Back in the day almost a decade before Amazon self-publishing was just getting going, a small outfit called Trafford had opened its doors in 1995 to aspiring authors.
Back then, the publishing arena was still hard to break into, with future authors spending a small fortune to self publish.
Related: Self-Publishing in 2020
The other alternative was through traditional publishing in the slim hopes of getting picked up by a publishing company that actually paid.
When they started, Trafford was, as they claim “ the first publisher to offer digital print-on-demand.”
But over the years, with the rise of Amazon KDP, Lulu, Bookbaby, and Ingramspark to name a few of the big players, Trafford has become just another vanity publisher that should have become extinct years ago. We will get into the reasons why coming up in this review.
If you are writing a book and looking for a simple and efficient method to get your book and message out there, take ten minutes to read this article first before making a decision to sign up with Trafford. It could save you thousands of dollars.
In this post, we will cover everything you need to know about Trafford Publishing, so that you can decide if working with them is in your best interest…or not.
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 Trafford Publishing, a subsidiary of Author Solutions.
In this deep dive into Trafford Publishing, we’ll determine whether this is a company capable of making your book the best that it can be. By the time you’re done with this post, there will be no doubt in your decision-making process the right path to take.
Here’s what we’ll cover in this Trafford Publishing review:
- What is Trafford Publishing?
- Trafford Publishing Packages and Price
- Is Trafford Publishing For You?
- Trafford Publishing: Pros and Cons
- Other Trafford Publishing Reviews
- Alternatives to Trafford Publishing
- Final Rating
What is Trafford Publishing?
Trafford Publishing was founded in 1995, by Bruce and Marsha Batchelor, John Norris, and Steve Fisher. Bruce Batchelor served as CEO until 2006. According to the Wall Street Journal, April 6, 2009, Trafford was purchased by Author Solutions, which operates AuthorHouse and iUniverse.
Before the buyout, Trafford had about 150 employees working at offices in Canada, the USA, UK, and Ireland. With the rise of competition and better options for self-publishing, Trafford has become just a small subsidiary of Author Solutions. Currently, Trafford Publishing operates out of Bloomington, Indiana, and offers a range of different publishing services.
Before we move on to dig in to Trafford’s publishing packages and pricing, it’s important that you understand how much it actually costs to self-publish a book on average. This will provide you with the context necessary to understand and compare Trafford’s packages.
How much does it cost to publish a book?
If you’re using a legitimate publisher, it should not cost you anything to publish your book.
If a publisher is asking for a fee in order to publish and market your book – that is not an actual publisher, but a vanity publisher. Vanity Publishers— like Author Solutions, or Hay House Publishing—charge high fees for their team of “publishing experts” to get your book to market.
The biggest mistake most new authors make is paying a company “dressed up” as a publisher for services they could have gotten for little to nothing.
As a self-published author, after writing your book, there are several publishing costs to take the book from rough draft to a published book. Those costs are related to production and include the basics like editing, cover design, and formatting.
While the cost to publish on Amazon is free, you shouldn’t publish your book without having spent any money.
To self-publish your book the right way, you have to invest in professional services, tools, and education courses, to ensure that your book meets the quality that readers deserve.
As a published author of 15+ books, I found that on average it costs about $2,000 to create a book from start to finish.
But, if you pay a company like Trafford (or any other vanity publisher) to do the work for you, while avoiding the technicalities of setting up the book yourself, you could be hurting your book sales and potential profit long-term.
Trafford Publishing Packages and Price: $699—$10,999
As with most self-publishing companies, Trafford has a host of packages for you to choose from. This depends on your needs as a self-publisher and your budget.
But how much should you spend? Are these packages worth the investment?
The packages are broken down into 7 individual tiers. We will briefly compare each of these packages, but you can access the Trafford Publishing Packages directly to dive into more details on what they offer.
You have the choice to go with black and white or full color packaging.
Remember: Amazon KDP, Lulu Publishing, and several other self-publishing companies and book publishers can set you up for FREE and you pay for the print costs of your book. And yes, they’re much cheaper.
Here is a brief breakdown of the packages:
- Novo Publishing Package: $699.
