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December 21, 2016

Questions for Vanity Publisher Austin Macauley Yield Few Answers

Posted by Victoria Strauss for Writer Beware

Scroll down for updates

Over at The Writers Workshop, Harry Bingham is taking a look at UK-based vanity publisher Austin Macauley.
Are they legit? Or are they scammers?

I don’t know. I honestly have no idea. But I’ve heard some concerns raised about the firm and I think the fairest thing to do is ask the question.

If it turns out that the firm is an honourable one, seeking to do the very best for its authors, then fair play to them. I will take this post down and offer the WW as a platform for the firm to market itself. I will make it absolutely clear that we have no bad word to say about them, in public or in private.

And if they’re scammers – well, then, I hope they perish. I hope they perish soon. And I hope that those responsible for the company are deeply injured, financially and reputationally, by that collapse.
To try and solve this conundrum, Harry has formulated a list of questions that he has invited AM to answer.

Now, not to steal AM's thunder, but Writer Beware has gotten a lot of reports, complaints, and questions about AM over the years, and we've gathered a good deal of information and documentation. I thought it might be illuminating to share some of that, using a few of Harry's questions as a template. (Note that I'm not attempting to speak for AM, nor am I accusing them of doing anything illegal; I'm just sharing data that I've collected.)

Question 1: What proportion of AM’s titles are ‘traditional mainstream’ and what proportion are via ‘partnership agreement’?

This is an important question. AM does reveal on its website that it offers "contributory" contracts (using the newly trendy euphemism, "hybrid," to describe its publishing model), but it also presents itself as an "innovative independent trade publisher" and states that "we look at every new manuscript with a view to offering a traditional mainstream publishing deal." This certainly encourages authors to believe that they have a good chance of a traditional offer.

But do they? Writer Beware has heard from just four authors who were offered contracts they didn't have to pay for. By contrast, we've gotten 60+ reports from authors who received fee-based offers (along with lots and lots of inquiries about AM's reputation and business practices; it's one of the publishers we receive the most questions about). Now, I'm sure that the writers who've contacted me represent only a fraction of those who've submitted to AM. Even so, the proportion of fee offers to no-fee offers does suggest--to me, at least--that the bulk of AM's business is pay-to-play.

You can see many many many many many many other author reports of Austin Macauley's fees online.

Question 3: What is the median cost to the author of these partnership agreements?

Fees in contracts Writer Beware has seen range from £1,275 to £7,700 (the heading of fee disclosure section is "Advances," except that this is an "advance" the author has to pay the publisher). Some authors are offered a choice of fees depending on which book formats they pick.

Speaking of AM's contracts, I've seen a number, both "contributory" and not. In my (non-legal; I'm not a lawyer) opinion, they are substandard. There's no stated term for the grant of rights, and discontinuance of publication is "entirely at the discretion of the publisher." In effect, this is a life-of-copyright grant, with completely inadequate provisions for rights reversion. (I've written before about the vital importance of having a good rights reversion clause in a life-of-copyright contract.)

I've also seen a number of AM's acceptance letters. There are differences depending on the rationale for offering "contributory" contracts (new author, can't take the risk; previously published author, not successful enough) but other than that it's clearly cut-and-paste, with whole passages used verbatim in multiple letters.

Question 4: Partnership implies some joint sharing of risks and rewards. So, do you contribute a sum broadly equivalent to that contributed by your authors? If, for example, your launch costs for a book are expected to be £6,000, do you ask the author for £3,000 and contribute the other support yourselves? And if not, then, please, how does it work?

Obviously, I can't answer for Austin Macauley, nor would I attempt to do so. Speaking generally, however, many pay-to-play publishers promise or imply that they are contributing part or most of the expense, and the author fee is just a portion--but in fact, what authors pay is far more likely to cover not just the whole cost of publication, but the publisher's overhead and profit as well.

Also, since fee-based publishers' profit typically comes primarily from author fees and book purchases, rather than from book sales to the public, most have little reason to invest in professional-quality editing, marketing, and distribution. In fact, they have substantial incentive to skimp on these things, since they reduce profit.


AM has responded to Harry (sort of) in an email that can be seen at the bottom of Harry's post, and also in a post on its own blog. Neither response comes close to addressing Harry's questions. Here's AM explaining why. (UPDATE: AM has objected to Harry reproducing its email verbatim, so what appears now is a paraphrased version.)
We would like to be as transparent as possible in answering your questions. However, as I am sure you understand, many of the details you ask for could potentially require us to break confidentiality, in terms of both our business and of our authors. We plan to discuss these issues fully with Austin Macauley’s lawyers, who will tell us precisely how much information we are able to divulge to you.
Color me unimpressed. I can kinda sorta maybe understand that AM might not want to spotlight particular authors (though if their books are bestsellers, I doubt they'd mind)--but there's no confidentiality attached to most of the information Harry is asking for. Other publishers have no problem providing public information about sales and revenue.

Harry isn't impressed, either. He sums up his opinion in a followup blog post, concluding: "I think [Austin Macauley] is a vanity publisher that trades on the legitimate hopes and excusable ignorance of its clients...if you’re considering entering into a partnership agreement with Austin Macauley, then don’t. Just don’t."

I agree.


A few more observations:
  • Coming to America! AM is UK-based, but it is expanding into the USA. It has a glitzy new US website, and a brand new office in New York City--a virtual office, that is, on the 28th floor of 40 Wall Street. Basically, a PO box. (Am I alone in finding it hilarious that this is a Trump-owned building?) Just 73 AM books are listed on Amazon US for 2015; for 2016, the number is 474. 
  • The morning after I did the research for this blog post, I clicked into a couple of news sources I like, and discovered, yet again, the power of tracking cookies.

UPDATE 12/22/16: Harry Bingham's two posts have resulted in a demand by Austin Macauley's solicitors that he remove all mention of them from his website. He is not backing down. "In our view, the instant resort to threat is a classic telltale sign of firms whose business practices fall on the wrong side of the ethical tracks."

Author and writing teacher Jurgen Wolff also received threats of legal action as a consequence of posting information about Austin Macauley.

UPDATE 4/25/17: Harry Bingham has posted copies of and commentary on Austin Macauley's contract (which is seriously substandard in a number of respects, notably its complately inadequate termination/reversion language) and its cut-and-paste acceptance letter (the several I've seen aren't precisely identical to this one--there are minor variations--but follow the same structure and include whole swaths of identical text). His conclusion:

UPDATE 6/5/17: Oh dear. Austin Macauley has decided that it's being bullied by that big meanie, SFWA.

First, it reached out to fellow victim The Write Agenda--an organization with impeccable credentials (snert)--to ask for support (apparently not noticing that TWA hasn't been active on Twitter for over a year):
Next, it posted a long, long (long) screed accusing me, Writer Beware, and SFWA of "Bullying, Insults, and Lies"...and worse. With footnotes.
Then, to make absolutely sure the world (well, Twitter) got the point, it spammed a link to its screed to people who mentioned SFWA, including recent Nebula Award Weekend attendees:

Eventually causing SFWA to take exasperated action:
Finally, AM reached out once more to its good friend The Write Agenda, with a plaintive plea:
So far, no RTs.

UPDATE 8/16/17: Austin Macauley is currently running a contest, for which the prize is a "traditional" book contract. The contest guidelines indicate that authors are subject to "behavioral guidelines" and must refrain from "abusive language toward AMP staff at any stage in the process"--provisions you don't normally find in contests from reputable publishers (and why are they anticipating that authors might become abusive, anyway?)

The winner will receive AM's "standard traditional contract," which has serious defects, as outlined above. Also, as outlined above, pay-to-play publishers don't have much reason to invest in quality editing, marketing, distribution, etc., so even if you don't have to pay, publication may not be a prize worth winning.

