Monday, September 10, 2007

Victoria Strauss -- iUniverse and AuthorHouse Merge

Proving that consolidation isn't just an issue for commercial publishing, POD self-publishing service AuthorHouse has just acquired rival service iUniverse. The merger was announced on Thursday, September 6 by AuthorHouse's parent company, Author Solutions Inc. (which was itself acquired by Bertram Capital, a private equity investment firm, in January 2007).

According to AuthorHouse's official press release,

“At AuthorHouse, we have built our brand by making service to the author our first priority,” said Bryan Smith, president and CEO of Author Solutions and AuthorHouse, “and iUniverse has done a great job leveraging their traditional publishing experience to make authors successful. By bringing the two biggest forces in self-publishing together, we will draw on the unique strengths of both brands and offer an even better suite of publishing services for authors.”

iUniverse CEO Susan Driscoll put an equally positive spin on things in her email to iUniverse authors:

Quite simply, the strengths and the capabilities of AuthorHouse and iUniverse complement one another, and by building on our individual strengths we can expand the range and enhance the quality of the services that each company offers. Under the Author Solutions umbrella, we are dedicated to becoming the preeminent provider of publishing services to authors.

In addition to AuthorHouse/iUniverse, Author Solutions owns AuthorHouse UK, which is basically, a clone of AuthorHouse USA; brand-new Wordclay, which follows the Lulu model of DIY self-publishing; and Rooftop Publishing, which describes itself as "the trade publishing operation of Author Solutions, Inc." Spot-checking the books listed at Rooftop reveals that many were previously published by AuthorHouse, suggesting that, like iUniverse's Publisher's Choice Program, Rooftop is at least in part an outlet for AuthorHouse books and authors that rise to the top of the POD heap. (Last year Ann investigated the Publisher's Choice program, which promises to make books that meet certain sales and editorial criteria eligible for limited bookstore placement.)

Like some iUniverse authors I've heard from, I'm not thrilled by news of the merger. iUniverse is usually the company I name when writers ask me which POD self-pub service I prefer; in my opinion, it offers an excellent combination of price, quality, reliability, and service. Currently, iUniverse's publishing packages cost as much as $1,299 for the Premier Pro program (or $1,399 if you order it by mail rather than online), or as little as $399 for the Fast Track program (these costs, of course, may be increased if you buy any of the many extras iUniverse offers).

By contrast, AuthorHouse's cheapest publication option costs $698, and because it offers a la carte many of the services that are included in iUniverse's higher-priced packages, expenses can really mount up. The AuthorHouse equivalent of iUniverse's Premier Pro program would cost more than $2,000. AuthorHouse also charges an annual Distribution Channel Access Fee of $20 (waived for the first two years), and a nonrefundable processing fee with submissions of $30. According to reports I've received, there can also be steep charges for changes made in proof.

And speaking of reports...In the late 1990's, when POD self-publishing was a brand-new business, Writer Beware got regular complaints about nearly all the major POD companies. Some of these complaints reflected problems along the road to a viable business model, others resulted from authors' unrealistic expectations--but many involved real screwups on the companies' part. As time went by, though, the companies worked out the glitches and writers gained a better understanding of POD self-publishing and what it could and couldn't accomplish, and the complaints dwindled down to nothing. Or almost. AuthorHouse is the one large POD self-publishing service about which we still get a steady trickle of complaints. Most frequently cited are production delays, disappointing physical quality of books, and aggressive phone sales tactics. Given the huge number of books AuthorHouse publishes, these complaints represent a very, very tiny fraction of the whole. Nevertheless, we think it's significant--and disturbing--that we still receive them.

Will iUniverse maintain its separate focus and identity within the larger company? Susan Driscoll's email claims it will: "...we are committed to retaining separate iUniverse and AuthorHouse brands, and to maintaining all of our current operating locations." Or will it gradually vanish into the AuthorHouse juggernaut? I know which alternative I'm betting on, but it'll be interesting to see what happens.

63 comments:

Anonymous said...

Susan Driscoll's commitment to maintaining different brands may be admirable, but is ultimately irrelevant. The company that owns her will eventually do what they want -- and ultimately, Bertram is going to realize that having two brands that offer the same thing is confusing in the marketplace, and one will go away. For the reasons outlined in your post above, the one that goes away may very well be AuthorHouse. After all, they did it once already with 1st Books; they're kind of used to it.


