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Friday, 24 April 2015

Wrapping up

Lynne Cantwell pulls together the loose ends and links in a resume post at Indies Unlimited, rounding off the #PublisherFoul series for the time being

The whole series generated a fascinating insight into the trials and tribulations of independent authorship and publishing in an ever changing world. Where the predators lurk behind the glossy adverts and enticing promises, sadly often without foundation, and grief and sorrow may be no more than a click away.

Sunday, 19 April 2015

Saint or Skimmer, 2 - Black Hat White Hat!

Times change, the days when the good guy wore a pristine white hat are gone, today's hero is likely to be grey, muddy, washed out, and tired.

The last few weeks have seen Indies Unlimited exploring the experience of authors at the hands of the Vanity Presses, and the same familiar names crop up with an unnerving frequency. Part of the explanation is revealed in the list of subsidiary imprints under the umbrella of Author Solutions(see Saints and Skimmers). If any company has donned the black hat and cape of the villain of the piece it is this one.

Saturday, 11 April 2015

Saint or Skimmer?

Every good story has a villain, the fouler and blacker the better, for a dramatic narrative, and the easier it is to identify the black hats the better, it helps the story unfold and the underlying moral to be revealed through the words and action.

In the not too distant past the giants of publishing held sway over the road to print and the way forward lay through the Gatekeepers of tradition, the literary agent.
Theirs was the only way and any other option was left to the desperate and deranged. That somehow failing to acquire the support of a traditional outlet was to be deemed unworthy, or sub standard.

There are frequent comments made about the changing landscape of modern publishing, primarily brought about by the revolution in self-publishing made possible by the spread of the Internet and the ebook. A landscape changing so quickly it has led to partnerships and alliances that would have been unheard of fifteen, or even ten years.

From the apparently lofty heights of traditional publishing some great names have plunged into the mire of the Vanity press. David Gaughran has explored this on a number of his blogs, and the word of caution to all who seek to put their words out into the great wide literary world is buyer beware. The saints are found among those who will skim the money from your bank account to maintain their business model. If I may quote David from the linked blog; "it’s much harder to tell the scammers from the legitimate organizations when they are owned by the same people. (emphasis is mine).

Penguin Random House are widely known as the owner of Author Solutions, (the footer on the Author Solutions webpage bears the stamp "Author Solutions, A Penguin Random House Company) who have acquired the role of black caped villainy in the self publishing world, and with some justification. Lynne Cantwell left a comment on the post "Weathering the storms" ; the new class-action suit against Author Solutions was filed in U.S. District Court in southern Indiana, where Author Solutions is located. The complaint is harrowing reading. The two named plaintiffs are both elderly, and they both gave these scammers thousands of dollars to "promote" their books. The complaint can be downloaded and is worth reading. The best cautionary tale is often the one heard first, or as close to first hand as is humanly possible.

Goskan Solotaroff describe Author Solutions as "more like a telemarketing company whose customer base is the Authors themselves." Where a traditional publisher makes money for its authors;  Author Solutions make their money by selling books back to the Authors, (not publishing to a general readership,) and expensive publishing, editing, and marketing services (“Services”) that are effectively worthless.

Author Solutions is the tip of a very large iceberg with their US based imprints, 
Trafford Publihsing
and XLibris.

International imprints;
Authorhouse UK
and the UK, Australia and New Zealand imprints of XLibris

International partnerships with 
Balboa Press AU;
Partridge, Africa, India and Singapore (Partridge is a Penguin Group Author Solutions development since the takeover by Penguin in 2012 - so any ideas that Penguin's acquisition would clean up the stables were  ill founded, they simply added to the pile)

The links between the big publishers and Author Solutions are there in open view; Simon & Schuster's self-publishing arm, Archway Publishing, declares from the head of the page "Operated by Author Solutions."

There is more to come, the information is out there, and it may take some finding, but the due diligence is worth the effort, and the question. The Question! How, why, do we still manage to fall for the patter and the slick marketing.

David Gaughran sums it up beautifully, he asks can you remember when you were new to all this, how naive, and badly you wanted your book published, and every avenue towards that goal seemed impossible. 

When you feel that everything is working against you, you start to get desperate, crazy, and on top of all that - you don't know who the good guys are anymore!

Saturday, 4 April 2015

Weathering the storms!

March is traditionally supposed to come in like a Lion, roaring with the wintry weather blasting out of February and slowly slip into April, quiet as a lamb.

Indies Unlimited kicked off March Madness with a roar and the storm continued; pain, disappointment and anger has run with the thread through the month and shows no sign of abating, either at Indies Unlimited or further afield as the month draws to a close.