Author Solutions, Inc.’s customers—particularly those self-publishing under the iUniverse imprint—have been crying ‘scam’ for years now, but on Thursday an anonymous employee stepped forward here on Suess’s Pieces confirming that the company’s royalty system is “in meltdown” and calling the marketing services offered by the company “the big scam.”
Posting with the screen name Angry at ASI, the anonymous writer says, “You folks have no idea how deep the deceit runs at Author Solutions.” The comment came in response to a series of ongoing posts about the deceptive practices of iUniverse and its parent company, Author Solutions.
Author Solutions, which maintains offices in Bloomington, Indiana and the Philippines, has acquired a number of self-publishing imprints in recent years in addition to iUniverse including Author House, Xlibris and Trafford.
Considered to be vanity presses, these and other self-publishing companies offer print-on-demand publishing for writers who simply don’t want to publish traditionally or have not had success finding a traditional publisher. According to Writer Beware®, a committee created by the Science Fiction & Fantasy Writers of America, “The average printed book from a POD service sells fewer than 200 copies, mostly to ‘pocket’ markets surrounding the author–friends, family, local retailers who can be persuaded to place an order–and to the author him/herself.”
Angry at ASI confirms suspicions that aspiring writers are often pushed to buy overpriced publishing packages and add-on marketing services by the sales teams of Author House and iUniverse who work out of the same Indiana office. “Sales people brag about pushing customers to overextend themselves, promising them the world, laughing about how they’ll probably only sell a dozen copies,” the employee writes.
The whistleblower also calls out Kevin Weiss, President and Chief Executive Officer, and Keith Ogorek, Senior Vice President of Marketing, specifically for their lacking leadership. “Authors are regularly ridiculed for how bad the covers/content can be,” Angry at ASI writes, adding, “Keith Ogorek has a shelf of the ‘worst’ books in his office that he laughs about.”
These comments in particular lend credibility to earlier accusations that the folks at iUniverse don’t take customer complaints seriously. And Angry at ASI’s description of the workplace environment just might shed a little light on why customer service reps are accused of being rude to authors. “I’ve never seen such a demotivated, miserable office,” Angry writes, “probably because a lot of us feel terrible about what we’re doing.”