Tag Archives: author solutions

Author Solutions Rep to Skeptic: ‘All I Can Tell You Is The Facts’

Author Solutions Penguin: Liar, LiarGot an email today from an author, Kevin, who had an entertaining exchange with an Author Solutions rep calling himself Eric Emlinger.

Now, Kevin was pitched by iUniverse back in the day, but decided not sign on the dotted line because they failed to answer all of his questions satisfactorily. Basically, Kevin sensed something sleazy was afoot and walked away.

Well, he recently received another email from Author Solutions. It was their typical spiel.

Read Author Solutions' Email Pitch

Kevin,

Thank you for requesting publishing information from iUniverse, one of the most established and respected brands in the independent publishing industry. In a recent study, iUniverse sold twice as many books in the retail channel as other leading self-publishing brands.

iUniverse offers the most extensive variety of publishing services to help individuals publish, market, and sell fiction, poetry, and nonfiction books. Our company utilizes print-on-demand technology, and is one of the largest self-publishing companies in the United States, publishing more than 5,000 new titles each year.

This link will help you with information and details about our Publishing Packages – click here —> [LINK REMOVED]

The iUniverse management team has extensive editorial and managerial experience with traditional publishers such as HarperCollins, Putnam, Simon & Schuster and Holtzbrinck. iUniverse partners with industry leading author organizations, including the Authors Guild, the Harlem Writers Guild, and the American Society of Journalists and Authors (ASJA) to bring innovative programs to their members. iUniverse has strategic alliances with Barnes & Noble, Inc. in the U.S. and Chapters Indigo in Canada and has offices in New York City and Bloomington, IN.

iUniverse was created to be as similar to a traditional publishing experience as possible, while permitting the author to maintain all rights and control of the process.

Another iUniverse author gets a book deal! [LINK REMOVED]

“iUniverse has a thorough process to identify promising new writers, and then invests real dollars in promoting their books. Their editorial review process greatly enhances the quality of the books they publish. The iUniverse Star Program is a great opportunity to discover new authors and bring them to market.” – Barnes and Noble CEO Steve Riggio.

Through our recognition programs and awards, we make real investments to support titles that demonstrate a high level of editorial quality and marketability. These programs open the door to more opportunities for retail presentation and placement. This is the only self-publishing series of its kind established to identify, celebrate and support authors. Our recognition programs include:

The Star Program books are republished free of charge under the Star imprint, presented to Barnes & Noble for in-store placement, and offered to booksellers with attractive retail terms and returnable status.

Rising Star is the only program of its kind to guarantee titles will be presented by a commissioned sales force to national, regional and local booksellers. Each Rising Star title is featured in the Rising Star Special Collections boutique on Barnes & Noble.com.

iUniverse chooses only those titles that have the essential qualities of a professionally published book to be part of our Editor’s Choice program. Books that receive a positive Editorial Evaluation are sent to our Editorial Board for careful consideration.

Editorial excellence is important, but so are book sales. The iUniverse Reader’s Choice designation recognizes authors who have achieved both editorial excellence and sales success.

No other self publishing organization offers the unique and successful iUniverse Author Recognition and Marketing Programs.

First, I would like to know more about you, your book and your motivation to publish. To help me better understand your needs, I have outlined a few questions that I hope you will answer in detail for me:

-What type of book have you written?
-Who is your target audience?
-Are you finished writing the book?
-What computer program did you use to write your book?
-Will your book have images on the interior pages or text only?
-Do you plan to publish those images in color, or black and white?
-How many pages do you estimate that your book will have?
-Would you like to have your book published in softcover or hardcover?
-When would you like to be holding your very first copy?

Author Solutions, the parent company of iUniverse, is now a member of the Penguin Group. Read full press release here.

[LINK REMOVED]

I look forward to speaking with you.

Sincerely,

Eric Emlinger
PUBLISHING CONSULTANT

1663 Liberty Drive
Bloomington, IN 47403
US Toll Free: (800) 288-4677 Ext. 5377
Fax: (812) 349-0747
[LINK REMOVED]

Author Solutions, the parent company of iUniverse, is a Penguin Random House Company.

iUniverse authors win Independent Publisher Book Awards: [LINK REMOVED]

A few points about their first email:

  • Notice how they’re humping that Penguin-Random House association to add an air of legitimacy the Author Solutions name can’t conjure on its own.

  • Notice what B&N’s CEO is quoted as saying about the Author Solutions/iUniverse editorial review process. (So that’s why my B&N closed! Now I get it.)

  • Don’t miss the rest of their corporate name dropping. Plenty of brands to be leery of including: HarperCollins, Putnam, Simon & Schuster and Holtzbrinck, Authors Guild, the Harlem Writers Guild, and the American Society of Journalists and Authors (ASJA), Barnes & Noble, Inc. and Chapters Indigo.