Poddy Mouth,
poddymouth.wordpress.com

Laura said...

When it comes to POD, I'd love to know what you think about Amazon's new program, http://www.createspace.com/

Brian said...

I would also like to know your thoughts on http://www.createspace.com/

Janny said...

Once again, I think it's important not to lump "POD" and "self publishing" in the same category. Unfortunately, this post, as do so many others, seems to find them indistinguishable. But, just as a reminder:

POD is simply a way to physically print books, and many publishers who are not self-publishers or subsidy presses are either going that route or seriously considering it already.

Self-publishing and/or vanity presses may or may not be POD presses...depending on how they choose to operate. But the fact is, simply because you go to a POD press for your book doesn't mean you're paying for the privilege.

Just wanted to clear that up...in case there are readers who are still considering POD and self-publishing one and the same. The longer we keep lumping these two together, the more POD presses are tarred with the "vanity" brush, and that's simply not fair to them.

Janny

BuffySquirrel said...

Hmm, a marriage made in....

Ahem.

catie said...

I wondered how this development would affect iUniverse's reputation the moment I received their e-mail announcement. I suppose only time will tell...

Denise said...

Yuk. It's bad enough that these companies existed separately. Vanity publishers like these are why so many writers become disillusioned. ANYBODY can get published.

Paul said...

LSI - if one goes with the publisher services, not the author services - looks good to me as PODs go. They claim no rights to your book and you're not buying into any questionable POD marketing program.

My impression is that LSI probably does the printing for a large no. of the big PODs? As I recall, if you follow their link to their author services you're taken to links for those...

By going with their publisher program you just use them as your printer.

My impression is that if a person self publishes, the reality is that you're going to have to do the marketing yourself, and that the least unlikely approaches are web based.

Jill Elaine Hughes said...

The only self-publisher that's worth a damn is Lulu. These others are just barely a step above PublishAmerica, in my opinion, and now will just get worse now that there is less competition. At lease iUniverse offered real editorial support for its price; AuthorHouse really didn't. I am sure now that they are merged, what little editorial support there was for the vanity price will go out the window.

I'm glad I landed real book deals that pay ME, rather than the other way around. . .

jamiehall said...

I am so very glad that I got released from my Authorhouse contract. From now on, it's real publishing that I'll pursue, not vanity publishing. Many thanks to all the scam hunters out there!

Anonymous said...

Jamie Hall. Just want to know what you mean when you say "I got released from my AuthorHouse contract". On the website it says you retain all rights. This isn't clear on the website, but do you have to sign a contract?

Victoria Strauss said...

The sad story of one AuthorHouse client. It reflects some of the complaints Writer Beware has received about the company.

Anonymous said...

Susan Driscoll is no longer CEO of iUniverse. Obviously, all Author Solutions wanted was the iUniverse name. Anyone associated with them should jump ship now!

Anonymous said...

Jill and Denise appear to be snobs about the whole thing. I mean, what's so wrong with everybody putting a book out, in any form by any means--it's their choice, and nobody else, no other writer has the right to look upon others as second rate, just because they haven't managed or do not desire, for whatever reason, to not go with an old fashioned traditional publisher.
In this modern day technological age, where so much information is being exchanged through the internet etc, why have so many people got a problem with others having the tools to put what THEY want out, and make it available.
Traditional publishing will one day merge with the POD, self publishing services in a way that will satisfy everybodys needs.
There are so many who have the right to put out their work, much of which is a darn sight better than some of the efforts I regularly come accross in bookstores.
Those who in a snobish way describe these services as 'Vanity' are right in the sense that yes, a writer wants his/her work to be in a print form for their own satisfaction, and if it pleases somebody else then great. These big shot critics are the vain ones, and they should stop knocking others who have often produced work far superior than their own. Why be so serious about writing a book anyway? At the end of day it's only a bunch of words and a few pieces of paper. Do independant up and coming bands get this treatment from their peers? I think not. Are craftsman and artists starting out frowned upon by their marketing and production methods? I think not.

Victoria Strauss said...

