As most of you know, yet another lawsuit has been filed against Author Solutions, which owns AuthorHouse, Xlibris, iUniverse, Trafford, Wordclay, and others. The lawyers are seeking class-action status, of course.
I have provided a break-down of the highlights from the lawsuit HERE.
Today, I’m gonna rant.
As the owners of BookLocker.com, we’ve been competing with Author Solutions since their inception. They came on the scene years ago, and started buying up POD publishers. Since we’ve been in this business for 16 years, we know the ins and outs of POD publishing. We know what it takes to get a book to market. We know what works and what doesn’t. We know what might cause problems and what will likely run smoothly. Most of all, we know the REASONABLE costs associated with getting a book published and up for sale.
In my opinion, Author Solutions’ different divisions charge authors WAY TOO MUCH MONEY! I realize they’re a large firm, with lots of expenses (including outsourcing some of those services overseas), but that’s their fault for creating what we unaffectionately call an author meat market. They appear to draw in as many authors as possible, seem to publish just about anything and everything and, based on the accusations in the lawsuits, they seem far too interested in seeing how much money they can suck out of each author.
The lawsuit alleges Author Solutions’ consultants:
“…are not required to have marketing or publishing experience, nor are they required to read the Author’s work. For Author Solutions to maximize revenue opportunities, when an Author’s book is recently published (or about to be published), the Author is assigned a ‘Tier 1’ Marketing Consultant, but after a certain amount of time, or if the Author purchased a Service, she is moved to a ‘Tier 2’ Marketing Consultant. Once the title is live, the Author becomes an ‘active lead’ for the Book Consultant. In other words, the Author is passed around and bombarded with calls from several levels of ‘consultants.'”
SOURCE: PATRICIA WHEELER and HELEN HEIGHTSMAN GORDON, Plaintiffs, against AUTHOR SOLUTIONS LLC, Defendant
Those allegations are deeply disturbing, to say the least, but not at all surprising after reading so many complaints about them.
We have heard from many authors over the years who were unhappy after publishing with the different Author Solutions firms (Xlibris, iUniverse, Trafford, etc.). We have published warnings about them, and complaints, and, unfortunately, some authors still insisted on signing with them. Why? Perhaps they thought the biggest firm must be the best and the cheapest (which is ridiculous). Some authors seem to think they need to spend more because “you get what you pay for.” But, if you spend thousands, and never sell enough books to pay for your investment, you didn’t get what you paid for you. You just spent way too much money. Period.
Over the years at BookLocker, many authors have asked why our prices are so low. They suspected something must be wrong with our service. Some couldn’t believe original cover design is only $200. They thought that was for a template cover, created by a computer program. No, it’s not. It’s a hands-on, original cover design and our designer works directly with each author, one-on-one. He creates covers like THESE and THESE. At that last link, click on each cover to see the entire cover (front, back and spine).
Many authors have asked why we don’t upsell them on expensive marketing products and services, like bookmarks, and coffee cups, fee-based reviews (ug!), and ads in magazines (most of which usually cost more money than any resulting book sales will bring in). The answer? We know those products and services are most likely going to be a waste of money for the authors. While we could do the same thing as Author Solutions, and upsell authors to the tune of hundreds to thousands of dollars, we prefer being able to sleep at night, and being able to look at ourselves in the mirror in the morning. I’m a strong believer in Karma and I treat people the way I want to be treated. Everyone at BookLocker is of the same mindset. If they weren’t, they wouldn’t be working for us. From the very young to the very old, and all the kind folks in between, we consider our authors part of our extended family and we treat them as such.
Of course, we give all BookLocker.com authors a FREE copy of our book, 90+ DAYS OF PROMOTING YOUR BOOK ONLINE: Your Book’s Daily Marketing Plan. Almost all of the daily marketing tasks cost nothing but the author’s time and, if the author follows the advice provided, they WILL sell more copies of their own book – likely FAR more than they would by handing out a few dozen bookmarks!
Part of the most recent class-action lawsuit against Author Solutions mentions one of the alleged victims is a senior citizen. Think about the elderly author living on social security. So many folks wait to retire before they have time to write the great American novel. Imagine your mother, who has always wanted to publish a little book of poetry, or a novel. What if she was upsold to the tune of thousands of dollars, and never sold enough books to pay for those services?
A few years ago, a journalist friend of ours contacted us about an elderly author who paid thousands of dollars to one of the firms mentioned above, and who then sold only a handful of books. I urged him to tell his friend to contact an attorney but I think they were so disgusted that they just wanted to walk away from the entire experience. When your lifelong dream of publishing a book turns into a nightmare, and affects your financial well-being, you might feel the same. Perhaps you’d be too ashamed to tell people what happened. I wonder how many other authors have felt that way, and just walked away.
