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Barnes and Noble’s Dirty Little Secret: Author Solutions and Nook Press


Author Beware:  Notorious AUTHOR SOLUTIONS increased future revenue by closing a deal with … You won’t believe it: Nook Press / Barnes & Noble! who offer now Print-on-Demand services through Author Solutions.
David Gauthran explains one of the most frightening points for authors, who sell their books through Barnes & Noble – even if they don’t use any of the POD services:
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“If you think you are safe because you have never used Nook Press Author Services, and don’t plan to, I am afraid that’s not the case. I am not a lawyer, but under my reading of the terms of the Nook Press Privacy Policy, Barnes & Noble already has the right to share the personal information of all Nook Press users with third party suppliers like Author Solutions.”
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Read the whole story (peppered with documents for proof) at David’s blog, including responses of writers – and after please, do share it, re-blog it, and spread the word so that all authors get informed and be warned about this new scam. Many authors already pulled their books from B&N… as one can see on the many comments to blog articles regarding Author Solutions and Barnes & Noble.
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“Dear Barnes & Noble:
Why on earth contracting with Author Solutions?  And trick authors?  Why not making money from selling books – instead of making money from selling (often useless) services at inflated prices to AUTHORS?  And even giving personal data about authors – who commission their books on your online platform – to Author Solutions?”
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A BIG thanks to David Gaughran, who works hard,
investigates and helps everyone in the writing community
to stay away from these unethical practices.
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David Gaughran

NookPressAuthorSolutionsNook Press – Barnes & Noble’s self-publishing platform – launched a selection of author services last October including editing, cover design, and (limited) print-on-demand.

Immediate speculation surrounded who exactly was providing these services, with many – including Nate Hoffelder, Passive Guy, and myself – speculating it could be Author Solutions. However, there was no proof.

Until now.

A source at Penguin Random House has provided me with a document which shows that Author Solutions is secretly operating Nook Press Author Services. The following screenshot is taken from the agreement between Barnes & Noble and writers using the service.

NookPressAuthorServicesBloomingtonopt

You will see that the postal address highlighted above for physical submission of manuscripts is “Nook Press Author Services, 1663 Liberty Drive, Bloomington, Indiana.”

Author Solutions, Bloomington, Indiana. Image courtesy of Wikimedia, uploaded by Vmenkov, CC BY-SA 3.0 Author Solutions, Bloomington, IN. Image from Wikimedia, by Vmenkov, CC BY-SA 3.0

There’s something else located at that address: Author Solutions US headquarters in Bloomington…

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Posted by on March 3, 2015 in All things Legal

 

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How New Writers are Taken in by Author Solutions and Penguin

How Author Solutions / Penguin Squeezes Newbie Writers
Customers are captured through a variety of deceptive means – such as

  • fake “independent” websites which purport to review all the self-publishing options available to writers (but only compare the various Author Solutions imprints);
  • fake social media profiles pretending to be writers or “publishing consultants” (who only recommend Author Solutions companies); and,
  • a “bounty” to various unscrupulous parties to deliver Author Solutions fresh blood.

Once Author Solutions has a writer’s contact details, it moves fast – endlessly harassing them by phone and email until they cave and purchase an overpriced publishing package. Obviously, Author Solutions needs to use such deceptive measures because authors who have used its services aren’t recommending it to their fellow writers. Instead, they are warning them away. … read more:

David Gaughran

PRHGrupoASIPenguin Random House is speeding up the international expansion of its vanity press operations, while also seeking to integrate them more closely with the traditional side of the business – hoping to counteract flat growth for Author Solutions at a time when self-publishing is booming.

Author Solutions launches a new self-publishing service company for the Spanish market next Tuesday – MeGustaEscribir – which contains the usual mix of crappy publishing packages and ineffective, overpriced marketing services, as well as some extremely questionable practices such as reading fees (more on that below).

The way the Author Solutions scam typically operates is detailed exhaustively in this post, but here’s a brief summary.

