The self-publishing industry is awash in companies offering authors the chance to produce their books for hefty fees. The quality and usefulness of the services typically runs from adequate to straight-on rip-off.
Sadly, these author services prey on authors who know little about the industry and simply dream of publishing a book. Most of the companies charge exorbitant sums for simple tasks, such as obtaining an ISBN, writing a press release or setting up a Good Reads page. The quality of their work is marginal, often producing the type of book that gives self-publishing a bad name. And once the book is finished, they leave the author alone and floundering, with no real support.
Two lawsuits against noted provider Author Solutions, the Penguin Random House company billed as “the world’s leading supported self-publishing services provider,” were recently dismissed on legal grounds. But the charges will sound familiar to authors familiar with the business. In Indiana and New York, Author Solutions was accused of running “a fraudulent scheme” to sell worthless marketing services to unsuspecting authors, according to coverage in Publishers Weekly.
The cases pressed similar claims against Author Solutions and argued for class action status. Author Solutions deceptively promoted itself as an independent publisher and profited from an array of fraudulent practices, including “delaying publication, publishing manuscripts with errors to generate fees, failing to pay royalties, and up-selling ‘worthless services’ to authors,” the suits alleged.
The cases dissolved on the complexities of class action status and intricacies of the law, disappointing many authors, who have liked to have seen the issues aired in open court.
“Moving forward, we soon will share our broad-ranging future plans as we fulfill our mission to help authors reach their publishing goals and achieve the widest impact with their writing,” Author Solutions president and CEO said in a statement.
Whatever the outcome of the legal wrangling, the cases should serve as a cautionary tale for authors. These author services companies must be approached with a large dose of skepticism. Authors need to be clear about their expectations from the company and what they hope to achieve.
If nothing else, the news about Author Solutions served as a reminder of a recent blog post by new author Trinity Robert, who detailed many of activities she label scams. Her blog is appropriate titled, “Self-Publishing Traps Are Sucking Authors Dry.”
These packages are dressed up to look glamorous to new authors. However, these “special features” are not worth the money that you are spending… A little research goes a long way. The stuff I have found online is horrifying.
There are many of these stories out there. Authors can report a wide variety of experiences. But, at the very least, it is important for authors to focus on the dangers of sending money to a company that may not be looking after their best interests.