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…

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…

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…

Self-Publishers Aren't Killing The Industry, They're Saving It Publishing

There’s a lot of talk at the moment that cheap books are destroying the industry. In traditional publishing circles especially, fingers are being pointed at self-publishers (and their chief enablers, Amazon), who stand accused of encouraging a race to the bottom, of devaluing books, and training readers to pay ever-cheaper amounts – making the whole book business unsustainable. Today, I have a guest post from Ed Robertson – author of Breakers and Melt Down – which takes issue with that view. His logic is compelling, based on a historical look at book prices. This is really worth the read: Self-Publishers Aren’t Killing The Industry, They’re Saving It I’m a self-publisher. An indie author. Whatever you want to call me. I’ve read many articles about Read More…

Self-Publishers Aren’t Killing The Industry, They’re Saving It Publishing

There’s a lot of talk at the moment that cheap books are destroying the industry. In traditional publishing circles especially, fingers are being pointed at self-publishers (and their chief enablers, Amazon), who stand accused of encouraging a race to the bottom, of devaluing books, and training readers to pay ever-cheaper amounts – making the whole book business unsustainable. Today, I have a guest post from Ed Robertson – author of Breakers and Melt Down – which takes issue with that view. His logic is compelling, based on a historical look at book prices. This is really worth the read: Self-Publishers Aren’t Killing The Industry, They’re Saving It I’m a self-publisher. An indie author. Whatever you want to call me. I’ve read many articles about Read More…

Penguin's New Business Model: Exploiting Writers Bewares

I don’t normally post here just to inform you of articles I have written elsewhere, but I think this one is important. Most of you will have heard the news that Penguin’s parent Pearson has purchased the infamous self-publishing services company Author Solutions (owners of Author House, iUniverse, Xlibris, Trafford and many more). I have written about the deal in a column for IndieReader today. You can read that post here: Penguin’s New Business Model: Exploiting Writers. Given the nature of that post, I would appreciate you sharing it as widely as possible. Enjoy your weekend!

Penguin’s New Business Model: Exploiting Writers Bewares

I don’t normally post here just to inform you of articles I have written elsewhere, but I think this one is important. Most of you will have heard the news that Penguin’s parent Pearson has purchased the infamous self-publishing services company Author Solutions (owners of Author House, iUniverse, Xlibris, Trafford and many more). I have written about the deal in a column for IndieReader today. You can read that post here: Penguin’s New Business Model: Exploiting Writers. Given the nature of that post, I would appreciate you sharing it as widely as possible. Enjoy your weekend!

How The Agency Model Led To An Antitrust Suit

As reported yesterday, the Department of Justice has filed its antitrust lawsuit against Apple and five of the largest publishers (Macmillan, Penguin, HarperCollins, Hachette, and Simon & Schuster). A settlement has been agreed with HarperCollins, Hachette, and Simon & Schuster; Macmillan claimed the terms were too onerous, and Penguin appears to have refused to contemplate settling. The agreed settlement must still be approved by the court, but among the conditions are the end of Agency (despite the attempted spin by PW in the above-linked article) and the return of pricing control to the retailers (such as Amazon). In addition, the settling parties will be monitored by the DoJ, who must be copied on any communications surrounding this or any related Read More…

Penguin Launches Rip-Off Self-Publishing "Service" Targeting Inexperienced Writers

Penguin has unveiled a self-publishing service – which will operate under the aegis of its online writing community Book Country – but questions are being asked about the huge fees they are charging, and the massive royalty cut that they are taking (on top of what retailers such as Amazon charge). This topic has already been covered by bloggers such as Joe Konrath, Katie Salidas, Linda Welch, and Passive Guy. Their posts are worth reading in full – especially the comments where you can see the widespread disapproval of this move from the self-publishing community. However, this message needs to be repeated again and again to reach as many writers as possible to steer them away from this truly awful deal, Read More…

Penguin Launches Rip-Off Self-Publishing “Service” Targeting Inexperienced Writers

Penguin has unveiled a self-publishing service – which will operate under the aegis of its online writing community Book Country – but questions are being asked about the huge fees they are charging, and the massive royalty cut that they are taking (on top of what retailers such as Amazon charge). This topic has already been covered by bloggers such as Joe Konrath, Katie Salidas, Linda Welch, and Passive Guy. Their posts are worth reading in full – especially the comments where you can see the widespread disapproval of this move from the self-publishing community. However, this message needs to be repeated again and again to reach as many writers as possible to steer them away from this truly awful deal, Read More…