I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again. Vanity publishing (publishing your book with “Published by XYZ Company” when XYZ isn’t a company you own) is not real independent book publishing. This is evident today in yet another lawsuit with Author Solutions, now owned by Penguin Book Group.

The Class Action Lawsuit Complaint States:

“Penguin Group’s self-publishing branch, Author Solutions, cheats writers of royalties and charges them to correct typos in manuscripts that the company itself inserted… Author Solutions fails at the most basic task of a publisher: paying its authors their earned royalties and providing its authors with accurate sales statements.

“Author Solutions also fails to take diligent care of its authors’ works, making numerous and egregious publisher errors – errors made by the publisher, not the author. These errors include errors on book covers, in addition to various typographical and formatting errors. In fact, Author Solutions profits from its own mistakes. Aggressive sales techniques ensure that these errors are corrected only for a fee of several hundred dollars. Even though, as a matter of policy, Author Solutions promises to correct publisher errors for free, it rarely does.”

(emphasis mine)

My Two Cents:

If you’re working with a publishing services provider and they make a mistake on your book, the right thing to do is for them to take credit for it. Now if you approved it with the mistake, that error falls on your shoulders, not the service provider.

The Complaint Continues with:

“…even while Defendant Author Solutions prominently markets itself on its website as ‘[t]he leading indie publishing company in the world,’ authors often discover, once it is too late, that Author Solutions it is not an ‘indie publisher’ at all. It is a printing service that fails to maintain even the most rudimentary standards of book publishing, profiting not for its authors but from them.”

(emphasis mine)

It’s so so so so so important that you as an author make an educated decision before spending thousands of dollars to produce your book! True indie publishing means your book is registered under your name, with your own account with a printer, your own distribution account, your own publishing company name with its own registered ISBNs. Anything claiming to be “indie” that does not accomplish these simple tasks is not true indie and is considered false advertising by law.

FYI: Author Solutions operates the following “self”-publishing vanity companies: AuthorHouse, iUniverse, Palibrio, Trafford, and Xlibris, and according to the complaint Author Solutions operates these various companies, “to give customers a deceptive impression of variety.”

My two cents:

If you hire one of these companies, it’s no better than hiring another one. If your dream of being published is important enough to you, you’ll find a way to save yourself thousands of mis-spent dollars and headaches by avoiding these companies to start with and indie publishing under your own label by starting your own publishing company (real self-publishing). This latest lawsuit is just another red flag for aspiring authors to stay away from vanity publishers.

Kristen Joy

Kristen Joy

Kristen Joy Laidig is the founder of The Book Ninja. She has authored over 40 books, started over 50 publishing companies, trained over 10,000 authors worldwide, has her black belt in karate, and eats way too much chocolate. She currently changes lives through her students… one published message at a time, manages her two retail stores Toy Box Gifts & Wonder® and Nerdvana Outpost in the heart of her newfound hometown, Chambersburg, PA, is in the start-up phase of at least three new businesses at any given time, and generally causes anyone reading this bio to be out of breath. On her “off” time (what’s that?) she brainstorms business ideas with her awesome husband, the great Public Domain Expert himself, Tony Laidig, and hangs out with her two ragdoll kitties. She’s even been known to sleep... occasionally.


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