Book Tango Week 1 Review: 3.5/5

Update: I am no longer with Book Tango. See my responses to inquiries below for more information. Or my article on why I decided to stop self-publishing.

It’s a great idea. Needs polish and a little more transparency.

For those of you who don’t know, almost exactly a week ago today my first book, The Grey Heir, went live and I couldn’t be more excited! (though I suppose you wouldn’t know it from my lack of blog activity – that very inactivity was due in part to other promotional pushes).

I chose to publish with a site called Book Tango. Regular readers might remember I did a review of the site – or at least the idea for the site – earlier in an “author’s resources” post.

Basically, Book Tango offers four features (at least for free): they have an eBook creation tool that can help you take your book from a Word doc to a formatted eBook, they publish your book to ALL the major eBook retail stores, and they help you track your sales.

In theory this sounds like a great service. In practice it has a few rough edges.

The Services:

Let’s go through what Book Tango really offers (including the things I didn’t find out about until after publishing with them).

    1. The Creation Tool: At first I found the creation tool extremely frustrating. It didn’t have the font I had used for my book originally (Georgia), and it wouldn’t let me keep my drop caps. However, I think most of my annoyance came from the fact that my internet is fairly slow in my current home and it was late at night. When I revisited the project the next day I found out that I had made a lot more progress than I thought and I appreciated the fact that it had made the table of contents automatically.Overall, I would rate the creation tool a 4/5. It was relatively intuitive but I’m still bitter about my missing drop caps.


    1. Publishing to all distributors: Right now my book is only available through Amazon and the Book Tango store. This isn’t actually Book Tango’s fault. They sent it to Barnes and Noble, iBooks, Kobo, Sony, and all the others, Amazon is just MUCH faster than they are. When I published, they said it would take one day to four weeks for my book to appear in all the outlets. Again, not their fault, but that doesn’t stop it from being irritating. I reserve my star judgement on this one until the four weeks are up.


    1. Sales Tracking: One of the features I was most excited about was the ability to track sales in real time. After I signed up I found out that it actually had a 72 hour delay. I sighed and waited for three days for my sales to start appearing. Then I waited four days. Then 6 days. Finally, today I live-chatted with one of their service reps (genuine cudos for having that) and they got me to read the part above the sales report page that said it was a 72 hour delay for sales made in the Book Tango store. Sales made outside the Book Tango store would be recorded after each month. Face palm. Although technically this service will still be useful, I don’t remember them mentioning that kind of lag. 3/5 for the time lapse on a useful service.


  1. Payday: This is one of their primary selling points: 100% royalties. What that actually means is that they don’t take any more on top of what Amazon or Nook or Apple take. I already knew that. In fact it’s one of the reasons I chose Book Tango over services like Smashwords, who offer similar distribution services but take 10% for their trouble. What I didn’t know was that they only pay once a quarter. That hurts, especially when compared to something like KDP (Kindle Direct Publishing), which pays once a month. Again, I don’t remember anything about this in their promotional video. It’s in their FAQs, but a little buried and certainly not given any more light than absolutely necessary. 2/5 for both the slightly sub-par service and the nasty surprise.

In a Nutshell…

Here’s the thing: I want to like Book Tango. I really do. It was easy to set up an account, once I got used to the creation tool it was intuitive and useful, they don’t charge anything for their amazing distribution abilities, and they genuinely seem to want to be offering a good service.

I think they’ll get there. It just makes me sad that I’ve gone through so many unpleasant surprises with them.

I think this problem could be solved with just a little more transparency. I know it’s not the best marketing strategy to advertise paying authors once a quarter, or the lag in sales data, but I think saving authors the surprise would be worth it in customer satisfaction.

Or they could, you know, fix the problems – pay us once a month and update sales data more frequently.

Just sayin’.


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  1. Partly out of frustration of wanting to publish my own ebooks years ago but confused by the plethora of formats etc, I rather rushed into joining Booktango being taken in my slick selling jargon about the ease of it all. Can I sell the book I publish with them also on my own website? I agree there is little transparency over major issues such as frequency of payment. My YouTube channel pays every month (monetisation). Shouldn’t this be the standard?

    • The Ink Slinger says:

      I think it should absolutely be standard. Having been a BookTango client for five months now I am feeling more and more underwhelmed. What did you eventually do with your own book?

  2. As a first (well fist thing I’d let the world see) time author, who doesn’t really want to deal with a big publishing house, this review is really helpful! I think I will go with book tango despite the little problems. Thank you for for taking the plunge so I’m not surprised! And I think I’m going to have to get a copy of your book based on the tittle alone…

    • The Ink Slinger says:

      Hi Anne,
      I’m glad you found the review helpful, though in all honesty I’m thinking about switching from BookTango to someone else. Their customer service people are simply not very helpful – or at least I got tired of hearing “we cannot control what Amazon (or Barnes and Noble, iBooks, ect.) does.” It’s completely true, they can’t. However, I felt like they weren’t doing much to advocate for me either, so there you go.
      That being said, I think it’s great that you’re ready for the world to see something you’ve written and would love to hear what you think of The Grey Heir. When you get your own book published, send me the title and I’ll check it out!
      Thank you for reading,
      Zac Katz-Stein

  3. hi hi! I just wanted to thank you so much for this post. I’m self publishing and researching and was having trouble finding a real person to explain booktango’s drawbacks. I’m considering them for a novella that I’ve written with a partner under one name. when it comes to (finally) getting a check, how does that work? do you just have to supply one social security number? and if in time (say a year) we wanted to consider selling paperbacks as well (via createspace/amazon) how would that affect the novella on booktango?

    you may or may not know these answers. I just thought i’d try 🙂
    regardless, thank you so much for this article. it’s been very helpful!

