Abbott Press – the imprint launched by Writer’s Digest, parent company F+W Media, and white-label vanity press provider Author Solutions – is still operational, but all ties to Writer’s Digest have been cut.
It appears that Abbott Press will now be run directly as yet another Author Solutions brand but Writer’s Digest and F+W Media will have no further connection with it. (If you are unfamiliar with Author Solutions and its awful history, this will bring you up to speed.)
Writer’s Digest and F+W Media refuse to comment, despite being given several opportunities, but I’ve had this news confirmed by multiple sources. As Author Solutions only tends to allow early termination of partnership agreements if the partner signs a series of non-disclosure agreements, a formal announcement or comment is unlikely.
However, it’s clear from the websites of Writer’s Digest and Abbott Press that all links between the companies are in the process of being severed.
Abbott Press has removed “A Writer’s Digest Company” from its masthead and logo, and Writer’s Digest is in the process of scrubbing links between its site and Abbott Press, although you can still find several older articles touting the vanity imprint’s virtues – like this shill piece from Writer’s Digest staffer Chuck Sambuchino.
While this is a welcome development, it’s important to note a few things before this entire episode is airbrushed from history.
Author Solutions aggressively pursues strategic partnerships to lend credibility to its scammy practices. More importantly, these partners help keep the pipeline of email addresses and phone numbers flowing. As I detailed two weeks ago, Author Solutions needs huge numbers of leads because it only converts 5% of queries into customers.
Author Solutions first floated a partnership in 2010, but Jane Friedman – then publisher of Writer’s Digest – was unhappy with the idea and the direction the company was taking in general, and resigned.
Her successor, Phil Sexton, announced the partnership in January 2011.
We can only speculate as to why Writer’s Digest made the decision to terminate this agreement, but it’s clear they were aware of the dangers ahead of time. Away from the constraints of a corporate press release, Phil Sexton was more open with his thoughts in the comments of this post criticizing the deal. He acknowledged the issues when he said:
We’re well aware of the dangers here, particularly given who we are. It’s a scary line to be walking, particularly if we don’t handle it properly… The last thing any of us want to do is screw up a 90 year old brand.