UPDATE 8/24/17: AM is doubling down on its defamation of SFWA (among other things) in a new essay defending its business practices. If you have to devote an entire article to denying that you "trick and swindle authors", claiming that you don't work in a virtual office, and debunking negative employee comments on Glassdoor, you've already lost the PR war, in my opinion.

UPDATE 6/20/19: AM is using Google ads with highly deceptive headlines to recruit writers. Among other tactics, it is impersonating Penguin Random House. See my blog post for a full discussion.


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PT Dilloway said...

They do sound shady.

Larry Yoakum III said...

They are not to be trusted. I had two books with them. I guess shame on me for fooling me twice. Anyway, the contracts are expired, I have my books back, and I have self published them now.
I may not be a best selling millionaire, but I wasn't going to get that with them anyway, and at least now I am my own man and on my own terms.
It isn't easy to break into the big time these days, with millions of us out there publishing our own books. But, try to maintain the mindset of 'I write because I must and not because I want money'.

Anonymous said...

Are you degenerate cyber bullies still in business?

Victoria Strauss said...

Yes, Barbara. Yes, we are.

glenda higgins said...

I just had a really bad experience with them. on top of wanting over 5000 dollars Canadian they sent me a contract wanting 75% royalties, first dibs on all my writing (no time limit in years) and a refund of some money if they haven't done anything in 60 days. UNBELIEVABLE!!!! What are they thinking?

Glenda Higgins.
by the way, they said they are doing all this because I'm an unpublished writer. I had given them my site saying, indeed I am a published writer. They are obviously brain dead on top of everything else.

Anonymous said...

One point. They have just (Jan. 2017) moved into Trump Tower on 5th Avenue. That could be because the sane tenants in the Tower have skeedaddled after the US elections. Or, it could be coincidence. At any rate, I'd love to know whether A & M is a Murdoch property. Anyone know?

Victoria Strauss said...

Anonymous 2/21,

It's not Trump Tower, but another building Trump owns, at 40 Wall Street. And it's a virtual office, not a real one.

As far as I know, AM has no connection with Murdoch.

Anonymous said...

The actual response has been added since this, which you've failed to update with.

Victoria Strauss said...

Hi, Anonymous 2/23,

I've noted AM's response in my post above (it's paraphrased--because AM demanded removal of the actual response--on Harry Bingham's blog). Is there another one that I'm not aware of?

as is ongoing said...

I was just about to walk headlong into contract with them,but was not impressed with the demand for a contribution. I am sure they say the same seductive things to everyone those being that they 'found it an engaging and absorbing read'. My daughter objected to my paying and said she would write to Austin Macauley, she thought it was the same as self publishing but with ties and commitments. Hence I have not followed the offer up. She is writing to them to quiz them about their offer, meantime I will not- in view of what people say pursue it.

Anonymous said...

Ref: Austin Macauley,

Hello Victoria Strauss,

In August last year, I emailed you saying AM liked my children's book, but they wanted payment ranging from £1900,£2400 and £4400, depending on which route I wanted to take with getting my book published. You responded very quickly saying other writers had paid AM's enormous fees and regretted it. It's outrageous that AM can justify charging hopeful writers such extortionate amounts of money, and that they are falling for their spiel when there is so much information that can be sourced regarding vanity publishers at the click of a button. Thank goodness people like yourself, and forums like yours are here for people such as myself. Unfortunately, however, AM and their ilk will always exist as long as people are wiling to pay to be published.

Anonymous said...

Self publishing gets a bad rap for the most part because some of the most prominent companies in the industry are super sketchy. Meanwhile, there are some very credible companies out there offering transparent services to writers wishing to have their manuscripts turned into books, and those books delivered to the market. Of course there will be an investment required to have a team of professionals assist you in this process, but if you wish to share your message or story, the option is there for you to do so. Those who think there is an easy route to publish without incurring some costs along the way are in for a long and frustrating journey.

I encourage anyone who wishes to publish to do their diligence, such as coming to a site like this for reviews, and push for clear definitive responses when it comes to things like copyright, royalties, cost for printing, requirements for ordering personal copies etc.......also, who will be working on your project? Is there transparency with the team who will be working with you, or are those services being contacted out to the lowest available bidder by the publisher?

I know of some companies who are doing an amazing job for their clients, receiving positive reviews, offering up full transparency throughout the entire process, and I hate that there are several companies in the industry who are casting a shadow over those who are operating under very credible circumstances and doing an impeccable job of it.

Self publishing is a choice, and when done right it is a privilege for writers with quality manuscripts to have the option of getting them to the market when it wouldn't have been nearly so easy to do so in years past.

My two cents.......I have nothing to contribute on Austin Macauley however, as I'm located in Canada and not so familiar with the practices of those companies overseas. However, I have appreciated the information I've read here, so gratitude for that!

Anonymous said...

What can i do if i already sent them a signed contact? Having second thoughts...

Victoria Strauss said...

Anonymous 5/10,

Please email me at beware [at] All information shared with Writer Beware is held in confidence.

Anonymous said...

Hi, can you confirm how many non upfront fee contribution books AM have published here in the UK. I have received a contribution contract from then (as an unknown author they say) asking for £2,500. They say for this I also get hard copies of the book, paperback copies and promotional material. I am being gullible about them publishing my work? Thanks.

Victoria Strauss said...

Anonymous 6/06,

AM claims about a 50/50 ratio of fee-based to non-fee-based contracts, but as far as I know it hasn't provided any verifiable numbers to support that claim. I can tell you that while I've gotten a handful of reports from authors who weren't asked to pay (fewer than five), I've heard from scores of authors who were asked for thousands of pounds.

The fact that you're an unknown author does not mean you must pay to be published. If traditional publishing is your goal, I encourage you to pursue it; no reputable publisher will refuse to consider a marketable manuscript just because the author hasn't published before or isn't well-known. They are well aware that future best-sellers and literary stars come from the ranks of the previously unpublished.

If you'd prefer to self-publish, you can get a similar package of services (with a much less restrictive contract) from any number of self-publishing service providers. For more information, see the Self-Publishing page of Writer Beware.

Anonymous said...

Hi. I signed a contract with AM over a year ago and have paid them a substantial fee (as an unknown author, so they explained). I now appreciate this was naive, because we're 13 months on and I still haven't got a final draft. When i phone the offices, i get told the only person i can speak to is the head of publishing, by he is dodging my phone calls and is not answering my emails. Any ideas what i can do? All they keep telling me is they have too much work and not enough staff! I don't know the publishing industry and went to AM because they promised they would look after me and my work. I feel really let down.

Victoria Strauss said...

Anonymous 6/17,

AM has been expanding; it now has US operations and is threatening to open in Australia. I wonder if perhaps it's suffering growing pains and is short-staffed, resulting in production delays. Certainly the excuses they're giving you would fit with that.

What you may (or may not) be able to do depends on the wording of your contract. Please contact me via email (beware [at] and I'll try to help.

Eleanor G Raine said...

Sadly I fell for the charm of this vanity publishers and felt like I was being offered a chance to publish a book. I specifically stated I couldn't do any contributions, they kept me waiting the full six weeks before sending a contract asking me to pay £2500 towards the costs. Thank goodness I found this thread before I signed and sent it back. They make you feel valued and interested in you, when in fact they are stringing you along and reeling you in. Very sad. Thank you for your advice.

Anonymous said...

Thank goodness I found this site! Today we (author and illustrator) received a contract from Austin Macauley... remarkably the wording was similar to that stated in previous blogs.. It's a shame that predators like these exist in both publishing and art galleries... giving these industries an appalling reputation. I have not signed the contract and have no intention of doing so. thank you for taking the effort to share your experiences so that novices like us do not fall into the same trap!

Anonymous said...

I received a contract for my novel, requesting $2500 to be published.
I probably won't do it, but I don't necessarily distrust AM. It seems it could
be a step above just plain self publishing. Some of the comments in the letter
seemed personalized. Anyway, if I had the money around I'd throw it at them,
but as is I'll probably just sit on the book.

salieri said...