    • The Ink Slinger says:

      Hi Sarah,

      It’s always awesome to hear from someone who is thinking about publishing soon! Let me see if I can answer your questions:

      1) Payment: BookTango pays me via direct deposit (or maybe I should say that they did – I took my book down a couple weeks ago and am going to re-release it as an amazon exclusive). If you co-authored your book with someone that could be tricky as I don’t think they will split your payment into two accounts (though you could always ask). Maybe you and your partner could open a bank account to which you both have access and have the payments made there.

      2) When you sell on BookTango you are giving them the license to distribute your book as an ebook, so it won’t conflict if you want to use someone else to create a print book later (Createspace, Lulu, Book Baby, ect.).

      I wish you all the best in your literary endeavors,


  4. Trudie Webb says:

    Thanks so much for posting this Zac, I am searching for somewhere to get an ebook published and you have just stopped me making the mistake of going with Book Tango it does sound like a fab offer but I think with their teething problems I will maybe try someone else.

    Good luck with your sales I will be sure to give it a look

    Kind Regards


  5. Hi, there, Ink Slinger
    I’m published with Smashwords now for several years. Three novels and next to nothing in terms of sales and no royalties paid out as I have not reached the minimum required amount to qualify. Well, suffice it to say, if I was a struggling author and dependent on a writer’s income alone, I’d be a starving one, too.
    What I’m looking for is another venue, ( and someone to take a critical eye at what I’ve been writing and provide me with I hope, not a painful determination, of whether or not I have adequate writing chops to sell what I’ve written. With the low quality of material that is being print published these days ( and made into movies ) I thought I at least have a decent chance ). Anyway, thank you for this enlightening and informative review of yours. I think I will give Book Tango a try. I’ve two new novels nearing completion. At this point I really have nothing to lose.

    • The Ink Slinger says:

      Hi Gabriel,

      First, I’m sorry it’s taken me so long to reply to your comment. I meant to do it, then didn’t. I don’t really have an excuse.

      My experience with ebooks has been similarly disheartening. With the massive storm of content available (in all its varying qualities), it’s difficult to get people to notice your writing. Recently, I was given a good piece of advice my a much more experienced writer. She said to try to sell 200 copies of your book. Apparently, that’s an industry bench mark. If you sell 200 copies to people you actually think will read it, and the book is good, word of mouth will start taking effect and the book will begin to sell itself to some degree.

      Of course, you still need follow up works. You said you published three books so far (congratulations!), are they all in one series, or are they disparate works?

      One final piece of advice: don’t hang all your hopes on one book, or one publisher (like BookTango). Keep writing, yes, but more than that, keep honing your craft. Go to writer’s workshops, find a writing group, read authors you respect and think about what makes their work so compelling. I’m a firm believer that writing is a skill like any other. This means it’s less about “talent” and more about smart, hard work. I emphasized “smart” there because you can’t just write the same thing over and over and expect to improve (though I bet you would a little). You have to make a conscious effort to improve your work.

      I hope this belated reply helps you and that you continue to pursue your writing goals.



  6. Hey!
    Thanks for the review, I was all hyped about booktango because it seemed too good to be true so I had to research some reviews!

    I’m just getting started in writing and had a question.

    My “e-book” will be an informative book on how to start doing business in Thailand along with 30+ low cost business ideas specifically for Thailand.

    I’m not sure if this is e-book material or just a long pdf that I should sell on my own website? Do you think the content i described is fit for the major ebook marketplaces?

    Long shot question, but I gotta start asking somewhere! 🙂 Thanks!

    • The Ink Slinger says:

      Hi Sam,

      I absolutely think your book is appropriate for the ebook market place, especially if you’re planning on writing more books in a similar style. That’s really the biggest lesson I’ve learned self-publishing: more than anything else, you need consistent, quality content.

      I recommend you look at KDP, it’s very easy for first time authors and Amazon is by far the most responsive ebook distributor I’ve worked with.

      Good luck in all your writing endeavors,


  7. Stay away from BookTango. If it’s formatting for your ebook you need, pay for someone off of Fiverr to get it going for you. It’s been three months now and I still have NO IDEA as to what my sales are. I know in following my Amazon ranking via author central that there have been sales, but the info posted to my sales report on Book Tango shows nothing which I know to be impossible. Their customer service is horrible. Stay away!

    • The Ink Slinger says:

      I agree. Read some of my replies to the comments here and you’ll get a very different picture than I gave in the article. Or rather, it’s the same picture with the advantage of more time and information. Book Tango is terrible.

      Also, I’ve come to believe that self-publishing is not really a viable option if you want to make a living as a writer. See this article for more info:

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