Today I’m publicizing the story of Jodi Foster, author of Forgotten Burial: A Restless Spirit’s Plea for Justice. When we first started talking, Jodi informed me that iUniverse had asked her to stop airing her complaints and contacting other authors.
Foster's story will appear on Syfy's "Paranormal Witness" this October.
That’s when I knew I just had to publish her story here on Suess’s Pieces.
Today’s interview is yet another call for iUniverse and other Author Solutions companies to be held accountable for their actions.
Like Jodi told me a couple of weeks ago, “We as authors and consumers need to ban together and stand up for our rights as artists. We should not be bullied by iUniverse or be afraid.”
Jodi names names in her account. In most cases I have used only the first initial of the employee’s last name; for Eugene Hopkins I’ve made an exception. His name is already all over the internet and is suggested as a contact by former employees.
ES: At what point did you realize you’d been scammed?
Foster: iUniverse has some real good sales people that could sell ice water to an Eskimo. After writing my book and having it professionally edited by Meredith Cooper, Managing editor for Chico News and Review, I was ready for self-publishing. I researched and saw that iUniverse was number one in self-publishing on a Google search. However, after more research I realized that Xlibris, the other company I was looking at, was part of Author Solutions, the parent company that owned both publishers. Since iUniverse was number one, I chose to go with them. I am really sorry I did.
Kathy W. sold me on the Bookstore Premier Pro package, which I purchased for $1,499. This program qualified me for Rising Star and Editor’s Choice, supposedly two prestigious writing awards offered through iUniverse. I thought the amount of money she was asking for seemed pricey. I told Kathy I was a low-income single mom with two kids, and it was going to be a stretch for me to pay this amount of money, but she was a convincing sales woman. I knew I had a great book on my hands that had been read and reviewed and edited by a newspaper editor, an elementary teacher, and a college professor. My book, Forgotten Burial: A Restless Spirit’s Plea for Justice, was even connected to a New York Times best seller, published by Random House. I asked Kathy if there would be any other future costs and she said no. I went ahead and took my savings, and bought the package. Well guess what…iUniverse lied, I soon found out that there were other hidden costs.
After I sent the money I uploaded my manuscript to iUniverse. Two weeks later I got an e-mail that said they loved my book and it would qualify for their Editors Choice program; however, my manuscript needed a developmental edit. I said to Kathy, “My book has been professionally edited already and proofread three times.” Apparently I was going to have to spend more money to have iUniverse do it again.
She said, “If you want to reach the Editor’s Choice, which I am sure you will, and have iUniverse get behind you to market your book, you will I have to buy a developmental edit for, $4196.26.
I said, “Are you kidding me? I already had my manuscript professionally edited.” She convinced me it was not good enough for these prestigious awards, and I soon found myself on a payment plan.
Stupid, naive me. This is when I realized I was being scammed.
After paying, I did receive these awards. I was promised my book was going to be promoted by iUniverse due to the fabulous content, nature and the remarkable writing.
Hummmm, weird, I thought because not much in the developmental edit had changed. My story was still the same, with only a few minor adjustments. I was mad that I had to spend so much money for such minor changes, but Kathy again and again promised me Marketing! Marketing! Marketing! And, now that I received Rising Star, iUniverse would be promoting and pitching my book to bigger publishing houses. This sounded good at first. However, once again I was misled.
Yes, I was given a marketing consultant, Brian H. He told me iUniverse has a bi-yearly magazine that features all the Rising Star Authors and that they would be pitching my book to agents who produced movies and TV shows. I was excited at first but, unfortunately, the only thing I actually got from Brian H. was another sales pitch to buy a marketing package for $3,999.
Grrr…. anger is a kind word for what I was feeling. Misled again.
I told Kathy W. there was already a lot of information out there regarding my story. If I had received Rising Star and Editor’s Choice, why did I have to pay more money for marketing? She said that her job with me was over and that it was no longer her job. My book was now in the hands of Brian H. Well, Brian H. did absolutely nothing for me except try and sell me more unneeded BS.
All iUniverse did was print my book, give me a hard time, and exploit me for money. And if this wasn’t painful enough? After printing, I received the cost for each book. I was not expecting to sell as many books as I did. So I questioned iUniverse’s customer service about their prices and asked where all my money was being spent. Basically, an author only receives $1.60 per book, a topic not discussed when you are purchasing your POD package. This is what I received from Sherry T., who apparently works under Pamela H., for costumer relations at iUniverse: Continue reading