Who could deny the gratification of opening the post and finding a folder marked "Austin Macauley Publishing Contract"? Admittedly the thrill did wear off somewhat when I read a covering letter addressed to someone else, followed by a paragraph which is evidently standard drivel - "The Board commented on your compelling characters, who each drive the plot forward and increase dramatic tension, which finally culminates to [sic] a moving finish" - and made me wonder whether anyone had actually read it at all. Likewise the recommendation that "any real names used be change [sic]" because the novel "is based on very real and personal events" (it isn't).

And then finally you get to the "contribution" of £2,300 which you are expected to make to them because you are a relatively new author (wrong again: I am a completely new author) which, absurdly, appears under a clause called '"Advances".

And then you read the rest of the contract. The striking thing about the favourable reviews on this page - and there are many - is that they don't say they have sold a single copy. What Austin Macauley actually do to promote book, I am not in a position to say; what I can say is that while they agree contractually to do so they have "full discretion as to the nature and extent of any promotion and distribution", that the means of promoting and marketing "may include" making the Work available to the trade and the media but obviously may not, and that distribution (save for review copies) is not even mentioned.

Other areas where they retain absolute discretion are: making alterations to your manuscript, choice of format and style, the size of the print-run, and discontinuing and remaindering your work at any time they wish. Finally there is a gagging clause which prohibits any adverse comment about the Publisher: why, you wonder, would they feel the need to insert a clause like that?

I wrote to Austin Macauley to say that I had no objection in principle to vanity publishing, but was concerned that the contract provided for no minimum print-run and no enforceable commitment to marketing and/or promotion of any specific kind - above all guaranteed distribution to a single bookshop. This meant that in theory the fee could lawfully be used to cover the author's complimentary copies and nothing more, at which stage the work could even be discontinued at their discretion. There has been no reply: why am I not surprised?

I would respect this organisation more if it said upfront, simply and candidly: we will charge you a fee for printing a few copies of your book to give to your family and friends, but don't expect any further commitment on our part.

Vanity takes many forms, but happily it doesn't always include stupidity.

salieri said...

I need to add: lengthy and courteous reply just received - but still no contractual commitments...

Victoria Strauss said...


Publishers don't typically provide the kinds of guarantees you're looking for in their contracts. They prefer flexibility to make such determinations as part of the publishing process, based on various factors including profit and loss projections.

Reputable publishers invest their own resources (rather than yours) in the publishing process, and therefore need to sell books in order to recoup that investment and make a profit. Publishing models vary--small presses, for instance, save money by relying on print-on-demand technology to produce books only when ordered, rather than doing print runs--but in general, authors can reasonably expect a reputable publisher to do as much as it can to support the books it publishes, even without specific guarantees in the contract.

That open-endedness, unfortunately, benefits unscrupulous and vanity publishers, which like reputable publishers don't include guarantees in their contracts, but also don't do most of what reputable publishers do. Vanity publishers aren't likely to do print runs or invest in quality editing, distribution, or marketing, because their primary profit is made up-front, from authors' fees, and they don't want to cut into that too much. As for book sales, those are gravy.

The "you have to pay because you're a new author" thing is bunk. Reputable publishers don't charge fees to new authors any more than they do to established authors. After all, every established author was once a newbie.

salieri said...


Thanks for these interesting comments.

I suppose it comes down to this, doesn't it: a conventional publisher (who takes the risk if your work is worth publishing in the first place) may not guarantee a minimum print run but has an obvious interest in making sales in order to recoup his advance at the very least. A publisher who demands a contribution and makes no commitments - at least legally enforceable ones - may, conceivably, have no interest in producing any more than the complimentary copies you've already paid for upfront.

AM say this is not so because the author's contribution of £2,300 is only about a third of their production costs, so that they too are making an investment which it would make no sense not to recoup (and let's leave aside their taking 75% of the putative royalties). That, surely, depends at least partially on the number of copies they actually do decide to produce and the distribution costs they choose to incur, if any, so the argument seems to me to be entirely circular.

Putting it neutrally, there is a gulf between their expressions of intent - "we will look to distribute on a national level and then internationally should the projected sales be met or exceeded" - and their contractual obligations, which are almost non-existent. And I speak as a contract lawyer.

Victoria Strauss said...


You're exactly right. Also, you have no way to know for sure whether your "contribution" is a third of the cost, or three-quarters of the cost, or 100% of the cost plus overhead and profit. An audit could tell you, if your contract included an audit clause--but only well after the fact.

There's a detailed discussion of vanity publishers, and the various ploys they use to disguise themselves, at the Writer Beware website, if you're interested. Also feel free to email me: beware [at]

Anonymous said...

I have ZERO reason to post a comment here other than to warn others. If authors spent 30 minutes online searching experiences from authors who worked with these Publishers before them- they could save themselves agony and money. I add my name to the hundreds of others who received the exact same responses word-for-word from this Publishing house. I was nothing more than a mark they were trying to extort money from. This is their business- they feed off of authors who don't have the confidence and patience to wait for a valid offer. They are quick to harass you, defend themselves against being called Vanity houses and have no problem degrading you in an attempt to get money. Authors- you are better than this. They are not worth your time. There are other Publishers who actually spend their time fostering your growth and writing... instead of writing hate mail (attempting to defend themselves) from new authors. Seek out Publishers who will build you up, instead of break you down. Seek out a home for your book with hands who will nurture it, instead of those that will rip it apart trying to get to your wallet.

Anonymous said...

I just sent them a PDF with part of my book. Now they are requesting the whole book. After reading this blog,... Vanity is the favorite sin of evil.
I feel like a stupid.

Unknown said...

I tweeted the call for AM to answer Harry's questions recently. They responded with some BS, and I called them on it. It will be interesting to see how they respond...

Victoria Strauss said...

Adding linkage to Eileen Maksym's tweet. It's worth checking out for a look at AM's, um, extremely mature and professional responses. With GIFs. Sad!

Unknown said...

They deleted all their tweets and blocked me. Which is sort of satisfying, really. I just wish I had screencaps.

Unknown said...

Oh wait! Nope, tweets are still there. Enjoy them while they last!

Victoria Strauss said...

They've now blocked me too. The shame!

E.D. Erasmus said...

Thank you, Writers Beware, for your post.
related to this, however, I have a few questions and concerns.
Firstly, there are legitimate self publishing establishments available, which deliver a professional and dedicated service, which further acts in the author's best interest. But, of course, there are also scammers out there.
as such, based on information gathered from commenters on the net, AM offers a mid way plan.half traditional, half self published. As such, I would assume a contract of this nature to outweigh one which is purely of a self publishing nature?
Further, when considering a contract with AM, is there room for negotiation? This is not stipulated on this post, and if someone could offer expert assistance in an area which the publishing house insists requires contribution, marketing or distribution, for instance. Would the contribution ammount be up for negotiation? I see this as a positive possibility, since I can understand the need for contrabutions. A traditional publisher takes a risk on an author, financially, and in the entirety of the publication process, which is why they are so selective in accepting works, right? When self publishing can meet traditional publishing to eliminate some of the risks, it takes away some of that selectiveness and more authors can get published. This, to me, seems like a positive avenue. This would also explain the traditional to hybrid publications ratio as explained in your post above?
They do say on their site that they offer hybrid contracts, and they do say they look at each submission with the possibility to extend a traditional publishing contract. This is backed up by having published works traditionally, regardless of the number of authors who have been fortunate enough to have such contracts offered to them. In addition, with regards to their hybrid contracts, they offer monthly plans. This further helps the author.
Further more, in asking for a contribution from the author, AB invites the author to act as a partner throughout the process of getting the work published and marketed well. With that said, any concerns related to editorial quality can be monitored.
Thank you for the post. The information here is helpful, but not entirely informative and, I think, somewhat biased.
(This is just my opinion, and I in no way wish to offend anyone)

Anonymous said...