How Author Solutions Squeezes Newbie Writers

Customers are captured through a variety of deceptive means – such as fake “independent” websites which purport to review all the self-publishing options available to writers (but only compare the various Author Solutions…

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Posted by on December 16, 2014 in Writer Beware

 

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The Author Exploitation Business

Penguin and Author Solutions
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We wrote in dozens of blog posts about the difference between publishers, self-publishing service companies and Vanity Publishing, recently in an article

A Must-Read for every author is David Gaughran’s article about Author Solutions, where he explains:
“Traditional publishing doesn’t talk about Penguin’s 116m purchase and ownership of Author Solutions. No-one wants to talk about how a supposedly legitimate publisher now owns the most successful author scamming organization on the planet, that has cheated 150,000 writers out of their savings.”

Unfortunately Author Solutions / Penguin also own  XLibris, Balboa, Trafford, iUniverse… ,collaborates with Lulu, and spams the internet with FindYourPublisher.com
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The good news: Three authors filed a class action complaint against Author Solutions Inc. and Penguin Group USA in US District Court for the Southern District of New York. Allegations include breach of contract, unjust enrichment, various violations of the California Business and Professional Code, and violation of New York General Business Law and request release of publishing rights for the class, and payment by the plaintiffs of restitution, court costs, and compensatory damages in excess of $5 million.
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Read David Gaughran’s extensive article and re-blog it, to warn as many writers as possible, so that they do not fall into their traps.

David Gaughran

penguin (1)Writing is a glamorous occupation – at least from the outside. Popular depictions of our profession tend to leave out all the other stuff that comes with the territory: carpal tunnel syndrome, liver failure, penury, and madness.

Okay, okay, I jest. I love being a writer. Sharing stories with the world and getting paid for it is bloody brilliant. It’s a dream job, and like any profession with a horde of neophytes seeking to break in, there are plenty of sharks waiting to chew them to bits.

Publishing is a screwed up business. The often labyrinthine path to success makes it much easier for those with nefarious intentions to scam the unsuspecting. But it doesn’t help that so many organizations who claim to help writers, to respect them, to assist them along the path to publication are actually screwing them over.

Before the digital revolution made self-publishing viable on a…

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First Penguin – now Simon & Schuster Wants Your Money

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… or how reputable publishers turn into “Vanity Publishers”
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They will not publish authors in the first place – and then they try to fleece them and charge them for “self-publishing” which is also called “Vanity Publishing”.   Simon & Schuster, four largest English-language publishers, through its Archway Publishing seeks writers who “self-publish” fiction, nonfiction, business and children’s books and let them pay for author services.

Archway Publishing will be run with help from Author Solutions and includes “editorial, design, distribution and marketing services” for authors.  The cost for these “services” range from $1,999 Author package to $14,999.   Read about their pricing / royalties in the FAQ’s.
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Their royalty samples :

Book Retail Price $17.95
– $9.87 (55% Wholesale Discount)
= $8.08 (Net after Wholesale Discount)
– $4.97 Printing costs
= $3.11 Net
x 50% (Royalty Rate)
= $1.56 Royalty Earned from a retail sale
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Book Retail Price $17.95
– $4.97 Printing costs
= $12.98 Net
x 50% (Royalty Rate)
= $6.49 Royalty Earned from their website sales
(My comment: If ever anyone buys from their un-known website)
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When do they pay royalties? After five! months… e.g. First Quarter: January 1 to March 31 (checks are mailed in late May)

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Here are more snippets from their press release:
The following services will be Archway Publishing exclusives:
Concierge Service – Authors will have the option to work with a dedicated publishing guide who will coordinate each step of the book production process.
Bookseller Catalog – Archway titles will be included in Edelweiss, the leading, industry-wide online catalog available to major retailers, wholesalers, libraries, bloggers and thousands of industry professionals.
The Archway Speakers Bureau, powered by Speakerfile, helps authors connect to a world of potential speaking “opportunities” and establish themselves as credible voices in their fields.
Premier Video Production and Distribution – Archway authors will have the “opportunity” to create high-quality videos and book trailers for distribution to major online video networks.
All these “services” can easily done by an author – they don’t need to employ a vanity publisher for it.

