Thursday, November 29, 2012

Simon & Schuster Joins Forces With Author Solutions To Rip Off Writers


by David Gaughran

Simon & Schuster has launched a self-publishing operation, Archway Publishing, contracting one of the most disreputable players in the business to run the show: Author Solutions.

We’ll get to that distasteful link-up in a second, but first let’s have a look at what Simon & Schuster are offering prospective customers (i.e. writers).

Fiction packages start at $1,999 and go up to $14,999. If you have written a business book, prices are saucier again: $2,999 to $24,999.

While the upper end of the pricing spectrum is obviously shocking, some of you might think that $1,999 isn’t too bad if you are getting a proper edit and a decent cover.

Not so fast.

That price tag doesn’t include any real editing, just an assessment which – according to their own website – is “not a replacement” for editorial services but “a preliminary diagnostic tool.”

But what if you need proper editing? Fear not! Simon & Schuster is here to help. For just $0.035 a word, you can have a thorough edit of your book. Which sounds cheap until you realize that a standard 80,000 word novel would cost you $2,800. So, in actual fact, the cheapest package, plus their edit, will set you back $4,799 for a standard length book.

As if that wasn’t enough, Simon & Schuster will also take half of your e-book royalties – after Amazon and the other retailers take their cut – and pay pennies for print sales.

Not looking so reasonable anymore, is it.

“But wait!” I hear you cry. “Those Simon & Schuster editors might be pretty damn good.” Alas, Simon & Schuster won’t be lending any editorial expertise to this new operation; it will be run and staffed by… Author Solutions – the world famous repository of editorial talent.

In fact, the whole operation has been outsourced by Simon & Schuster to Author Solutions. In case you aren’t familiar with them, let’s go over a little history.

AUTHOR SOLUTIONS

Author Solutions is the umbrella for (and owner of) several seriously shady self-publishing service companies (or vanity presses, if you prefer) – such as AuthorHouse, Xlibris, iUniverse, and Trafford.

Each of these companies has managed to achieve disreputable status on their own, but together they have screwed over more than 150,000 writers. Going through the full history of their rip-off schemes would require a book, rather than a blog post, so I’ll stick to the highlights.

The formidable Emily Suess has been covering Author Solutions for some time:

The short list of recurring issues includes: making formerly out-of-print works available for sale without the author’s consent, improperly reporting royalty information, non-payment of royalties, breach of contract, predatory and harassing sales calls, excessive markups on review and advertising services, failure to deliver marketing services as promised, telling customers their add-ons will only cost hundreds of dollars and then charging their credit cards thousands of dollars, ignoring customer complaints, shaming and banning customers who go public with their stories, and calling at least one customer a ‘fucking asshole.’

Read the above list carefully. Take a moment to consider it. This is the company that Simon & Schuster has hired to run their self-publishing operation – a company which was purchased by Penguin in July for $116m.

If you are unfamiliar with the charges above, this post will give you a little more detail.


AUTHOR SOLUTIONS

Author Solutions is the umbrella for (and owner of) several seriously shady self-publishing service companies (or vanity presses, if you prefer) – such as AuthorHouse, Xlibris, iUniverse, and Trafford.

Each of these companies has managed to achieve disreputable status on their own, but together they have screwed over more than 150,000 writers. Going through the full history of their rip-off schemes would require a book, rather than a blog post, so I’ll stick to the highlights.

The formidable Emily Suess has been covering Author Solutions for some time:

The short list of recurring issues includes: making formerly out-of-print works available for sale without the author’s consent, improperly reporting royalty information, non-payment of royalties, breach of contract, predatory and harassing sales calls, excessive markups on review and advertising services, failure to deliver marketing services as promised, telling customers their add-ons will only cost hundreds of dollars and then charging their credit cards thousands of dollars, ignoring customer complaints, shaming and banning customers who go public with their stories, and calling at least one customer a ‘fucking asshole.’

Read the above list carefully. Take a moment to consider it. This is the company that Simon & Schuster has hired to run their self-publishing operation – a company which was purchased by Penguin in July for $116m.


Here's the link to the full article. It's well worth the time to read this:
http://davidgaughran.wordpress.com/2012/11/28/simon-schuster-joins-forces-with-author-solutions-to-rip-off-writers/

About the author:
David Gaughran is a 34-year old Irish writer, living in London, who spends most of his time travelling the world, collecting stories. He is the author of the South American historical adventure "A Storm Hits Valparaiso" and the short stories "If You Go Into The Woods" and "Transfection" as well as the popular self-publishing guide "Let's Get Digital: How To Self-Publish, And Why You Should."