I was super tempted to start a deal with them after reading their website, but I'm relieved I went ahead with some better judgement and did my research beforehand. That said, can anyone list some reputable companies to talk to, traditional and self-publishers? If we pool our resources, we can help hundreds of newbies from getting sucked into the machine... Thanks!!!

Victoria Strauss said...

E.D. Erasmus,

One of the important differences between using a self-publishing platform and using a vanity publisher or hybrid publisher (not the same thing, by the way, though many vanity publishers would like you to think so) is that with a self-pub platform, you grant only limited publishing rights, grant them non-exclusively, and can terminate the agreement at any time for any reason. With a vanity or hybrid publisher, you typically grant not just publishing rights but a range of subsidiary rights, on an exclusive basis, for a period of years or for the life of copyright, without the option to terminate. If you decide that self-publishing isn't working for you, you can quit at any time. With vanity publishers, when things go wrong, you are stuck.

In recent years, self-publishing has become a viable alternative career path for authors, many of whom are realizing substantial success. The stigma that used to attach to it is pretty much gone. That's not true for vanity publishing. It's as poorly regarded as it ever was.

As for authors' contributions encouraging partnership...keep in mind that a publisher that takes on the whole cost of publication has a strong incentive to get your book into the hands of readers, since selling books is the only way it can recoup its investment. With a publisher that makes money from you up front, that incentive is substantially diminished. This is the fallacy of the rationale vanity publishers often use to justify their fees, that new writers are a bigger risk: if they are so risky that the publisher requires them to pay for publication, why would the publisher compound the risk by investing any of its own resources? The only reason to claim that fees represent part of the cost--as opposed to the whole cost plus overhead and profit--is to make you feel better about handing over large sums of cash. If you believe you're a partner who has been chosen for a privilege rather than a customer buying a service, you'll be more likely to say "yes" to big fees, even if you didn't expect them when you submitted. Vanity publishers play a blatant psychological game.

Self-publishing costs money to do right, but in terms of control, flexibility, and reputability, it offers a much better return on your investment.

Victoria Strauss said...

Anonymous 8/04,

For reputable traditional publishers, the latest edition of a good market guide (such as Writer's Digest's Writers Market in the USA, or Writers' and Artists' Yearbook in the UK) is a good place to look, as is your local bookstore (one of the things that distinguishes reputable publishers is their ability to get books into physical stores). Also see Writer Beware's Small Presses page for information and resources.

For self-publishing, I usually suggest that authors start by investigating the free or low-cost services with good reputations in the self-pub community: Createspace, IngramSpark, and Lulu if they want to do print as well as ebooks, and Smashwords, Draft2Digital, and the direct-to-ereading-device services (Amazon's Kindle Direct Publishing, Barnes & Noble's Nook Press, and Kobo's Kobo Writing Life) if they want to do an ebook only.

I generally advise authors to avoid the Author Solutions self-publishing services (iUnverse, Xlibris, Trafford, AuthorHouse, BookTango, and the self-pub services Author Solutions runs for major publishers, including Thomas Nelson's WestBow Press and Hay House's Balboa Press), since I've received many complaints about quality, price, and high-pressure sales tactics.

Some self-publishing services claim to specialize in particular genres (such as self-help) or markets (such as the Christian market). This really isn't meaningful. Self-pub services do no targeted marketing (unless you buy it a la carte), and they all use the same distribution channels.

For information to help you comparison shop, a rundown on the benefits and challenges of self-publishing, and links to helpful resources, see Writer Beware's Self-Publishing page.

Unknown said...

Victoria, have you ever known of anyone being turned down by AM? Or am I correct in assuming they pretty much take everyone?

Sara said...

Eileen Maksym 8/5/2017 12.20 AM - Ref: Your question Whether AM has turned anyone down. Although Victoria Strauss will be able to give you a better answer than me, however, in my estimation the only time AM has turned anyone down is if their workload is too much, or more than likely is a writer had written something like a 500+ page manuscript, or someone has a heavily illustrated children's book, which will no doubt eat into their profit margins, where they may have to spend some of their own money to get the book printed and published, instead of relying solely on the writers money, which is not how it should be in the first place.

Anonymous said...

I recently had a contract from them, where they called my manuscript "a delightful story for children" that they want to "illustrate with charming stylised graphics" - which makes me wonder if it's copy/paste from another letter, considering my book is strongly centred around sex... So unless it's meant to be an inappropriate how-to illustration book for minors, I'm not completely sure how they can categorise it as that. lol.

Victoria Strauss said...

Eileen Maksym,

I have personally never heard from anyone who has been rejected by AM--which probably just reflects the emails I get, rather than anything about AM's rejection policy. AM doesn't provide any verifiable statistics about submissions, so it's really impossible to know what their rejection rate is.

However, speaking generally, a publisher that relies on author fees for income can't afford to be too picky. Even if they do reject some manuscripts (for instance, for the reasons that Sara suggests in her comment), it's probable that their rejection rate is fairly small, and their acceptance rate is much larger and much less rigorous than that of a non-vanity publisher.

Anonymous 8/07,

You are not the first author who's gotten an acceptance letter or submission invitation for the wrong book. That also should speak to Eileen's question.

BrandNewAuthor said...

I apologize for muddying the waters on Austin Macauley, but have you ever reviewed Indigo River Publishing? They are in Pensacola, Florida and pretty much do the same....will publish if you pay 40% (about $6500) before even seeing a copy of the book. Have you reviewed them before and I missed it?

Victoria Strauss said...


I've gotten several questions about Indigo River, but no complaints to date (which just means that if there are problems, no one has contacted me). Indigo River claims to offer both fee-free and paid contracts, but I strongly suspect that pay-to-play is their primary--if not their only--business. If they're like most pay-to-play publishers, the author fee isn't part of the cost; it's carefully calculated to cover not only the entire expense of publishing, but the publisher's overhead and profit as well.

Indigo River was formerly called Zander House (or Zanderhouse) Publishing. Various complaints about it and its owner, Dan Vega, can be found online.

For questions like this, you can contact me directly: beware [at]

Hennessy said...

Yep - I've also just received a juicy letter from AM and the offer of a contributory contract for an equivalent amount of $4,000. Reason - unpublished author. So what I'm hearing is that the squeaky wheels of the publishing world, with their glossy sites , etc. etc. are catching many of us who just want to make our voices heard. So, my question - who are the legit publishers that we can turn to? Can anyone offer up a list so I can keep writing for a genuine publisher without having to keep watching my back? This said, it occurs to me that there is definitely a rollicking good tale of adventure and intrigue about all this somewhere out there.

Anonymous said...

I agree, Hennessy! I got offered a deal for $6,000. Wow, what a deal.

Can you give us a list of authentic publishing houses that will NOT expect us to foot a large portion of the publishing cost? I've been told you need to get a literary agent, but so often there are posts that list new agents at different companies, but they are sometimes with these "fake" publishers.

It costs money to hire a literary agent, right? Can you help us out?

Your response would be great! Thank you!

Victoria Strauss said...

Hennessy and Anonymous 9/08,

I'm often asked for a list of "best" publishers. That's impossible to provide--not only because there are so many good publishers, but because publishers often specialize in particular markets or genres, and the best publisher for one author might be totally inappropriate for another.

It does not cost any money to hire a reputable literary agent (disreputable agents are a different story, but you don't want one of those). Like real estate agents, literary agents earn commissions on sales. Because they only earn when you do, they are highly motivated not just to sell your book, but to get the best possible deal.

One good way to find reputable publishers is to go to the bookstore or library. Getting print books into physical locations is one marker (though by no means the only one) of a professional publisher. Another way is to invest in the latest version of a good market guide, such as Writer's Market from Writer's Digest Books (in the USA) or Writers and Artists' Yearbook (in the UK). Another way: read the reviews in industry publications like Publishers Weekly or The Bookseller to see who is publishing what.

