Over the years we’ve have several posts regarding companies that some call vanity presses or vanity publishers. About three years ago we had an entire series of posts about these companies, called #PublishingFoul. Five years ago there were two major players in this arena: PublishAmerica and Author Solutions with a few other smaller companies using the same business model.
The two biggies operated under a myriad of different names with foreign subsidiaries and multiple imprint names. Keeping track of them was tough. But a rule of thumb that is attributed to author James D. Macdonald that “money should always flow toward the author” was all a wannabe-published author needed to know to avoid becoming the victim of those who would prey on the less informed. But the only thing constant in the world is change, and over the last several years a lot has changed, both in this portion of the publishing industry and in how authors can protect themselves. Continue reading “You’re So Vain: Vanity Presses Versus Self-Publishing”
Let’s say you’re brand-new to writing. You’re in the process of writing your Great (Insert Nationality Here) Novel and you’re looking around online for help. One website – Author Learning Center – stands out for you. The presentation is slick – friendly and reassuring. It features videos from authors you’ve heard of (Catherine Coulter! R.L. Stine!) and promises to provide you with lots of helpful information. And it’s free! For the first thirty days, that is. After that, it’s $9.99 a month. But you can cancel at any time!
Here’s what Author Learning Center won’t tell you anywhere on its website (I checked): It’s owned and operated by Author Solutions, one of the most notorious names in vanity publishing. Continue reading “What Author Learning Center Is Teaching: Buyer Beware”
Well, that didn’t take long. Just three years and change after buying Author Solutions (ASI) from venture capital firm Bertram Capital, Penguin Random House has sold the company to an affiliate of Najafi Companies, another venture capital firm. In 2012, Penguin’s then-owner, Pearson, paid $116 million for Author Solutions, not long before Penguin merged with Random House. Terms of the most recent deal were not disclosed. The sale was finalized December 31st and was announced earlier this week.
I hope we’re all familiar by now with Author Solutions’ schtick: the reassuring websites of its many, many imprints; the claims that you, too, can be a successful author by publishing your book with them; the high initial costs, the constant upselling, the disastrous “editing,” and the boxes and boxes of books in the garage that the hapless author will never be able to unload. Continue reading “Random Penguin Kicks Author Solutions to the Curb”
by David Gaughran
I have been campaigning against exploitative services like Author Solutions for a few years now, and it’s clear that the business model of such predators is to target the inexperienced and uninformed.
Some blame the victims, suggesting they didn’t do enough research, but this is more than a little unfair. These companies are extremely skilled at targeting writers before they discover the self-publishing community, and use a variety of deceptive means both to ensnare writers and to ensure that they don’t discover genuine reviews.
Also, the lines between traditional publishing, self-publishing, and vanity publishing are more difficult to define every year. Part of the reason is that vanity presses have now rebranded themselves as “self-publishing service providers” and they are often owned by traditional publishers.
Confusing already, isn’t it? Here are five ways you can cut through the crap and avoid predators: Continue reading “How To Avoid Publishing Predators”