Following David Gaughran’s revelation that The Bookseller, the top UK book trade journal, would henceforth stop accepting ads from Penguin Random House vanity platform Author Solutions, I did a little digging into one of The Bookseller‘s Stateside peers, Writer’s Digest, “the oldest and most respected publisher devoted to the education and advancement of writers.” Because, as Gaughran points out, Writer’s Digest not only accepts advertising from Author Solutions – it even has a full-blown vanity press operation of its own going with them.
Abbott Press, launched with some fanfare by Author Solutions and Writer’s Digest in early 2010, “was founded with the mission of helping writers get their literary vision into print.” To do this, it offers a series of packages “designed with you, the author, in mind. Each package provides you with a unique combination of services and products that will help you successfully publish the book you want.” These range from an Essentials package for $999 to a Platform Builder package for $7999. Services offered include editing, formatting, design, production, marketing and bookselling, with publicity support going as far as a social media publicist “who focuses on Twitter, Facebook, social media outreach and blogging,” video promotions, and so on.
Abbott’s presentation and value case leans heavily on the Writer’s Digest‘s reputation. “What makes a book really stand out in the marketplace? Titles deemed to be of particularly high literary merit will feature the Writer’s Digest Mark of Quality, a prestigious mark to convey the book’s excellence. The Writer’s Digest Mark of Quality Review is included in all of our publishing packages.” Furthermore, “as part of the Writer’s Digest family, Abbott Press offers expert publishing assistance that you won’t find elsewhere, along with top-notch educational opportunities that can help improve every aspect of your writing life.”
However, despite this reassurance, Abbott Press remains very much an Author Solutions enterprise. As per the original release, “Author Solutions will manage Abbott Press on behalf of Writer’s Digest, taking responsibility for sales and publishing activities, while delivering a comprehensive array of publishing, marketing, and book-selling services, designed specifically for Abbott Press authors. The educational and editorial services provided to authors fall under the respected Writer’s Digest brand umbrella of Writer’s Digest Books, Writer’s Digest University, The Writer’s Digest Conference, and Writer’s Market.”
So, after my little open question to Penguin Random House, here’s another one to Writer’s Digest: Why would any aspirant or established writer ever buy another issue of your mag? Why would anyone ever trust the advice in it, or in your books, knowing that you are in bed with the most notorious and most regularly indicted exploiter of naive and vulnerable authors in the publishing business? How can you continue that relationship when your nearest British comparable has decided that its brand cannot be sullied even by their advertising? How can you justify continuing in business?