If you want to submit to an imprint of the Big 5 or to one of the larger independents, you do need a literary agent. Few large publishers' imprints are open to unagented authors, and even those that do read unagented manuscripts give them very, very low priority, and can take forever to respond--plus, the person who reads your submission probably won't be an editor with the power to make an offer to buy your book, but an assistant or an intern. It can take a long time to find an agent, but once you do s/he can significantly cut down the response time--and get your manuscript onto the desk of an editor who will pay attention to it.

If you want to look for an agent, there's an article on my personal website you may find helpful--it offers some tips about researching and querying agents, plus a technique that's designed to help exclude the questionable ones from your query list. Also see the Literary Agents page of Writer Beware, which includes general information as well as a list of cautions and warnings.

There are also plenty of reputable small presses, which don't have the promotion and distribution clout of the large houses but nevertheless can do an excellent job of publishing and selling your book. If you want to try with these, you don't need an agent--most smaller publishers are used to dealing directly with authors (though if you get a contract offer, you should certainly get qualified advice before you sign). Some advice on researching small presses, as well as links to reasonably reliable online resources to help you locate them, can be found on Writer Beware's Small Presses page.

Just a caution about small presses: you do need to be careful. Many small presses have been set up by people who know little or nothing either about publishing or running a business, and may have author-unfriendly contracts or hidden fees or a whole host of other problems, including abrupt closure without notifying authors. When Writer Beware started, most of the complaints we got were about literary agents; now they're about small presses. It is by no means impossible to find a great small press to work with. Just, careful. Don't submit to a small press without thoroughly researching it.

Hope this helps. Let me know if you have other questions.

Anonymous said...

Just got an impressive folder, 2-page letter and two contracts for my book. They were cheaper than Indigo Publishing, asking about half of what IP asked. Their fee was $3300.

I do have a question. Is it expensive to get an ISBN number? There is no mention of that, although I just briefly read their contract before checking here.

This is so disappointing....

Anonymous said...

Ps... I wasn't specif about the above post. The offer was from AM.

Norm said...

AM ran a novel writing competition with entries closing August 31st. First prize was a traditional publishing contract valued "up to" (yes) around $15AU. The winner was to be announced on their website in September. I had just finished writing my book so I thought "why not" and submitted my manuscript. It is now October and no winner has been announced. I emailed them. Unfortunately for their editorial staff, the quality of the submissions was so high that the judges are having trouble deciding upon a winner, though I had already been weeded out. However, my writing was meritorious enough to be offered a contributor contract. Today I have asked to see their proposal (waiting for a reply), but the whole process seems fishy and that's what led me to this forum. Will I do this deal? Don't think so.
Is it even legal to run a bogus competition to sucker people into submitting their work? The only reason I did it was that the bigger publishing houses take longer to respond than one month, so I thought I'd give it a shot. What's to lose? A month? How about a sackful of cash?

Unknown said...

Smashwords, a free publishing platform, also offers ISBNs for free.

Norm said...

To clarify above: $15K (Aust). Obviously I would not be interested in a $15 prize. That was a typo.

Victoria Strauss said...


AM wouldn't be the first vanity publisher to run a contest in part to draw in paying customers. Some vanity publisher-sponsored writing contests have that explicit agenda. Along with the probable lack of quality editing, distribution, and marketing (vanity publishers have little incentive to cut into the profit they realize from author fees and self-purchases by investing in high-quality services), it's another reason not to enter them.

Anonymous said...

Thanks, Victoria, for clarifying that many vanity publishers would be running contests. Why would the major publishers even bother? They get the "cream of the crop" without doing such promotions. Sad.

Norm said...

Hello Vicki,
You’re dead right about the editing service. When I realised what I was looking at re AM I decided to check out a few of their books on Amazon. Listed titles have sneak preview pages and a cursory glance gives you a very good idea about content.
The sad part here is that there was a book that I had a particular interest in. One of my readers once asked me if I had written anything on WW2 Pacific aviation with an Australian flavour (oddly enough, no, I hadn’t – that was a very specific request!) and one such e-book was available on Amazon via one of the other vanity publishers. I decided to have a look at the book with a view to recommending it to the fellow who had expressed an interest but the copy edit was woeful: words not capitalised, poor spelling, you name it. Whether the story was interesting or not I cannot say because I didn’t bother reading past the first two pages. The poor bloke who wrote that novel has not got his value for money and has lost at least one potential sale on account of it.
Other than basic layout and design (which you can do yourself), vanity publishers offer no services that you can’t get from a commercial printer. Plus, printers do not charge you for more than you are receiving. You do not get professional editing and you do not get marketing. AM and their like are doing more harm than good to the prospects of budding authors, many of whom discover too late the true purpose of those predatory companies.
P.S. I think I have a name for a shonky character in my next novel: Austin McOrley. lol

Anonymous said...

I know someone who just announced that AM has published his book. I know for a fact that he is not a good writer and not an original thinker. We worked together for years and he used to cut and paste pretty much everything and reuse old stuff in new contexts. When he told me he was writing a book, I remember feeling very worried that he would end up plagiarizing -- not necessarily intentionally but just out of a long bad habit and laziness. My question: do you think AM would run the text through a plagiarism filter before publishing or do they just depend on the author for this?

Anonymous said...

After reading all these comments I realise I have been one of the authours that has screwed as well. I tried to query the amount of royalty I recieved,10.80, knowing there were alot more of my books sold.

What I would like to know is, how can I get out of the contract? Do I need to pay for a solicitor?Or can someone give me help? I don't really need to spend more money if I can. I have already lost enough. Cheers.

Mitchell said...

This site is truly valuable, and I thank everyone for their comments and Victoria for her clarifications. You've all saved me a great deal of angst and a lot of dough.

AM emailed me late in the summer (2017) asking why I hadn't responded to their "earlier email" (? which I cannot find and never saw if/when it did arrive) asking about a manuscript of mine which I self-published a couple years ago. This in itself was baffling. I answered to say as much; they then wrote a poorly composed request with surprisingly bad usage and grammar, asking for the first part of my ms, which I sent off. Subsequent request for the entire shebang. Which I sent them. I admit: I was very flattered although still mystified. I did some research and found out exactly what other people were alarmed about.

6 weeks later I received The AM Contract. Since I had done some homework, I had been forewarned by far too many negative reports. I'm about to politely turn their offer down. Incidentally, their authors' "participatory" payment scale has risen to disturbing heights: 4500 pounds? I'm trying to survive on far fewer US/$$s, when one does the exchange rate. Even if I had decided to ignore the perilous seduction presented to an "unknown author" such as I, I couldn't in a thousand years afford to send them their tithe.

I've spent decades working in the publishing biz as an illustrator, and have met countless authors and editors. The companies I worked for never asked for such donations and you've certainly clarified why. Again, many thanks!

Victoria Strauss said...

Anonymous 11/13,

You asked how to get out of your publishing contract. For life-of-copyright contracts like those offered by AM, this is a tough question. I do have some suggestions, all of which are worth trying, but none of which, unfortunately, offer any guarantees; you can find them in my blog post, Getting Out of Your Book Contract (Maybe). Best of luck.

Anonymous writer said...

Authors should not waste time, effort and money with these folks called Austin Macauley which poses as publishers. They don't have book markets apart from placing a few copies on Amazon which no one buys.

Anonymous said...

I agree with your comment, Anonymous writer. Austin Macauley is just another sham. They want you to think they've chosen your book to publish, but oh, wait, can you cough up several thousand dollars? NO WAY!!!

Unknown said...

I am so very grateful to find this today. I just received a "Publishing Contract" from Austin Macauley and was quite excited until I carefully read it. In the mid-nineties I had two novels published by the very reputable and marvelous Serpents Tail, London. AM says because that was decades ago they were able to offer me only a "contributory contract." I almost fell for it! Then I googled them and found your brilliant, carefully written and very informative site. Thanks to you, I just e-mailed them a "no thank you".

