Shining a bright light into the dark corners of the shadow-world of literary scams, schemes, and pitfalls. Also providing advice for writers and industry news and commentary. Writer Beware is sponsored by the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America, Inc.

November 7, 2014

Solicitation Alert: LitFire Publishing

Posted by Victoria Strauss for Writer Beware
EDITED 11/11/14 TO ADD: Either as a result of this post or of the accompanying discussion at Absolute Write (which includes a lot more speculation and information about possible LitFire staff names and aliases), changes have begun to appear on the LitFire website. I've therefore appended a bunch of screenshots at the bottom of this post.


A few weeks ago, I began hearing from writers who'd been solicited, out of the blue, by a company called LitFire Publishing. In some cases by phone, in others by email, a LitFire "consultant" claimed to have received or seen information about the writers' books (or even to have read them), and wanted to offer a wonderful marketing opportunity--for, of course, a four-figure fee.

Here's how LitFire describes itself and its services (also see the screenshot at the bottom of this post):
Founded in 2008, LitFire allows authors to skip the hassles of traditional publishing. The company started out as a publisher of digital books. With hundreds of published titles and more than 50 publishing partners, we have learned how to succeed and soar in the eBook market. In 2014, LitFire expanded its horizon by offering self-publishing. Today, we offer all the services you would expect from a traditional publishing house – from editorial to design to promotion. Our goal is to help independent authors and self-publishers bring their book production and marketing goals to fruition.
In other words, LitFire is one of those outfits that offers publishing packages, but makes much of its profit from hawking adjunct services such as marketing.

Cold-call solicitations, hard-sell sales tactics (writers report receiving repeated phone calls and emails), expensive publishing packages with silly names, absurdly overpriced "marketing" services: are you detecting more than a whiff of Author Solutions, the much-criticized self-publishing service conglomerate that owns AuthorHouse, iUniverse, Xlibris, and Trafford, among others?

In fact, at least four of LitFire's "consultants"--Portia Peterson, Tori Mesh, KC Normanns, and Mark Advent (also see the screenshots at the bottom of this post)--are or were employees of Author Solutions imprints. And LitFire's publishing agreement bears many similarities to an older AuthorHouse agreement (from 2012; the most recent agreement, which is much more complicated, was revised in 2014). Compare, for instance, AuthorHouse's Clause 18, Termination by Service Provider, to the last paragraph of LitFire's Clause 14, Refunds and Work Termination.

But there are reasons other than possible Author Solutions connections to be wary of this company.

- False or conflicting claims. Of the "hundreds of published titles" and "more than 50 publishing partners" claimed in LitFire's description of itself, there is no trace.

Eight books appear on Litfire's website, only one of which seems actually to have been published by LitFire. That one shows up on Amazon, along with just two others. A few more surface with a websearch (interestingly, these also show up--with different ISBNs--as having been published by Author Solutions imprints). All in all, that's seven titles. Total.

LitFire also appears to be confused about how long it's been in business. Its website claims a 2008 founding date, but its URL was only registered in June of this year. On the other hand, according to one of its email communications, it's been around for 8 years, which would push its founding date back to 2006.

- Illiterate written materials. Most of LitFire's website, while it won't win any prizes for business communication, doesn't read too badly. But the LitFire correspondence I've seen...yikes. For example, this email from "Senior Publishing and Marketing Consultant" Tori Mesh:


The most charitable thing I can say is that it reads as if it were written by someone for whom English is not a first language. Tori's resume includes a current or former stint at AuthorHouse UK; we do know that a big portion of Author Solutions business is outsourced to the Philippines, and that Philippine staff use American or British-sounding aliases, presumably to make it seem as if they actually work at AS headquarters in Bloomington, Indiana, but actually resulting in some very odd-sounding names. (See, for instance, this recent Author Solutions marketing pitch.)

Also check out this blog post on, er, craft, from Jill Bennett, LitFire's Book Marketing Specialist. Here's a sample (also see the screenshot at the bottom of this post):
When can one’s writing writhen out a reader’s metaphysical standpoint?

