Balboa Press is just one of the many companies that appears when you start your research process into self-publishing companies.
If you’re thinking about self-publishing a book, a quick Google search likely led you down a rabbit hole into a slew of publishing options.
There are a lot out companies out there, and without careful research, you could wind up forking over thousands of dollars and countless hours, with little to show for it.
Related: How to Publish A Book
As part of our efforts to help empower authors to make informed, educated decisions, we’re taking a close look at Balboa Press, a subsidiary of Hay House Publishing.
In this post, we will cover everything you need to know about Balboa Press, so that you can determine if working with them is a good idea…or not.
Here’s what we’ll cover:
- What is Balboa Press?
- Balboa Press Programs & Cost
- Is Balboa Press For You?
- Balboa Press Reviews: The Pros & Cons
- Other Balboa Press Reviews
- Alternatives to Balboa Press
What is Balboa Press?
Balboa Press is the paid publishing division of self-help book publisher Hay House Publishing. All their packages and services are administered by Author Solutions, a global provider of self-publishing services and solutions that has other publishing imprints like Archway Publishing.
Related: Hay House Publishing Review
Hay House Publishing was established by bestselling author Louis Hayes in 1984. Hay House describes itself as a “mind-body-spirit and transformational enterprise.” Their target audience is readers interested in self-help, personal growth, and alternative medicine.
When you land on the Balboa Press website, you’ll be encouraged to sign up for the free guide by filling in your personal information, including your phone number.
In doing so, rest assured an agent from Balboa Press will call you that same day to follow up. This is the “free consultation call” but it’s actually a sales call to sell a publishing package.
Balboa press is a business, afterall, and they do have a disclaimer warning you to expect a contact call.
But all that aside, let’s move into…
Balboa Press Selling Points
When it comes to self-publishing, there is a lot of clutter to sift through, like any skyrocketing industry. The majority are made up of vanity publishers, hybrid publishers, and actual self-publishing companies.
Now, I’ll be blunt: Dreams cost money. And it does cost money to write, edit, and push a book no matter what platform you use. You can read more about the cost to self-publish later, but what you need to think about is…
Related: Cost to Self-Publish
If you hire a self-publishing company such as Balboa Press, are you paying too much for the work you could be doing yourself?
A major selling post of Balboa Press is that they claim to do all the heavy lifting, so you won’t have to lift a finger.
But at what cost?
Make no mistake. This might sounds enticing to a new author that is worried about the tech side of self-publishing, but that is what self-publishing is all about: learning to publish your own book by following a successful system.
Related: How to Publish A Book
The trap that most new authors fall into—and one that Balboa enforces—is that self-publishing is this very complicated system that takes years to learn how to do. But in reality, it actually isn’t.
There is a lot of publishing language used that intimidates most new authors, and instead of learning the steps, they are told by a sales agent that “You’re safer publishing with us.”
Many authors have fallen into that trap, and it has cost them money, time, and more.
Balboa Press Packages & Cost
Before we dive into Balboa’s publishing services, it’s important that you understand the cost to self-publishing.
That way, you can be sure not to overpay for publishing services that would normally be a fraction of the price. The biggest mistake most new authors make is paying a company disguised as a publisher for services they could have gotten for close to nothing…or even free.
As a self-published author, after writing your book, there are several costs to take the book from rough draft to published book. Those costs are related to production and include the basics like editing, cover design, and formatting.
Related: KDP Formatting Guide
As you read through the Balboa Press packages, keep these questions in mind:
- What am I actually getting for the price?
- What do I really need to publish?
- What am I paying for that I could be getting cheaper elsewhere?
- How much more would I have to pay on top of the prices showing?
With that in mind, let’s take a look at Balboa Press and the publishing packages they offer:
#1 – Standard Packages: $1,099 – 3,999
The question is, what are you really getting for the price?
It comes down to this:
- What do I really need to publish?
- What am I paying for that I could be getting cheaper elsewhere?
- How much more would I have to pay on top of the prices showing?