The following anonymous comment was left in another WB blog post--I've moved it here, where it's more appropriate. This is more or less what I was figuring would happen.

----------------------

Many may have heard that iUniverse is closing its Lincoln office and moving to Authorhouse headquarters in Bloomington, IN. The purchase of iU by AuthorHouse sullied the former's reputation and the move is the final nail in the coffin. iU will continue in name only. As one poster on the Lincoln Journal-Star website put it:

"The real losers in this ploy will be the authors. Employees of iUniverse in the Lincoln office will recover. They are talented, exceptional people who do not deserve the insults they have received this past week. To a person each one is dedicated to serving their authors. This won’t be true once the office closes. ASI will institute major changes in procedures. Forget about having a single person to talk to. AuthorHouse is a call-center business. The label ‘iUniverse’ may be on the product, but it will be AuthorHouse processes doing the work. AH pays less, provides less service and is less customer service oriented. There is no sign this will change, since the talent who know how to do this are not going to Bloomington. All I can say is, “Bloomington watch out! You’re next when ASI has sucked out all they can from you.”

More in this article.

iUniverse is dead, sold out by its CEO.

Anonymous said...

From POD People (http://podpeep.blogspot.com/)
site:

As of right now all the iU books on Amazon are listed as only available from outside vendors, not on site. Glitch?

Edited to Add:
As time goes on this does start to look more like some kind of breakdown between the behemoths. Authorhouse on one side and Amazon on the other. There is a lack of information as to just what is going on. Any information would be appreciated.

This is apparently how iUniverse is answering queries: "This is an issue that we are aware of and it is being addressed ASAP at the highest levels of both companies."

Victoria Strauss said...

The Amazon/iUniverse listing problem appears to have been fixed. Looks as if it was just a glitch.

I'm following the changes that appear to be happening with the merger. Once the situation is clearer, I'll probably do another blog post.

Ernest Honeywell said...

Does anyone recommend using AuthorHouse? I seem to be getting some mixed messages. Are they a waste of time or are they as good as they say they are?

Anonymous said...

hmmph... for all the books they publish, their sales are relatively low. This company rubs me the wrong way.

Rigel said...

Victoria,
My father has used AuthorHouse for 5 books.
I have 5 prior books published -- and this was my first self-pub attempt.
Using their 4-part payment scheme I parted with $1,817 to AuthorHouse last Thursday (4/10). That day I got exceptional service.
As soon as they got my signed contracts ... it was like I did NOT exist. Don't respond to my e-mails or v-mails.
Kind of feel cheated. Being somewhat savvy I had broached this with my AuthorHouse salesperson. Like any good used-cae salesman he promised me the moon and has since delivered nothing.
I wonder how many others are in MY BOAT.
To me this is not acceptable.
Many thanks. All the best.
Anu

Anonymous said...

Thieves!

Charlotte said...

I have published 2 previous books using iUniverse. My third, after the merger with Authorhouse has been a nightmare. It has taken them 4 months to get to the proof stage. I have no idea when the actual novel will be ready for publication or listed with online sales.

The people assigned to help an author through the process are unprofessional, untrained, and unfortunately quite stupid at times. They do not seem aware of the published guidelines for MS submission as decreed by iUniverse. for example: I submitted my MS on the web site as directed, 5 DAYS later learned it had not been received. Was requested to submit in an email. 5 DAYS later was informed that had not been received due to "technology"
Second round: Once received. I had submitted my novel in WordPerfect and was notified 5 DAYS LATER it did not transmitted properly because it was a WORDPAD document. I first explained wpd did not indicate a WordPad document, but a WordPerfect document. After 2 days my PSA representative notified me (again) that iUniverse did not accept WordPad. I then phoned, went through the entire thing again and (heavy sigh) could not seem to make the young woman understand and parted with $29.99 to have them "fix" my problem.
Since then I have been through additional difficulties, 1) my PSA left the company and ONE MONTH later I was told they never received my revised MS.
2) I had submitted an original cover design. When I finally received my proofblock (3 weeks later) the cover was not the one I had submitted.
I could go on, but the point of all this is that the company does not seem to know what they are doing.
I wrote to the CEO and have yet to receive the courtesy of a reply.
At this time, I cannot recommend iUniverse/Authorhouse for POD publishing.