How about this: Somebody wrote a book saying that the laws the world is following today: spiritual, political, logical are but a rehash of the Primo genial world that the Primo genial human beings have cleaved to and everything everyone believed in that world turned out to be flawed and destructive, thereby the First Apocalypse. He doesn’t claim himself a Messiah or a prophet or whatnot but proves his evidences authentic, like the codex of that first world, every inch of it intact.

I did not make that up.

- Plagiarism. A solicitation email from "Senior Marketing and Publishing Consultant" Mark Advent (formerly of Trafford) is a peculiar mix of the kinds of ESL mistakes found in Tori Mesh's email and relatively fluent passages. There's a reason for this: Mark has borrowed the good bits from others, without bothering with attribution.


The red-boxed passage is from an article by marketing expert Penny C. Sansevieri (see the last paragraph). The blue-boxed passage has been filched from speaker and consultant Al Lautenslager.

Tsk, tsk.

So what is LitFire? Despite the many Author Solutions connections and similarities, I don't suspect that LitFire actually has anything to do with Author Solutions itself. AS is a big company, and it has no need to be coy about what it does. If LitFire were a new AS imprint, we'd know it. I think it's far more likely that LitFire is an Author Solutions clone, created by former or current AS workers in hopes of siphoning off a share of their employer's business.

Either way, one thing is clear. If you hear from LitFire, just say no.

SCREENSHOTS

LitFire's description of itself:

Portia Peterson:

Tori Mesh:

KC Normanns:

Mark Advent:

Jill Bennett:

Jill's illiterate blog post:

53 comments :

Anonymous said...

Jill Bennett's other blog post is almost as weird:

"Presumably, authors are considered lucky enough to get a contract from a traditional publisher because they bring years of design, marketing, PR contacts, and other important relationships to the table. How many of those relationships will be leveraged for the release of a book by a not-very-known author? Probably not many. More typically, the traditional publisher eventually breaks the bad news to the author that it doesn’t have the budget for a marketing campaign or book tour. And this is all comes down to the as bad news.

He didn’t get through the gate. The guard was stiff.

Why? You don’t really believe that they don’t have the budget do you? Why of course, their budget is reserved only for the likes of King, Coelho and some Celebrity writers like Oprah or Ellen. This, they are assured that how much ever they spent on the book’s printing and marketing, a hundredfold is coming back to them. This isn’t to badmouth traditional pubbing. This article is simply minding their business and how they run it. It’s alright to care, isn’t it? On a higher contrast, this is not to proclaim the other face of publishing as the better resort. Don’t get lost right there. This is merely to discuss about a traditional publisher’s limitations and how it affects the main characters in this industry."

It's almost as if Jill has outsourced her blog to the Philippines...

Anonymous said...

Excellent reporting! I agree that LitFire is a self-entity but that it cops the biz tactics of AS, which is not a good thing. I have to add, in mypersonal exp. with LF, the marketing girl (Portia) was overly flirty with me (not very professional) and recoiled when asked simple questions in return and not once offered to show me their work, she apparently just expected me to hand her a lot of cash based on whatever she said. Be aware, beware, of these guys.

Eric Price said...

This is why I use a market guide I trust before sending my work to a publisher.

Anonymous said...

I would run screaming from anyone who sent me an email so badly written, claiming to help me with professional publishing services. It's like someone driving up to you in a car with parts falling off it, asking if you'd like to buy their services as an expert mechanic.

The quote at the bottom of Tori Mesh's email is like a giant wink at the reader: "a bad novel tells us the truth about its author." So too does a bad email.

Anonymous said...

I've left two comments on LitFire's Facebook politely asking them to explain why the "clients" who provided glowing testimonials on the company's website don't seem to be real people. Both comments have been ignored, which suggests to me that they don't even look at their virtually dead Facebook and Twitter accounts.

Anonymouse said...

Someone should report this LitFire Publishing to http://www.pissedconsumer.com/post-complaint.html or http://www.ripoffreport.com/

Anonymous said...

