Would You Pay Dymocks $499 To Publish Your Book?

Would You Pay Dymocks $499 To Publish Your Book?

Australian bookseller Dymocks is launching a new self-publishing option, D Publishing, which lets writers publish ebooks and sell them through the Dymocks site, as well as offering a print-on-demand option. The big catch? It costs $499 to add a title to the service.

Picture by Gaye Gerard/Getty Images

The official D Publishing site goes live at midday today, but ahead of the launch I chatted with Dymocks’ general manager of ecommerce Michael Allara about how the service will operate. The fee gets you two things once you have uploaded your manuscript. Firstly, there’s automated typesetting of your work in a professional fashion — a feature Allara said was much harder to implement than it sounds:

Book production is really difficult, it’s very complex. The average person won’t be aware of all the technical complexities to typeset a book. The biggest challenge and the area that we’ve spent the most time on and that we’re happiest with is the quality of the book on the page. For us to make that world accessible has been our biggest achievement.

Secondly, you get listed on Dymocks’ site for sale in PDF format. Individual Dymocks stores will also have the option of ordering print copies of your work to sell (something I’d imagine might work with local interest or history titles).

You can set whatever price you like for the work, and you’ll receive 80 per cent of that price, paid twice yearly (at the end of June and the end of December). If you just want ebook publishing in ePub format (with no print on demand service available), you’ll pay $399; print book plus ePub (rather than PDF) is $699. In the future, Dymocks plans to offer editing and design services which will, naturally, attract an additional fee.

In the pre-ebook era, self-publishing was definitely viewed as a lesser alternative, and vanity publishers who charged authors to print their work were particularly poorly regarded. The boundaries are less clear these days — for specialist titles, publishing yourself can make more sense than trying to attract the attention of a mainstream publisher. That said, there are still some restrictions: the terms of service prohibit illegal or defamatory content. Authors retain copyright in their work, but Allara said that if a major publisher approached an author to publish a D Publishing title, it would have to be considered on a “case by case basis”. (I’ll be curious to see the exact terms when the site goes live.)

All ebook self-publishing deals need careful consideration and comparison. Amazon does have no-fee publishing options for the Kindle, for instance, but puts a lot of emphasis on getting you to sign up for additional marketing packages. Collecting payment can also be tricky in the Amazon context, since there’s not many easy options for getting payment to an Australian bank account.

So would you be tempted to pay $499 (or $399) to get your book on the market in Australia? Share your thoughts in the comments.

D Publishing


  • As Rod says, this is vanity publishing. Yog’s law states that the cardinal rule of being a writer is that money flows towards you.
    It doesn’t have to be a lot (You don’t need an advance, you don’t need an 80%, or even a 20% royalty), but if the publisher’s made their dime out of you before you’ve sold a single book, why on earth would they be interested in helping you sell them?
    The pricing structure tells you all you need to know about this “publishing deal”.
    Think about it, how hard are Dymocks going to work for their crummy 20% royalty (when discount rates in the book industry are 40%+ off RRP)? Not only are you a total unknown, but the store makes 1/2 the profit selling your book as against John Grisham’s!
    Finally, whilst I believe there are probably a number of authors who are good but can’t get published, there is a bottomless ocean of authors who *think* they’re good enough to be published, but aren’t. (For one of the former, Nathan Lowell’s Golden Age of the Solar Clipper series). Finding somebody else who thinks your book may make some money, and is willing to bet some of their own on it, is a good sanity check for any aspiring author.

    • Indeed. It really comes down to product placement. From what they are proposing it seems that you’re not going to get any real form of advertising or placement for that cost.. so it doesn’t seem worth it in my opinion considering the other options available. If that price included a month of shelf space (even if it was more of a placeholder than the actual book) or priority on searches, then maybe it would be ok..

  • ummmm. do you get an isbn number? that may make it worth the money. amazon have a deal for those that wanna publish in the kindle store that is much cheaper than this

  • Let’s face it, anyone can produce an ebook these days – the options are endless, but there is something very satisfying about holding the outcomect of your writing in your hands, something tangible.