Anonymous said...

I am Annie Salisbury: published three books with authorhouse: found the books posted "new and used" on the websites Amazon.com and Barnes and Noble.com and never knew for 5years-I was told the books were not selling, yet, on Amazon.com one of the books had "over 500,000 Amazon sales."

Where are the royalties?

Charlotte said...

As a follow-up to my 7-24 post regarding the inability of iUniverse/AuthorHouse to offer reliable service... When I received the "corrected" proofs for "Echoes Through Time" I had 50 plus PUBLISHER ERRORS (and 20 of my own). I diligently filled out the proof-form, submitted it. when it was returned to me many of the "corrections" I had requested were not done, and a few new ones had emerged.
Go figure.
I asked for one word "an" to be added to the back cover copy and it took them 3 days.
*SIGH* Well, as of today the novel should..I stress the word "should" be entering the final production phase.
Not bad, I began the process in April and it is now August.
What do you think, a December release?
Charlotte Banchi

Anonymous said...

I'm a first time author who unforunately decided to use Authorhouse as my publisher. My book was out in April. Two days ago I recieved an e-mail telling me that press releases were now, the 15th of August, going out. Today I entered my royalties website and found that aside from the ten copies I purchased and one my mother inlaw bought. They hadn't been able to sell one copy of my book. The only reason I'm surprised is the fact that I've seen several copies of my book being sold as used, on various websites. Take my word for it. If a reputable publishing house, or an agent refuses to touch your novel. Try several other publishers or agents. Because unless you're just trying to make a statement. You are going to get ripped off. Oh, I was supposed to receive two dollars per copy. The eleven books sold returned $6.40 cents in royalties. Now I'm no genius, but does eleven times two equal six dollars and forty cents?
STEER CLEAR OF NOT ONLY AUTHORHOUSE, BUT ALL PUBLISH ON DEMAND CON ARTISTS.

Elham Y, Zakaria said...

Elham said

If all con artists combine against AuthorHouse and file a class case, for sure they will win.

Benedick Howard said...

I have used AH three times. The first book arrived safely by UPS.

The second order arrived safely in the UK.

The third order took 2 1/2 months to finally arrive.

All after the most frustrating emails and phone calls to deal with the idiotic sales staff.

Seems like they have all left now and a new crew arrived to pick up the pieces.

The problem was in their shopping cart that did not print the mail to address correctly on the label yet did send the correct mail to address with the purchase confirmation.

Go figure!

fran said...

I published a book with iUniverse titled "He Holds The Sparrow" and had very good response from readers. It's a memoir revealing the true story of a child kidnapped by an escaped convict. I sold to family and friends and then to church members and kept going and selling until I had worked my way up to parking lots. iUniverse has not sent one cent for payment to me since I first published with them. I have written to them and called and all I get is a run around. If anyone has had this same trouble collecting royalties I would like to hear about it. Thanks, fran grubb.

fran said...

I have called iUniverse, which is the same company as Author House since April, and asked them repeatedly to send my royalties but they refuse to even answer my mail. I have threatened to turn it over to the Atorney General. If anyone has had same treatment please let me know. This is NOT the same well run ethical company they were before they merged with Author House and moved to Bloomington Indiana. They don't even have the same staff. Thanks, fran grubb

Anonymous said...

I must say, how stupid you all sound. THe POD companies do not sell your books and when it says used it is a ploy Amazon and other booksellers use. YOu all need to do better research and go out and sell your book if you want it to sell. Wake up it is not the company it is the unintelligent authors who think just cause they wrote it, it will sell.

Victoria Strauss said...

More evidence that iUniverse's service is deteriorating.

Anonymous said...

