Scam of the Month

Here’s a scam that only the most gullible aspiring author would fall for…

The print-on-demand vanity press Author House has launched a program with bookselling group Joseph-Beth Booksellers on  "publishing packages"
that include "guaranteed bookshelf placement" of five copies in a single
Josepth-Beth store
and an in-store book signing event (which is rather inconvenient if you live on the West Coast, since the Joseph-Beth stores are in the East).

For the priviledge of having a mere five books in just one store, and providing/buying the copies that will be sold at the booksigning,  suckers have to spend an additional $200 on top of the $699 Author House usually charges to publish a book.

Wow. What a great opportunity… to throw away your money.

Whoever signs up for this  "publishing package" is a dim-wit who deserves to be taken for every last penny he has.

12 thoughts on “Scam of the Month”

  1. Lee, I am not sure if you agree with this, but I would suggest the following rule: Self-publishing is OK for niche non-fiction, but almost always a bad idea for fiction.
    I went through the database at iUniverse, and I found one title, “Laparoscopic Adjustable Gastric Banding” by a Dr. Ahroni. I would say that self-publishing made sense in this case because a.) the topic and the author credentials are what will sell the book, and b.)there aren’t many people competing in this market. (By the way, Dr. Ahroni’s book is ranked within the top 10,000 at Amazon. This is within the range of what a traditional publisher would consider to be commercially viable.)
    Self-publishing is very common for computer, foreign language, niche business, and other titles that require a particular background. In certain sub-fields of these areas (Thai language instruction for English-speakers, Photoshop instruction, etc.) self-publishing is almost the rule rather than the exception. While there is a market for these niche topics, the economies of scale simply aren’t sufficient to motivate most large publishing houses. On the other hand, a small self-publisher with background in the topic can provide a good product, and the content of the book itself will be what sells or fails to sell it. (Novels obviously don’t succeed this way.)
    Branding expert Rob Frankel self-published a book a few years back that did very well. Frankel even goes so far as to say that the major publishing firms are NOT the best way to go for non-fiction. (He initially had a contract with McGraw-Hill, but opted out because he found the process of dealing with them so frustrating.)
    A publishing company is, at the end of the day, just another corporation. There is nothing mystical about them–and they aren’t ivory towers. People can start their own corporations as well as work for corporations formed by others–which is essentially what happens when you are “published.”

  2. Patrick,
    I agree with you — self-publishing makes some sense for non-fiction and academic titles and no sense at all for novels.
    If iUniverse had existed 16 years ago, financially I might have done better going the self-publishing route with the original edition of UNSOLD TELEVISION PILOTS. It was initially published by McFarland & Co. as a very expensive hardcover edition that was available only to libraries and academic institutions…and only one or two stores (Samuel French stores in L.A. and N.Y. and the Museum of Television gift shop).
    The book ended up getting enormous national publicity (Johnny Carson, ET, Wall Street Journal, LA Times, etc) purely through word-of-mouth and my self-promotional efforts. I believe if the book had been available to a wider audience, at a more affordable price, at the time I might have made considerably more money and sold many more copies.
    I eventually republished it as two paperback volumes through iUniverse (at no cost to me) through the Authors Guild’s “Back in Print” program for out-of-print books. I’ve made some money off of it, but nothing to brag about.
    I can see, perhaps, republishing SUCCESSFUL TELEVISION WRITING through iUniverse/Authors Guild when it goes out-of-print.

  3. The instances are few but valid in nonfiction. Mine are, but still I would opt out for my nonfiction work now. I want readers and there won’t be any using iU or the like. Novels never.

  4. Hmmm, so if someone has a book about an obscure, non-fiction subject (as a friend of mine who’s fascinated with Japan does) and wanted to self-publish is, which SP would you recommend? Is IUniverse the best of the SP’s or POD’s? If she’s gonna self-publish, I’d at least like to steer her toward the better choice . . .

  5. I think lulu is the better option now. It costs nothing, save the ISBN, and the pricing winds up being comptetative with iU which has the lowest prices. Aside from that iU is the flagship of the POD vanity presses, but the prices are still climbing. You’ll never make back the fee from any of these companies.

  6. Also self-publishing means you do everything yourself. That may be “vanity” to some, but it’s very different from hiring a vanity press outright. Of course it’s also more expensive as is any home business.

    Last year Tony Liddicoat sacked ‘authorhouse publishing company’ who he had paid handsomely for publishing his book, “Five Bells ” ~ Job Done. A Divers Story. During his association with them he published his book which became very well received and reviewed by over 25 major journals around the world. The RRP of the book was £9.90. For each book sold he received £1,88. Authorhouse kept
    the remainder,[£8. 11] This went on for over a year before he realised something must be wrong. When serious outlets asked to sell the book, they were told by ‘authorhouse’ that they had to pay the RRP, which of course meant they could not earn any money at all. He learnt about the outlets discount for new books which range between 35% and 65% of the RRP. Tony Liddicoat was informed by ‘authorhouse’ that if he wished for his books to be sold by major outlets then there was a fee payable,[approx £500 annually, for each outlet,!]]
    He could not afford to do this and continued being paid the £1,88 per copy, During this time he was lied to, his private mail was intercepted and opened and his requests for clarification to ‘authorhouse ‘ were ignored.
    He then re printed his book with a new ISBN number and published the book himself. He is now the only legal publisher of his book and has been for over a year, However even though he received assurances from ‘authorhouse’ that they would stop selling and supplying the book, his books were still being printed,
    advertised and sold without his knowledge or consent. He realised this when he received unexpected ‘royalties’ [ in itself a rarity without having to chase them] The royalties were for books sold by ‘Amazon’
    who had been given the pdf file of the book by authorhouse, to print their own copies and sell them on demand or when they wanted. [Without the Authors knowledge or permission ] The ‘royalties’ offered were the £1,88 per book. Which means that the cosy little arrangement between ‘Authorhouse’ and ‘Amazon’ where they print and sell their own copies and were quite happy to give the author £1.88 per copy and keep the remainder for themselves. Now this is against the law. When he contacted ‘authorhouse and asked what on earth is going on. he was told that it was human error and he has no cause for complaint as I had been paid the pittance of £1.88 per book.
    This information is being forwarded to the legal authorities in the UK and every blog site known, enable the unsuspecting to know just how ‘authorhouse ‘operate. It is a scam and if you multiply this by the 60,000 authors they say they have ‘published’ then it is a huge sum.


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