Joan Moran is a speaker and author of Sixty, Sex & Tango. After self-publishing with iUniverse, Moran ran into problems with the company. She’s agreed to share her story with the readers of Suess’s Pieces. You can learn more about Moran on her blog.
For more information on this series, please read “iUniverse Rants: Coming Clean.” Have a similar story to share? Contact Emily.
ES: Can you tell us about how you ended up working with iUniverse?
Moran: I looked at several publishing companies. Lulu was recommended to me and I randomly found iUniverse. I had already experienced xLibris and Harvest Moon, and neither one of them impressed me. I decided on iUniverse because of the sales person whom I encountered when I called. I called back several times over a two month period, and he asked me if I wanted to talk to someone in the company. I did and spoke to a very professional woman who had come to work at iUniverse from a publishing company. (There are many people like her working at these companies because they were laid off by the largest publishing companies in the recession.) I chose iUniverse because [the employees] are well-spoken and had a package that I thought was affordable. As Mr. Fisher did, I selected the Premiere package.
I moved through the initial editorial sessions easily, received their feedback in a timely fashion and thought all was smooth. The cover copy came, and I was pleased with it. This took about 4 or 5 weeks to accomplish. But as I was working my way through the process, I noticed that the woman I had so loved working with in editorial was no longer there, as were several other people with whom I had contact. I was passed from person to person regularly, and it became impossible to actually contact someone at the company for support.
By the time the book was completed and the sales team made their assault, I was worried. I had a similar experience as Mr. Fisher did with the email blast—submitting my own copy and working with a group of people who, in the end, had no accountability for anything. No check list in place. I called and asked for a list of those cities and places that my blurb was supposed to have appeared, and there was no record of it actually hitting those people and places. I never availed myself of their marketing services again.
ES: What problems did you have with iUniverse, and how did they attempt to resolve your complaints? Were you happy with the result?
Moran: The first time I contacted iUniverse with a complaint (before I pulled the book from iUniverse), it concerned the email blast to 6 cities, including my own. It was a fiasco trying to get anyone to be accountable for that marketing ploy.
iUniverse sales people call all the time to sell authors marketing programs, which are simply cons to get money.
The second time I called, it was about the way their bookkeeping is set up. The accounting is very poor and inaccurate. The $11 [royalties] I received quarterly clued me into the fact that they were ripping me off. Mr. Fisher had the same awakening. The actual number of books sold is hard to come by. Their so-called spread sheet is non-existent.
ES: How was your book publicized? Did you do it all yourself? Pay for them to help you market the finished product?
Moran: The book was never publicized. I only asked them to send the email blast to those six cities. I stopped giving them money after that for anything.
ES: Is there anything else you want to add? Do you have advice for writers looking into iUniverse?
Moran: I’m an the author that Penny wrote about [see the comments on this post for clarification] who was caught in the web of iUniverse. Penny got it right. What was so egregious was that when I wanted to leave iUniverse and get my files, it took me weeks of calling and emailing to get any action. And I talked to so many people, it was ridiculous. It was a maze of passing the buck with alternate players at any given time.
Then when I got the PDF file, it was useless. They don’t tell you that you cannot correct a PDF file. I already had paid them to make the file, and then they charged me again to get it back. A wasted $150. I just used my Word file that I originally submitted to iUniverse and paid to have it reformatted in a new version of my book.
I tried to get my $150 back. I called so many people that I was just plain worn out. My experience was that after publication, iUniverse is simply a boiler room to sell ineffective programs. Customers think they are professional, and they are absolutely not. iUniverse employees read from a script.
iUniverse and similar companies are middle men who take a hefty percentage of royalties before the book is sold, and then more royalties are taken out by Amazon, B & N, and others.
iUniverse is owned by Author Solutions.