The standard core packages all include: An ISBN (which you can get free), author discount, online distribution, book cover design (need to supply own artwork), personalized back cover, interior book design and layout, black and white interior, color cover, 10 image insertions, softcover publishing, eBook formatting, complimentary author copy, sold on Amazon.com and Barnes and Noble, personalized Balboa press bookstore page.
While it may seem like you’re getting a lot of services for the price, if you have experience with self-publishing you’ll know that most of what’s included is actually available for free. For example, it's free to create an Amazon Author Page and publish on Amazon's KDP.
In addition, you may start off with the lowest package, but Balboa is notorious for constant upsells and charging for various fees. For example, let's say you need a change made to your book, like a formatting error or typo fixed. You will have to reach out to Balboa for them to make the change, AND pay a fee for them to fix it. When in reality, you could just do this yourself, for free.
The language used here is too hard not to poke at. The more expensive the package, the harder they make it to sell the dream.
Here are the tiers within the Standard Core Packages:
- Embark Package: $1099. Includes 5 “Free” Author Copies.
- Connect Package: $1899. Includes 10 “Free” Author Copies, 5 Free hardcover copies, Library of Congress Control Number (Free government service), Barnes & Noble See Inside Program (Free service), Amazon Search Inside (Free service), 100 promotional materials (customized postcards, bookmarks, business cards for your book)
- Discover Package: $2,799. Includes everything from Connect package as well as 1 year of booksellers return program, deluxe author website setup, 10 free softcover copies, 5 free digital bookstub codes, 5 free hardcover copies, 100 promotional materials (customized postcards, bookmarks, business cards for your book
- Inspire Package: $3999. Includes everything from Discover but premier author website setup rather than deluxe, book buyers preview, social media setup guide, editorial assessment, press release essential edition, 20 free softcover copies, 10 free digital bookstub codes, 5 free hardcover copies, 300 promotional materials.
#2 – The Core Plus Packages
So, we’ve taken a brief look at the standard packages. Now, the core packages that include lots of added goodies.
Before I dive into this, let me be transparent about the book materials included in the package: press release material, premium book video, book signing kits, editorial reviews, Google ads, and author website setup… None of this means anything if you can’t sell your book, and having all of these resources is overwhelming.
Ask yourself: What do I do with all of this stuff? Is it essential?
The Core Plus packages all include: Everything featured in all standard core packages, hardcover publishing, 10 complimentary hardcover copies, 300 promotional materials, 1 year of booksellers return program, premier author website setup, book buyers preview, social media setup guide, editorial assessment, press release, book signing kit, index service, cover copy polish.
Here are the tiers within the Core Plus Packages:
- Empower: $5599. Includes above services, 10 free digital bookstub codes, 30 free softcover copies.
- Master: $8799. Includes premium book video, 15 free digital bookstub codes, 50 free softcover copies.
- Amplify: $14999. Premium book video, social media coach, 90 days of Google ads, 20 free digital bookstub codes, free softcover copies
You can check out everything these packages include in greater detail by visiting the Balboa Package Services page.
As you consider what’s included in each package, try to dissect the language, and keep asking yourself: Do I actually need this to publish my book?
Chances are, you’ll find that it’s all extra stuff dressed with fancy language.
Is Balboa Press For You?
Balboa Press might be the solution for you if you have the cash to spend and you’re okay with paying someone to publish your book (even though you can do it yourself, or work with a different company, for a lot less).
There is a key point to keep in mind: Balboa Press is NOT a traditional publisher. Your book will be self-published through Balboa. Your book will not be placed in bookstores but has the potential to be sold on many big retailer sites. However, it does not have any more potential if it were self-published through a different company.
Balboa Press is for authors that want to leave everything up to the publishing company. But you still have to learn how to write the book!
Unless you use a ghostwriter, you are paying someone a lot of money to publish a book that might not sell.
Set Realistic Expectations For Self-Publishing
Let’s be clear (and realistic) about something. Having a website and fancy book materials has nothing to do with selling books or getting your book into bookstores.