- Scribe: $1,499
- Tablet: $2,499
- Vellum: $3,599
- Scroll: $5,799
- Folio: $7,999
- Tapestry: $10,999
If you are writing a standard book such as fiction, self help, or a memoir without any photographs, you’ll only need the black and white package.
Keep something in mind, that this price does NOT reflect what you pay for all your publishing costs.
Do these packages include book editing?
Editing is not listed here, but they do offer editing services. In our experience, editing is outsourced to someone that probably isn’t an editor at all, but uses Grammarly or Pro Writing Aid to do a quick scan.
How do we come to this conclusion? The high volume of complaints from authors who have found a mountain of mistakes after the so-called “editing.”
And although they include cover design, we have yet to see what we would consider a decent cover come from any vanity publishing company. Typically they also outsource the cover to the lowest bidder and you get a bad looking cover because the designer spent 5 minutes with it. This only kills your book sales.
To keep this brief and to the point, Trafford does offer to do all other services that include formatting, marketing, and production. But they are just for glamour and show. Compare these similar packages to all the other vanity publishers run by Author Solutions and you’ll see similar results (and complaints) from past customers.
If you are a children’s author, you can check out the packages available here:
- Imaginarium: $1,999
- Dreamcatcher: $1,499
- Spellbinder: $999
For this price, you could enjoy a vacation in Hawaii…the chances of a first time author recouping their investment on this without proper marketing is slim.
Trust us when we say, we don’t think the costs are worth it. By investing in a reputable school that has a successful track record of getting authors published, the Self Publishing School is a much better place to get the proper support via 1-1 coaching and a full course that teaches you the self-publishing steps.
Is Trafford Publishing For You?
No, it isn’t worth the investment.
After reviewing every one of the services on offer, a common theme emerges—charging a high price for something destined to fail you.
We don’t suggest choosing Trafford, but if you’re still unsure, at the very least see what other options are out there for you.
If you’re determined to get a done-for-you self-publishing package, check out some other companies that offer the same services with a better reputation.
Related: Self-Publishing Services
Trafford Publishing: Pros and Cons
So now that we’ve had a look at the packages offered via Trafford Publishing, what are the pros and cons of choosing Trafford over other self-publishing platforms?
Well, nothing to be honest. There is not one single pro that this company actually stands for. You will waste your money if you invest with them, and after that, regret that you hadn’t done more research to begin with.
But not to worry, that is why we are here and providing you with this information…to prevent you from making a mistake that you later regret!
As a result of the company’s negative online reviews and a reputation for failing to follow through on their promise to deliver, we don’t consider any of their services to be an advantage due to such a high risk.
- Vanity Publisher. 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.
- Negative Reputation. As you’ll soon see, there is a lot of negative feedback and Trafford Publishing complaints are plenty.
- Outdated Services. Like most vanity publishers, the services are outdated and fail to keep up with current self-publishing trends. If you look at the Trafford Publishing website it says it all.
- Lower Royalties. Although you are essentially having Trafford Publishing use Amazon self-publishing (which is free if you do it yourself, by the way), Trafford takes a cut of your royalties from your Amazon sales. Use this Book Royalties Calculator to learn more.
- Poor Quality. This is not a surprise as it is being published with a vanity publisher that has a seedy reputation represented through Author Solutions.
As you can see, the cons far outweigh the pros. Now, to roll things ahead even further, let’s take a look at the reviews for Trafford.
Other Trafford Publishing Reviews
We always make it clear to authors you must do the research before spending hard-earned cash on a worthless investment.
If you aren’t convinced yet, let’s take a look at what people are saying online. Whenever in doubt, there are a few sites we recommend to start with.
First, the reviews from Glassdoor, an online resource that tracks employee reviews for companies, is always a reliable source. Let’s see what they have to say about Trafford.
The overall ranking is as seen below:
As with many companies in this industry, the employees are generally favored and management isn’t.
Here are a mix of honest reviews from employees working for Trafford.
You can read more by visiting the Glassdoor review site for Trafford Publishing.
