There are many blog posts by more seasoned writers than I in the past few days about this topic, but I'd like to post as well to help reach as many writers and potential writers as possible who are considering self-publishing.
Basically, book publisher Penguin has decided to launch a self-publishing service through their online writing community, Book Country. The problem with this is that it appears they're grossly overcharging customers for services like ebook formatting (which can easily be purchased elsewhere for a fraction of the cost) while also having the gall to take a slice of writer royalties on top of what retailers like Amazon or Barnes & Noble are taking (you can upload directly to either site for free on your own with surprising ease).
I was particularly put off by the Wall Street Journal's less-than-critical article about this service entitled, "Self-Publisher's Get Help." First of all, let's get something straight: self-pubbers have been getting direct help from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Smashwords, other retailers and each other as a community for some time now. This Book Country farce merely adds another middleman and shaves off more writer royalties per sale. Second, the packages Book Country charges range from $99 up into the hundreds of dollars with a bare-minimum amount of value-added service provided. Huh? If you want to self-publish these days, there are many, many ways to do it and for a fraction of the cost than what Penguin's Book Country attempts to offer.
I won't go into all the details in this post, but there are several links to great articles that do and I strongly encourage anyone thinking about going with Book Country to read them first. Honestly, there are easier and cheaper ways to go about self-pubbing than what Book Country has to offer.
Joe Konrath, David Gaughran, The Passive Voice
Please keep in mind that I have nothing against Penguin personally, but when a business sells a product that's not worth much, customers are entitled to warn others. Self-pubbing is a growing community and there are plenty of experienced people (see the Recommended links on my main page or send me an email with questions) who can help you figure out the process without reaching into your wallet.
We're all in this together!