Publishing Is Rotten To The Core Bewares Publishing

There is something seriously askew with the supposed values of the publishing business. The most egregious behavior continually gets overlooked, ignored, and swept under the carpet, in favor of pursuing pet targets. As always, I’m conscious of whose agenda this serves and why writers allow themselves to be used as pawns in this game. Exhibit A: Harlequin Amazon is regularly slated for the way it manages its tax affairs. I have written extensively about this before, but, in short, Amazon is using extremely common methods for minimizing its tax bills that are used by every major tech company (and many other multinational corporations too). You can argue these loopholes should be closed (and I would agree), but these actions are Read More…

The Case Against Author Solutions, Part 1: The Numbers Bewares

The more you study an operation like Author Solutions, the more it resembles a two-bit internet scam, except on a colossal scale. Internet scammers work on percentages. They know that only a tiny fraction of people will get hoodwinked so they flood the world’s inboxes with spammy junk. While reputable self-publishing services can rely on author referrals and word-of-mouth, Author Solutions is forced to take a different approach. According to figures released by Author Solutions itself when it was looking for a buyer in 2012, it spent a whopping $11.9m on customer acquisition in 2011 alone. This money is spent on: Paying bloggers, websites, and companies a “bounty” based on how many writers they can deliver to Author Solutions. Buying Read More…

Why Is The Media Ignoring Author Exploitation By Publishers? Bewares

The Amazon-Hachette dispute has caught the media’s attention. But what about the story the media refuses to cover? The media is more concerned with one-sided accounts of Amazon’s perceived actions – when no one really knows the exact nature of the dispute. The media is more concerned with what Amazon might do in the future, than actual author exploitation by the world’s largest trade publisher: Penguin Random House. Penguin Random House owns the world’s largest vanity press – Author Solutions – which is currently subject to a class action for deceptive business practices, breach of contract, unjust enrichment, and violation of business statutes in California, New York, and Colorado. The court papers cover the same ground that I’ve been blogging about for the Read More…

Bloomsbury Seeks Deal With Author Solutions Bewares

The publishing world has been turned upside down by ebooks and self-publishing. All the old middlemen – agents, publishers, distributors, retailers – are scrambling to reinvent themselves, trying to remain relevant in a digital world.  Self-publishing is big business. By my estimates, self-publishers have captured 30% of the US e-book market. And everyone wants a slice. Unfortunately, many organizations are prepared to do pretty much anything to make sure they get theirs. Author Solutions is the market leader in the author exploitation game. That, however, was no impediment to Penguin splashing out $116m to purchase the company in July 2012. And it has been absolutely no barrier to a huge range of companies doing deals with them of one kind Read More…

Author Solutions Takes Signing Scam To Miami Book Fair Bewares

Another day, another Author Solutions scam in my inbox. Remember the Author Solutions book signing scam planned for The Word on the Street Festival in Toronto next month (to which the organizers are turning a blind eye)? I suspected that the Word on the Street Festival wasn’t the only literary event that Author Solutions would be targeting, given that Author Solutions made $297,000 from the 2012 Word on the Street Festival. I was right. The Miami Book Fair is a long-established, reputable literary festival (celebrating its 30th year) which has wheeled in some big names for this year’s event, such as Junot Díaz. Unfortunately, the Miami Book Fair is also allowing a terrible scam to take place at one of its booths. Author Read More…

Word on the Street Festival Doesn't Care About Author Scam Bewares

I wrote a post last month about Author Solutions’ relationships with The Bookseller magazine in the UK, and The Word on the Street Festival in Canada. Since then I’ve been in touch with the editor of The Bookseller. I’ll share more about that when I can, but suffice to say that the discussion has been encouraging. Unfortunately, I can’t say the same about my exchange with The Word on the Street Festival. To recap, last month I discovered a new Author Solutions scam – using their booth at a Canadian literary festival to get even more money from their customers. From that post: I received some spam recently from Xlibris (yet another Author Solutions brand), touting a literary event – the Word Read More…