Laura Snyder said...

I did what research I could for AM before I sent my work in (I thought). Of course this site came up only after I was offered a contributory contract and googled its meaning. I am a published freelance writer with two dozen articles to serve as platform and still was asked to pay $3,100.00.
Another red flag was the clause of Author's Responsibility which pretty much said I agree not to say or write anything that would adversely affect the promotion of my work (duh, who would?), or that of the publisher or any of its employees or reps, prior to, during or after the production of my work (warning, warning, warning!!)
I am so disappointed that this company is a wolf in sheep's clothing. Thanks for the info.

Anonymous said...

Silvia, I couldn't help shaking my head "yes" when I read your post. That's exactly how it was for me as far as after reading the full contract, I saw they wanted $3,000 from me and restrictions.

Laura, I tried to research some of the publishers, but it's almost impossible when you get an email that says "These Publishing Houses are Accepting Manuscripts." I just jumped on those that my book fell into the genre they wanted. Now I have decided to give it a rest for a while, maybe never do any more. I liked the type of writing I did; I don't want to do erotica, lesbian, gay, etc. or murder mysteries. I am what I am, and this incident has taught me (and others that read this) that you have to watch your back or it will get stabbed by these publishers!

Unknown said...

Dear "Anonymous"! I think we are all pretty much in the same ballpark -- they wanted $3,100 from me. It never occurred to me to do any research. They were so forthright about saying they accepted manuscripts without an agent. Not a mention, not a hint, was made of being a vanity publisher. So, really, in retrospect, they were deceitful from the start. However, please, whatever you do, never give up your writing. For one thing, it is a remarkable outlet for emotions that have no place else to go. So keep writing and stay positive. I was blessed in the mid-90's to have a great agent who succeeded in getting my first two novels published in London. He has passed away. I will keep looking for an agent who is interested in literary fiction. All the best . . .

Anonymous said...

Silvia, thank you so much for your comments. I feel I have put my heart and soul into this book, yet it seems like crime, science fiction, fantasy are all much more in demand than a story about a woman who overcomes depression and the male-dominated business world. For the meantime, I will leave my manuscript as it is: "too long for paperback publication." (Another thing I didn't know until the first con artist responded favorably to it. I may return to it in the future, but it seems quite hopeless these days. I know those are not positive words, but that is the way I feel now. Thank you again for your message.

Victoria Strauss said...

Silvia, Laura, and Anonymous, thanks for your comments. I'm glad you found my post.

Anonymous, what's your actual word count? Publishers do have preferred word counts for different genres, but not for formats such as paperback or hardcover.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for posting this I just received a shady contract from AM that tried to make me pay 2700 pounds because I’m an unknown author. Crooks it’s real!!!

Unknown said...

My actual word count is 57,640 words. My first two novels published in London were roughly the same -- between 55,000 and 60,000 words. I want to add one thing here that may be helpful to others. After I read and reviewed the AM publishing contract, I did write and acknowledge it and say I was not interested. They responded asking why. I told them I was not interested in any "contributory contract." They responded and said they would delete my manuscript from their database. I think it's important for everyone to let them know your intent so they can delete anything of yours if that is your wish. Good luck to all!

Anonymous said...

Victoria, I believe it is around 400 pages, although I have been going through it periodically and cutting portions to make it acceptable.

Victoria Strauss said...

AM's acceptance letters are largely cut-and-paste (I've seen a number of them). They vary mostly in the rationale for offering a "contributory" contract. If you're a new writer, it's because new writers are a risk. If you have publishing credits, it's because they are old, or not similar enough, or some other reason. The point is that nearly everyone gets asked for money, and the rationale for why, in any individual case, is just window dressing.


Publishers consider manuscript length by word count, not page count (since page count can vary a lot depending on how you format the pages and what font you use). Speaking very generally, and also depending on the publisher and the genre (for example, YA books are often shorter, while speculative fiction has more tolerance for longer lengths), the sweet spot is somewhere between 80,000 and 120,000 words.

Anonymous said...

Silvia, I did not tell them to delete my manuscript, but I would assume that they would only because they deemed it a discarded deal. Maybe I should's been a long time, I wonder if it would be worth emailing them.

Victoria, at least 2 of the publishers that wanted me to pay for printing said 400 words was absolutely too large, to cut it back. I assumed that the general standard for paperback was less, as one company said 400 words translated into about 900 pages, and no paperback is that large.

Victoria Strauss said...

You don't need to tell them to delete your manuscript. If they offered you a "contributory" contract, they aren't interested in you unless you hand over the cash.

There is no way a publisher can judge manuscript length from page count. Is it single-spaced? Double-spaced? Big margins? Small margins? Big font? Small font? Depending on these factors, 400 manuscript pages could boil down to 200 printed pages (which most certainly is NOT too long) or bulk up to 800 pages (which, for most new authors, is indeed too long). That's why real publishers ask for word count, not page count. Also, in terms of preferred length, there's no difference between paperback and hardcover.

Publishers that take author fees make most of their profit from the fees (rather than from book sales to the public), so they have a vested interest in shorter books, which cost less to print (especially if they're using print-on-demand technology, which is a more expensive printing process). That's why they told you to shorten your manuscript--not because of any issues of quality or reader preference. Pay-to-play publishers' decisions on what to publish are based entirely on profit calculations, not on literary or commercial merit.

Anonymous said...

I just pulled up the manuscript (before editing out a lot) and it is 148,117 words, 392 pages in a Word doc, double spaced, Times New Roman size 12. I believe the margins are 1 inch.

I've considered printing it through the Amazon option, but I just feel that if publishers don't want my work, why spend the money?

Sara said...

Interestingly, it would seem Austin Macauley's reviews on Google have dropped from 4.5 stars to 4.1 stars, with writers only giving them 1 stars out of five. Nevertheless, 4.1 out of 5 stars is still a good rating for AM, despite the recent negative publicity it has received.

However, I fail to see why authors who have had to pay such hefty fees are giving these so-called 'publishers' such a good appraisal, perhaps, because they have paid a lot of money they might feel they have no other choice but to 'sing the praises of AM,' or were not interested in making money from their writing, and only wanted to give copies of their books to family and friends, as nothing about book sales are mentioned.

Last year Harry Bingham asked AM how much money do authors earn in back in book sales/royalties, though he didn't ask for names of individual writers. Instead of AM giving Harry Bingham a straightforward answer, they were 'hedging,' (being evasive) using the excuse that they couldn't disclose such information, more or less saying it would breach the confidentiality of their authors. How? AM are not doctors and their authors are not patients with illnesses.

Have authors who have paid AM made back anything in royalties?

Unknown said...

Thank you so much for this! I found it just in the perfect time. I was actually referred to AM by a personal source and they were somewhat appalled when they found out I was being asked for a Contributory Contract. Since I am a new author, the "untried author" part made sense. So, I started searching and found this! So many similarities! I will be interested to see their response since I just sent my email regarding my decision.

I would be interested to find out how the published authors did regarding their success through AM.

Victoria R. said...

I also received a contribution contract and instantly discarded it. Money flows to us as authors and not away from us. Also check out the other rights your give up at the end of the contract like film rights, audio rights, and others. No thanks, AM!

Unknown said...

Update. Austin Macauley sucks. Terrible business practices with no remorse whatsoever. They’re making a ton of money off of dreams of aspiring authors. It’s mad. Additionally, my book was released in December...& buyers STILL can’t even purchase it because AM hasn’t worked out their distribution kinks. I’ve had supporters complain they still haven’t received the books they purchased nearly a month ago. Complete and utter bullshit. They give you the run around and avoid you once they’ve screwed up.

Unknown said...