Sadly this is something every scammer out there is trying. They had rather scam others out of money than actually work to get what they want.

Sounds like a book tour company that stated they had a group of book club members that would read/review the authors books. Ended up cheating authors out of thousands of dollars.

Dan Smith said...

Jill Bennett from Litfire plagiarized an article of mine too.
Dan Smith
Smith Publicity
http://www.smithpublicity.com/2015/02/song-remains-sameauthors-book-marketing-scam-artists-want/

draco40 said...

Thanks to the heads-up. I was contacted by them out of the blue with glowing words for my book (they probably just read the 5 reviews I had on Amazon). I was suspicious because Gary Norman pressed hard and fast, dissed Amazon for making the book so expensive, and promised me the world. If my book is not selling it is because I am either a lousy marketer, writing about something the target readers don't, or both (in my view). He learned, during the conversation, that I was retired from pediatrics, was on a fixed income, and was currently suffering from the latest of my orthopedic disasters (s/p polio class of '52), a compound fracture of both femurs, and it not deter him one wit. Of course, he hadn't gotten into my projected financial " obligations. He just went to my website docbriley.com and sharpened his knives (or so I sensed. Aloha all, John M. Briley, Jr

Anonymous said...

June 2, 2015: "Portia" left a message on my phone this morning in which she mangled the titles of my two most recent books by conflating them into one, and never said exactly what the call was about. A few minutes later, here I am verifying my conclusions about what she was up to.

Anonymous said...

That Portia from lit fire is calling my old dad recently. Scam Alert!

Dr. Evelyn J. Biluk said...

I was contacted by a representative from this company. They wanted 2 copies of one of my books and $1600 to become included in the Frankfurt Book Fair for 2016.

Janet said...

I am glad this information was available. I just received a call today from Portia. (don't forget my name, she said at the end of the call!) It seemed kind of weird because while my book has done well in its category of self published work, it is not a blockbuster hit by any means. Her words of praise were too glowing. Although authors wish to hear this type of praise, the realist in me had bells going off. Warning bells, that is. So while still on the phone with Portia, I googled LitFire and found this post. Thanks. That email that is coming, might just hit the round file.

Anonymous said...

AUGH! Lit-Fire Publishing is a scam, very pricey! I wonder how they get our phone numbers!

Anonymous said...

I got the call today. It was for only $600 and two copies for the Frankfort event. He was talking "movie rights" etc. Thanks to this site I will not be parting with my $600.

David A. Forgensi said...

I received a call today also, for the Frankfort, Germany Book fair which will expose my book to many publishers. Sounded like bullsh**. That's why I turned to google and ended up here.

K. C. Pineda said...

I received a call A few moments ago from a Portia Rollins. After reading this I realize just how bad they are scamming, as one of their main marketers uses different names. I was told that my book was very interesting and that they had read it she then proceeded to say that it had a great story to it. when I asked if she enjoyed the dancing firefighters scene, she then proceeded to say yes that was a great scene. Guess what there are no dancing firefighters in my book. So obviously full of crap. Have a nice day Litfire I will be reporting furiously.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for your article. I am one of those that received a call from LitFire. Appreciate having some color on what they are offering.

Burt Berlowe said...

Thanks for this information. I received a phone call from a woman at LitFire with the glowing reports from "book review scouts" about my book and offering to display at the upcoming international book fair in Guadalupe. They originally wanted more than $600. I told them I didn't have that in the budget. The representative then offered a scholarship which got the cost down to $247.00 including a press release sent to some social media sites and promotion of the book at the fair. She sounded very sincere and an initial check of their website seemed to indicate that they were a legitimate publisher. They even (supposedly) had an A rating from a better business bureau and not negative comments from customers. My book was self-published by a POD publisher in Minneapolis and has been out for awhile with lots of promotion, mostly at my expense. I did give consideration to the LitFire( a great name by the way) offer. I consulted with a co-author and book distributor and longtime colleague I have worked with on my books. She did not recommend accepting this deal for many reasons. Within a few minutes of our phone conversation she sent me this expose site about the publisher. It came just in time to help me make my decision that I would not accept their offer.