Related: Book Marketing Guide
Most new authors are sold under the impression that if they do this right and pay for all the right gadgets, their book will be flying off the shelves.
Using the language that soon-to-be-published authors love to hear such as “fulfill your destiny” or “launch your dreams,” it sounds enticing. I’m not trying to kill anyone’s dream of becoming a published author. But, there is a difference between publishing your book and getting a bestseller on Amazon, and publishing your book and becoming a rock star.
This won’t happen through Balboa Press, no matter what they say or try to sell you on. In my conversation with one of their sales reps, if I hadn’t known any better, I might have been tempted to go all out and drop $10,000.
But I do know better. I know value when I see it, and I know the realistic things I have to pay for. I know what is free and what this company is charging for that you actually get as a service elsewhere.
And, I want you to be aware of these things as well.
If you’re going to spend $3,000—$6,000 on a publishing platform, make that investment into your own author education and career. Make sure that the company teaches you how to become a self-published author, so you can build a book business for yourself – without having to pay a company your book royalties.
If you actually do hire a hybrid or vanity publisher to do everything for you, have realistic expectations.
Warning signs to watch out for are:
- Big promises when it comes to book sales: “You will be selling books by the truckload from the first day!”
- Over the top praise: “Your book is so good I can’t believe it. I’ve read it twice!”
- Tech-challenged approach: “We do it all for you. You don’t have to do a thing!
Balboa won’t be able to sell your book, or at least, move enough copies to justify the cost of publishing the book. Even IF the quality is top notch (and looking at the book covers in Balboa’s bookstore, it’s not), you need your own audience, not a baked in superficial audience they are promising to promote your book to.
I see this all the time: “Get your book in front of millions of readers.” We—as authors—would love that. But it’s not as easy as they are painting it.
A common concern from new authors is: “But I don’t know anything about self-publishing or writing a book, not to mention marketing?”
Exactly. You are starting from ground zero. But you can learn these things for half the price of what Balboa Press is charging.
Don’t fall for the trap that “self-publishing is the huge, complex machine that you need the experts to help you with.”
Yes, there are a lot of steps, but thousands of authors are doing it everyday with the help of online education and coaching.
Balboa Press Review: The Pros and Cons
Let’s take a step back before you sell your favorite pet to fork over $7,000 to a vanity publishing company.
Because that’s what Balboa Press is: a vanity publisher. You are paying them to publish your book.
As long as you understand that you are paying Balboa Press to publish your book (which authors really should never have to do), then there might be some pros to using this service.
The major advantage to using Balboa is that you can essentially pay them to publish your book, if you have the money to spend on this, and don’t mind not having full creative control over your book production process. If you are severely technically challenged and have the budget, Balboa’s done-for-you packages might be a choice.
If you're looking for a done-for-you service, don't need full creative control over your book, and can afford the fees, Balboa Press might be for you.
Vanity publishing companies are not actual publishing companies. You pay them to publish your book, which authors should never have to do.
The high cost of services does not usually meet the quality.
Fees & Upsells
You will be charged maintenance fees whenever you need to make changes to your book.
Balboa takes a percentage of your royalties (even if you sell on Amazon).
Many reviewers warn that the quality of services from Balboa in manuscript editing and book cover design are not high quality.
Once you give your contact information to Balboa, be prepared to hear from their sales team often.
Now, let’s move on to the cons of working with a company like Balboa Press.
- Vanity Publisher. If you couldn’t tell, we don’t like vanity publishing. We feel that many authors are misinformed about the publishing process, and vanity publishing companies take advantage of that by charging ridiculously high prices for low-quality work.
- Cost. Balboa Press is expensive, and the quality of services rendered don’t match up to the company’s prices.
- Maintenance fees & constant upsells. Once your book is written and published, you will have to pay Balboa for any changes made to your book. Anyone who has self-published a book knows how easy it is to go in and make changes to a book for free on Amazon.