To D.M. Williams. I am sorry to hear this. I read all the reviews and avoided getting involved but I am still sympathetic for anyone who did. However, maybe they will work out the kinks and your work will be properly distributed. Have you been satisfied with the way they worked with you otherwise? Were they respectful of your work and your words? Have you seen the final product and are you happy with the way it looks? Please keep us informed and let us know what happens. Best of luck.

Matt Nolan said...

Just received a letter asking for the final manuscript. Although it was after I sent the copy of the manuscript via email I am sooo happy I took the time and read these horror stories and terrible reviews!!

Anonymous writer said...

Rogue Vanity press Austin Macauley is not to be trusted. They are remorseless crooks. No one really knows where they are. Its owners are said to be in Cambridgeshire but their shady scamming business operates from a virtual office in London. No one should fear their threats of their legal action in reaction to unfavourable observations about the rogue vanity press. A legal action against someone would expose them more and perhaps with great negative consequences to themselves. As Miriam Grace of Melbourne in Australia who lost a great deal of money to the rogues describes says, they are crooks, thieves and liars.

Anonymous said...


I have just sent a signed contract to these guys, but am having serious doubts about them. Even more so after reading some of the above.
Is there anything I can do?

Unknown said...

Thank you. I just got a contribution contract from AM for a children’s book I wrote. Telling me it was good & should be published but as a new writer they couldn’t take a chance however if I would pay an advance of £2700 they would publish it & have it illustrated. You reinforced my gut feeling that this was a scam. Rhonda

Anonymous said...

I received a publishing offer recently (I sent my manuscript to everyone). My spidey sense tingled firstly when they used words like "...alongside other famous publications." "...have a chance within the hugely competitive children's book market.". I come from a marketing background, I know catch and reel phrases. Why are they trying to sell me on publishing my own book? Fishy.
Secondly, the fact that they were already on the ball and stated they were happy to arrange a payment plan for the shocking author contribution amount (4500GBP). ie we'll take your money in whatever way you want, just give it over.
Thirdly, the fact that they have limited the number of graphics (twelve) to be produced by their graphics department. The fact that they weren't using illustrators was fishy.
Thirdly, the royalties are 25%? That's WELL above industry standard. In what world would they offer this, unless they had nothing left to lose, ie had already made their money elsewhere? Not only that, there was no mention of the number of books they would print.
And finally, they had no interest in contacting me any other way. They just sent through a contract! No 'let's meet/Skype/coffee and discuss your book'. Hey random stranger here's a binding contract. Hmmmmm....

A publisher takes responsibility for the financial risk of publishing your book - that's their job. It's literally what they do. That's why they pay editors to sift through and pick the ones they believe will sell. Moreover, it's their job to market and sell your book to make their money, not to ask you for your manuscript and your cash. No legit publisher would EVER ask the author for money, under any circumstances, do not agree to any that do.

Needless to say I didn't sign.

Unknown said...

dear Anonymous, thanks for sharing your story -- your marketing background makes it particularly powerful.

What I found most unsettling was that they sent an actual CONTRACT! Most writers would be so honored by that gesture that they would sign on the dotted line without question. I've had two novels published and had a wonderful agent so I knew a little better. I didn't sign a thing and sent them an e-mail saying I wasn't interested but thank you very much.

As you say, and it is something we must all remember, "no legit publisher would EVER ask the author for money under any circumstances

Good luck!

Anonymous said...

Well said, Anonymous! It's a shame there are so many publishers that are happy to take authors' money and not live up to their promises..

Anonymous said...

Although I haven`t signed AM`s contract [ and nor will I] I am concerned that they may seek to use my already sent manuscript.

Should I ask [ can I] for my manuscript back or ask that they delete it. Or can they do whatever they want with it?

Are my concerns misplaced?

Victoria Strauss said...

Anonymous 3/02,

If you were offered a contract with a fee, the fee is AM's interest in you. It has no incentive to publish unless you pay. In addition, even vanity publishers will be reluctant to risk the kind of bad publicity and legal action that can result from copyright theft. Ask them to delete your manuscript if it makes you feel more comfortable, but you really don't need to worry.

Unknown said...

I too was sent a contract after my initial interest in AM. Once I read the contract, I got jittery and wrote to them that I was not interested. I also requested they delete my manuscript. As Victoria stated, it probably isn't necessary but it made me feel better! I agree they have no incentive to publish without a fee, but I don't like the possibility, however slim, of my manuscript hanging around the database of someone I don't trust

Anonymous said...

I just sent my manuscript to AM 4 weeks ago. I got an email reply that said it would take that 3 weeks for them to respond. I'm still waiting. I am glad I found this blog as to what they are. I doubt I will be working with them based on what I read here.

Anonymous said...

Hi, Anonymous. I'm one who got a packet from them, offering me a publishing deal. The contract was about 12 pages in length or so. Took a while before I got to the part that said how much I had to pay, so I'm probably one who inquired early on this thread.

It's so sad that good writers can't get published unless they get lucky by getting an agent or finding the "right company." I've probably sent 40 inquiries out for my book and then stumbled on this site. I'm thankful I did.

Amazon and some other companies are getting into self publishing now, and I believe it might have been close to or less to publish through Amazon than AM. I have stopped trying to find a publisher for now....I can only put myself out there so many times and get rejected or ignored....

Best of luck to you!

Anonymous said...

Great article. I too received a cut&paste style "we love your book and want to offer you a contribution based contract". Here's my reply with a smattering of their own cut&paste interjected. Please feel free to use it : )

I wish to thank you for the letter I received dated ...........
While I am certain that your accounts department would be very helpful in arranging payment instalments for a contribution based contract, I am unable to ascertain the commercial success of your publishing house beyond that of a portal for vanity publishing.
After careful consideration I have decided to continue my quest for a publishing house that is willing to offer a traditional mainstream publishing deal. Nevertheless I appreciate the time and effort you have afforded me.
Yours sincerely,

David Graham said...

I've had two books published by AM with non-contributory contracts. I even received a small advance for each. I found the production department genuinely nice to deal with and the end products were good. AM churns out hundreds of titles a year, so whether a book sinks or swims is largely up to the effort an author puts into promoting it. Their marketing department does a bit, but, again, you're just one of hundreds on their list. I'd like to be able to report amazing sales, but the fact is, I'm crap at self-promotion, and AM ended up remaindering /de-publishing the books after just two years. It felt as if I was being punished for poor sales, but at least it gave me the option of revising and re(self)-publishing. And I do appreciate that they took a punt with my work. Personally, I think they should move their non-contributory output to a different imprint to make a clean break from the stigma of being considered a vanity publisher.

salieri said...

David Graham,

Your post is somewhat mystifying, not because you are one of the rarest people on the planet - the elite handful actually offered an advance by Austin Macauley (twice, forsooth) - but because you seem to be blaming yourself for failure to promote your own work(s). AM's standard contractual terms promise explicitly to undertake promotion on the author's behalf: it is actually the only commitment they do make, apart from providing a few author's copies, and one of the concerns raised on this blog was that this commitment might actually be meaningless and in any event subject to an arbitrary remaindering clause. It's therefore comforting to have your confirmation.

David Graham said...


To say that AM's commitment to marketing "might actually be meaningless" is a little harsh. They did arrange some book signings and they did elicit some local media interest for both books. What they weren't able to do is to get the books into major bookstores or attract influential reviews, but that's true for other independent publishers who lack the clout of the 'Big Five'. However, I do find it strange that AM chose to remainder the books after just two years.

salieri said...


Thank you for taking the trouble to respond. My point was that AM's promise to promote might be - is, actually - legally meaningless since it is unenforceable: they have total discretion over the nature and extent of their marketing, and above all whether this includes getting a book on anyone's shelf. Your experience is especially valuable as it shows what AM were (and were not) prepared to do for an author they considered worth backing financially, and on whom they nevertheless pulled the plug, again at their discretion. What hope can there be, therefore, for those who are expected to pay them in return for no meaningful commitment at all?

