Friday, August 29, 2014

Ripoffs, Scams and Authors ... Oh My!

Have you ever been around someone; read something; or seen something … and you want to get in a shower or a hot bath and soak the slime off?
That’s exactly how I feel when I read about the gobbling up that involves the granddaddy of all Vanity Presses—Author Solutions as the mother ship to Booktango, Inkubook, iUniverse, Trafford, Xlibris, Wordclay, AuthorHive, Pallbrio and Hollywood Pitch. Did you know that Author Solutions and its various companies derive over two-thirds of its income from selling services and books to authors … not to the readers of authors’ books?

The kingpin of vanity presses (as Smashwords’ founder Mark Coker states in his blog that Author Solutions makes more money from selling services to authors than selling authors' books, "Author Solutions is one of the companies that put the 'V' in vanity. Author Solutions earns two-thirds or more of their income selling services and books to authors, not selling authors' books to readers ...”

The shocker is that truly legit publishers have gotten into bed with the predators ... one recent pitch from an Author House/Solutions rep to an author who contacted me, “If you sign with us ... your book will get in front of (fill in the blank) … at Penguin.” Hmmm... are they that desperate ... or they that smart?

With the partnering, both stealth and visible, Author Solutions has gotten into bed with Hay House (Balboa Press), Thomas Nelson (Westbow Press), Simon & Schuster (Archway Publishing packages start at $1599 and can go up to $24,999), Guide Post/Writers Digest (Abbott Press) and others. With Penguin recently acquiring Author Solutions, who knows what Penguin will turn over from their slush/pass piles to Author House to “follow up” on.

Author House/Solutions is a boiler house operation. Pitch, pitch, pitch. The deals put together with them ... mean squat—there is absolutely NO GUARANTEE that a book will get in front of the acquisition team with the publishing house that is now diving into the self-publishing/vanity press arena. You are still dealing with a pay-to-publish operation; a vanity type of press—they type that has excelled in total sales average of 100 copies of a book and selling books to the author at a very inflated cost. What it wants to do is SELL you more stuff.

Some of these companies have tarnished records with a lot of unhappy customers. Several authors have complained to the Better Business Bureau and some companies have been sued.

When people are victims of scams, they often report the incidents on the Internet. Before doing business with POD publishers, a pay-to-publisher operation or any other person or company that wants your money, make a Google search for:

(That company name) + Scam
(That company name) + Problem
(That company name) + Complaint
(That company name) + Fraud
(That company name) + Ripoff
(That company name) + “Better Business Bureau”

Read the reports and be advised. Unfortunately, too many walk away woven with shame that they got sucked in the first place and/or so ticked that they got taken, they just want to take the shower and get as far away as possible.  As a side note, one of the members of the Author U LinkedIn group, posted that she had just got he had been sucked into the Balboa Press operation, sure that Hay House, and of course Louise Hay, would personally be watching over her book. The pitch she got from her Author House rep—which is what Balboa Press is—she needed, she should get the marketing package, and it was only $18,000!

The boiler rooms are in full gear. Outside of the Author Solution predators, another crop is popping up offering “self-publishing services” to authors and small/indie publishers. They employ "boiler rooms" of sales people making relentless calls. The goal: to wear the author on the other end of the phone down. In many cases, they are hard to resist.
Let’s face it. The major publishers are doing some bleeding. The self and indie author moves faster and in many cases, is willing to commit money—often more that what a traditional publisher would commit to in the support of a newbie author’s book. Don’t be seduced. Check them out.

smart2
My advice .... Do not; do not; do not go down this rabbit hole. Stop this predator insanity. Stop the wrong author package. Author beware, be very beware.


2014_JBriles-1Judith Briles is known as The Book Shepherd a book publishing expert and coach. She is the Founder of Author U, a membership organization created for the serious author who wants to be seriously successful. She’s been writing about and conducting workshops on publishing since the 80s. Judith is the author of 31 books including Author YOU: Creating and Building Your Author and Book Platforms (ForeWord Indie/Fab Book of the Year), Snappy Sassy Salty: Wise Words for Authors and Writers and a speaker at publishing conferences.
Become part of her inner circle by joining the Author’s Ark and exclusive monthly webinar and coaching event. Each summer, she holds Judith Briles Unplugged, a two day intensive limited to a small group of authors who want to be seriously successful. Her audio and workbook series, Creating Your Book and Author Platform is now available. Join Judith live on Thursdays at 6 p.m. EST for Author U – Your Guide to Book Publishing on the Toginet Network at http://togi.us/authoru. Follow @AuthorU and @MyBookShepherd on Twitter and do a “Like” at AuthorU and Judith Briles – TheBookShepherd on Facebook. If you want to create a book that has no regrets, contact Judith at Judith@Briles.com.