Thanks for the alert and the comments.

Burt Berlowe
Minneapolis author and self-publisher




Victoria Strauss said...

Thanks for your comment, Burt (and thanks to everyone else who has commented here). I'm glad you were able to avoid entanglement with LitFire and their worthless "marketing" services.

Just as a point of info--an "A" rating with the BBB should be taken with a grain of salt, at least for a publisher. An accredited business receives an A+ by default, and all it means is that they are willing to respond to complaints by consumers. Also, for whatever reason, writers rarely seem to make complaints with the BBB.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for posting this information. We were contacted by "Gary" this morning. It felt suspicious because he offered to show our book at the Guadalajara book fair for only $247. I told him we would review the information and get back with him. He went on to do another sales pitch. I reiterated we would reveiw the information and get back with him. "Gary" then asked me to call back no matter what I decided to do. Of course, I won't be calling back. Thanks again everyone!!

Jessica Ratcliffe said...

I was contacted by a Portia Williams that promised world wide pubication and an amazing marketing package with a price tag of $2,099. I am a firt time author and need a great publisher. Where dobi even begin? I am so thankful I came across this article. Can anyone help me please

Victoria Strauss said...

Jessica,

Before you go any farther, it'd be a good idea to spend some time learning about the publishing process. This is vital not just because it'll help you make better and more informed choices, but because it'll keep you out of the hands of scammers and amateurs. It will also help you focus your research, so you can identify agents and/or publishers that are right for you, or decide whether self-publishing might be a better choice.

My suggestion would be to do some reading before you start your search for publication--and not on the Internet, where there are fantastic resources but also a huge amount of misinformation. Go to a bookstore or library and spend some time in the section where books on writing are shelved. There are many good basic introductions to the publishing process--you should be able to find one that works for you. Also have a look at my blog post, Learning the Ropes, which gives more detailed advice and suggests many other resources.

Please don't skip the learning process. It's tedious at the outset but will save you an enormous amount of time and grief in the long run.

Gord in Victoria said...

Jill Bennett of Litfire publishing has started linking blog posts in a LinkedIn discussion group I frequent -- Book Writing, Self Publishing, and Marketing for Business People. Though the posts are not very useful they certainly come across as having been written by someone with good English. The profile photo at https://www.linkedin.com/in/litfire is an obvious stock image. So it looks like the company has found itself a new "Jill."


Gordon Williams

Michelle Santos said...

I got the call this morning. Having learned the hard way about not doing my due diligence,I researched the company before agreeing to anything. I thought it was odd that a publishing company would call me about an expo pushing the second book of a series I've written. Toni/Tori wanted to push my second book. She was totally unaware of the series and that I just released the 3rd book. She felt the red to tell me my books on Amazon were too expensive. I said the prices are set at what the market can bear. Thank you so much for the various comments you have posted. You have saved me a lot of money. But now they won't stop calling! Michelle F.Santos

Anonymous said...

Just received a call from Litfire. Wanted to put my book in the Chicago show. My book is very technical and targets a small market. Thanks to the previous posts I will not be doing business with this group. Thanks and keep up the good work.

Anonymous said...

Litfire employees were terminated employees from AS due to fraudulent sales tactics. Wrong expectation setting, dishonesty and any form of fraud is a grave offense in AS. Thus, I wasn't surprise of the comments written here.

Victoria Strauss said...

Anonymous 1/21--

I'd like to know more about those employee terminations. Please contact me in confidence at beware [at] sfwa.org. Thank you.

Anonymous said...

I was just contacted by them as well and got them down to a very reasonable price for the London Book Fair. So here's my question. Does anybody know what will happen if I do take it? Will they carry out their end and highlight it at the book fair? If so would that be so bad if I'm there for a percentage of the cost to go? I read all the reviews and I'm sure it's not all as good as they said, but I wonder what will happen? JW

Victoria Strauss said...