My experience with iUniverse makes PublishAmerica look like a winner. After I submitted my manuscript, I received information about the “merger” with Authorhouse. I guess I got lucky with one PSA (Publishing Service Agent). He made sense. Then he quit. (Can you blame him?). My manuscript stayed in limbo for weeks.
My Premier Plus package entitled me to an editor’s evaluation. As a participant of many writers’ groups, I know the usefulness of critiquing and was looking forward to some bashing and professional advice. It became obvious that the iUniverse editor(s) barely read snippets of my book, if at all. I declined their offer of content editing, a prerequisite to be considered for “Editors’ Choice.” With my calculator in hand, I found that for my 361-page novel this would have cost over $10,000. -Refuting Ann’s blog about a comment from a B&N employee who said you could get your book on their shelves if you pay enough money: The cleverly worded iUniverse offer almost says so - until you discover that you get to chose ONE bookstore. You’ll still have to depend on an employee’s good graces to display it.
It took six frustrating months (with five different PSAs) until my book made it to print. My first draft came back with hundreds of publisher’s errata. Requests for corrections can only be made twice. After that, any change that is not a publisher’s error will cost $399.--. As far as I am concerned: Goodbye iUniverse.
The CEO of Authorhouse is a very smart businessman: He discovered that it's easier to buy your competitors than to outperform them.
Edith Huber (pen name Vera Beaumont)

Anonymous said...

HELP! I'm so scared - I was just getting tired of begging publishers to publish my book, so I signed up with AuthorHouse and now I'm scared and now I want to pull out. Any advice for me? I don't have a lot of money. I have none.

Victoria Strauss said...

Anonymous, if you want out of your contract with AuthorHouse, you can simply cancel it. Check your agreement forms--the information should be there.

Lulu.com is a cost-effective alternative, if you want to self-publish.

Anonymous said...

I understand what everyone is saying. However, I would hate to have my book published after contacting 3,000 litterary agents just to have it taken off the market after 5 years or marked up to $800.00 just because it's no longer being printed. Because of Authorhouse, I have a life long business. The key to advertising is to buy into long term ads. Authorhouse shouldn't be ripping people off with Bloomsberry and NY Times for their 1 day of fame, but I'll be glad to pay the $750.00 to have my novel put in the various shows around the world in 2009. I've invested $75.00 per year for the Google/Amazon search engine program. It all comes down to long term ads and common sence. With short term ads, you've wasting your money!!!

Anonymous said...

I've published "Jason's List" back in 2005. I only sold 60 copies. I'm hoping that my latest, "Beyond the Dark Green Waters" does a little better. I'm not quite sure what to think.

Anonymous said...

I have been dealing with iUniverse/AuthorHouse for several months. They have, over the course, tried every trick in the book to shyster me with a bad product, horrible service, incredibly moronic designers/printers/etc.

The way to deal with them is easy.

If you do not like the product that they have sent to you (whether it's a printed test proof aka galley) of your novel or you bought someone else's novel that has a horrid print job on it, then you have something you can do IF you paid by credit card. (remember if you did not approve of your galley they cannot go to press or make your book available for purchase until it is fixed).

There is a thing called a "Charge Back".

You call your credit card and tell them about how horrible the product. If you can get a second or third professional opinion (ie. from someone in the print industry, book store purchaser, etc) in writing and send everything to your credit card company, then, you have a very good chance of getting your money back onto your card. Your credit card company will go after iun/ah for the money and the charge back fee.

Remember...visa/mc/amex/etc, don't care about services (because that's a he said she said thing) they only care about the quality of a product and most cards have protection for the purchaser for these things.

Once you do...send iUniverse/Authorhouse a cease and desist letter.

If iUniverse/Authorhouse gets enough people successfully charge back on them then Visa/MC/etc may pull their ability to use these cards.

Anonymous said...

You guys are all crazy - self publishing is what it is - I found authorhouse in the UK professional and they produced a wonderful product - Lulu on the other hand was pointless (I suspect Lulu run this site though with all the postive feedback for them!!). I got good support and they really helped me get my book out there - the consultants were always there to chat to and you can see why they are number one. You have to invest nowadays to get your book out because unless your famous already you have no chance!

Anonymous said...

I have had my book with iUniverse for well over a year and have not received one dime in royalties. Between friends, family and church memebers I have sold over 60 books that I am certain of. Yet when I try to get royalties iUniverse tells me I don't have any royalties coming. This is not a company I would reccomend to anyone. The cover was horrible and I had to send in printed out pictures to finally get something just close to what I wanted. For all the help that they give you in promoting and selling I would say go with Publish America and save the fees for advertising. At least PA doesn't charge you to print your book.

deckman said...

Has anyone found their books on sites such as abebooks.com or alibris.com listed as new and used at incredibly low prices?

Whisky said...

