Notes from An Alien

~ Explorations In Reading, Writing & Publishing ~

Tag Archives: Author Solutions

So, What The Hell Is Wrong With Traditional Publishers?


David Gaughran has written a fascinating post on his blog—Publishers Behaving Badly, Part I’ve Lost Count.

Right after he indicates that the two essential players in the book-world are writers and readers and that retailers are at least acting somewhat rational about justifying their cut of the money (leaving agents, publishers, and distributors in a somewhat suspicious position), he says:

“Publishers seem determined to move in the opposite direction: making the proposition of publishing with them less attractive rather than more attractive, reducing advances, worsening contract terms, and treating writers as marks rather than partners – despite whatever guff accompanies the launch of their latest initiatives.”

He then goes on to indict Random House about the scandalous terms they offered authors with their new digital-first imprints—Hydra, Alibi, Flirt & Loveswept.

But Gaughran certainly isn’t alone.

Here are just a few other opinions (and, a bit of news) about this outrage:

Authors Warned Away from eBook-Only Imprints

Second-Class Contracts? Deal Terms at Random House’s Hydra Imprint

Hydra Changes Contract Terms in Response to Pressure From Writers Groups

Random House Revises Contract for Digital-First SF Imprint Hydra – Promises to Exploit Authors Less

Random House Announces New Terms at Digital Imprints Hydra, Alibi, Loveswept, and Flirt

It will be interesting to see what actually falls out from this dramatic turn of events

Back at Gaughran’s post, he also has something to say on these topics:

Author Solutions Class Action?

Simon & Schuster Offers Bribes To Pimp Author Solutions

Dymocks-owned D Publishing is Toast

I can only imagine future headlines, future escapades, future fails for a dinosaur industry that needs massive transformation just to stay alive………
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Writers Beware ~ One of The Big Six Just Got Trickier…


As if writers didn’t already have a rough time when getting ready to publish.

Legacy or Self-Publish? Shoot for an advance or pay for it myself? Which method of self-publishing?

I previously published a post called How Can Writers Avoid Being Scammed?

It appears there’s going to be a new wrinkle in the tortured landscape of publishing decisions.

Publishers Weekly reports Self-publishing Goes Big Time.

Penguin, Big Six publisher, buys Author Solutions, Big Scam

Try this Google search: author solutions writer beware

Or, check out David Gaughran’s article on IndieReader, Penguin’s New Business Model: Exploiting Writers.

Even Jane Friedman weighed in

Any writer seriously looking to publish should read all those articles but let me share two excerpts.

From Mr. Gaughran’s article:

“Before they leave the clutches of Author Solutions, however, writers are subjected to never-ending phone calls hawking a string of overpriced, useless services, including the press releases described above. As such, the average customer spends around $5,000 over their “lifetime” with the company, but only sells 150 books.

“The performance of Author Solutions is so poor that the press release announcing the purchase by Penguin can’t even tout their own customers’ success, and instead lists self-publishing stars such as “Lisa Genova, John Locke, Darcie Chan, Amanda Hocking, Bronnie Ware and E.L. James” – none of whom used Author Solutions to publish their work.”

From Jane Friedman:

“Self-publishing isn’t exactly the future here. It’s rather making money off a growing number of people who are writing and seeking professional publishing services. As easy as it is to e-publish, it’s not a straightforward matter to navigate the options and produce a professional product that actually sells. Thus, there’s no shortage of people seeking assistance with DIY self-publishing, whether in print or electronic formats. Unfortunately, many people seeking help are not well-informed, don’t have the patience to research their options, and end up writing a big check to someone to make the headache go away. (And by doing so, they’ve assured their sales will be exactly the number of family and friends they can convince to buy their poorly edited, poorly designed book via Facebook wall postings.)”

My personal choice for self-publishing is FastPencil.

Yes, the author pays upfront.

I published Notes from An Alien in print and e-book and got a distribution contract to Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Ingram, and iPad for $250.

Go figure
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Our Comment Link Is At The Top of The Post :-)
For Private Comments, Email: amzolt {at} gmail {dot} com
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Self-Publishing ~ Potential and Perils


I’ve recently read two blog posts that highlight some of the benefits and cautions of self-publishing.

The first is from Roz Morris: I’ve had near misses with agents and publishers – should I self-publish?

I encourage you to read the whole post, primarily because this lady really knows her way around the traditional publishing scene. But, for those who don’t like to click links, here are a few excerpts:

“I know a number of writers who have excellent, interesting novels that are not getting published. Perhaps they cross genres, or they’re too edgy to be literary and too intelligent to be genre. In all likelihood if those writers were submitting those same novels to the market 5 or 10 years ago they would have landed a publishing deal. But publishers don’t want them any more.”

“The major publishers sell to book stores, and they want to make bulk sales to chains. They want titles that will sell in quantity. Not something ‘interesting’ that will sell one or two copies per store.”

“Conventional publishers have narrower tastes than the book-buying public. Much narrower.”

“Self-publishers are now more credible than we have ever been. We must keep that credibility. We must aim for the highest possible quality. That means getting professional help with the editing, proofing and design, so that the book can hold its own against the best of conventionally published titles.”

Now, some of the perils on the road to self-publishing from Joel Friedlander in his article, Subsidy Publishing: Proceed With Caution.

“[An] author went with Balboa Press. Do you know it? This is part of the gradual co-opting of the independent publishing houses by pure naked greed in the form of an alliance with subsidy king Author Solutions. They see all the money authors are paying to publish, they see every day how desperate writers are to get a contract with a publishing house. They decide to cash in, and Author Solutions is only too happy to help.

“Author Solutions owns the AuthorHouse, iUniverse, Trafford Publishing, Xlibris and Wordclay imprints. It calls itself ‘the world leader in indie book publishing’ despite the fact there is nothing even vaguely ‘indie’ about the company or the books it produces.”

“Now there’s nothing intrinsically wrong with paying for publishing services. That’s how I make a living, along with a lot of other professionals. But there’s a bait and switch involved here. Writers are sold by manipulating the dream they have of becoming successful published authors. But the truth of subsidy publishing has nothing to do with selling books.”

“…if you look at the ‘packages’ that these companies offer, you soon realize you will be spending thousands of dollars to get into print, and that’s before all the upsells kick in. And before you start buying your own books.”

Again, I urge you to read the full article.

My company, FastPencil, only requires you purchase one copy of your book, at the publisher’s cost, to have it for sale on their site. You set the royalty.

They do have editing and consultation services for sale but they are certainly not part of the “deal” if you don’t want them.

Tread carefully in the arena of publishing, whether traditional or self-driven
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