Penguin’s Book Country opens new bookstore and offers 100% royalty

Penguin’s Book Country is relaunching with an online bookstore and self-publishing deals, including a 100% royalty offer, that could position it as a rival to Smashwords.

Book Country was set up two years ago for genre authors writing romance, SF/fantasy or mystery/thrillers to post their work and offer feedback but it’s adding a bookstore this week and widening the range of genres from 5 to 60.

“Self-starter” authors who do their own pre-publishing work can upload their books without any charge and will get 85% royalties, which is the same as Smashwords. Book Country will be listed as the publisher, which is also the situation with Smashwords.

Books will also be sold though major online ebook outlets, including Amazon, Kobo, Barnes & Noble and iBooks, as Smashwords does.

Last year, Penguin bought Author Solutions, which has come in for criticism from some writers, and is offering the firm’s services for writers through Book Country.

If an author opts for the most expensive Author Solutions publishing package, called Prospect and priced at $399, then they can get a 100% royalty rate which is said to apply on all sales, whether direct through the Book Country store or through Amazon, etc.

There is also a standard package at $59 which offers a basic formatting and correcting service and 85% royalties. All the deals are on a non-exclusive basis.

Book Country has around 8,300 members, so its range is likely to be limited compared with Smashwords, where over 60,000 writers have published books, but BookCountry could have a particular strength in genres where it has specialised.

Harper Collins has a similar writing community website with Authonomy and an author services company in Authoright but does not have an online bookstore.