Self-publishing savant and scourge of seamy publishing practices David Gaughran has launched a broadside on Twitter against publisher and book fair support of vanity press and promotional scams targeting naive self-publishing authors. And as testament to how serious he is, he’s made the whole rant accessible in a single archive, here.
This parallels a post Gaughran recently made on the Self Publishing Advice site, about the Combined Book Exhibit, which offers self-published authors, for a mere $299 and with the support of the organizers of the London Book Fair, the New Title Showcase, “a place where their titles, and available rights, can be easily found by the 25,000-strong LBF audience.” Combined Book Exhibit offers show packages worldwide from Beijing to Bologna, at up to $895 each. But, as Gaughran warns, “no agent will peruse this fusty display looking for clients. No publisher will thumb through the tired collection of novels looking for the next big thing.” And, as he adds on Twitter, “the events know this, @CombinedBook knows this, but everyone is making money so who cares, right?”
Combined Book, Gaughran explains, also operates through reselling partnerships with vanity self-publishing scams like Author Solutions, which since its exit from Penguin Random House, has set itself up as a third-party provider of direct-to-author “self-publishing” solutions from major publishing houses. And publishers, major book fairs, publishing trade press, and professional associations all collude in and endorse the practice.
“The events (LBF, Frankfurt, BEA) don’t care about this re-selling and price gouging, or about the unethical high-pressure sales methods,” continues Gaughran. “Of course @PublishersWkly is partnered with BOTH Combined Book and Author Solutions. Those guys never said no to a grubby dollar. And, of course, Publishing Perspectives is owned by the Frankfurt Book Fair, which profits from this practice directly too, so…” And, he adds, ” the Frankfurt Book Fair is owned by the German Book Office, itself a subsidiary of the German Publishers & Booksellers Assoc. They know the shady crap that goes on at these fairs, the low level hustles to squeeze writers. They don’t care. No one does.”
Except Gaughran, maybe. And you certainly should. Any self-published, or other, author out there needs to be reminded just what kind of business ethics Big Publishing and its supporting organizations and associated scams operate under. Ethics? Maybe that’s a word Big Publishing’s own lexicons somehow missed out …