Many others have written about this, but I’ll put my two cents in just in case my blog post reaches a new writer who hasn’t heard about it yet. What’s the scam? A few years ago, PENGUIN BOOKS, now RANDY PENGUIN or PENGUIN RANDOM HOUSE, paid $116 million to buy Author Solutions Inc, the worst vanity publisher in the country, which charges thousands of dollars for publishing services which ought to be free or very cheap.
The company, which includes iUniverse, Author House, Xlibris, Trafford and others, targets inexperienced writers who want to self-publish but need help. The fees ASI charges are bad enough, but these authors get no promotion for their work, and therefore sell few, if any books. WRITER BEWARE, and PREDITORS & EDITORS , have warned about using ASI, but many beginners are still unaware of the risks. Now, with the (former) prestige of the Penguin/Random House name, these neophytes think they’re getting published by a large company, when in fact, they are not.
Why did PRH buy ASI when it could have used those millions to offer better royalties to their authors? Some think it was because ASI, which had been in business for years, had a mailing list of new writers that PRH wanted to use.
Others say that they saw the money ASI was making on the backs of the uninformed, and wanted to get a share of that. As Gail Ryan commented recently, “They’re happy to be unethical as long as they make a buck.” And another, “To hell with decency if there is money in dealing with the devil.”
Besides using the PRH name, ASI has added more tricks to its arsenal, which are designed to further fool the unwary. 1. They use fake-informational websites to offer advice, which then only recommends Author Solutions companies. 2. They use social media to profile “publishing consultants,” who are actually ASI employees. 3. They require authors to provide testimonials about how great ASI is before they will publish their books, even when said authors have already paid the fees.
There are hundreds of horror stories by authors complaining about ASI publishing without permission, incorrect royalty statements, failure to pay royalties, harassing phone calls, and books with errors made by ASI, which the authors had to pay to correct.
“How do they get away with that?” you ask? Let’s hope they won’t for much longer. There is a class-action lawsuit against them for deceptive business practices already. Yet, public outcries are still necessary to halt the seemingly never-ending flow of uninformed writers who fall into their trap. So it’s up to us who are aware to spread the word. By the way, PRH isn't the only one of the Big-5 which has a self-publishing (read Vanity) press. Simon & Schuster has Archway, for example. Why would anyone want to deal with those when they so blatantly allow this scam? I won’t. I don’t work with unethical people. And, judging by the many authors using small presses or Amazon, I'm not alone.