The Bookseller is reporting:

US independent publisher Perseus Books Group has launched a distribution and marketing service for authors wanting to self-publish their own e-books, offering a 70% royalty rate to the author.

Called Argo Navis Author Services, it will be offered to authors represented by agencies that have signed an agreement with Perseus, with Janklow & Nesbit Associates the first to have done so.

It is understood that Curtis Brown Ltd is also close to signing an agreement, with discussions ongoing with more than twelve other agencies. No authors have adopted the service as yet.


  1. It’s self-publishing if you still control the rights, ergo making you the publisher. I don’t the details of this arrangement in that regard.

    But on the details that have been released, this is a terrible, terrible deal. What are you paying 30% for exactly? Uploading and formatting? If you have any kind of computer literacy, you can learn the formatting – most people will pick it up in a couple of days. If you can’t, or don’t want to, you can pay a top-of-the-range professional formatter to take care of your book for less than $200.

    What else are they offering for the 30%? Oh yeah, uploading. Great. They will control your Amazon account, receive the royalties, and then pay you once they figure out how to split out the royalties from all the other thousands of books they have uploaded for gormless authors and agents. And you will have no idea of your sales, so you will just have to take your word.

    And is this 30% of the royalties paid out by the retailer, or 30% of the retail price. If it’s the latter, it’s highway robbery. But even the former is an awful deal that no-one with two brain cells should touch.

    “Services” like this should be paid for with a flat fee, not 30% of your royalties for a few hours work. Please.

  2. Clearly this is not self-publishing.

    From the NYT:
    “Argo Navis will provide basic marketing services, like placing product pages on retailer Web sites. It will also make more extensive marketing services available for a fee.
    E-books will be distributed to retailers including Amazon,, Google, Kobo, Sony and Apple.”

    To be honest it doesn’t look like much of a service to me, except for the laziest of writers.

  3. @Howard

    Unless a publishing deal is signed where the copyright is licensed to Argo Navis (or the literary agent), then it is self-publishing as the author still controls the rights. There aren’t enough details here to be clear on that.

    As for the “marketing services”, placing product pages on retailer websites is part of the uploading process. For them to try and spin that off as additional value for your 30% is disingenuous at best.

  4. No David – it is not self publishing. Self publishing means publishing it yourSELF ! not with an agent and a contract with Argo Navis. The important part of the term Self Publishing is the ‘SELF’ part.

  5. Howard,

    Having an agent or not doesn’t affect whether it is self-publishing or not.

    And whether a contract with Argo Navis is self-publishing or not depends on the terms of the contract. After all, self-publishers sign contracts with Amazon, Smashwords, and all sorts of people.

    The key part of the contract that will decide whether this is self-publishing, for me, is whether the author retains the rights. Whoever controls the rights is the publisher, whether that is the author, someone else, or a corporation.

    Now, it could well be true that the contract with Argo Navis is a “publishing” contract which assigns rights to them as publisher. But without more details, we really don’t know for sure.


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