Anonymous 3/01,

Many companies offer to showcase books at book fairs for a fee. Regardless of any other perks involved, your book's presence at the fair is likely to be a listing in a catalog that sits on a table in the company's booth, or, if you provide a book for physical display, a slot on a rack in the company's booth. That's the extent of the highlighting you will receive. Companies like LitFire exist solely to sell services to authors. They don't have connections in the publishing world, and they are not capable of selling rights. Your "presence" at the book fair won't benefit you--it will, however, help to line LitFire's pockets.

I looked at the LitFire website. I couldn't find anything about the London Book Fair, but they are pitching the Bologna Children's Book Fair, with a set of insanely overpriced packages (and numerous grammatical mistakes). Don't fall for this. Save your money.

LitFire provides a report, with pictures, on the Guadalajara International Book Fair (so apparently they do attend). Interestingly, all three authors mentioned in the report were originally published by imprints of Author Solutions. Looks like LitFire is still biting the hand of its staff's former overlord.

Anonymous said...

Amen to that.These pictures on your screen grabs are not even them, who knows from who they took these pictures from. Portia got terminated from AS due to fraudulent transactions, Gary for overpromising and misrepresentation. At least AS is a legitimate one, Litfire is a total ripoff! Trust me on this.

Anonymous said...

Thanks a bunch. I got the call for $1800 for the Frankfort book fair & when I googled Litfire the 1st non-paid option was this article. It has kept me from considering any offers. Thanks again.

Paul said...

LitFire has sponsored these kids and made them authors at the age of 5. Here is the link http://www.macon.com/news/local/education/article67548647.html

This was a news on TV. How can you say LitFire is fraud?

Victoria Strauss said...

Clickable link to the article referenced by Paul, above.

From the article:

"At that point, Carson wasn't able to write the full story on paper, but he shared his ideas with his classmates, who helped him flesh out the story and illustrate it. Watkins shared the finished story, complete with a conflict resolution between Barky and the monster, on social media.

That got the attention of LitFire Publishing, and now "Barky the Mouse" is a full-fledged paperback book."

So LitFire solicited a little kid on social media? Classy.

Anonymous said...

"Paul" got the capitalization in the company name right but his grammar seems to have close kinship with Jill Bennet's. Hmmm.

Anonymous said...

LitFire's business may be legit somehow but they're still lying to their clients. An author friend recommended me to LitFire and I tried to go to their office in Atlanta to meet with them personally (w/o contacting them 1st) but it was empty. Maybe they are based somewhere else and are lying about it.

Anonymous said...

Lit Fire and their overpriced services! Not really worth it. Gary Norman is such a smooth talking scammer too. Also found out his real name is Joe de Real and hes from the Philippines. Don't even get me started on their manager Mary who's real name is Maribel Silvero Famat. I'm a very good researcher and found out all this from digging. I have known for a while but only got to speak out now. So does this mean Lit Fire is based in the Philippines? If so why are they lying about it? Are they considered as scam?

Sharon Hurkens said...

Thank you for posting this comment. I have been contacted by Mark and he constantly emails me to contact him. I have been caught by various of these schemes, needless to say, spent thousands and never even received one "bite" on my book. frustrating.

Liz Goodgold said...

Thanks for the shout-out about LitFire. I was ready to hit "delete," but for giggles listened to their v/m and then found this post. Clearly, it's not worth the time to even return their phone call.

Charles Moreland said...

My publicist(Rosie Moreland) spoke to a "Michelle" today about my book, "Awaken Your Dreams: 6 steps to achieving your goals", being featured in the Frankfurt Book Fair enough in September. She needed $1800 from us though...

Tomeka Russell said...

Here is my message from "Erwan Gomez" about my book "Divine Forgiveness"

Hi Dr. Russell,


Hope this email finds you well.

I called the number --- and spoke to the nice lady who provided me this email address.