I have to say, my experience with iUniverse was entirely positive, though I unwittingly submitted my manuscript in the midst of their move to Bloomington.

iUniverse helped me to publish a book, something I would never have accomplished on my own. They delivered all paid for services in a timely fashion, and I was pleased with the final product.

iUniverse never promised me fame and fortune--nor did I expect it. If you are goind to use POD or 'vanity' press, then managing your own expectations is key to your satisfaction.

My book has done quite well by my own measures and I look back on this as a positive experience.

And no, I don't work for iUniverse ;) I just thought I'd throw in my contrarian 2-cents.

Kevin A. Gray said...

To Anonymous 8/22,
If you feel you are missing roylaties, please feel free to contact me directly at kevin.gray at iuniverse dot com and I will search out the right person to investigate this issue and respond. Thanks for publishing with iUniverse.

Best,
Kevin A. Gray

Anonymous said...

I published three books via Iuniverse in 2007 and only received one small royalty check - about a month ago...

They consistantly dodged my questions as well...

And, amongst a number of other issues (it "appears" as if they give out more free copies to their associates than they (admittedly, anyhow) sell...

I am considering a lawsuit against the organization - and if anyone else is interested in hopping on board (a class action suit) - let me know.

I have not read all of the above comments, but I certainly identified with a few... such as

"Thieves!" (anon)

My books are all OVER the internet for sale - in this country and out of the country...

And there is even a site where one can rearrange the front cover of my book...

ALL without my permission...

I looked over my contracts tonight and on the re-read they appear totally unethical and bogus.

Really BOGUS...

Anyone identify?

Cheyenne (not my real name)

Anonymous said...

I have consulted with a lawyer on this issue (iUniverse) and found that I was wrong on some things and potentially right on others... If nothing else (time will tell...) - my experience with iUniverse is that the company overcharges and really sucks when it comes to communications (in every respect) with their authors. Read your contracts very carefully folks, as there is a lot there that I'm sure they hope that you don't see...

Legal?

Maybe yes. Maybe no.

Ethical?

NOT IN MY BOOK.

Cheyenne

Anonymous said...

I have used AH for my first novel, which is about to go to the printers. I cannot say one bad thing about their service. All my calls and emails were responded to quickly. The quality of the materials produced is excellent. The book has not been printed yet, so maybe I'm jumping the gun, but I do not expect any problems this late in the game. I would use them again.

Anonymous said...

I can identify with the anonymous author who said "I'm scared". That is exactly how I feel; that, "Oh, no, what did I just do" feeling. I feel (and have be bluntly told by significant others) stupid and naive for proceeding without first doing research on Authorhouse before I gave my Visa number. I am new to the self publishing or print on demand business, and because I am not a "published" author, felt this was my only hope.

I did not jump into it right away, but, in keeping with what was said in the posts, I received numerous phone calls and emails after my initial inquiry. I do feel rather put out by the term "vanity" publishing because I am pursuing this avenue based on feedback by others, not out of self-interest.

I immediately had second thoughts about Authorhouse and then googled the company. I was concerned about the negative feedback, especially with respect to the issue of royalties and hidden costs. I emailed and called a representative of Authorhouse and said that because of this information I wanted to cancel my transaction. I contacted Visa and learned that I would first need to find out the cancellation policy of the merchant - which is not readily apparent and I still do not know their policy because the transaction was done verbally over the phone.

Authorhouse then emailed me attempting to assuage my fears, saying that given the number of books published, only a small number of complaints were submitted to the Better Business Bureau.

Interestingly enough, I have since received emails from various department members, one saying they had received the contract - what contract. One important thing that was pointed out to me was that there was nothing to say in advance how much royalties I would get or what the terms and conditions are before the payment and manuscript is submitted. I acted on faith against what I am now learning may very well be against my better judgment.

DF

Anonymous said...

All hearsay..

About royalties - NO book sale means NO royalties.

About used books - if you were given complimentary copies and you gave them out, they can sell those again. If someone bought your book, they can sell them again.

Why blame Authorhouse for your bad sales? What package did you buy? Did you buy the one with a marketing service included? Did you make an effort to market your book or did you just wait for your royalties to come?

THINK ABOUT IT...

Anonymous said...

