Wingspan Press is a US based author solutions service with offices in Livermore, Northern California, just a few miles shy of San Francisco. They were formed around a group of frustrated writers tired of the commercial sales-driven publishing world and the ‘agent/publisher loop’. So Wingspan Press began, (frustrations I assume finally cast aside) with a focus on quality and customer service and a desired not to be grouped with POD publishing and the negative perception that it is overrun with scam artists, hacks and well-meaning but inexperienced staff.
“Our focus is on quality and customer service. Our business rules are simple: Answer the phone, tell people the truth, and do what we say we’ll do. We’re willing to answer all your questions and help you nderstand the ins and outs of self-publishing before you sign an greement or lay out any money. We’re constantly striving to provide services to assist you in positioning your book for success – distribution, marketing tools, website sales and support, and we allow authors to buy copies of their books at the lowest print prices in the industry – absolutely the lowest.”
(Wingspan Press offer authors a 50% discount when buying their books – This does not equate to an industry ‘lowest’ price. Custom quotes are provided for orders of offset print runs.)
This is all very laudable from Wingspan Press and they make all the right noises for a reputable author solution service. I have seen better presented websites from companies, but Wingspan Press make it clear they are not about high impact to disguise lack of real substance and quality service. The Wingspan Press approach is simple; look after your authors and your business will look after itself. They have a selling by-line—‘Everything You Need To Publish Your Book in one place, for one price’. A closer look at the packages below does not quite hold entirely true on that one. There are three packages and three prices, but they are reasonably competitive. Their website is clear and filled with just the right information without the clutter and intrusion of hard-sell marketing. There could be a little more advertising of books on the main page but a rolling book preview window will just about suffice.
Here is what is provided in their packages, though some are included with all the packages, other options come with an additional charge:
ISBN, bar code, Library of Congress Catalog Number, required LOC filing
Set your own cover price
Full design and editorial servicesPFD Proof
Marketing and promotion tools
Monthly sales reports
Website development and support
Writing resources about self publishing and promotion
Offset printing available for larger print runs
Wingspan Press have an author bookstore and offer the standard online availability and distribution listing with wholesalers. But where Wingspan Press really surpass many other author solution services it in the finer, critical details that make such a difference to authors. Authors retain all publishing rights, including cover, layout and the right to republish anywhere else at any time. Book listings include Amazon.UK and printing is also undertaken by Lightning Source in the UK and Europe. Wingspan Press also does not engage in ‘net’ royalties or any complicated form of gymnastic math. The author gets 20% of the book’s retail price, more if it is bought directly from the publisher’s own online bookstore.
Wingspan Press actually provides three publishing packages but all above is at the core of them. The packages are the ‘Standard’ with basic cover template, ‘Choices’ is for more elaborate design options and illustration and images. The ‘Custom’ package option gives the author further expanded services and press release/sell sheets.
While I won’t split hairs with Wingspan Press, that one place-one price is really, eh, three places, three prices. Still, the prices come in below many of their competitors.
Standard Package: $499 (author supplies cover images, author photo and book description)
Choices Package: $899 (author supplies cover image, author photo, part-design support included)
Custom Package: $2499 (custom cover provided, Ingram Catalogue listing, Press Release, 5 review requests sent out, 500 bookmarks included)
I also note that the claim about ‘it’s your book and you own it’ was really meant, except those authors using the ‘Standard’ and ‘Choices’ are paying $100 and $50 respectively for the archive cd with all the proof materials!
Wingspan Press does provide other individual publishing services, including, professional cover design, various depths of editing etc. I should point out that all Wingspan Press books published through their packages are assigned Wingspan Press ISBN’s. There is an option to use you own ISBN and set up an imprint, however, this is where they fall back on other bespoke author solution services. The charge for their description of this is ISBN Acquisition & Maintenance and Imprint set-up. This will set the author back $550 and while that is ok if an author has not previously acquired a block of 10 ISBN’s (cost from Bowkers $240), it certainly is if they have already. Wingspan Press, though, to be fair, say will administer the same for all the ISBN’s if their services are used for other books through them.
In addition, authors receive a 50% discount on books they purchase directly from the publisher, with retail prices ranging on paperbacks between $14 to $17. With that working out at $7 for a 200 page paperback, there is a mark up from the print costs of approximately $4, but as an author you will need to decide if you can live with that. I’m relunctantly prepared to let that slide, but if you intend buying a lot of books for your own purposes to sell locally or at signing appearances then this could prove to be a serious obstacle and financial outlay. Any author considering buying large volumes of books might be better looking at a direct print on demand service like Lightning Source.
Authors can also purchase a ‘return’ option to increase their book’s chances of being stocked in brick and mortar stores. Wingspan Press, outside of press releases and distribution set-up, do not do much more in the way of marketing and promotion, though they do feature an option for inclusion in Ingam’s distribution catalogue.
Overall Wingspan Press offer two reasonably competitive packages (Standard & Choices) and include options in those other competitors do not include. They are upfront and frank about the publishing process and their website has plenty of information. They tick many of the boxes for a good author solution service, with their ‘Choices’ package offering the best value for money at $899.
About the Author: Mick Rooney
Mick Rooney is an author, editor, researcher and publishing consultant from the Republic of Ireland. He has published nine books since 1990, through his own imprint, using author solutions services, and he has also published through mainstream publishers. Several years ago he began researching the publishing industry, and in particular Independent, POD (print-on-demand) and subsidy/self-publishers. Many of the findings of his research can be found at his site, The Independent Publishing Magazine together with his own experiences in the world of writing and publishing. He is the author of To Self-Publish or Not to Self-Publish? A Seriously Useful Author’s Guide. He is also a contributor to many magazines and online resources including, Writers’ Forum, Publishing Basics Magazine, Publetariat, Carnival of the Indies, selfpublishingreview.com, Irish Publishing News, as well as many writing and publishing forums. In September 2011, he published his latest novel with Book Republic, The Memory of Trees, available in hardback and ebook.