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FastPencil Review: Is FastPencil Publishing Worth It?

Written by

P.J McNulty

https://selfpublishing.com/author/patrickmcnulty/

Published on

2020-09-14

If you’ve stumbled on this FastPencil Publishing review, you’re probably looking for help to create and launch your book.

FastPencil Publishing is one of the many self-publishing companies out there claiming to help you succeed as an author.

They offer self-publishing services in the area of book creation, distribution, and marketing.

But do they provide authors with a high-quality experience? Would your money produce a better return on investment if you chose a different company?

A Note To Our Readers:

We want you to make informed decisions when it comes to how and where to invest your money. That’s why our mission is to help educate authors on the various self-publishing companies and services that are on the market today.

Our reviews are meant to be unbiased, 3rd party reviews. In full transparency, we are part of the Self-Publishing School family, an online education company for authors and entrepreneurs looking to write and publish a book.

We’ve taken a close look at everything on offer at FastPencil Publishing so you can determine if they are the right option for your next book. 

We’ll break down exactly what they can do for you as an author, how much it will cost you, and if there are other options you should know about. 

Here’s what we’ll cover in this FastPencil Publishing Review:

  1. What is FastPencil Publishing?
  2. Packages and Pricing
  3. Should I use FastPencil Publishing?
  4. FastPencil Publishing Review: Pros and Cons
  5. Other FastPencil Publishing Reviews
  6. Alternatives to FastPencil Publishing
  7. Final Rating

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What is FastPencil Publishing?

FastPencil has been in business since 2008. They are an American company based in Pennsylvania and provide a range of self-publishing services and tools.

Essentially, FastPencil provides two main offerings to authors. First, an online, cloud-based book creation and collaboration environment, shown below. Second, a range of add-on design, publishing, and book marketing services.

fastpencil publishing review

FastPencil aims to serve authors at different stages of the self-publishing journey. For example, new authors could create their manuscript from scratch using the FastPencil cloud writing environment, and experienced authors could import their existing work into this environment. 

There’s no shortage of similar companies out there. When it comes to specialist creation tools to help you write and edit your book, or companies offering different publishing and marketing services, you’re spoiled for choice!

So which services are available with FastPencil? Are they likely to help your book succeed? And how much do they cost?

Read on to discover a full breakdown of what’s on offer at FastPencil.

Packages and Pricing

It might feel a little confusing at first to get to grips with what’s on offer at FastPencil.

This is because the company offers a range of optional, a la carte services through the FastPencil website itself, but also a range of packages through a wider service called Opyrus. 

To help demystify what’s on offer, we’ve researched both options in full, along with the most current pricing information. 

#1 – FastPencil A La Carte Services

If you’re interested in working with FastPencil on an a la carte basis, they currently offer four different categories of service for self-published authors:

  1. Editorial Services
  2. Design Services
  3. Marketing Services
  4. Publishing Services

Let’s check out the services available in each category and how much they cost. 

Editorial Services

Editorial services depend on the project size, and range from $299 to Basic Project Setup – $299 to $499, depending on word size, image, and overall content size.

Fixes errors typically seen from importing a digital manuscript into the FastPencil cloud writing environment, such as problems with typesetting. Service covers 50,000 words, five tables, five images.

You can also purchase individual services such as image resizing, transcription service, copyediting, and more.

The Manuscript Evaluation (~$399) includes an overview of how the manuscript is seen, including mechanical edit analysis with suggested next steps. In-depth feedback on aspects such as setting, characters, and plot. 

Design Services

You can purchase book cover design services ranging from $299 to $899.

A front and back book cover created from either stock images or images provided by the author. Includes a solid color book spine design as well as one revision cycle.

Book Marketing Services

For book marketing services, you can purchase marketing assets such as Website and Blog Creation (~$669), but there aren’t any details given as to what type of website, how much content will be developed, or where it will be hosted.

There are other marketing-type services such as targeted press release creation (~$599) and Marketplace Showcase (~$75) which includes a call with a marketing expert indicating changes that should be made to how the book is marketed as well as a review written for marketing purposes. Vague on exactly what this consists of or how it works. 

The Custom Marketing Kit (~$279) includes physical marketing materials for your book. This tier includes 100 business cards, 100 bookmarks, and 10 posters.

The Ultimate Event Marketing Kit (~$449) is intended for authors featured at in-person events or conferences. Includes everything from the custom marketing kit as well as a 6 foot banner with a stand as well as a customized pen. There is also a Premium Marketing Kit (~$679) which is similar to the custom marketing kit but provides 250 business cards, bookmarks, and postcards, as well as 20 posters.

Publishing Services

If you’re looking publishing services which allows your book to be published under a custom imprint, there are some options for you with FastPublishing.

FastPencil will acquire a Library of Congress control number for your book and also provide copyright registration for a fee.

Related: How to Copyright a Book

There are also wide distribution services which allows for either a print or ebook edition of your book, not both, to the distributed to the wide network of booksellers that FastPencil uses. 

FastPencil Publishing Packages 

Previously, FastPencil offered bundled packages of publishing services. Now, to access a package, authors are required to take out a subscription to their new offering, Opyrus.

Opyrus consists of three elements intended to help self-published authors:

  1. WritingLight. Information about writing and publishing offered in the form of online content such as blog posts and podcasts as well as more in-depth courses.
  2. Caravan Network. A social media platform for authors intended to facilitate mutual support and collaboration. Includes personal profiles and forum discussions.
  3. FastPencil. The cloud book creation tool itself, including a space to write and edit your book in the cloud as well as access to the premium add on services described above.

