As previously outlined in TeleRead, self-publishing apostle David Gaughran has been assiduously ferreting out the wrongdoings of Author Solutions and kindred assisted publishing enterprises, both through his own researches and by linking others.
He’s also hinted for some time at an upcoming major expose on their latest and worst wrongdoings. “I’ll be posting the long-promised Author Solutions piece shortly,” he Tweeted earlier. ” If you thought it wasn’t possible for them to sink to a new low…”
Well, now he has. And just in time for Author Solutions, post the Penguin Random House merger, to brand itself as “their self publishing wing.”
Gaughran (pictured at left) runs through a quite unbelievable series of scams, dodges, and ruses that conspire to part aspiring self-publishing authors from their money, from overpriced promotional packages on YouTube (free for public use, last time I checked) to distorting Google Search ads policies.
Gaughran, meanwhile, is retailing his two bestselling guides to self-publishing, “Let’s Get Digital” and “Let’s Get Visible,” online for the gouging sale price of a whole $0.99 per copy. Woohoo! Talk about the pot calling the kettle black, eh? Certainly points up Author Solutions’ claims that its critics are “racketeers.” (And for the benefit of less alert readers, this paragraph comes with a health warning: The Surgeon General Has Determined That Irony Is Dangerous to Your Credulity.)
Gaughran also details the steps that Author Solutions and its affiliates and units have taken to suborn or influence publishing, bookselling, and straight literary and business media, from the UK’s The Bookseller to The New York Times. “Do you still like the color of their money?” he asks these bodies. Well, TeleRead hasn’t seen any of it yet, but we live in hope.
And Gaughran also picks up on one tactic I’ve already reported on in other contexts—the overpriced and burdensome literary festival appearance. Some festivals already charge high ticket prices for attendance at their panels, with writers often given little beyond the oxygen of publicity as their share of the proceeds.
But Author Solutions arm Xlibris (motto: Write Your Own Success) is taking it one step further by actually charging authors to show up at a literary festival—in this case, £2,999 ($4,500) to host a book signing at Toronto’s Word On The Street literary festival in September. “Sign copies of your book in front of a crowd of more than 215,000 avid readers,” reads the Xlibris blurb.
For that, budding autograph-givers receive a strict one-hour slot, with 75 copies of their book provided by Xlibris (no more allowed), and have to cover their own travel to the festival and expenses. So despite all those avid readers, you can only hit up 75 of them, meaning any author falling for this scheme will have paid $60 for each signed copy given away. Great deal, huh?