iUniverse Complaints: Interview with Author Lawrence Fisher

UPDATE 5/31/12: Lawrence has pulled his book from iUniverse. The new version of Kill Me Now  is available  for Kindle here.

Lawrence Fisher is the author of Kill Me Now! After self-publishing with iUniverse, Fisher ran into problems with the company. He’s agreed to share his story with the readers of Suess’s Pieces. You can learn more about Fisher on his blog.

For more information on this series, please read “iUniverse Rants: Coming Clean.

ES: Can you tell us about your initial search for a publisher and what led you to contact iUniverse?

Fisher: I looked for a publisher and one publisher said that my genre did not fit in with them. They suggested self-publishing. In the Google search for self-publishing, xlibris came up. Negotiating with them, I researched the company and found that they were number seven on self-publishing, iUniverse was number one. [Note from Emily: xLibris and iUniverse are actually owned by the same company, AuthorSolutions.]

At the time, I didn’t realize that I could do it all myself.

ES: What was the deal you originally made with iUniverse to publish your book? Did you buy a specific publishing package?

Fisher: I purchased the Premier Package because it included Editorial Evaluation, Star Program Eligibility and Copyright Registration. In addition, I paid for three Marketing Services so that I could get a discount. I gave them $1,500. I did not pay rent for two months.

ES: What problems did you have with iUniverse, and how did they attempt to resolve your complaints? Were you happy with the result?

Fisher: The problems started from the word go. My book went to Editorial Evaluation and they nominated it for the Star Program and Editor’s Choice. However, this was conditional on my paying for Editorial Services at a cost of almost $3,000. I was shocked. I said I had an editor. They told me that was acceptable but I must pay another $250 to go through Editorial Evaluation once again to become eligible for Editor’s Choice. They said I  also had to pay them $200 for a service known as Cover Copy Polish, which fixes up the back cover. I told them that I had no more money for that. They said “okay” and sent me along to another department. Issue UNRESOLVED.

The design of the cover was awful, too. They asked me for suggestions, and I gave them. The final example was not what I wanted, but they told me that I was only entitled to one round of corrections.

“Say what?”

They did not carry out my instructions and then wanted to charge me more? After complaining, they asked me to look for a photo, which I selected, the girl with boxing gloves. I asked for them to put the image on the backdrop of a restaurant. They did not. When I complained, they told me that I was not entitled to another round of revisions. I told them that it was only 5 minutes of additional work and proved it to them. They insisted it would hold up work for a week.

Another week for 5 minutes of work? Issue UNRESOLVED.

I told them to just send it on.

Next came marketing. Terrible service. I paid for a press release service, but I had to prepare the text. Their copywriters did not do anything. They claim to have sent it out to newspapers, but I got no comeback at all.

I also paid for email marketing and requested that it be sent 11/11/11. Their copywriters did not do anything. They simply took the text from the back of my book, which I wrote myself. They did not even send it on 11/11/11. I do not know when they sent it, nor do I know if anyone received it. So they offered me Social Media as compensation, and I had to REDO EVERYTHING. It was poorly setup.

As for sales – they do not report all sales books sales–not even from their own site–and they actually asked me to prove that there had been sales. Someone purchased an ebook from their site, but it did not show up. Also, Kindle purchases were not shown, and I provided them with proof. They told me that there were no records… Sales that I know of simply do not exist in their reports.

Customer support still does not answer my emails.

ES: How was your book publicized? Did you do it all yourself? Pay for them to help you market the finished product?

Fisher: Only by myself. They offered me nothing unless I paid for it. Even guidance. They sent me a document containing sites to contact and that is it.

On my own, I have had 8 radio interviews and blog tours and a few others. I publicize it myself on Twitter and Facebook. But people get sick of hearing you publicize your book on the same networks.

In short, iUniverse did nothing to help, despite my book being originally nominated for Editor’s Choice.

ES: Is there anything else you want to add? Advice for others considering using iUniverse to publish?

Fisher: Customer support is unsupportive. They often do not answer emails. On the telephone, one person says one thing and someone else says something else. I was told for six weeks that there were no sales of my book, even though I was standing next to someone who had received his copy and wanted me to sign it for him. No sales?

They have since blocked me from their Facebook page, as well as the group of people that are following me.

My advice to anyone who wants to use this company is to give me the money instead. I will give you nothing back as well, but I promise you less heartache.

Stay away from iUniverse.

UPDATE: iUniverse made contact with Mr. Fisher yesterday in a rather odd exchange in the comments on his recent blog post. I think my favorite part is how Keith mentions refunding Mr. Fisher’s credit card and Mr. Fisher basically reminds them that according to iUniverse employees, they don’t keep credit card information on file. And, oh by the way, Mr. Fisher originally paid by wire transfer.

If something smells fishy to you right about now, congratulations! Your nose works.

iUniverse is owned by Author Solutions, Inc.

Got Freelance Writing Questions?

microphoneLast week Missy at Literal Mom interviewed me about freelance writing for her post “Interested in a Freelance Writing Career? Advice from an Expert.”

While I might be just a touch skittish about being called an expert, I am always glad to share what I’ve learned so far with other writers.

If you are thinking about getting started as a freelance writer, I hope you find the answers there helpful. And, if you’d like to ask me something that wasn’t covered in the interview, you can always contact me directly.

Thanks to Missy for the interview and for being kind enough to support Writers’ Week at the same time!

 

Photo credit: jason816