If you want to access Opyrus, there are three tiers of membership.

Opyrus Free Tier

Allows access to some of the free content on WritingLight such as blog posts, although a lot of the content requires a paid membership for access.

Enables you to create a member profile on the Caravan Network, but most of the useful features such as social groups and forum discussions are only available if you upgrade to a paid membership. 

Grants access to the most basic aspects of the FastPencil online writing and editing tool, but most of the features are unavailable for free users. 

Opyrus Personal Tier – $45.67 annual subscription or $4.95 monthly ( $59.40 per year)

Allows greater access to the content on WritingLight, including courses and tools that are unavailable to free tier members.

Provides enhanced usage of the Caravan Network, including participation in groups and discussions.

Enables more functionality on the FastPencil tool, such as the ability to print books on demand, message collaborators directly from the platform, and track sales and royalties. 

Opyrus Professional Tier – $138 annual subscription or $14.95 monthly ( $179.40 per year)

Allows the highest level of access to WritingLight, including all the blog posts, podcasts, and courses that the platform offers.

Grants full access to the Caravan Network, although nothing extra from the Personal tier.

Offers the highest functionality possible for FastPencil itself, including global distribution, 10% discount on add on services, and the use of a custom publishing imprint. 

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Should I use FastPencil Publishing?

Now that we’ve fully explored the services on offer through FastPencil Publishing and Opyrus, let’s stop and consider whether they’re worth investing in.

One thing that immediately jumps out after researching the costs of what’s on offer is the lack of value for money as well as the fact that many of the services will fail to move the needle on your book’s success. 

Let’s consider just a few examples.

One of the most egregious charges is the $10 per image resizing cost! You don’t have to be a digital design expert to know that the amount of work needed to resize an image is tiny. 

fastpencil image resize

Another issue that becomes immediately clear is the inconsistency between the a la carte pricing and the subscription services. These expose the fact that many of the services are hugely overpriced. 

For example, if you decide to go for wide distribution on an a la carte basis, you will pay $299. However, if you take a year of the top tier subscription to Opyrus, costing $138, wide distribution is included!

Overall, we don’t recommend that self-publishers invest in FastPencil Publishing services, especially on an a la carte basis. 

FastPencil Publishing Review: Pros and Cons

If you’re looking for a quick rundown of the pros and cons of using FastPencil Publishing, look no further!

Pros

  • Cloud-based. If you like the reassurance of having all your work in the cloud, you’ll like FastPencil. However, the downside of this is the need to always be connected to get work done. 
  • Everything in one place. Some self-published authors might find it useful to have their book creation, publishing, and tracking services all in a single online environment. 
  • Business with longevity. FastPencil has been in operation since 2008, so they aren’t a fly by night company. 

Cons

  • Overpriced services. Many of the services offered by FastPencil are hugely overpriced, and can easily be carried out for free or cheaper elsewhere.
  • Confused pricing. The chasm between the a la carte and subscription pricing shows that authors are not getting value for money on an a la carte basis. 
  • Better free alternatives. There are plenty of free alternatives to many of the features provided by FastPencil. For example, there is a wide range of free or cheaper specialist book writing tools that offer more than FastPencil. 
  • No personal support. Self-publishing is as much about personal motivation and progress as it is the technical aspects. There is no coaching or other forms of personal support on offer here. 
  • No sense of offline community. Many self-publishing companies offer an attractive live event or conference. There is no such option with FastPencil. 

Other FastPencil Publishing Reviews

Of course, before you decide for or against a company like FastPencil, it’s smart to consider a range of different viewpoints.

To save you the trouble of hunting around, we’ve gathered together some other perspectives on FastPencil Publishing for your convenience. 

Over at The Independent Publishing Magazine, FastPencil was awarded 6.7/10. However, the review is over seven years old and refers to several out of date services and price points. 

fastpencil review

The Better Business Bureau lists Infinity Publishing as an alternative business name as FastPencil Inc and has awarded the company a grade of F. 

fastpencil bbb review

Over at Yelp. FastPencil has one and a half stars on average after 10 customer reviews.  

fastpencil yelp review

Alternatives to FastPencil Publishing

So where should you look if you’re seeking an alternative to FastPencil?

As a company that offers a wide range of different services, finding the right alternative depends on your reason for using FastPencil. 

If you’re looking for specialist software or a cloud-based environment to write and edit your book in, you have a lot of options, plenty of which are free.

If you’re looking for a company to help you produce and market your book, there is a wide range of different organizations out there. Check out this guide to find one that’s right for your needs.

And finally, if you’re looking for the knowledge and support needed to self-publish successfully, why not check out the programs from Self-Publishing School?

If you choose to invest in one of their paid programs, you gain access to supportive coaching, a fantastic community, and a brilliant live event. 

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No matter what your reason is for considering FastPencil Publishing, there are alternative options to consider. Make sure to weigh them up carefully before making your final decision. 

Final Rating 

Our Rating
Overall, we award FastPencil Publishing two stars out of five.

Although some authors may find value in the wider Opyrus subscription, we feel that the services on offer at FastPencil are overpriced and unlikely to produce a good return on investment for most authors.

We urge authors to check out alternative options before investing in any aspect of FastPencil Publishing. 

P.J McNulty