    Is it worth the money? Perhaps.

  • Anyone can produce an ebook these days, so isn’t this like a free $500 for Dymocks unless they provide and ISBN? Who would agree to this. You might as well just sell the book from your own site or torrent it. More likely to turn a profit.

  • “Amazon does have no-fee publishing options for the Kindle, for instance, but puts a lot of emphasis on getting you to sign up for additional marketing packages” – I’ve self-published four books for Kindle with Amazon, and they haven’t tried to sell me anything. What are you referring to?

    Automated typesetting sounds dire. I can’t believe it works – that alone would put me off, let alone the inflated fees.

    The problems with D Publishing/Dymocks’ offering go beyond set-up costs charged to authors. The following article outlines some major problems with their Publishing Agreement:
    After I raised concerns on Facebook, the Publishing Agreement, which was on the D Publishing website on Thursday Dec 8 was removed on Friday Dec 9 and replaced with a reworded agreement and access to the agreement through the menu on their website was removed. The article linked to here tells how to find the new agreement, at least for now. The fact that it is still publicly accessible may be a detail overlooked when they removed it from the menu.

  • Charging to publish ebooks is ridiculous since there are numerous reputable websites that authors can use to sell ebooks without paying any fees at all (Amazon and Smashwords are my favourites). Paying for a POD service is unnecessary since sites like Createspace offer this service free-of-charge. Dymocks seems to be continuing the ever growing Aussie tradition of making a quick buck from writers with more dollars than sense. This is, effectively, a vanity press scam and not a valid self-publishing option.

  • Good to see more ebook publishing opportunities for writers. I published without cost, using Smashwords. My novel ‘Children of the Earth’ is available via most ebook suppliers (Apple, Kobo etc) and soon will be on Amazon. The profit is not large, I did my own typesetting and I have to do my own marketing. Not ideal but at the time it was the best solution I could find. Roll on ebook publishing! soon everyone will be reading ebooks. Thoughts of a retired librarian.
    Gwen Walton

    • Thanks Gwen for your excellent comment. re the Dymocks offer. Your comment re own typesetting and marketing is interesting. i find some comfort in the idea of the Dymocks offer, but it seems to have drawn alot of criticism also. I havent looked at publishing since some years ago when it was almost disreputable to self publish, known then as vanity press, I think. but reading the ‘latest best seller’, by some lucky writer,can make one wonder just what is being offered here. (alot of them are very sketchy. ) I’m sure its only fair to have access to better stories and style via ebook publishing. Anna Primrose

  • I have to pay money AND they take 20% – no thanks. Really poor, greedy double-charging business model. Not for me; I’ll go offshore and use Amazon and maybe Lightning Source.

  • If anyone who is complaining about this deal already has a publisher, good luck to you. However, for the rest of us, getting one is incredibly hard. I’ve had one of Australia’s top agents represent one of my books (and is ready to take more), but its constantly a case of good book, wrong time. I’ve had decades of that scenario.
    I put one novel on Amazon (under another name). It receives only 5 star reviews, but that won’t translate into being “properly” published either.
    Now I’m about to launch the first a series of five children’s novels and I’m going to buy Indesign so I can typeset it myself, find a cover illustrator, print out copies and take them door to door (figuratively speaking). Technically I’ve already “designed” a book – you have to do it for Amazon anyway. InDesign will make it easier.
    CreateSpace offers book design free of charge (if you do it yourself), but they charge for printing. My research suggests that its cheaper to go to an Australian printer who specialises and use them, rather than through CreateSapce. I’m going to check out this deal with Dymocks for one reason only: if my book sells well, or if they take notice of it, then I’m already IN with a bookstore.
    I too, used to despise the idea of a vanity publisher, but in a world where Amazon stocks 50,000 self-publisher authors alone, getting anything noticed by a publisher is almost impossible. So I’m doing it. With Dymocks or without them, my first book comes out this year. I encourage anyone in the same boat to just get on with it!

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