One of our professional book scouts found, read and recommended your book. This email is your invitation for the Frankfurt International Book Fair. The book expo only happens once a year and getting an invite would not come by that often. This is a big opportunity you cannot miss and we will bring your book to the fair and take it directly to where the book right buyers, traditional publishers, agents, producers, directors, movie producers, media, and others can see your book. That's where you can potentially have your book published/acquired by a Traditional Publishing House.

One of the great benefits in joining a trade show is that it levels the playing field. From unknown to popular authors, everyone is equal. Even new and unknown authors can get attention from influential people and decision-makers from big traditional publishing houses. I have attached the proposal in this email.

I am looking forward to speaking with you and signing you up to this exhibit. I don’t want you to miss this chance as we see great potential in the international market. I believe that this is the right time for you and your book to join the international scene. This is your moment, claim it!

Let me know if you have any questions or clarifications. I will be more than willing to help. By the way, I would like to share this link with you. These kids were our beneficiary as we want to help future authors make their dream come true. They have just published their book titled Barky The Mouse. Please click on this link: http://www.13wmaz.com/news/elementary-authors-at-shirley-hills-elementary/97159058


I am very glad I stumbled upon this website. I have learned not to trust many people in this industry.

Danielle

Anonymous said...

All of these comments I have read track exactly with my conversation with LitFire today. They are obviously good researchers, because they knew a lot about my book and my previous small publisher, and they even called me at an old land line phone number that I don't share with anyone and I never actually use. I only answered it because the call came in on my cell phone first and I thought it was something important when it rang the land line almost immediately. And it WAS important, but strictly for further education on the pitfalls of publishing.

The man I spoke with was obviously not a native English speaker. There is nothing wrong with that, but the buzz of conversations I could hear in the background made me wonder if this was an overseas operation or at least a bullpen where people are working the phones hard to generate business. That alone is reason to be skeptical.

Regarding my previous small publisher, the man at LitFire knew enough about the publisher's contracts to let me know that they are probably trolling the small publisher's title list and looking for authors of three-year-old books that are ripe to be plucked and plumped with promises of finally breaking into the big time.

No thanks. I've spent enough money in a crowded book market already. No ego stroking will cause me to spend more.

Anonymous said...

A Litfire employee began calling a few months back claiming that a book scout noticed and highly-recommened a book we already have been self-publishing and selling (for years). He left his name, with no company affiliation, and stated that he wanted to talk to us about taking our book, under their company, to a big publishers convention next spring. This employee named himself and left a phone number and extension.

We didn't return his call.

This didn't stop his enthusiasm. He continued to call, pretty much, daily. Sometimes twice a day. I once answered and told him that we had received his message and that IF WE WERE INTERESTED we would CALL HIM. (hint, hint). Less than a week later, the calls resumed - pretty much daily, sometimes twice a day. Finally, after almost three months, he left a company name - LITFIRE PUBLISHING.

So I went hunting and found many a such complaint and I noticed that folks aren't comfortable with this company. Well, we certainly won't be dealing with them. They should "get a clue" and STOP CALLING. In my humble opinion, no legitimate publisher will HARASS people via cold calls. So, fellow authors BEWARE and BE AWARE.

Thank you, Victoria Strauss.

Sincerely,
A fellow author and family
Who are SO TIRED of the stupid, seemingly endless --- and unreturned --- phone calls and messages.

Notice:
Victoria Strauss post was November 7, 2014
We are posting this June 24, 2016

K. C. Pineda said...

I've just filed a report on ripoff http://www.ripoffreport.com/r/LitFire-Publishing/Atlanta-Georgia-30350/LitFire-Publishing-LitFire-Publishing-Scam-Writer-Beware-Scam-Alert-Atlanta-Georgia-1318594.

Anonymous said...

The Wikipedia entry for Litfire reads like a PR release. Might be worth having a go at editing it to make it more balanced.

Victoria Strauss said...

They're actively monitoring the entry and removing edits.

Adding linkage to K.C. Pineda's Ripoff Report. "I was told that my book was very interesting and that they had read it she then proceeded to say that it had a great story to it. when I asked if she enjoyed the dancing firefighters scene, she then proceeded to say yes that was a great scene. Guess what there are no dancing firefighters in my book. So obviously full of crap."

