Xulon Press was founded by author and publisher Tom Freiling in 1999, and the company is part of the large media and communications group, Salem Communications Corporation, based in the USA. Salem is a Christian communications media group with commercial interests in radio, the Internet, and magazine publishing, and not surprisingly, Xulon Press claims to be the ‘leading Christian publisher in the United States – title for title’.
Xulon Press present a very corporate image and I have to say operate one of the best publisher websites that I have seen (commercial publishers included). The website is packed with self-publishing information, FAQ’s, news, blog pages and author pages. In fact, much of the Xulon Press website is geared entirely toward authors and the Christian community as a whole rather than the offensive ‘in your face’ hard-sell marketing push of self-publishing services. It is very much corporately slick, but not a low end sleazy corporate slick. There is nothing hidden away here like the elephant in the corner of the room, practiced by so many other author solutions services. Immediate links to royalties, guidelines and book pricing hits you square in the eyes on the top menu of the main web page. This is a large global self-publishing services operation and the company chooses not to engage in the bluff or dreamboat marketing many companies offering author solutions services companies of this size engage in.
Looking for a Christian self publishing company? Are you a Christian author or writer searching for the best Christian self publishing company to self publish your book? For one low price, we can publish, distribute, and market your book for you. We utilize lightning-fast print-on-demand digital technology to publish your book fast. Then we get your Christian book into the hands of readers through our reliable network of 25,000 bookstores, plus online at Amazon.com, Barnes & Noble, and Borders. In less than 90 days, your Christian book will reach a readership of thousands, making you a leading author in the field of Christian self publishing! And with our 100% royalty rate paid to authors for all bookstore sales, you keep most of your hard-earned money!
The answer is six! The question of course was ‘how many times does the word Christian appear in the above paragraph?’ We get the message. We do get the availability in ’25,000’ bookstores’ line common to author solutions services—read available and not that an author will have their books stocked in stores. This is one of the many misleading statements propagated by author solutions services. However, we will let this go; just let’s hope this doesn’t all go pear-shaped after such a good start from Xulon Press. We will look at the 100% claim on royalties paid to authors shortly. Are Xulon Press doing another ‘Mill City Press’ on royalties? Xulon Press are actually better on royalties than many others, but again, the statements from the company are still slightly misleading. We’ll see.
From the online guidelines, it is clear authors can send or upload a word format file which Xulon say will be formated with all paid packages. If authors intend to load PDF files (print ready), then they would be advised to make themselves familiar with Xulon’s guidelines for completed book layout and page formatting before submitting through their ‘Author Centre’ facility. Images (max 50), photo images and rear cover book description are also submitted separately at this stage. Clearly Xulon Press – at least at this stage of the process – have a limited series of format options and seem quite particular about using Times Roman Numeral as a default font.
These are the basic core elements provided by Xulon in their publishing packages.
Book cover design (author can supply images)
Professionally formatted interior text (TRN font only used!)
ISBN for bookstore availability
Marketing and advertising programs
POD printing process
No minimum book order necessary
Hardcover and paperback editions available (hardcover is $149 extra)
Author-friendly non-exclusive self publishing contract
100% royalty paid directly to you quarterly
Strong Customer Service Support
We understand the tight finances that accompany being in the ministry, raising a family, or living on a fixed income. So we designed comprehensive publishing, distribution, and marketing programs to fit the budget of almost any author.
Xulon offer three publishing packages, Premium $1299, Best-Seller $2299 and Elite at $7754 (at the time of this updated review, Xulon had the Best-seller and Elite packages on a time-limited sale of $1699 and $4099 respectively.
All the above include the following:
Book Cover Design (Gallery templates)
Back Cover Design
One-on-One Support Team
Author Center Account
Free Books – 1 or 2
Choice of Trim Sizes
Huge Book Discounts (up to 70%)
Thankfully Xulon Press has dispensed with the Gold package, which did not include distribution, and at the $799 price mark, was way overpriced for what is actually delivered.
The Best-seller also adds more to the basic service:
Amazon.com Affiliate Programs
Toll-free 24hr Order Service
Christian Bookstore Distributor/Promotion
US Copyright Registration
This package is a significant saving grace. My faith in humanity is restored. I am going to honestly say that I considered calling it a day for Xulon Press when the company previously offered the Gold package. Xulon Press would not have been the first author solutions service where I invested many hours of research, only to discover I was dealing with a duck’s egg parading as the golden nugget. Well, Xulon Press, you ran this one really close to the wire! Fortunately, the company saw the light of day and perhaps my first review in 2009 pushed them in the right direction.
The Premium service is the cavalry on the horizon. Proper POD listing and availability, a real sales distribution service (rare in POD Publishing), the 100% royalty, the immediate toll-free order service if you are on a book tour, the Amazon Affiliate programs and multiple specialised Christian store catalogue listings, all mean Xulon Press push to the head of the pack. There is a God!
The Best-Seller package adds on:
Online Bookstore Page
Google Book Preview
Espresso Book Machine Database
Overseas Book Distribution
This package is where I believe Xulon’s connections in media is really brought to bear on the author’s behalf. The Xulon media connection alert and Christian bookstore catalogue listings carry very serious weight. In any direct community marketing – this kind of direct marketing identification really does make a difference to getting the word out about an author’s book. You will forgive me if I use a worn cliché – this is preaching to the converted – already a captured audience for Xulon Press.
At its full price, $7754, the Elite package is pretty abusive on the wallet, though the current sales price of $4099 is far more attractive, including:
Trade Catalogue listing
Unlimited Graphic Fees
Authors also have the option to load print ready files, (the guidelines are here). The concern I have here is that Xulon expect to charge the same fee even though the author has done most of the work!
Now, about that 100% royalty question. Yes, Xulon do a ‘Mill City Press’. It is a 100% royalty to the author, but only after print costs and Xulon’s mark-up on books are taken into consideration. Still, the author profits more than many other author solutions services – probably closer to 60 – 70%.
Xulon provide a number of other services which are all competitive. See their site for details.
This was a tough one to call, probably the hardest review to date. Overall, Xulon Press is not an author solutions service I would recommend if you are looking in the bargain basement of services with a few hundred dollars to spend, or you have design skills and the ability to produce your own print ready book files. Xulon has a specialised area of sales-targeting – and more to the point – has the where-with-all and services to do it using the top two packages. In most of my reviews, I find the basic or standard packages are the best. Xulon is a rare and welcome exception. Even at the $4099 end, you are getting more than most POD author solutions services claim to provide and deliver to the author.
Don’t be overly put off by the Christian book tag. My own book out for submission with commercial publishers would easily fit Xulon and I am sure many more authors’ books would. I still have peeves about Xulon; the print mark-ups on books is above other good author solutions services, allowing authors to submit print ready files and charging them the same fee for the publishing packages. But what Xulon Press do well, is executed exceptionally well, in particular the marketing and promotional services, and for that and what is on offer, Xulon hit the gold star.