Author Alert: Is a Publishing Rip-off or Scam in Your Midst?

Author Alert:
Is a Publishing Rip-off or Scam in Your Midst?

On last Saturday’s AuthorYou Salons, questions surfaced about scammers and the many lures that were being pitched to my 20-plus early morning participants—usually by a phone call out of the blue or an email.

I reminded them that I usually do an update blog with tips on vetting and finding out if the pitch is legitimate or not. Let’s start with that.

Before doing business with someone you do not have an ongoing or past relationship with … “a someone” like POD publishers, a pay-to-publisher operation, a publisher n between traditional and self (sometimes labeled as hybrid), or any other person or company that wants your money, make a Google search using quotation marks encasing the NAME and specific WORD:

“company or person name + Scam”
“company or person name + Problem”
“company or person name + Complaint”
“company or person name + Lawsuit”
“company or person name + Fraud”
“company or person name + Swindle”
“company or person name + Rip-off”
“company or person name + “Better Business Bureau”

When people are victims of scams, they often report the incidents on the Internet.

The morning I posted this blog, I Googled “Author House complaints” … the results when I clicked on the images tab filled pages of the Google search that led to quite a labyrinth of grumbles when clicked through:

Read the reports and be advised. And read well past the first page of Google … where 90% of Google visitors stop. It’s deep dive time for you. Unfortunately, too many walk away woven with shame that they got sucked in the first place and/or so ticked that they got taken, they just want to take the shower and get as far away as possible.

Have you ever been around someone; read something, or seen something … and you want to get in a shower or a hot bath and soak the gunge off? That’s exactly how I feel when I read about the gobbling up that involves the granddaddy of all Vanity Presses—Author Solutions as the mothership to AuthorHouse, iUniverse, Trafford, Partridge, Xlibris, Palibrio, LifeRich Publishing, Archway Publishing (Simon & Schuster), Balboa Press (Hay House), Westbow Press (Thomas Nelson). Did you know that Author Solutions and its various companies derive over two-thirds of its income from selling services and books to authors … not to the readers of authors’ books?

The shocker is that truly legit publishers have gotten into bed with the predators … one recent pitch from an Author House/Solutions rep to would a member of the AuthorYOU community, “If you sign with us … your book will get in front of (fill in the blank) ….”

With the partnering, both stealth and visible, Author Solutions has gotten into bed with Hay House (Balboa Press); Thomas Nelson (Westbow Press); Simon & Schuster (Archway Publishing has fiction, nonfiction, children’s packages and more—they range from $2,199 to $14,999; Guidepost/Writers Digest (Abbott Press) and others.

Author House/Solutions is a boiler house operation. Pitch, pitch, pitch. The deals put together with them … mean squat—there is absolutely NO GUARANTEE that a book will get in front of the acquisition team with the publishing house that is now diving into the self-publishing/vanity press arena.

You are still dealing with a pay-to-publish operation; a vanity type of press—the type that has excelled in total sales average of 100 copies of a book and selling books to the author at a very inflated cost. What it wants to do is SELL you more stuff.

Some of these companies have tarnished records with a lot of unhappy customers. Several authors have complained to the Better Business Bureau and some companies

As a side note, one of the members of the AuthorYOU LinkedIn group posted that she had been sucked into the Balboa Press operation, sure that Hay House, and someone who represented the vision of Louise Hay (now deceased), would personally be watching over her book. One of the follow-up pitches she got from her Author Solutions rep—which is what Balboa Press is—you need our exclusive marketing package, and it was under $15,000! Only $15,000!

The boiler rooms are in full gear. Outside of the Author Solution predators, another crop is popping up offering “self-publishing services” to authors and small/indie publishers. They employ “boiler rooms” of salespeople making relentless calls. The goal: to wear the author on the other end of the phone down. In many cases, they are hard to resist.

When I asked one author the why question: Why did you sign with them? my mouth dropped with his response. “I just wanted them to stop calling me.” Little did he understand that these operations will keep calling until your credit card limit is breached.

Let’s face it. The major publishers have been bleeding. The self and indie author moves faster and in many cases, is willing to commit money—often more than what a traditional publisher would commit to in the support of a newbie author’s book. Don’t be seduced. Check them out.

My advice …. Do not; do not; DO NOT go down this rabbit hole. Stop this predator insanity. Stop the wrong author packaging.

Author beware … be very beware.



Dr. Judith Briles is a book publishing expert and coach. Often, she must roll up her writing sleeves and become a Book Doctor, juicing up storylines and author words. She empowers authors and works directly with authors who want to be seriously successful and has been writing about and conducting workshops on publishing since the ’80s. Judith is the author of 44 books including Author YOU: Creating and Building Your Author and Book PlatformsSnappy Sassy Salty: Success for Authors and Writers, and How to Create a Million Dollar Speech. Her personal memoir When God Says NO-Revealing the YES When Adversity and Loss Are Present is a #1 bestseller on Amazon and her historical fiction debut Secret Journey. Collectively, her books have earned over 45 book awards. Judith speaks throughout the year at publishing conferences. 

Throughout the year, she holds Judith Briles Book Unplugged in-person and online experiences: Publishing, Speaking, Marketing, and Social Media. All are two-day intensives limited to a small group of authors who want to be seriously successful. Join Judith live for the “AuthorU-Your Guide to Book Publishing” podcast on the Toginet Radio Network HERE

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