Another press release from Penguin tells “150K writers have used the services of Author Solutions” and sold total of 190K books, which means a little bit more than 1 book per author.  Go figure…

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If you enjoyed this blog post, please feel free to check out all previous posts of this blog (there are almost 600 of them : ) if you haven’t already. Why not sign up to receive them regularly by email? Just click on “Follow” in the upper line on each page – and then on “LIKE” next to it. There is also the “SHARE” button underneath each article where you can submit the article to Pinterest, Google+, Twitter, Tumblr and StumpleUpon.

Follow on Twitter: @111publishing

And don’t forget to spread the word on other social networking sites of your choice for other writers who might also enjoy this blog and find it useful. Thanks, Doris

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Warning for “Self-Publishing” Authors

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The reason I started this blog initially, was to warn authors of vanity publishers including most of the POD service companies who call themselves “publishers” – and are in reality often unutilized print shops.

The statistics are mind-boggling, but still too many writers fall into their traps: the average Author Solutions customers – writers – spend around $5,000 with the company, but only sell 150 books. Even their press releases tell it all: “150,000 writers have used the services of Author Solutions, but they have only published a combined total of 190,000 books.” This comes from Penguin’s press release who just bought Author Solutions including their subsidiaries Author House, Xlibris, Trafford and iUniverse.

$100 Million in annual revenue comes roughly at two-thirds from the sale of services to writers, and only one-third comes from the royalties generated by books sales. Which means that most of the money they made (and unfortenately will make in the future) comes from fleezing writers.

Read more about their schemes and a litany of complaints at IndieReader.com  and on Let’s Get Digital. See also Mark Levines book: “Book Publishers Compared

I just wish that writers read articles like these and study the “Writer Beware” website, Emily Seuss’ blog article or Marcia Yudkins blog “how to sniff out scams”.  There is no shortage of warnings out there!  Read them BEFORE you make decisions about self-publishing.

What steps are necessary in self-publishing a paper book:

  • Marketing
  • Manuscript Editing
  • Book Layout
  • Cover Design
  • Printing & Binding
  • Distribution

Why I put Marketing on top of the list? Because it is the most important one and should start long before you finish your manuscript. When you followed this blog you realized that almost all of my marketing tips don’t need involvement of service providers and are free. They involve only time, but no money.

An example: How much time does it take to write a terrific press release and email it out? Two, five, eight hours? You just saved more than $1,500 plus tax, that’s what Author Solution and the like would have charged you for this task. Being on Goodreads, Wattpad, Twitter, Google+, Pinterest, FB, LinkedIn, Tumblr etc. and creating a platform and a name as a writer doesn’t cost a dime. Listing your books on Bowker worldwide is free. The list how you can promote your book for free goes on an on.

Another example: How long would it take to write a query and approach these reviewers directly: Kirkwood, ForeWord and BlueInk? One hour, two or three?  Author Solutions sells these three reviews from Kirkus, ForeWord and BlueInk to writers for a whopping $ 1,155 (or $1,405 for expedited) to a package price including
“evaluating the possibilities” by MVP for $3,000 in total (all plus tax) “for writers to be discovered and have their works optioned for film or TV”.

There is more: To set up four accounts on social media, they charge authors $700. How long does it take to open an account on Twitter, Facebook etc.? Their pricing is just absurd!

You can become your own publisher and not fall into the trap of “self-publishers”, just find information how to obtain and evaluate quotes on these services. The internet is full of advice on how-to…, service provider listings, offers for all of these services – starting with the 500 posts I wrote on this blog. One third of these articles is about self-publishing and two thirds “How to Market your Book on a Shoestring” – which is also the title of an upcoming e-book I am publishing soon for independent authors. Really independent ones!

And to publish a digital version of your book, the same is true: It takes time and dedication and a willingness to put yourself out there, but if you want to write a book there’s absolutely no reason to spend hundreds or thousands of dollars getting it into the e-book market.
If you enjoyed this blog post, please feel free to check out all previous posts (there are almost 500 of them : ) if you haven’t already. Why not sign up to receive them regularly by email? Just click on “Follow” in the upper line on each page – and then on “Like” next to it.

Follow on Twitter: @111publishing

And don’t forget to spread the word on Twitter, Facebook, Google+, Tumblr or StumbleUpon – or other social networking sites of your choice) – other writers might also enjoy this blog and find it useful.

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