Based on the number of complaints posted about the Author Solutions’ divisions over the years, there are plenty of unhappy authors in their wake. Yet, they keep getting new author clients!
Why do people keep signing up with them, and paying their outrageous fees? Unfortunately, too many people don’t do their research before signing a contract. Heck, most people don’t even READ contracts in their entirety. They think if a company has a pretty, professional website, and is running ads, they must be reputable. Did you know some Author Solutions’ divisions claim all rights to an author’s production files, even when the author has paid thousands to have those files produced?! It’s right there, spelled out in their contract. Read more about that HERE.
In my opinion, this was the most disturbing part of the lawsuit:
“In monitoring their online reputation, Author Solutions noticed that a former employee posted on a blog that ‘[s]alespeople brag about pushing customers to overextend themselves, promising them the world, laughing about how they’ll probably only sell a dozen copies’ and that ‘Keith Ogorek [Senior Vice President of Marketing] has a shelf of the worst books in his office that he laughs about.'”
SOURCE: PATRICIA WHEELER and HELEN HEIGHTSMAN GORDON, Plaintiffs, against AUTHOR SOLUTIONS LLC, Defendant
Of course, we don’t know if that is true or not but it certainly wouldn’t surprise me. Years ago, the Lulu CEO (Careful! Author Solutions now offers some services to Lulu, too!), said, “We have easily published the largest collection of bad poetry in the history of mankind.”
It’s a shame that some POD publishers (allegedly) think it’s funny to charge people money to produce a product that will be an embarrassment later. You’d think the publisher would also be ashamed! Comments like that sure make it seem like the company is more interested filling their own pockets than they are in protecting their own reputation! If an author’s book sucks, the publisher should reject the manuscript rather than adding another horrible book to the market. Firms that do publish garbage give the entire industry a bad name. Unfortunately, our competitors are more than happy publish the manuscripts we reject at BookLocker. Of course, those authors must then spend a LOT more money, and possibly get upsold on numerous services that will likely be a complete waste of money.
I’ll step down from my soap box now. Again, you can read disturbing highlights from the lawsuit HERE, as well as find the link to the comments from the (alleged) Author Solutions employee mentioned above.
Also, don’t miss our POD PRICE COMPARISON to see just how outrageous Author Solutions’ prices are!
Got questions about Print On Demand and Self-publishing? Ask Angela Hoy.
About The Author
Angela Hoy is the publisher of WritersWeekly.com, the author of 19 books, and the co-owner of BookLocker.com (one of the original POD publishers that still gets books to market in less than a month), PubPreppers.com (print and ebook design for authors who truly want to self-publish), and Abuzz Press (the publishing co-op that charges no setup fees).
Angela has lived and traveled across the U.S. with her kids in an RV, settled in a river-side home in Bradenton, FL, and lived on a 52 ft Irwin sailboat. Angela now resides on a mountaintop in Northwest Georgia, where she plans to spend the rest of her days bird watching, gardening, hiking, and taking in all of the amazing sunrises.
WritersWeekly.com - the free marketing ezine for writers, which features new paying markets and freelance job listings every Wednesday.
BookLocker.com - According to attorney Mark Levine, author of The Fine Print, BookLocker is: "As close to perfection as you're going to find in the world of ebook and POD publishing. The ebook royalties are the highest I've ever seen, and the print royalties are better than average. BookLocker understands what new authors experience, and have put together a package that is the best in the business. You can't go wrong here. Plus, they're selective and won't publish any manuscript just because it's accompanied by a check. Also, the web site is well trafficked. If you can find a POD or epublisher with as much integrity and dedication to selling authors' books, but with lower POD publishing fees, please let me know."
Abuzz Press offers FAST and FREE book publication, but only accepts a small percentage of submissions, and only works with U.S. authors.
PubPreppers.com - "We Prep, You Publish!" Print and ebook design for authors who truly want to self-publish. Offers formatting and design services only, and then provides simple instructions for authors on where to sign up to have the print and ebook editions printed/listed/sold. Cut out the middle man. Keep 100% of what bookstores pay for your book!
Angela's POD Secrets Revealed Series can be found HERE.
Have a POD Book with another publisher? See if BookLocker can give you a better deal. (BookLocker offers "disgruntled author discounts" to those who want to move from other POD services.)
See BookLocker's publishing packages HERE.
ANGELA ON TWITTER https://twitter.com/AngelaHoy
BOOKLOCKER ON FACEBOOK - Provides links to free excerpts!
ANGELA ON FACEBOOK
ANGELA ON LINKEDIN
Angela is the creator of the Original 24-Hour Short Story Contest!
Read More Of Angela's Articles HERE