Anonymous said...

Glad I decided to check. Just received 'spam' email from Erwan Gomez about one of my books. Based on the above, the grammar in company's blogs, I believe I will pass.

Anonymous said...

Got a call from Litfire today praising the book I wrote. they read it from 'cover to cover'. Right... Scammers suck off of EVERYONE and Everything! What kind of crooked world are we living in. Get a real job. Make an honest living. Good grief. This is the information I got out of her: Her name was Cherry Rosen from
Litfire publishing
1-800-511-9787 ext 8099
(Very broken English)
Hang up and Run.

Anonymous said...

YOU MIGHT WANNA CHECK THIS OUT FOR LITFIRE PUBLISHING :P
ITS VALID DO YOUR RESEARCH :D

BBB Accredited Business

http://www.bbb.org/atlanta/business-reviews/publishers-book/litfire-publishing-in-atlanta-ga-27587568

Anonymous said...

Thank you for posting this, it reinforced my opinion after speaking with them on the phone. I'm curious how they got my number, it's unlisted.

Anonymous said...

I've just had my call from LitFire. I knew something was up when she referenced the second book in my series with no apart knowledge of the first. When I asked basic questions about LitFire, I got virtually no answer. If you can't even describe your company (or my novels), what can you be but a scam?

Thankful said...

Got a call from "Luis Chandler" today from Litfire - same story ... broken English, sounded Asian or from Philippines. There was the same big tale of "book scouts" being very excited about my book. He said book scouts only recommended 3 books total during the whole month of August so being recommended was a 'very big deal'. He wanted me to transfer from my existing publishing company to them with promises that they could do a much better job to market my book. But when asked specifics of exactly how they would do a better job, I got very broken, indirect, disjointed answers about some International book fair in Guadalajara and other locations such as Frankfort. He also talked about Author House (which is not the company I published through) saying it was a sister-company of my publisher. I haven't found any evidence of that being true. When I asked what they would do for me that my current publisher was not already doing, he never really answered the question directly. Interestingly, "Luis" also kept saying "oh, hold on, my manager is really excited about this and wants me to ask you if .... " - LOL, this is huge used car sales tactic. He kept referencing Cami Onolfo as an example of one of their amazing "success stories" of someone who was not getting what they really needed for marketing and promotion from their existing self-publishing company, but after signing with Litfire she became a huge success. I looked her name up on Amazon and found a book (see for yourself), but she barely shows up on a Google search at all. He told me that after years of no success on her book, she had transferred her book to Litfire and it had been picked up by a big traditional publisher quickly because they had an "in" with the big publishing companies. The price to switch over was $599 because they had contacted me instead of me soliciting them (discounted from $1400). I asked what's in it for them to market my book to traditional publishers. It seems if they want to publish my book because they think it is good enough for them to make $$$ on with better marketing, but then also want to promote my book to a traditional publisher where they will no longer make $$$ on it, it seems like a conflict of interest to me and it makes no sense at all. He never really answered the question. He strangely kept asking if I had my manuscript in .pdf or if I still had the original version. Now, he has sent lots of emails with attachments for contracts and such. I am now curious if there would be anyway for them to troll to find my typed manuscript if I download the attachment. Would my book show up somewhere in the Philippines under a different title ... crazy conspiracy, but this is strange. Anyway, sharing my story to add to the ongoing saga in hope that it might help someone else not get taken advantage of. What a waste of my day :(

Victoria Strauss said...

Thankful,

Thanks for your comment. Not to worry--pay-to-play publishers only care about your money, not your manuscript. If you don't hand over the cash, they have no interest in you or your book.

I'd love to see the emails "Luis" sent you. Please contact me: beware [at] sfwa.org.

I looked up Cami Onolfo on Amazon. Just one book is listed for her, with a sales ranking in the millions. Publisher: AuthorHouse. No trad pub in sight.

 
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