CompletelyNovel.com is a new self-publishing service that is, well, completely novel. It’s also completely new so there are some features of the site that are not yet in full working condition. The basic premise of Completely Novel is that users can publish books using a variant on the Lulu system:
- Upload a document and covert it to PDF.
- Use a cover creator – surprisingly good for an online creator. The covers don’t necessarily look self-published
- Set price.
Where Completely Novel is more unique is that instead of using one printer to print up a book, users will have a choice of printers to print up a book. The operative word is “will” because currently there is only one printer affiliated with the site. But this is a good idea that gives self-publishers a good alternative if they’re thinking of using a site like Lulu or Wordclay. It’s especially useful for international writers who may be worried about the cost of printing and shipping from another country.
Also unlike Lulu, the site does not take out any additional revenue above printing costs, unlike other subsidy publishers. Instead, the site grants full royalties above base printing cost. They say: “The book upload, online publishing, print and distribution services are the cheapest available and are entirely commission free.”
Self-Publishing + Social Networking
The other useful feature of Completely Novel is it’s combination of book publisher and social network. Though there is something of a community within the Lulu forums, with people requesting reviews, it is not quite an active part of the site. Generally sales of Lulu books occur off site – on Amazon or other outlets if the person has gotten ISBN distribution.
Completely Novel aims to fix this dynamic by combining the book directory of Lulu with the interaction of a social network. Yes, Lulu has a place for reviews beneath each book, but these remain static – they’re not the same as the comments on a blog, with a commenter’s profile and the ability to add a book to your library, the way you’d add friends on another network. Each book is available for free to read online and writers and readers can add comments on book. It could potentially be a good way for writers to network with other writers. In a sense, it turns each book into a blog entry, with comments beneath.
That’s the idea at least. One issue is that the site houses other books as well – including books by Stephen King, who is most assuredly not allowing his books to be read for free on Completely Novel. These books are being discussed ala Goodreads – which adds some confusion, as this is not the overall purpose of the site and service. But their book reading engine is good: a page-sized layout of each page with arrows to scroll through the book. Note: you cannot download books from the site, you can only read them online and then purchase the book in printed form if you like it enough. This potentially can increase site interaction and more sales. As it’s a new site, that’s TBD, but it is a good idea and a good combination of elements of both self-publishers and social networks.
About the Author: Henry Baum
I’m the author of The American Book of the Dead. The novel won Best Fiction at the DIY Book Festival and the Gold IPPY Award for Visionary Fiction. Largehearted Boy says it's "reminiscent of Philip K. Dick and Haruki Murakami, a book that boldly explores the future and defies genre." I'm also the author of North of Sunset, winner of the Hollywood Book Festival Grand Prize, and The Golden Calf - first published by Soft Skull Press, with editions in the U.K. (Rebel Inc.) and France (Hachette Littératures). Visit henrybaum.com for more information. I’m the editor of Self-Publishing Review.