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      October 18, 2019

Home  >  Self Publishing  >  Virtual Bookworm vs iUniverse


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Virtual Bookworm vs iUniverse

Best Self Publishing Companies

To help you find the Best Self Publishers, provides you with an in-depth comparison of Virtual Bookworm and iUniverse.

To see ALL of our reviews for the Best Self Publishers, please Click Here

What's the best self-publishing company? Whether you've already tried the big publishing houses and gotten rejection letters or you just want to jump right in and take the do-it-yourself approach, self-publishing can get your books on people's shelves - both digital and traditional.

One of the first questions you'll need to consider is whether you want to publish your book in print, as an eBook, or both. Some services cater strictly to one or the other, so you'll want to give that decision some thought before you dive into selecting a self-publishing provider.

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Best Reviews


Self Publishing Reviews

4 stars
Virtual Bookworm



eBook packages start at $199

Black-and-white software packages start at $360



Virtual Bookworm, also known as VBW, offers you the best of all worlds when it comes to self-publishing. Whether you want to release your work strictly as an eBook, print a thousand paperbacks, or sell a glossy coffee table hardcover book, this self-publishing service has you covered. VBW was created by a frustrated writer who wanted to offer authors something different from rejection letter big publishing houses and pay-to-play, "take everyone" vanity presses.

We think it's worth mentioning that this self-publishing service doesn't accept every book for publication. Their staff reviews every single submitted manuscript and only approves the ones that meet their guidelines for quality and content. The way they put it is this: "This means that your book won't be selling on the same site as a book that has tons of errors just because the other author had enough cash!"

Be aware that if you select Virtual Bookworm as your Print-on-Demand publisher, you're signing an agreement to give them exclusive rights for 2 years. You can terminate that agreement with 90 days' notice, so it's not an ironclad commitment. If you choose their eBook packages, you will have to sign an exclusive agreement for the electronic distribution.

We had a hard time finding pricing on the VBW site. After some digging and clicking a lot of links, we finally found descriptions of the various packages offered:

  • eBook Package: $199 for black-and-white interior or $299 for color interior or books with over 15 images. This gives you front cover design at no extra charge. Distribution is through Ingram, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and iBook, plus optional distribution to libraries that have digital lending (also at no extra charge).
  • Black-and-white Softcover Package: starting at $360, you'll get all of the basic services plus additional features like cover design and author copies. There are 7 tiers of pricing going all the way up to $1950.
  • Black-and-white Hardcover Package: also with 7 levels of service, prices range from $430 to $2100.
  • Full-color Packages: if you need full-color interior pages for your book, expect prices from $625 to $2095 for softcover and $700 to $2160 for hardcover.
  • Combination Packages: if you prefer a mix of hard- and softcover books, VBW does that too. Prices range from $590 to $2225. eBook formatting/distribution can be added to your print packages at a cost of $99 on black-and-white interiors and $150 for color interiors.

With any Print-on-Demand package you select, you'll get the following basic services:

  • Page counts ranging from 18-1200 pages
  • Electronic proof
  • ISBN assignment
  • Copyright application instructions
  • Book page in VBW online store
  • Barcode
  • 15 free internal graphics/images
  • Data backup
  • Full distribution
  • Drop shipment
  • Book registration through Barnes & Noble, Books in Print, and more
  • 50% royalties of net receipts
  • Monthly sales report
  • 1-time initial order of books priced at 50% off list for softcovers, 30-45% off list for hardcovers, and subsequent orders at least 30% off list

And, guess what? If you want help with marketing your book - because even the best books won't sell if no one knows about them! - Virtual Bookworm offers packages for that as well. The service costs anywhere from $400 to $1300, depending on your needs and budget. All marketing packages include business cards, professional press release and a personal storefront for two years.

Virtual Bookworm has a good reputation as a business, as shown by an "A+" rating at the BBB and no complaints filed over 19+ years in operation. Their pricing is competitive, their service is thorough, and we like the feeling that this service is run by helpful, knowledgeable people who want to make sure that authors get the guidance they need. VBW isn't the biggest self-publishing service on the market, but it's definitely one that's worth your consideration.

