Author Solutions and Friends: The Inside Story Bewares

Author Solutions has forged partnerships with a long list of famous names in publishing – from Simon & Schuster and Hay House to Barnes & Noble and Reader’s Digest. Recent disclosures in various lawsuits, along with information sent to me by a Penguin Random House source, detail for the very first time exactly how these partnerships work and the damage they are causing. Since a second suit was filed at the end of March, Author Solutions is now facing two class actions, with the new complaint alleging unjust enrichment and exploitation of seniors on top of the usual claims of fraud and deceptive practices. It also has a wonderfully precise summary of Author Solutions’ operations: Author Solutions operates more like Read More…

What’s Next for Authors United? Publishing

Authors United has been spectacularly unsuccessful in its supposed mission to get Amazon and Hachette to agree a deal. By contrast, Simon & Schuster was able to agree a deal in just three weeks – without the intervention of Douglas Preston’s group. To be fair, Authors United has been very good at one thing: getting media attention. Perhaps it’s time for Douglas Preston to widen the aims of the group and start campaigning on issues which actually matter. It would be great if Authors United could get the media to focus on any of these problems. Alternatively, Authors United could continue to focus on propping up a broken system which only rewards those at the very top (like Douglas Preston, surprisingly). Read More…

Amazon and S&S Agree Terms. Who’s The Bad Guy Again?

Simon & Schuster has agreed a multi-year deal with Amazon covering both e-books and print books. Business Insider reported that negotiations only took three weeks and were concluded two months before the original contract expired. I’m confused, does this mean the end of literary culture or not? Someone needs to run up to Douglas Preston’s quaint writer shack to find out. (If you get lost, it’s at the back of his 400-acre estate). It also begs a question: what exactly is Hachette holding out for? As everyone knows at this point, Hachette’s contract with Amazon expired in March and the two parties have been unable to agree a deal since. The narrative being pushed by the media was that Amazon’s desired terms Read More…

This Is The Kind Of Competition Publishers Want Publishing

Since the huge shift to online purchasing and e-books, a common meme is that there is some kind of “discoverability” problem in publishing. The funny thing is readers don’t seem to have any problem finding books they love. Any readers I talk to have a time problem – reading lists a mile long and never enough hours in the day to read all the great books they are discovering. The real discoverability problem in publishing is that readers are discovering (and enjoying) books that don’t come from the large publishers. What these publishers have is a competition problem not a discoverability problem. Amazon regularly gets slated for purported anti-competitive actions, but it has done more to create the digital marketplace Read More…

Amazon v Hachette: Don’t Believe The Spin

The internet is seething over Amazon’s reported hardball tactics in negotiations with Hachette. Newspapers and blogs are filled with heated opinion pieces, decrying Amazon’s domination of the book business. Actual facts are thinner on the ground, however, and if history is any guide, we haven’t heard the full story. Here’s how it started. In a historical quirk of the trade, publishers and booksellers negotiate co-op deals at the same time as the general agreement to carry titles. (For those who don’t know, co-op is the industry term for preferred in-store placement, such as face-out instead of spine-out, position on end-caps, front tables, window displays, and so on.) At publishers’ insistence, the same practice has continued in the online and e-book world, namely Read More…

A List of Things Scott Turow Doesn't Care About Bewares Publishing

Scott Turow woke up from his slumber recently to bark nonsense about Amazon’s acquisition of Goodreads on the Authors Guild blog, before being thoroughly eviscerated in the comments. Undeterred, Turow sought out the considerably larger platform of the New York Times’ Op-Ed pages on Monday to decry The Slow Death of the American Writer. On reading the latter, my first thought was: if Scott Turow didn’t spend so much time hating Amazon and pretending self-publishing didn’t exist, maybe he wouldn’t be so depressed. It’s easy to poke fun at Scott Turow’s views. A child could de-construct his arguments, while laughing at how a practicing lawyer is unable to grasp the definition of the word “monopoly.” If you want a proper Read More…

Publishers Behaving Badly, Part… I’ve Lost Count Bewares Publishing

There seems to be a view in certain self-congratulatory circles that publishers have finally got to grips with the digital revolution, that they have weathered the fiercest part of the storm, and that they are well-placed now not just to survive, but to thrive. There are innumerable problems with that view, of course, but today I’d like to focus on one core truth of this brave new world that publishers have failed to grasp. Namely, there are only two essential components to publishing in the digital era: the writer and the reader. All of the old middlemen – agents, publishers, distributors, retailers – have to justify their cut, as the writer can now bypass them and go direct to readers. Read More…

Publishers Behaving Badly, Part… I've Lost Count Bewares Publishing

There seems to be a view in certain self-congratulatory circles that publishers have finally got to grips with the digital revolution, that they have weathered the fiercest part of the storm, and that they are well-placed now not just to survive, but to thrive. There are innumerable problems with that view, of course, but today I’d like to focus on one core truth of this brave new world that publishers have failed to grasp. Namely, there are only two essential components to publishing in the digital era: the writer and the reader. All of the old middlemen – agents, publishers, distributors, retailers – have to justify their cut, as the writer can now bypass them and go direct to readers. 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…

John Locke Signs Print Distribution Deal With Simon & Schuster

John Locke – the first self-publisher to join the Kindle Million Club – has signed a print distribution deal with Simon & Schuster. Naturally, there has been some hysterical reaction either painting John Locke a “sell out”, or declaring that this deal is proof that self-publishing is a flash in the pan and that traditional publishing is where it’s at. Neither is close to being true. First of all, and most importantly, John Locke is not giving up any rights. He has not signed a “publishing” deal, but a distribution deal. He will remain the publisher of the print editions. Simon & Schuster will distribute them. And he retains complete control of the digital editions – no deal has been struck there. Read More…

John Locke Signs Print Distribution Deal With Simon & Schuster

John Locke – the first self-publisher to join the Kindle Million Club – has signed a print distribution deal with Simon & Schuster. Naturally, there has been some hysterical reaction either painting John Locke a “sell out”, or declaring that this deal is proof that self-publishing is a flash in the pan and that traditional publishing is where it’s at. Neither is close to being true. First of all, and most importantly, John Locke is not giving up any rights. He has not signed a “publishing” deal, but a distribution deal. He will remain the publisher of the print editions. Simon & Schuster will distribute them. And he retains complete control of the digital editions – no deal has been struck there. Read More…