November 27, 2012
By LESLIE KAUFMAN
Simon & Schuster is testing the water in the booming self-publishing market.
The publishing company announced Tuesday that it was teaming up with Author Solutions, based in Bloomington, Ind., to create a separate house called Archway Publishing, which would be available for authors wanting to self-publish fiction, nonfiction, business or children’s books.
Self-publishing is a rapidly growing sector of the book industry, but big publishers have been tentative about entering the market, partly for fear of tarnishing their brand by allowing content they have not reviewed to be published under their name.
Simon & Schuster believes it has gotten around that problem by teaming with Author Solutions, which already has a robust self-publishing business, including partnerships with Harlequin, which specializes in romance books, and Thomas Nelson, which focuses on Christian books.
Simon & Schuster hopes to distinguish Archway from other self-publishing options by positioning it as a premium service, at a premium cost to the authors. In addition to the standard editorial, design and distribution services normally offered by Author Solutions, Archway will offer a new options created in consultation with Simon.
Authors can buy packages ranging from $1,599 for the least expensive children’s package, to $24,999 for the most expensive business book package.
In return, authors will get a range of services, like having access to a speaker’s bureau that will help find speaking opportunities and a video production department that creates and distributes book trailers.
Kevin Weiss, the chief executive of Author Solutions, hailed the deal as a step forward for self-publishing markets. “This is the largest non-niche publisher that we have established a partnership with to date,” he said in an interview. While the venture offers the expertise of a major publishing house, it will be operated and staffed by Author Solutions. With no Simon & Schuster personnel involved, and without the Simon & Schuster name attached in any way to the final product, Archway’s prices — significantly higher than the competition — could be a hard sell.
But Adam Rothberg, vice president of corporate communication for Simon & Schuster, said that another attraction of Archway was that Simon & Schuster would be carefully monitoring sales of books completed through the new venture and would use it as a way to spot authors it might want to sign to a contract.
One odd twist of the deal is that Author Solutions was purchased by the British publishing giant Pearson in July. Pearson has made Author Solutions part of Penguin, a Simon & Schuster competitor. But since Simon & Schuster was already far along in the planning with Author Solutions for the new brand, it decided to go forward anyway, Mr. Rothberg said.
A version of this article appeared in print on 11/28/2012, on page B7 of the NewYork edition with the headline: Simon & Schuster Steps Into Self-Publishing.