Author Solutions has forged partnerships with a long list of famous names in publishing – from Simon & Schuster and Hay House to Barnes & Noble and Reader’s Digest.
Recent disclosures in various lawsuits, along with information sent to me by a Penguin Random House source, detail for the very first time exactly how these partnerships work and the damage they are causing.
Since a second suit was filed at the end of March, Author Solutions is now facing two class actions, with the new complaint alleging unjust enrichment and exploitation of seniors on top of the usual claims of fraud and deceptive practices. It also has a wonderfully precise summary of Author Solutions’ operations:
Author Solutions operates more like a telemarketing company whose customer base is the Authors themselves. In other words, unlike a traditional publisher, Author Solutions makes money from its Authors, not for them. It does so by selling books back to its Authors, not to a general readership, and by selling its Authors expensive publishing, editing, and marketing services (“Services”) that are effectively worthless.
You may not have heard about this second class action as most of the media felt it wasn’t worth reporting – even the trade press like Publishers Weekly and The Bookseller – but you can peruse the complaint here (PDF).
(Note: the lawyers representing the plaintiffs in both class actions are still looking to hear from anyone who has published with Author Solutions. You can do that here.)
Despite Author Solutions’ mounting legal troubles, and an unending stream of complaints against the company from both its own customers and a whole host of writers’ organizations and campaigners, companies are still queuing up to partner with Author Solutions.
Penguin Random House – its corporate parent – has shown no inclination towards reforming any of the deceptive and misleading practices of Author Solutions, or addressing any of the long-standing issues its customers face, handily summarized by Emily Suess as:
- improperly reporting royalty information
- non-payment of royalties
- breach of contract
- predatory and harassing sales calls
- excessive markups on review and advertising services
- failure to deliver marketing services as promised
- telling customers their add-ons will only cost hundreds of dollars and then charging their credit cards thousands of dollars
- ignoring customer complaints
- shaming and banning customers who go public with their stories.
Instead of making any attempt to tackle that list, Penguin Random House has focused on international expansion of Author Solutions, a process which has also seen the re-introduction of practices which had previously been banished from the industry, like reading fees. Continue reading