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Part 2 – Author Beware of Scams !!!

Random House

Random House (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

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In a blog article from last fall we wrote: 10 Signs, Showing You Vanity Publishing TRAPS

We stated: “Reputable trade and independent publishers don’t ask the author for money, ever”. Random House’s imprint ALIBI doesn’t do this. However, what they do is to take away all the worldwide rights to the book in any form from the author. And: they will deduct all their book production and business costs including possible legal fees, from whatever royalty the author can expect in the future. If any at all. They will not reveal these costs or being open and accountable BEFORE – and certainly likely not after – signing the contract.
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John Scalzi  wrote another blog about Random House’s imprint ALIBI

“THIS IS A HORRIBLE AWFUL TERRIBLE APPALLING DISGUSTING CONTRACT AND NO WRITER SHOULD SIGN IT EVER. ”

“… preying on the writers, most at risk for being preyed upon, the new and the desperate. I’m wondering in what world I would think, paying authors no advances and shoving publishing expenses onto them, is somehow a reasonable business model.”

“Right here on the first page, the contract notes that ALIBI takes the exclusive right to print, publish, sell and license the contracted work, in every possible format, in whole or in part, in every language, in the entire world, for the full term of copyright ” (which is 70 years after the death of the author).

Another of John Scalzi’s points: … “transfers the cost of these services onto the most ignorant partner in the contract — which is to say, the AUTHOR. Yes, authors, I know. You are smart. But — can you tell me what “plant costs” mean? What about “conversion fees?” Can you give me a sum that you know with certainty what those costs and fees should be? Do you know how much it costs to print and bind a book? Is ALIBI printing them individually or in one large print run? How will that affect unit cost? What’s a reasonable sum for warehousing? You better know because the contract won’t tell you…”

Read John Scalzi’s article where he goes through all parts of this exploitative publishing contract and explains the disadvantages for authors in detail. 

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There are more “Scam News”:
Class Action Suit for Penguin and Author Solutions?

Emily Suess, author and editor, compiled a whole index of Author House (iUniverse) complaints in her blog.  Litreactor Magazine reported last week: “Penguin’s self-publishing service, Author Solutions, is headed for the courts after it was revealed that New York law firm Giskan Solotaroff Anderson & Stewart is investigating claims that the company hasn’t been meeting it’s obligations, or worse. The company’s questionable practices have been going on for some time: a Google search turns up loads of negative experiences with the company and its subsidiaries. Described by one blog poster as “a class-action lawsuit waiting to happen” and he gave plenty evidence to support this.

Giskan Solotaroff Anderson & Stewart LLP is currently investigating the practices of Author Solutions and all of its brands: AuthorHouse, iUniverse, Trafford, Xlibris, Inkubook, and Wordclay. Authors using Author Solutions have complained of deceptive practices, including enticing authors to purchase promotional services that are not provided or are worthless, failing to pay royalties, and spamming authors and publishing blogs/sites with promotional material.”
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XLibris “publishing” contract outrageous!
A few days ago I got to see a contract from Xlibris, shown to me by an aspiring writer. Unbelievable what “services” they listed to justify their $3.700 plus contract, stating for example as one of their “services” the “Look Inside” function at Amazon and B&N websites! They are provided for free by these online retailers, and XLibris could be sued by Amazon and B&N for charging authors for that. We wrote and warned about Penguin’s and Simon&Schuster’s acquisition of these firms here on this blog. Now there might be a class action suit looming. If you have a case, contact the law firm here.

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Be aware when you see these company names showing up somewhere: Argus, Aberdeen Bay, Algora, All Craft Media, Amereon Press, AmErica House, American Book Publishing, Anchor, Angel Press, Appaloose Press, Author Solutions, Author House, Balboa, Bookwise, Brighton, Brookline, Brundage, Cambridge House, Capri, Capricorn, Century, Challenger, Cobblestone Press, Collegiate Press, Dandelion Books, Deep River, Dorchester Publishing Dorrance, 1st Book, iUniverse, Tafford, West Bow, Xlibris…. even so some change their companies name frequently.  Ask for referrals by other writers and use the internet to do your research.

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Hopefully every writer learns to prevent traps, shares these blog posts with writer friends and colleagues and gets a lawyers’ opinion before signing any of their rights away – or better: decides to author-publish. It is relatively easy to publish books, distribute and market them on your own.
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Did you know that until the 1920’s authors self-published and publishing houses were a rarity? Only during the last 90 years, publishing houses established and grew bigger and bigger. Now we have a reverse of this trend and more and more books and e-books will be author-published.

Just get help with all these publishing steps and coordinate your own enterprise. We offer 3-month publishing / marketing consulting for a very small fee and will explain you in detail every step on your way to author-publishing.

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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 700 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, Chime.in, Facebook, Tumblr and StumpleUpon.

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Hyper Smash
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Posted by on March 11, 2013 in Marketing

 

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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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Hyper Smash

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