Penguin Random House Merger Helps Author Solutions Exploit Writers Bewares

Penguin and Random House officially merged on July 1 creating the largest trade publisher in the world. This merger has given fresh impetus to one of their subsidiaries to scam unsuspecting writers – Author Solutions, the largest vanity press in the world. One of my blog readers, who will remain nameless, has forwarded me emails from an AuthorHouse sales rep touting that company as the “self-publishing wing” of Penguin Random House (AuthorHouse is one of the many brands of Author Solutions, a tangled web which is deconstructed here). When Penguin purchased Author Solutions in July 2012 for $116m, I warned that the Penguin brand would lend legitimacy to Author Solutions – who were already the market leader in author exploitation. Read More…

The Bookseller Hires Author Solutions Exec To Spout Propaganda Bewares

Author Solutions is like a Bizarro version of King Midas. Everything they touch turns to shit. One frustrating aspect of this is their history of co-opting supposedly independent organizations, which then silence critical voices. This week, The Bookseller went one step further, and has hired a former Author Solutions executive called Tim Davies to write for their digital offshoot FutureBook. Davies used his debut FutureBook post to vomit up some Author Solutions PR, interspersed with gushing praise for his former boss, who he breathlessly describes as “the effortlessly charming and driven Kevin Weiss.” Of course, you only find out that Tim Davies is a former Author Solutions executive in the final paragraph of that post – something which should be disclosed up top (with Read More…

The Author Exploitation Business Bewares

Writing is a glamorous occupation – at least from the outside. Popular depictions of our profession tend to leave out all the other stuff that comes with the territory: carpal tunnel syndrome, liver failure, penury, and madness. Okay, okay, I jest. I love being a writer. Sharing stories with the world and getting paid for it is bloody brilliant. It’s a dream job, and like any profession with a horde of neophytes seeking to break in, there are plenty of sharks waiting to chew them to bits. Publishing is a screwed up business. The often labyrinthine path to success makes it much easier for those with nefarious intentions to scam the unsuspecting. But it doesn’t help that so many organizations Read More…

Penguin's Solution for Authors: One Racket To Rule Them All Bewares

Regular readers of this blog will know all about Penguin’s purchase last July of the universally reviled Author Solutions – a company infamous for overcharging writers, doing a terrible job of publishing their books, and forcing ineffective and expensive marketing services upon those authors when their books (inevitably) fail to sell. My posts on the topic have been leaning heavily on the tireless work of Emily Suess – a writer and blogger who has been documenting this racket for some years now. At the time of the purchase, many in the publishing community expressed a hope that Penguin would clean up Author Solutions, or at least tone down some of their scammier tactics. I was more than a little skeptical, Read More…

Simon & Schuster Joins Forces With Author Solutions To Rip Off Writers Bewares

Simon & Schuster has launched a self-publishing operation, Archway Publishing, contracting one of the most disreputable players in the business to run the show: Author Solutions. We’ll get to that distasteful link-up in a second, but first let’s have a look at what Simon & Schuster are offering prospective customers (i.e. writers). Fiction packages start at $1,999 and go up to $14,999. If you have written a business book, prices are saucier again: $2,999 to $24,999. While the upper end of the pricing spectrum is obviously shocking, some of you might think that $1,999 isn’t too bad if you are getting a proper edit and a decent cover. Not so fast. That price tag doesn’t include any real editing, just Read More…

Simon & Schuster Joins Forces With Author Solutions To Rip Off Writers Bewares

Simon & Schuster has launched a self-publishing operation, Archway Publishing, contracting one of the most disreputable players in the business to run the show: Author Solutions. We’ll get to that distasteful link-up in a second, but first let’s have a look at what Simon & Schuster are offering prospective customers (i.e. writers). Fiction packages start at $1,999 and go up to $14,999. If you have written a business book, prices are saucier again: $2,999 to $24,999. While the upper end of the pricing spectrum is obviously shocking, some of you might think that $1,999 isn’t too bad if you are getting a proper edit and a decent cover. Not so fast. That price tag doesn’t include any real editing, just Read More…