  • Be sure you laugh at the part where they say iUniverse is designed to be “as similar to a traditional publishing experience as possible.” (Where to begin with this…)

  • And finally, check out this line: “No other self publishing organization offers the unique and successful iUniverse Author Recognition and Marketing Programs.” (Except Xlibris, AuthorHouse, Trafford, et al because they’re owned by Author Solutions too.)

At any rate, Kevin picked up on what was going on, and shot an email back to Eric:

Ugh, I didn’t realize this was iUniverse under another name.  I’ll pass thanks.  I’ve heard nothing but horror stories about how little authors get and how you people upsell for next to nothing in return.

To which Eric responded with this gem:

Hello Kevin,

Such horror stories are from websites that are being sued for racketeering, their [sic] essentially hiring people to write bad reviews about big companies. I don’t expect you to believe me, all I can tell you is the facts. We’ve been in business for 15 years, published over 91,000 books, we have an A with the Better Business Bureau, we are regulated by the FCC, and our company is a part of the Penguin Random House group. Many of my authors have even returned in recent months to publish their second and third book. I hope we hear from you again.

Sincerely,

Eric Emlinger
PUBLISHING CONSULTANT

Oh. My. God. That’s so delicious. Racketeering? You wouldn’t be making shit up now, would you Eric?

‘Cause, umm, who’s suing whom?

Author Solutions Sued For Deceptive Practices

author solutions bloomington indiana

Author Solutions, owner of several vanity press brands, has offices located in Bloomington, IN.

On Monday, April 29, I opened an email from an associate at Giskan Solotaroff Anderson & Stewart LLP. It said simply, “We represent plaintiffs against Author Solutions.  I wanted to let you know that we filed our class suit against them on Friday in the Southern District of New York.”

On May 2, I got an email from Anon with nothing more than a link to a Publisher’s Weekly article titled, “Authors Sue Self-Publishing Service Author Solutions.”

Then a couple of days ago, I got an email from Jodi Foster asking if I’d heard about the lawsuit. (If her name sounds familiar, it coule be because she did an interview here last May. See “iUniverse Complaints: Interview with Jodi Foster.”)

Then this morning, I noticed that I was getting traffic from a Forbes article posted yesterday on the subject of the lawsuit.

Although I’ve been tweeting about the suit since I received the first email, I figured it was time I wrote something about the happy news. Something official to include in  The Complete Index.

About the Lawsuit

Here’s an excerpt from the Publisher’s Weekly article in case you’re not familiar with the details:

Three authors have filed suit against self-publishing service provider Author Solutions, and its parent company Penguin, airing a laundry list of complaints and alleging the company is engaged in deceitful, dubious business practices. “Defendants have marketed themselves as an independent publisher with a reputation for outstanding quality and impressive book sales,” the complaint reads. “Instead, Defendants are not an independent publisher, but a print-on-demand vanity press.”

Beautiful, isn’t it?

There are three authors bringing charges: Kelvin James, Jodi Foster and Terry Hardy, and excerpts from the formal complaint read like poetry to someone like me:

“Despite its impressive profits from book sales, Author Solutions fails at the most basic task of a publisher: paying its authors their earned royalties and providing its authors with accurate sales statements.” (Victoria Strauss has posted a PDF of the full complaint.)

The authors are asking for $5 million in punitive damages. Now, I have no idea what kind of true financial impact a win could have on the company. Maybe none at all. What excites me more is the potential deterrent to future customers this lawsuit will bring, as it’s being widely publicized in self-pub circles and the media in general.

Other articles:

Bye-Bye Kevvy!

In related news, Digital Book World reported on May 3 that Author Solutions parent company, Pearson, has appointed one of their own to take over Kevin “Backdating” Weiss’s role as CEO. Penguin exec John Makinson said, “This is a bitter-sweet announcement because we shall be sorry to lose Kevin, who has provided the stability and clear leadership that Author Solutions needed in the year after our acquisition. But I always recognised that Kevin would seek fresh pastures in time and that a new chief executive from within Penguin would connect the business more closely to Penguin’s curated publishing activities.”

I haven’t yet heard where Weiss is heading, but the article says to expect an announcement sometime this week.

 

Author Solutions, Random House & Syphilis, Oh My!

author solutions syphilisIt never fails; every time I mention ‘Author Solutions’ and ‘self-publishing’ in the same breath, some self-pub stalwart emails me or tweets me with a tirade about how self-publishing—true self-publishing—has nothing at all to do with the business model of vanity presses, and Author Solutions is a vanity press.