I'm a new writer and will be having a book of poetry published soon. Could anyone give me any suggestions on publishing?

Anonymous said...

Wow.... totally not my experience. Currently publishing my first book with Author House and am getting AWESOME service, calls returned within the hour, and my galley was done 5 days ahead of schedule. The reason why I chose Author House is because the "industry" is a bit of a scam in my eyes. Gotta get agents just to talk to someone, agents can't take time to open your emails let alone read your work if u are a first timer... a whole lot of waiting around for nothing. Why pay an editor thousands when you can get your book edited and published for the same price? Yeah you might have to be proactive in your marketing but so what? If the publishing industry would have a little respect for first time authors, some sort of CHANCE to get your work reviewed, then no one would self-publish. And as for compensation, no agent is taking ANY percentage of my royalties, which, I hear, are a little higher when you go independant. Yeah, I didn't get an advance... big deal. Now I KEEP all my profit. The more independance we have as artists, the better!

E.A. Bucchianeri said...

To my utter misfortune, I became acquainted and started to use the services offered by 1stBooks publishers now known as Authorhouse, and published my first two books in 2003. At the time, I detected no problem with their services and accepted that being my work was academic, would not sell many copies. I decided to publish my third book with them, a large 2 volume edition in 2008, and due to the reviews and publicity received, and the professors that contacted me personally, I became fully aware of the university libraries and public libraries who processed my work into their establishments, or were interested in my work.


The major problems developed with royalty accounting. I began keeping a record of the copies available of my new two-volume work at Amazon US, UK, Canada, and their Marketplace vendors. (This is practically the only way you can discern how many books may be selling in the public domain.) Considering this is Print On Demand, when a number of available copies drops, you can expect it to be a sale since stores have no reason to keep raising and dropping the numbers unless they make a sale and then re-list the book. (For the record, I withdrew all my publications from Authorhouse June 14th 2010.)

Authorhouse's numbers were way below the daily tallies I kept from the Amazon numbers, they only reported between 10% and maybe up to 20% of the sales on any given quarter. Today for example, I received the worst report yet: they reported only 1 copy of Volume One sold in the second quarter (April 1 to June 14th, the time I withdrew my publications from them), and only 3 copies for Volume 2. According to my numbers from the Amazon rankings and marketplace sellers in the US, Canada and UK: 28 copies of Volume 1 sold, and 27 of Volume 2. Therefore they have reported only 4% of the sales, and they obviously are pocketing the rest. And this does not include other sales that may have been made through other sellers like Barnes and Noble, etc.

However, there is no way to be compensated for these discrepancies, Authorhouse demands you provide receipts of all sales as proof of your claim—how on earth do you track such receipts? Authorhouse knows it's an impossibility. Of course, Nielsen Book Scan offers sales report services, but you cannot use them to reclaim royalties, or display or disclose your sales report to any third party as Nielsen deems such action a breach of trademark confidentiality and would possible incur a lawsuit.

The simplest answer would be to cancel all contracts with Authourhouse, but this is not as easy as they make it out to be. To date, they continue to reassure me my books are no longer in print, but as I have discovered today (September 7), they are still listed with UK wholesale distributors as available within 5 days as Print on Demand, so they are technically still available by Authorhouse illegally.

1st Books / Authorhouse in my estimation is the most disreputable company allowed to carry on a business offering a sham service to the public, robbing authors of the fruits of their labours.Authors Beware: if you are considering publishing your book using Print On Demand, stay well away from this company. Even if they paid all the royalties, they do little or nothing to help promote your work, but expect you to pay additional hundreds and even thousands for various promotion packages that provide little if no results. For those of you poor authors who now hold a contract with Authorhouse publishing your work, my sympathies go out to all of you.

Anonymous said...

from Publisher's Weekly:
18,108: Total number of titles published
14: Number of titles sold through B&N's bricks-and-mortar stores (nationally)
83: Number of titles that sold at least 500 copies
792,814: Number of copies printed
32,445: Number of copies sold of iUniverse's top seller, If I Knew Then by Amy Fisher
Here's breaking news / interesting data courtesy of Publisher's Weekly (May 2005): only 14 titles actually were sold on B&N shelves in 2004. The "average" iUniverse ™ books sales is 41 units. Less than 1/2 of 1% (.46%) actually sold more than 500 copies (83 books out of 18,108).."