- Lower Royalties. Although you are essentially having Balboa Press self-publish your book on Amazon (which is free if you do it yourself, by the way), Balboa Press takes a cut of your royalties from your Amazon sales. This means that instead of receiving your FULL royalty amount, a percentage goes to Balboa just because you used their service. Use this Book Royalties Calculator to learn more.
- Poor Quality. For the price you are paying Balboa for done-for-you services, the quality of book cover design and manuscript editing is not up to standard.
- Aggressive outreach. A common complaint is that Balboa Press has an aggressive outreach once they possess your contact information, whether that's via email or phone number.
Here is a snippet from How to Blog a Book by Nina Amir:
Other Balboa Press Reviews
Don’t just take our word for it when deciding whether or not to work with Balboa – do more research!
There’s an abundance of reviews online, so take a look yourself and use what you learn to make an informed decision.
For more reading, check out these resources:
- Vanity Press Scams and Self Publishing Companies to Avoid
- ALLI (Alliance of Independent Authors), a highly reliable source for up-to-date facts and information on the most trusted services and publishers, you will find this warning on Balboa Press:
On the popular blog Getting Naked Blog, this is what a reviewer has written:
The reviews continue:
After looking into this company and doing our own research, it appears that Balboa Press is a massive trouble maker for authors.
Big dollars spent with the show being run by amateurs lined up on standby to take your money. Once you pay, that’s it.
Balboa Press Alternatives
There are plenty of alternatives to using Balboa Press, many of which will get you better results for a fraction of the cost. We encourage you to continue searching the industry to find a company that fits your needs best.
Our best advice: Find a reputable self-publishing company that can show you the ropes on self-publishing at a lower investment, and add value to your life through publishing a book you control and get full compensation on.
To be clear, SelfPublishing.com offers author education programs through Self-Publishing School, the leading online education company for authors and entrepreneurs.
We will always strive to provide unbiased reviews, but if we know there is a better alternative out there, we will share our opinion.
Here’s what Self-Publishing School offers aspiring authors for less investment than Balboa Press (and way more value):
- Specific learning paths tailored to fit your publishing needs. Are you a first-time author ready to write and self-publish your book? Or maybe you’re a fiction writer that wants to create a bestselling author? Maybe you’re ready to sell more books, or launch an online course from your book? We have programs to fit your author style.
- Bestseller guarantee. We have helped thousands of authors become bestsellers through our proven framework.
- 1-1 high touch coaching with an expert author. All of the book coaches—successful published authors themselves—walk students through the process of self-publishing. Check out the programs for more information on this.
- Online education with step-by-step guidance for self-publishing success, so you can learn how to write and publish a book, and use those skills to continue publishing more books.
- Mastermind community access. There is a community of 2,000+ authors in the Facebook Mastermind group to support each other. You can converse with the members on topics related to your book, get instant feedback, and gain confidence in knowing you belong to a group of authors working towards a common goal: to become a successful published author!
- Full royalties and rights. Self-Publishing School does NOT take any of your book sales or royalty fees. You own all rights to your book.
We urge you to take a look into this yourself and read more reviews on Self-Publishing School.
While Balboa Press does offer publishing options, we believe there are higher quality services that require less investment out there for self-publishers.
Because we’re all about helping authors to make informed choices that protect their investment and author reputation, we encourage you to pass on Balboa Press unless you do not want full creative control, can accept less book royalties than you're owed, and can afford their fees.
Regardless which company you choose to go with, don’t fall into the trap of thinking that it costs an outrageous amount of money to publish a book.
Like this review? Here are some other self-publishing companies we have reviews on:
- Self-Publishing School Review
- Hay House Publishing Review
- Reedsy Review
- BookBaby Review
- Author Incubator Review
- Scribe Media Review
- Self Publishing Formula Review
- Lulu Publishing Review
- Smashwords VS Draft2Digital Review
- Xlibris Review
- Zondervan Publishing Review
All the best on your publishing journey!