the idea of producing ebooks in an attempt to make them a more popular medium. With the advent of DRM (Digital Rights Management) by traditional publishers and a developing and complex medium, he shelved the project. He began to look again at self-publishing and the growing number of authors he was hearing of, frustrated with paying high service fees to so-called self-publishing services. He revisited his UKUnpublished project again. An article by Cole Morton in 2007 in The Independent finally made his mind up.
Buttle wanted to create a transparent self-publishing service for authors that was inexpensive, included most of the basics, at an affordable price, and made publishing a book accessible to authors who felt rebuffed when they embarked along the traditional pathway. UKUnpublished was born, quickly followed by its online retail site UKBookland.
Here is the theme for this review – simplicity – no bells and whistles. This author service mirrors the UKBookland site, but for all the simplicity, both have two very important things in common – books and community. In my mind, these are the two fundamental bedrocks for the book publishing world today. If your book publishing business does not acknowledge and actively implement these values – you are dead in the water when it comes to the future of publishing and how readers will access books.
We have combined two existing publishing models, to provide a comprehensive, value for money service, without the rejection, time, effort and cost that can be associated with existing methods.
So, UKUnpublished sees its company as a ‘hybrid’ of publishing. I can accept that, but authors need to understand that services like this are not a substitute for mainstream publishing. It is what it says – a hybrid – taking elements of what is available from traditional and high end service publishing.
There are no multiple packages here. There is one option and one charge at £200 +vat, and also the option of a professionally designed cover for an additional £100. I am going to play devil’s advocate here, and say, of the 70 plus books I have looked at available from UKUnpublished – most are pretty basic covers. Having worked and corresponded with many book designers working freelance for book publishers, I have not seen a book cover available here that would live up to what I know can be produced by a large or respected independent press. [Following this review UKUnpublished are set to introduce a more advanced cover design option than the one currently available at £100 – ED]
A simple one off cost of £200 + VAT (which is relevant for all Paperback books with a black and white interior) – if you require something different, have a look at ‘What else can you offer?’ (Coming Soon), or feel free to ask, and a specific quote can be requested.
Plus Professional Cover Design for £100, this is optional.
Changes to an already approved and published book (where the problem was not caused by UKUnpublished) will require an additional charge, however, this will simply represent the cost and time involved, and you will always be notified prior to any charges being accrued – although this is a very rare occurrence.
Very large books, Colour, or Hardback books may require a different price to represent the increased complexities and costs involved, however we make every effort to include all books within the above price, but have a look at ‘What else can you offer?’ (Coming Soon), or feel free to ask.
Annual Fee (included Free of Charge for the first TWO years)
One Year – £12 or Two Years – £20
The reason for this fee is that the printer and distributors that UKUnpublished uses provide:
Lower print costs (than other alternative options UKUnpublished had available) – which may encourage higher sales
Guaranteed listing with major wholesalers, for example, Bertrams and Gardners
Made Available directly to Amazon.co.uk and Blackwells in the UK
Guaranteed listing with major US wholesalers, for example, Ingram Book and Baker & Taylor
Made Available directly to Amazon.com and Barnes & Noble
I hope you will agree that with the annual fee of £12 per year, the whole UKUnpublished service still represents excellent value for money, and is lower than many other options.
Where UKUnpublished come in as a serious plus is providing a service for the author who can provide completed files in MS Word file, but without the knowhow of—or confidence—to use a service like Lightning Source or go directly to a printer requiring complete PDF’s who cannot provide online and database book listing and access to online distribution globally.
The basic package on offer from UKUnpublished provides:
Basic cover design
Paperback & ebook edition
The creation of a PDF
Bookshop listing with UK Bookland
Online distribution & database availability
1 author copy
Website Bookland listing page
Amazon Search Inside Program
Annual File listing fee of £12 (2 years at £20)
An addition marketing package is also offered at £750.
An additional marketing package is also offered at £750.
Overall, I like the limited outlay an author has to pay for the basic service provided by UKUnpublished. Without seeming downbeat—this is cheap and cheerful publishing for authors unfamiliar with the publishing world, and importantly, don’t have outlandish expectations of what publishing a memoire, local history book or novel they have modestly always wanted to see in print. A lot of publishing services try to ‘big-up’ self-publishing to a point where it is sold to authors as a dream. This is a down-to-earth publishing service offering modest but fair royalties considering books are offered to the trade at up to the prescribed 55% discount:
Paying excellent royalties of 80p per sale, whether you sell one copy or one million copies. There are no limits on the amount you can earn, and no sliding scales or sales targets.
Retail prices are in the range of £8 to £11 for a title, so, at £0.80, we are at 10% of retail for author royalties on a par with commercial publishing. From looking at the well advertised list of authors on UKUnpublished, most will not bemoan a larger stake for modest books sold. There is always the argument that the author can push up the retail price of a book, but that introduces the danger of making the retail price uncompetitive on the market.
This is a tricky one. I like where Buttle has placed UKUnpublised. There are no pretentions. This is simple and accessible book publishing for those who are not out to kiss the stars or reach the New York Times bestseller list. Yes, for less, Lulu or CreateSpace could offer more in the way of reach, but that is not where this company places itself.
There is a place in the self-publishing pool for this approach—simple and inexpensive—though a little rough round the edges. It does what is says on the tin, and to strip away and hold UKUnpublised to the highest standards of what is expected of a thoroughbred author solutions service would be unfair. Rightly, UKUnpublised do not engage in that pretention.