The average sale per title of 41 Units with the tiny percentage selling more than 500 copies is fairly telling. iUniverse does list the books in the international market and keeps them in print as long as they make money for iUniverse-sometimes well beyond the contracted timeframe. The premium packages that include professional proof reading and editing are beyond incompetent and the individuals assigned to assist the authors in publication are generally indifferent and unmotivated.

Anonymous said...

I've read everyone's complaint and expressed frustration, and what they say they're going to do, but if I've ready carefully, only one, if that has mentioned of a lawsuit in pursuit; which is something that needs and should be done. In other words, action and less talking. I too have been a recent victim to dealing w/ Authorhouse incompetent staff. I am a Disabled Veteran, just trying to wait to see how my book does with the sales, then when the day arrives when I'm suppose to receive my royalty check and I do not, then I will pursue to file a lawsuit. I'm not one that sit and complain, but I believe in making this happen. Good Luck to All of You!

Anonymous said...

Does anyone have experience with iuniverse's "screen play offer, or "scam"?

Anonymous said...

I'm a freelance editor and proofreader, and I have a number of clients who have come to me *after* their books were published by AH, so that I could re-edit their books after the shocking job done by the in-house 'editors'. The latest case, an author who contacted me yesterday, is a complete disgrace - not only did I find over ten punctuation & grammatical errors during a cursory glance at the first page of her published m/s, but AH apparently left out a chapter and mis-ordered two others.
I'm hoping she places her m/s with me so that I can turn it around for her, but she's deeply unhappy about the service she recieved from AH, and she's not the first I've come across. I can't help feeling that the company have taken shocking advantage of a bunch of naive people over a number of years, and I would certainly think that my potential client would have grounds for a legal challenge to the so-called AH "service".

letmesay said...

My experience with AH is an experiment in highs and lows.... The overall problem tends to be the young, flighty, irresponsible kids manning those phones and emails. The good news it like everything else in life, their fees are negotiable.

weedbychoice said...

I too have issues with i-universe..
I cannot access my account on their website due to the fact it states " web error" even though they finally responded to an e-mail telling me to do exactly what I was doing to access. I have knwledge that my book has had sales,but have no way to affirm it.
I spent over $1200.00 and no way to recoup any of it..any updates?

Lawrence said...

I am having trouble with my iUniverse. In December, I was informed that 25 copies of my book had been sold in Q4 2011, only from the iUniverse website, not including online sites such as Amazon.

Now, in their royalty statement, they are claiming that only 12 books have been sold, totally.

Sincerely

Lawrence

Victoria Strauss said...

Lawrence, how did you find out about the 25 books? Who told you about them?

weedbychoice said...

I am here again, because I still cannot access "my account" set up by I-Universe to view sales/royalties,and I have proof from several who purchased my book.
I have e-mailed & phoned I-U on several occasions that I wish to hear from them regarding this issue..-0- todate..HOWEVER..I have received over 8 different soliciating phone calls requesting " New opportunites" to publish another book, because I am such a "GREAT" author!!!!
I am so frustrated and disappointed..I have dealt with I-Proclaim.com and have never had a problem..and EVEN rec'd a check from them..and they are a free POD, ISBN # is available for purchase and you have to market yourself and there is no phone contact,only interent via e-mail..
Not a fan of I-Universe...

Anonymous said...

I am going to do a revised edition of one book and publish three more but not with iUniverse. Since their merger, their prices tripled and their services are 1/10th, they want control of your intellectual property and it's either do as they say or else! (Remind you of Al Capone)

Anonymous said...

Plus in addition to all I just said about their prices tripling and their services going down to 1/10th, the profit you get is even less now and even much less than other self-publishing services.

Anonymous said...

Oh, and by they way, they have sold hundreds of my books and I have not had ONE CENT IN ROYALTIES IN FIVE YEARS...DESPITE MY BOOK BEING SOLD WORLDWIDE.

kjforce said...

Not at all happy with IUniverse..oh they were nice as long as I was forking out the $..but my book fell by the wayside real fast..I ended up doing my own cover entirely..and can't even get on the site to order my book wholesale..what a scam...