The reason we use Glassdoor reviews as a foundation to review Trafford is simple: If the people working there are not satisfied, they’re not going to put out the effort to make customers happy, either. And many customers are not happy, according to the ongoing complaint board.
Trafford’s ALLi rating
The Alliance for Independent Authors (ALLi) states in their ratings review that this is a company to definitely avoid.
If you listen to no other complaints but this one, you don’t have to dig any further. The ALLi (Alliance for Independent Authors) has a very strict rating system and doesn’t tolerate bad service when it comes to customer satisfaction.
To prevent authors from falling for publishing scams, ALLi created its own watchdog desk to research the market. By providing up-to-date information on customer reviews and service satisfaction, the watchdog desk has proven to be a trusted source of information.
When it comes to rating publishing companies, ALLI has five ratings—or colors—they give to rate the best and worst self-publishing services.
Trafford Publishing received a red rating, which is the lowest rating, given to companies that authors should steer clear from.
Writer Beware and Complaints Board
Here we have more of the same complaints. It is really hard to find anything positive about this vanity publisher. They are few and far between.
On the popular Writer’s Beware board, you can check out this news release from back in 2009 when Trafford was picked up by Author Solutions.
You can also check out the complaints board for more information.
Trafford Publishing should be avoided at all costs. Again, if you’re determined to invest in done-for-you services, consider any of the other companies before handing your money over to Dog Ear Publishing.
Alternatives to Trafford Publishing
Life is too short to waste time on companies that are ripping people off and failing to deliver. Vanity publishers have been set up to fail authors: period. This is why you need to invest in a self-publishing company that has the program and expertise to train and educate you in how to take total control of your book. For this reason, we encourage you to always research the best companies out there and make your own decisions on the services that best suit your needs.
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.
We believe in making informed choices, and to protect your investment – in terms of time, money, and your success as a reputable author.
Just to be clear, here at SelfPublishing.com we’re affiliated with Self-Publishing School, the 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 be the first to inform you.
You can check out our guide to self-publishing companies here.
If you want a done-for-you service, there are plenty of other alternatives to go with.
Of course, we’re of the thought that self-published authors shouldn’t opt for done-for-you services, but should invest in learning the entire self-publishing process themselves.
Investing in self-publishing education rather than a publishing package offers greater return on investment, costs less, and allows you to reap the benefits of growing your author career.
If that’s something you’re curious about, we’d like to turn your attention to the author education programs at Self-Publishing School. Although we’re a direct partner, and are clear about that, it may be an option to consider if you want to invest in an education.
So, why should you go for Self-Publishing School over Trafford Publishing?
- You learn how. While Trafford Publishing operates on a done-for-you basis, Self Publishing School will teach you how to do things. This is a lot more valuable in the long run.
- Proven results. Self Publishing School has an excellent reputation for producing best results.
- Expert coaching across genres. Self Publishing School doesn’t just provide information – you will be coached every step of the way, no matter the type of book you have.
- A supportive community. If you enroll in Self Publishing School, you don’t just get an education, you get a family of fellow authors from around the world.
- Chance to go further. Your experience doesn’t stop after launching your first book. Self Publishing School will equip you to launch a long-lasting author career
Trafford Publishing: Final Rating
Given the disgraceful reputation and one of the most disliked vanity publishers in the business under the umbrella of Author Solutions, 0 is the deserved score. It’s a score Trafford has worked hard to earn with its years of scamming bustling authors, and we believe in being fair.
The reason for this low score is based on:
- Trafford Publishing is on the watchdog advisory list of publishing companies to avoid.
- Operated by AuthorSolutions. If you have been paying attention to our past reviews about AuthorSolutions and affiliated companies, you know the reputation of this company, with multiple lawsuits and an endless stream of complaints from authors and industry experts.
- Overpriced Publishing Packages. Yes, you can find better value elsewhere for a lower cost. These prices are too high and the return on investment is not there. If you publish through Amazon KDP, it’s free and you pay nothing except your own book production costs!
If there is one thing you’ve learned from this Trafford Publishing review, we hope it’s this: Do more research before you invest with this company, or any other related to Author Solutions.
Do you have experience with Trafford Publishing? Let us know in the comments?
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