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Wednesday, 6 May 2015

Missed that one!

Wrapped up and put to bed, but with more to come, and for a moment I thought it might be while longer before I unwrapped the Author Solutions saga again, until I realised I had missed a couple and David Gaughran posted the Inside story of Author Solutions and Friends. Alongside a timely reminder of some of the practises listed in a blog by Emily Suess; the list below is by no means comprehensive;
  • Non-payment of royalties
  • Making out-of-print works available for sale without the author's consent
  • Excessive mark-up on advertising and review services
  • Failure to deliver marketing services as promised
  • Breach of Contract
  • Informing the customers that add-ons will cost hundreds of dollars and charging their credit cards thousands
  • Shaming and banning customers who go public with their stories

He brings the situation up to date regarding the recent class actions filed against the company and the lack of inclination by Penguin Random House to reform any of the questionable activities or practises. In spite of the legal challenges and  never ending stream of complaints from writer's organisations and customers there are those who still want to go into partnership, reaching into the realm of POD with Lulu and Nook Press Author Services.

Barnes and Noble have never openly disclosed the connection, but a screen shot of the agreement between Barnes and Noble reveals Nook Press Author Services' company address as 1663 Liberty Drive, Bloomington, Indiana; the same as Author Solutions.

The actions against Author Solutions moved on in March when documents relating to the first class action were released into the public domain as part of the discovery process here and here. The documents include extracts from depositions taken from staff at Author Solutions. Mick Rooney at The Independent Publishing Magazine takes up the story and unpacks the depositions in The Case Against Author Solutions, Part 2 and Part 3, working through a number of the exhibits in detail and highlighting the responses to questions in red. The action has completed the discovery stage and filed for class certification on 26 February 2015

The questioner in the depositions is Oren Giskan, of Giskan Solotaroff Anderson and Stewart on behalf of the plaintiffs and individual under oral deposition are identified at the beginning of each exhibit, including two of the plaintiff authors, Jodi Foster, who had bought publishing services from iUniverse, an ASI owned and operated imprint and Mary C. Simmons, who had obtained services from iUniverse and Xlibris, unaware they are both owned by Author Solutions. Their questioner is noted as Mr Karagheuzoff, acting counsel for Author Solutions.

The final thoughts offered by Mick Rooney at the conclusion of Part 3 deserve careful study, whatever you may think about the standards and practises of this company, and there are authors who will sing the praises of Author Solutions and those who will decry their very existence from the rooftops. He is convinced the judge will grant certification, and with more actions likely in the future the story could rumble on for years, but proving deception may not be straightforward. The evidence pointing to the operation as a telemarketing company is not proof of deception; that is the task ahead for the plaintiff's legal team.

A serious issue is the cloaking of identity, there are companies who openly flaunt the connection where the respectability of Penguin Random House is emblazoned across the header, but other partners don't. The veneer of respectability is cracked and tarnished by Penguin's international expansion in the self-publishing market using Author Solutions as the service provider.

When an author begins searching for a publisher the questions are straightforward, even simple. What do I do next, where do I turn? The obvious first question is Find/search/choose my/ your publisher. So ask it, Google it, but before the itch to click takes you any further, read through the entries at the head of page one, and if you click and go further read the whole page, or if your patience is being eroded by your eagerness to find a way to make your book public, go straight to the bottom of the page, and read the footer - very carefully!

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