Although Kevin Weiss, Keith Ogorek and Eugene Hopkins might try to tell you differently, Author Solutions is a company that severely limits what authors can do with a manuscript, both in terms of finished product and sales.
Yeah, I know there are a few happy stories out there about writers who’ve worked with them and done better than all right. Those stories are really, really hard to come by, and I’m not exactly convinced they aren’t complete fabrications.
1. Author Solutions doesn’t take no for an answer.
I’ve published a few interviews already that illustrate pushy sales tactics are the norm at Author Solutions’ vanity presses. Philip J. Reed gets annoying phone calls years after the fact. Jodi Foster gets hard-sell emails to buy her own books with happy promises of a larger profit margin the more she buys. But do a search and you’ll find tons more stories from Pissedconsumer.com, Complaintsboard.com, and Ripoffreport.com.
That’s because pushy salesmanship is a way of life at Author Solutions. Consider the current job description for the position of Marketing Consultant. Notice the employee’s responsibilities will be to “call current authors to proactively sell promotional and editorial services to newly contracted authors” and “proactively call authors previously live to sell same services.” That “previously live” bit really gets me. Trying to get away from iUniverse or any Author Solutions publisher reminds me of that catchy Eagles’ tune…
...you can check out any time you like, but you can never leave!
Aside from that, 80 (eighty! eight-oh!) percent of the job’s duties are making 50 or more outbound phone calls a day to current authors. Good heavens that’s a lot of time on the horn for one little ol’
salesman marketing consultant. I wonder what would happen if they let that one person spend, say, 30 percent of his time returning the calls of angry customers.
2. Author Solutions owns a confusing number of vanity press brands.
Click on that job description thumbnail if you haven’t already, and take a close look at the logos sprawled across the top of that page. Smart shoppers with the best of intentions think they’re really doing their homework when they compare ratings and prices of companies including Author House, Trafford Publishing, Xlibris, iUniverse and Word Clay. But what’s with all those brands?
They’ve purchased a number of previously independent vanity presses to give you the illusion of choice while actually limiting your choices. Don’t be fooled though; you get the same absurdly overpriced junk and shit customer service no matter which of those Author Solutions brands you choose.
See this comment for a full list of associated brands.
3. Their disorganization adversely effects customer service.
Customers frequently complain that they get passed along from person to person when trying to get help from Author Solutions. Remember the employee who said, “So many departments throw clients back and forth to so many different people it’s no wonder they get so upset by the time they reach you?” In the company’s defense, it’s hard not to pass off customers when employees are so miserable they jump at the first opportunity to quit.
4. Author Solutions royalty reports are inconsistent.
It’s difficult to say which complaints are brought up most frequently by iUniverse and Author Solutions writers. There are three that I see over and over and over and over again: pushy salespeople, failure to deliver on overpriced marketing services, and inaccurate royalty reporting.
I find the royalty issue particularly disturbing. I mean forget about making a living from publishing this way, what if an author just wants to recoup expenses?
As Jodi explained in yesterday’s post, she asked for royalty reports on her book from three different iUniverse employees, and all three reports were different. When she confronted them about it, someone blamed the Author Solutions IT department for the discrepancies.
Even with their own inadequacies staring them right in the face, Eugene Hopkins had the nerve to insist Jodi be the one to provide proof of sales. Lawrence Fisher made similar complaints, and in response Author Solutions Marketing VP Keith Ogorek wrote in a comment on Fisher’s blog:
“Again, if you have any paperwork that shows sales through Amazon that Amazon has not reported, please provide that and we will gladly pay you the royalty on that sale. That’s all we are asking for. Some supporting documentation so that we can have justification for paying out the royalty. We offered you the opportunity to show us if we missed anything. To date we have not received that. We look forward to receiving the support for your claims.”
Writers may want to sell their books or maybe even start writing a new one after publishing with Author Solutions. Instead, they’ll find themselves copying receipts and sales documentation to prove the royalty reporting at iUniverse is a shambles. It’s that or keep losing money.
5. Author Solutions brands stigmatize writers.
Publishing with iUniverse or Trafford or whoever isn’t necessarily going to end your writing career and force you to live out the rest of your life begging for alms, but you should know that publishing with a vanity press leaves a mark. First, there are the all-too-common editing errors and the lame covers.
But also, reviewers are much less likely to peel back the cover of your book unless you pay them. And readers—if you can get them to even look at your cover—think that if you have Editor’s Choice and Reader’s Choice emblems you paid for them. (And let’s be honest, you have paid. Dearly.)
Author Solutions, Inc. Employee Cries ‘Scam’
iUniverse ‘Trifecta’ Book Review Services a Huge Ripoff
iUniverse Complaints: Interview with Philip J. Reed
More Author Solutions, iUniverse Scam Details Surface
Even Employees Don’t Like iUniverse & Author Solutions