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1 star



From $999 to $7,699


75-90% charged on each sale

iUniverse is one of two self-publishing services in our review owned by Author Solutions, an "A+" rated and accredited company with the Better Business Bureau. That's usually a good sign, but we wonder if having a large parent company - with a good track record - might be obscuring some of the negative aspects of using iUniverse for self-publishing.

Wondering what those negatives might be? Just take a look at iUniverse's pricing. They charge an exorbitant amount in royalties: 75-90% on every book! Just look at the examples on the iUniverse site: sell your paperback on Amazon at a list price of $15.95, get a whopping $1.60 in your bank account. Oh, but hey, if you sell it through the iUniverse online bookstore, you'll get so much more: $3.99! (We can almost hear your eyes rolling.) If you've read through any of the other self-publishing reviews here, you'll know right away that such high royalty fees are practically highway robbery. Why would you give up so much of your profits when other services let you keep most of the money you make?

Maybe those fees would be justified if iUniverse offered something in their publishing process that was light years beyond what other companies do - but no, iUniverse was equally expensive in that regard. Self-publishing packages start at $999 and include most of the same features you'd find elsewhere: cover design, 1:1 author support, worldwide book distribution, ePub formatting, and 3 softcover copies. But, just in case you'd still like an overview of how iUniverse works, you can enter your information on the site and request a free consultation with one of their publishing team members. Note that entering your contact details is giving the company permission to message you up to 10 times per month. (That's a "no" from us.)

Despite several testimonials and case studies on the iUniverse site, the company doesn't have nearly as many reviews as their rivals - despite a history spanning two decades. Looking at recent customer experiences, we were troubled to find people saying that they felt they got zero value for a huge investment of money when using iUniverse for self-publishing, and that customer reps were less than friendly or helpful when problems arose.

With so many competent, affordable and easy-to-use self-publishing services available today, there's just no reason to spend your time and money (lots of it!) with iUniverse. We strongly recommend you consider the higher-ranked companies in our review.

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Continued from above

A related question is your budget. How much are you able - and willing - to spend to publish your work? If you're starting out on a shoestring, you may want to give more attention to the self-publishing companies that will format, publish and list your book at absolutely no cost; you'll just pay out of the royalties on whatever you actually sell. On the other hand, if the sky's the limit and it's your dream to see thousands of copies on the shelves at your local bookstores and beyond, you'll find many services that will give you everything from full-color packages to marketing and beyond.

The good news is that technology has made it possible to get your work published with very few of the costs formerly associated with the process. There's no need for a warehouse stocked with your books when Print-on-Demand publishing has made it easy and economical for copies to be made whenever needed. You can still access any add-on service you may want, like professional editing or book covers designed by graphic artists, but most of the process of self-publishing takes out the guesswork and hassle - which saves you time and money every step of the way.

As you evaluate the many self-publishing companies available today, you'll quickly see that they vary widely in terms of services offered, costs, and reach for prospective readers of your work. Here are several handy criteria to bear in mind, to help you make your decision:

  • Anticipated Costs and Fees. While some self-publishing services are "free", almost all of them take a percentage of your profit when you sell copies of your book. What will you expect to pay upfront, and what will your royalties be?
  • Range of Services. What does the self-publishing company offer you as an author? How much work will you need to do with your manuscript before you submit it for publishing? Are these services included with any fees paid, or will you pay a la carte for each one you need?
  • Reach. Where will your book be made available for sale? Will your work be listed on some of the most well-known online bookstores, or just within the self-publishing company's internal bookstore?
  • Reputation. What do other authors say about the service? Did they have a smooth experience getting their book self-published? Does the company have a good track record of client service, including knowledgeable, friendly reps who can answer your questions along the way? has reviewed and ranked the best self-publishing cmpanies available today. We hope this information helps you narrow down your options and find the perfect fit for getting your book published!

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