A Response to Simon & Schuster and Its Archway Publishing Service

Today, a story came out that publisher Simon & Schuster was launching a self-publishing service called Archway Publishing. Archway Publishing is said to help writers self-publish fiction, nonfiction, business and children’s books. Different packages can be bought, each providing different levels of “editorial, design, distribution and marketing services.” According to the Galleycat story, “Fiction options range from $1,999 Author package to the $14,999 Publicist package. The business book options start at $2,199 and go as high as $24,999.”

Three sets of ideas jumped out at me when reading this announcement. First, a good number of writers interested in self-publishing could benefit from editors, cover designers, and PR efforts. The fact that all of these are provided with the Simon & Schuster imprimatur can be very tempting to writers. But here’s the thing: several other companies already provide these services, often charging far less than Archway Publishing.

Second, even the most expensive fiction package offers only limited PR. So writers will still have to do PR on their own. If that’s the case, why pay a lot for it? Even traditionally published authors need to promote their books. Paying Archway Publishing isn’t a substitute. And had Simon & Schuster published your book in the traditional way, you wouldn’t have had to pay for promotion (explicitly, I mean. It’s baked into the advance and royalties structure, but you get my point).

Third, most self-publishing platforms emphasize e-books, but Archway seems to emphasize physical copies, although some packages do have e-book options. But according to a PaidContent article, Archway will take 50% after Amazon takes their 30% cut. In other words, true self-publishers will get 70% of Amazon sales, but Archway writers will get 20%.

Although my knowledge of the publishing industry is very limited, I have to conclude that this boils down to Simon & Schuster setting up a vanity press, which can only damage the Simon & Schuster brand in the long term. Writers interested in self-publishing are probably better off using other services and doing PR themselves. Not only will you pay less to start, you will earn more, faster. In other words, you will hit the break-even point sooner. Meaning you can devote less time to PR and more time to writing that next book.

What do you think? Think Archway is going to release the book equivalent of Rebecca Black’s “Friday”? Please leave your comments below.

One thought on “A Response to Simon & Schuster and Its Archway Publishing Service”

  1. I’m not a writer. But as a small businessman with experience with big companies, this sounds like a program with Simon & Schuster’s best interests at heart.

    It may not be a bad deal per se… but you’d need to be clear as to your goals before laying down your scarce cash for the above services.

    As you point out, there are other options to self publish without putting such a heavy up front burden on the writer. The odds are long against success in the new economy
    without investing in an old economic model of publishing.