Penguin wades into self-publishing

November 16, 2011

Penguin Group launched a set of tools for writers who want to self-publish their books in print and digital form, making it the first of the six largest publishing houses in the United States to roll out such an offering.

The Pearson-owned publisher introduced the self-publishing suite through its website Book Country, a site for genre fiction authors who specialize in romance, science fiction, mystery and thrillers and are looking for feedback from other writers.

Writers can choose among three different packages to publish their works: e-book form only, user formatted e-books and print books, or professionally formatted e-books and print books. Prices range from $149 $99 to $549.*

Penguin takes a cut of any sales.

“We want to be a really helpful and productive place… and do better in discoverability,” said Molly Barton, president of Book Country.

Book Country, which launched last April, has 4,000 members who have posted over 500 works and encourages the community to critique manuscripts. Publishing professionals and literary agents also use the site to scour for new talent. Penguin has committed to publishing Two writers, who were discovered on Book Country, were picked up by literary representation.*

Indeed the explosion of tablet devices has made it easier for writers to publish their own books at very little cost. Sometimes, they hit it big as is the case of John Locke, the self published thriller writer who sold 1 million Amazon Kindle e-books, eventually penning a deal for print sales with Simon & Schuster.

“One of the things self publishing has demonstrated is the very large number of people able to write romances and thrillers and couldn’t get through the eye of the needle,” said Mike Shatzkin, CEO of publishing consulting firm Ideal Logical Co.

“It’s certainly an imaginative and different idea,” he said about Book Country’s offerings.

*Changes were made to pricing and literary representation due to an incorrect press release issued by Book Country/Penguin.

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