In theory, I would agree. I even tried to make this distinction here on the blog early on, but found it futile. However we might like to define terms like ‘self-publishing’ and ‘vanity press’ in an academic sense, we cannot ignore actual language in use. ASI calls what ASI does self-publishing. Consumers call what ASI does self-publishing. Media outlets call what ASI does self-publishing.

If that makes you angry, perhaps I can console you a little. ASI’s attempt to change public perception by framing itself as a self-publisher has had limited success*. Instead of forcing ASI to use the less desirable term, we’re getting something even better out of the deal: The term ‘Author Solutions’ is now bearing the negative connotations we had previously associated with the more general term ‘vanity press.’

As an amateur linguist, I find this fucking delightful.

***

Recently a friend asked me how things were going with ‘that Author Solutions.’ Her nose wrinkled. Her upper lip curled. She expressed disgust. It was like someone had shown her the syphilis photos from my seventh grade health book at the exact moment she said ‘Author Solutions.’

That’s it! I thought. Author Solutions is syphilis.

And the thing about syphilis is that it’s contagious.

***

Yesterday, Random House went and did something foolish, exposing their sores and lesions to the world. You see, Random House recently launched e-book imprints with contracts so foul they were likened to vanity press contracts.

John Scalzi, president of The Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America, took Random House to task after seeing contracts for Hydra and Alibi**. He pointed out plenty of problems with the contracts: there are no advances, authors are charged for costs previously covered by publishers, and—I find this stuff particularly disgusting—the publisher keeps your rights for the length of copyright AND options the next thing you write.

Scalzi wrote:

“Dear writers: This is a horrendously bad deal and if you are ever offered something like it, you should run away as fast as your legs or other conveyances will carry you.”

Funny. That’s exactly what Mrs. Hewlett told us about sleeping with people who didn’t want to wear condoms.

***

So what, specifically, does Random House have to do with Author Solutions and syphilis?

Remember back in July when Pearson and Penguin acquired Author Solutions for $116M and the publishing world sort of gasped in horror? Many people thought executives at the traditional house were out of their ever loving minds. Others, including a few ASI employees, expressed hope, thinking maybe the sale would be good for ASI.  Maybe the new owners would finally force the scourge of the publishing industry to clean up its act?

No such luck. Think about it. When was the last time you heard of a healthy person and a syphilitic having sexytime, and the syphilitic being healed as a result?

So the disease has continued to spread through the industry. Pearson (parent of Penguin) merged with Random House after buying Author Solutions. Author Solutions was then hired to run Archway for Pearson’s competitor, Simon & Schuster. Penguin launched Partridge, another self-pub imprint operated by Author Solutions. And ASI already had self-publishing connections to Harlequin, Hay House and Thomas Nelson.

 ***

Maybe I’m paranoid from watching too much Fringe lately, but I believe Random House has a serious case of the ASI syphilis strain. Remember how your Sunday School teacher told you that having sex with one person was just like having sex with all the people that person had sex with? It’s kind of like that in the publishing industry right now. (Author Solutions is owned by Penguin who merged with Random House. Yadda. Yadda.)

Syphilis! Syphilis! Syphilis!

What makes Random House unique from syphilitic brands like iUniverse, Penguin, Partridge, etc. is that they’re not embracing the term ‘self-publishing’ when talking about their suck-ass, vanity-style imprints Hydra, Alibi and (presumably) Flirt—because that’s a term that could raise flags for even the n00biest n00bs.

I believe Random House wants to pioneer making vanity publishing the new traditional publishing, and they’re starting by, as Scalzi puts it, trying to “skim the slimmest of margins off the most vulnerable of writers” first.

I also believe that if these assholes succeed with their little vanity contract experiment, they’ll be one step closer to erasing any distinction at all between vanity publishing and traditional publishing.

And then those self-pub stalwarts all hung up on their definitions are really going to be pissed.

 


*By the way, you should know the law firm Giskan Solotaroff Anderson & Stewart LLP is currently investigating the practices of Author Solutions and all of its brands. There are whispers of a class action lawsuit. Tell. Everyone.

**As far as I’m concerned, both of Scalzi’s blog posts are required reading for new authors.

 

About that Author Solutions…

Author Solutions Penguin poops on publishing world

I know many of you are interested in getting continuing news about Author Solutions, so I’m pointing you in the direction of David Gaughran’s blog Let’s Get Digital today. He invited me to write a guest post in light of recent news that Author Solutions will be operating yet another self-publishing company, Partridge. Partridge is Penguin’s new self-pub brand for India.

If you hop over there you’ll also have a chance to read about Leah, an author who was saved by a caring internet from very nearly publishing with Author House. Read the post “Penguin’s Solution for Authors: One Racket To Rule Them All.