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.