Authors Sue Author Solutions

Almost a year ago, David Gaughran wrote a post for IR called, “Penguin’s New Business Model: Exploiting Writers“. In it, he outlined the details of how Penguin’s parent company, Pearson, purchased Author Solutions–which has a long history of providing questionable services at staggering prices–for $116 million.

From a look at the April 30th “Courthouse News Service“, which announced that “Self-Publishers Want Millions From Penguin”, it looks like the exploited are rising up.

Turns out that, according to a claim filed by three unhappy authors, “Penguin Group’s self-publishing branch, Author Solutions, cheats writers of royalties and charges them to correct typos in manuscripts that the company itself inserted…”

“Author Solutions’ revenues are estimated at $100 million per year,” the complaint states. “Of the $100 million Author Solutions earns as revenue, approximately one third of that amount, or millions annually, comes from book sales. The rest of its revenue is derived from the services it offers, such as editorial services, formatting and design services, production services, and marketing services (‘services’).”

“Despite its impressive profits from book sales, Author Solutions fails at the most basic task of a publisher: paying its authors their earned royalties and providing its authors with accurate sales statements.

“Author Solutions also fails to take diligent care of its authors’ works, making numerous and egregious publisher errors – errors made by the publisher, not the author. These errors include errors on book covers, in addition to various typographical and formatting errors. In fact, Author Solutions profits from its own mistakes. Aggressive sales techniques ensure that these errors are corrected only for a fee of several hundred dollars. Even though, as a matter of policy, Author Solutions promises to correct publisher errors for free, it rarely does.

“Most of Author Solutions’ earnings are derived from its publishing and marketing services. These services, which can cost authors tens of thousands of dollars, likewise fail to deliver what they promise: more book sales and more opportunities for authors.

“Therefore, even while Defendant Author Solutions prominently markets itself on its website as ‘[t]he leading indie publishing company in the world,’ authors often discover, once it is too late, that Author Solutions it is not an ‘indie publisher’ at all. It is a printing service that fails to maintain even the most rudimentary standards of book publishing, profiting not for its authors but from them.”

“Many authors, in an effort to avoid republishing a second book with the same imprint, move onto another without realizing that it is simply the same Author Solutions operation under a different name,” the complaint states.

Here at IndieReader (which, by the way, offers indie author-approved publishing services) we consider ourselves professional and mature.  Nevertheless, we’re not above saying we told you so.

10 replies
  1. avatar
    Duncan Long says:

    Author Solutions or AuthorHouse? I’m no lawyer, but I suspect AuthorHouse might have grounds for a lawsuit if your title for this article is incorrect.

  2. avatar
    Duncan Long says:

    Going to the original article, I see that AuthorHouse is a subsidiary… Possibly that should be made clear in the blog post as well???? Sorry to bombard you with two off-the-wall posts but…

  3. avatar
    J. R. Tomlin says:

    i find it interesting that anyone would consider only one-third of a publisher’s income coming from sales to be “impressive”. That’s not what I’d call it.

  4. avatar
    Rachel Thompson says:

    So, where does one go with three manuscripts ready for print? The waters are clouded with author eating slim molds.

  5. avatar
    Anne R. Allen says:

    Duncan and Amy–Author Solutions is the more recent name of Author House, which is the umbrella corporation that has bought up most US and Canadian vanity publishers, including iUniverse, Tafford, and about a dozen others. They now operate “self-publishing wings” of many legit houses, including Simon and Schuster, Harlequin, Hay House, and Thomas Nelson.

    Because they team up with the big, legit companies, many authors are duped into thinking they’ve got something besides expensive, vanity publishing. Nobody can make money with their books because the costs are so high. Penguin /Pearson now owns Author Solutions, formerly Author House and I think it’s going to get them into some pretty deep, well deserved doo-doo.

  6. avatar
    Jennifer says:

    Wow! See this is why I only trust Indie people and not many of them at that. Such a cut-throat business. Shameful. But as I’ve read above in the comments, I will comment, there are plenty of presses out there who aren’t out to steal your money who WILL do the job for you, without a bunch of drama. It’s just finding them. I’ve dealt with a few in my time, traditional small press digital houses and pay-as-you-go types. Thank you for writing this article and letting the people know where another place to look out for is. I know, as an author and editor, I appreciate the knowledge.

  7. avatar
    wordwan says:

    The biggest problem in ebook publishing ISN’T publishing companies.

    It’s writers who don’t do a teeny bit of checking before handing their children off to strangers. Too many are in such a hurry to be ‘rich and famous’. *grin* Too ready to let someone ELSE do all the ‘hard’ stuff–whatever that might be.

    And you’re GONNA get caught, if you continue to think this way.

    I’ve been reading up on ebook publishing. The environment we are in is a LOT older than we realize. Publishers and other service companies will stick it to you if you toss all your books in their barn.

    It’s human nature, I’m afraid.

    And some of these writers need to take as much care as if they are changing lanes on a highway.

    Yanno? I’m seeing too much of this. Too much.

    You gotta watch what you’re doing with your creativity.



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