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)?
This post is from 30 August 2013. It has not been updated except to clean up broken links, but it’s important to preserve these older posts on author exploitation and the comments remain open.
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 its event.
Author Solutions – and their various subsidiaries, including Palibrio, Trafford, iUniverse, Xlibris, and AuthorHouse – has emailed customers pimping a unique opportunity to get your book in front of thousands of readers at the Miami Book Fair this coming November.
For $3,999 you can have a one hour slot at the Author Solutions booth to sign some books. You’ll have to cover your own airfare, hotel, and food, but you will get some free copies to sign, and some bookmarks to give away… if anyone shows up.
The experience of twiddling your thumbs for an hour, looking forlornly at a pile of poorly produced books, is likely to be so memorable that you will deeply regret not swinging for the premium package. For just $7,999 you get to do the book signing and get a 60 second video to treasure forever.
This is likely to be profitable for Author Solutions. In 2011, it had over 50 authors signing books, netting at least $199,950. The following year was even better with more than 60 authors participating, bringing in at least $239,940.
Those numbers don’t even take into account the 400 authors who shelled out $799 each to be in a “new title showcase” that nobody will look at, further netting Author Solutions an estimated $319,600.
In total, Author Solutions is estimated to have made over half a million dollars from the 2012 Miami Book Fair. That’s a pretty good return when booths are going for just $1,000.
This is a scam, plain and simple. We know that Author Solutions have no quibbles about pulling tricks like this (and that their owners Penguin Random House have no issue with profiting from this fraud), but I hope that the Miami Book Fair take action.
I expressed the same hope about the organizers of the Word on the Street Festival in Toronto – only to find out that they didn’t care if authors were scammed at their event. I sincerely hope that the Miami Book Fair will view things differently. I hope they understand that they have a duty of care towards attendees of their event, have some responsibility for what takes place at their booths, and can’t just pass the buck.
The Miami Book Fair has a range of options open to them here, from exerting pressure on Author Solutions to stop selling these useless, overpriced packages, right up to banning Author Solutions (and, indeed, all scammy vanity presses) from the event. I would hope they would do the latter, but would certainly settle for the former.
In case any of you are tempted by the stunning value above, unfortunately this offer is only available to authors who have published with Author Solutions’ brands such as AuthorHouse, Xlibris, iUniverse, Trafford, and Palibrio.
However, if you have published with Simon & Schuster’s vanity press – Archway Publishing (which is operated by Author Solutions) – you can get the exact same package for an even higher price!
I guess the extra $1,600 covers the kickback to Simon & Schuster. Nice work if you can get it, a sentiment clearly shared by Lulu.
Update: Miami Book Fair Responds
I contacted the organizers of the Miami Book Fair International and, after multiple emails and much prodding, they only chose to say this:
The Fair as an organization does not take positions on these issues.Delia Lopez, Director of Operations
Yeah, that was the entire email.