Hooray! I finally finished my first book. I was so proud of myself. Next, I had to get an agent who wanted to represent me. That should be easy peasy since my book was fresh, new, and exciting. Three hundred query letters later, easy peasy wasn’t precisely correct. Most agents didn’t bother to reply. But, then I started hearing about companies that were called self-publishers. What a fantastic idea, I thought. One company, in particular, was anxious to help me get my book in print. They believed in my book, saying it would definitely make the best seller list. That company’s name was Xlibris.
I received pleasant emails and phone calls from this company. They told me they could do everything from editing to promoting. Finally, I would see my name in print! According to Xlibris, my work would be a shoo-in for a movie deal. I believed every word they said, and gratefully handed over my credit card. Over a year, and over $15,000.00 (yes, the decimal point is in the correct place), I found myself battling with this company.
It wasn’t pleasant being bounced from one rep to the next with nobody helping, but only trying to charge me more for services they claimed I needed. I learned that little could be done legally to this company without spending another $15,000.00 in legal fees. I went so far as to contact the County Prosecutor in their state. I cried, I fought, and I cursed but, once you hand that money over, you will never get it back. I did receive my books but the promotion they offered wasn’t fully included in my package price. It was up to me to sell copies any way I could.
That’s when I had an idea. I decided to post about myself as a local author on our community website. I received tons of emails asking me how to get published. There was interest in the process of getting published, both traditionally and via a self-publishing company. I found myself sounding like a pro to fellow resident writers. That’s when another idea struck. Why not start a group in the community to discuss the process, and warn folks of what I had just been through with my book?
It took some planning but I did it. Three months later, I was standing in front of a room full of writers in our local community hall. I had done my homework learning about self-publishing houses and their imprints. I researched as much as possible about the publishing process, and all that goes into creating a book. I learned about traditional publishing. I knew what agents were looking for, and how to contact them on their terms.
For the meeting day, I had created twenty-five-page handout booklets for all. In that booklet were the names Authorhouse, Xlibris, and all of their imprints that I could find. Those firms are owned by Author Solutions. There were over fifty people at that first meeting.
Present day, I am researching again but this time it is for our fifth anniversary meeting of The Writers Guild of Delco. I started this group five years ago because Xlibris and company fooled around with the wrong author. Our group is well over 100 people strong, and I report on a new self-publishing company each month. I constantly send out lists that I get from ALLI and their Watchdog Program warning of these different firms.
Did I get my money back from Xlibris? No. Do I feel vindicated? I indeed do because I know that every person who has shown interest in our group has been warned about bad companies in this industry. I will continue alerting and reporting on them for as long as someone will listen.
Author Jennifer Lincoln lives in a small college town in Southeastern Pennsylvania. Her hometown of Swarthmore is known for its creative arts festivals and academic population. Miss Lincoln’s undergrad degree is in Behavioral Health and her masters is in Business Administration. She is the author of five books: Hell Hath No Fury, Uncle Jim’s Farmer Fix’ins, The Little Book of Social Cues Friends and Family, The little Book of Social Cues Office and the Workplace, and The Pampered Princess, are all available on Amazon and B&N.
Miss Lincoln is also the creator of three greeting card lines, Naughty but Needed, Kool Kidz Cardz, and You are loved. She is currently the founder and President of The Writers Guild of Delco.
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