I hope that writers who are thinking of signing up with AM will consider your remarks carefully: what you call "the stigma of being considered a vanity publisher" seems to me to be thoroughly deserved.

Anonymous said...

There are many of us who just had royalty statements for 2017. In summary - zero profosseional copy editing, cover design failed entirely and marketing is non existant. Beware what you are paying for.

David Graham said...


AM's copy editing is certainly on the 'light' side, but it's hardly "zero profosseional (sic)". I think most publishers no longer rely on one single major content edit done in house and expect the author to deliver a polished manuscript that's already had several rounds of editing at his or her expense. I see that as much part of the writing process as commissioning beta reads. As to cover design, this has to be a two-way process and AM's efforts with my books were as I'd expect from any publisher. They certainly didn't shriek of anything substandard that doomed the books to failure.

Unknown said...

I also received a "contributory" offer from AM and, after reading all of this, will not be returning it to them. We writers need to stick together! It seems rather insulting, after hundreds of hours being poured into our labours of love, to be asked to pay for the privilege of making our work available to the public. While thrilling to receive any offer at all, this is one I will have to pass on after being warned by others. The only thing I will say in defense of AM is that they obviously did read my novel, at least in part, for their "offer" did include a compliment regarding it that could not have been ascertained merely by reading the short opening "pitch" for my book. Other than that, it's sad that so many here have been seemingly raped over something as intimately important, dear and personal as their life's work.

Unknown said...

Starting back on December 17th, I have commented three times about my personal experience with AM along with offering feedback on comments from others. But now I want to say that I find the dialogue on here not only gracious and honest but also spirited. This is the kind of discourse I have been looking for in other groups but rarely see. Sharing our collective experiences has been most refreshing, and as Debi Monroe says, "we writers need to stick together". There is room for everyone in the literary world. We all have something to contribute, so no need for envy, back-biting, or failing to share good tips and helpful links.

Anonymous said...

Well said, Debi Monroe! We deserve better treatment for our hours and hours of pouring our hearts out!

Anonymous said...

SIlvia10014, I totally agree with you. We need to stick together and look out for each other.

Unknown said...

I signed a contract with them and have experienced one of the most frustrating, disappointed years of my life. There is a revolving door of marketing staff. I've had more than 6 people assigned to my book, none of whom fulfilled the promises of effective marketing.

Do not believe the glowing promised of representing your book. It simply didn't happen for me. Save your money and find another way to publish.

Anonymous said...

Attire, I feel so badly for you and the many other new authors that have so much to offer. I think I will pursue self publishing.or look into it more deeply.

Anonymous said...

Oh no! But can you suggest some 'new writer' friendly publishers of textbooks? I am used to big names and big names won't accept a new writer. I want to start someone, yet don't want a suspicious publisher.

Anonymous said...

Some big big publishers have imprints which may not require reaching them via agents.

There many publishers given online. Choose your genre and google every publisher before you contact them. Send packing any vanity press suggesting you pay them money to publish you.

It is true that vanity press strives on trust of innocent authors. They have no scruples and they celebrate when they bamboozle people.

Anonymous said...

To hell with vanity press. It is that simple.

Anonymous said...

Difficult to understand that responsible governments particularly in the West aren't doing anything to protect their citizens from companies with apparently dubious business practices like VANITY PRESSES.

Austin Macauley appears to be on verge of I don't know what. Collapse or death pangs with it recently claiming to be THE FASTEST GROWING PUBLISHER or to be A TRADITIONAL publisher.

My reading of its claims seems to suggest that the company may be finding it more and more difficult to find authors to "deceive" as more and more authors get educated through Google and other channels about the risks vanity publishers like AM present to them.

Or are those AM's claims meant to attract customers? Doubtful whether AM is the fastest growing publisher. And a Traditional publisher and no longer hybrid? If so, wish them good luck.

Anonymous said...

Dear Victoria Strauss,

I saw somewhere Austin Macauley, so-called publishers, trying to counter your great effort aimed at enlightening authors about the risks the likes of AM may pose to authors, particularly to new authors who are easy to hoodwink and deceive and make them part with their moneys for a shoddy printing job, not publishing as such.

I suppose it is the barking of a desperate whiner who feels uncomfortable because he is been exposed. It is not for nothing that the Online is replete with unfavorable reviews about AM and other vanity printers, let me not call them PUBLISHERS, FOR PUBLISHERS THEY ARE NOT.

You can imagine how many authors you have helped from falling into the traps of unscrupulous self-styled publishers who are not publishers but actually something else who may have made millions of Pounds or Dollars for no profits to the authors who put in their time, talent and money.

As for others who wake after apparently being scammed, well, it is never too late for them to wake up and see vanity presses for what they really are and not entertain AM and others vanity presses like it in future.

Apart from saying that the outfit was established in 2006, AM, unlike other true publishers, do not say the name of the person or persons who established it. It states that it is in Cambridgeshire, England, but it never gives its Cambridgeshire address.

You are our heroine. You have done a wonderful job.

Anonymous said...






Anonymous said...

A company LIKE AUSTIN MACAULEY apparently relying on fabricating false reviews to bamboozle authors with the aim of swindling them can't prosper and become THE FASTEST GROWING IN THE WORLD of book publishing. Such childish dishonesty, lying and stupid nonsense are aimed at deceiving authors to give it their monies. The only business Austin Macauley appears to be engaged in seems to be getting monies from authors and not work for it by selling bookselling whose profits may benefit authors.

It seems to be a harmful Vanity press up to no good to themselves and authors. I don't even believe that they are able to deceive more than 5% of people reaching out to them. With so much against them online, AM are doomed to die an inglorious death which will be their own fault.

Anonymous said...

I hope you are right about what you predict will happen, but I have my doubts only because there are so many people trying to get published that they may not be aware of sites like this.

Anonymous said...

Thank you, anonymous. Your remark is right on the mark. It takes more than reading for people to awaken from scammers and thieves of the vanity presses. As soon as authors have finished their manuscripts, they want it published and, by bad luck, they sometimes run into Vanity presses they trust without realizing that they are up to no good. When they realize what their nature is, that they wasted time, talent and money on stealthy robbers without violence,they have been conned and it is too late. But once their dragon is awakened, the robber barons of the vanity presses can no longer deceive them but what the deceived can do can do is curse the robbers and wish them hell for their criminal behavior.

There are those who are stingy with their monies and will not let it go to criminal adventurers.

There are those who are suspicious, seeing no fish in the scammers's nets and the scammers go empty-handed with their finances not growing because they are no engaged in a real business to get money by dint on hard work. Finances based on thieving can not prosper.

There are those who know that authors are supposed to get monies for their works and refuse to the disguised robbers.

There are those who are aware of sites like this one and will not be deceived.


Anonymous said...

There is a plethora of webs that have mushroomed about AUSTIN MACAULEY in which scribblers (damn them!) have nothing good to say about this glorious self-styled group, except in those AM has built to present itself as a nobler than thou company, doing a lot of good to lepers. It is interesting that in its reviews, it only talks about the satisfaction of its authors with the printing job it does for them but never ever refers to monetary gains for the authors. Is there something wrong with this?

How many authors have become millionaires and international celebrities from publishing with and sales of their books by AM?

How many authors live on proceeds from the sales of their books by AM?

Anonymous said...

Hmmmm. I don't think you get it. We are all hoping to GET published. I don't care how much money this company has made in the past off authors; we're saying that they are now trying to squeeze us for money to print that I'll bet most of those wildly popular authors never had to pay.

Anonymous said...

Dear AM Submissions
Thank you once again for getting back to me.
My confusion lies in that if someone from your board of editors has genuinely read my book and I have had such positive feedback, why would you not offer me a traditional publishing contract? It was even stated by your company that my story has the potential to be received well by a large audience, so why then would you not take a chance just because I am a new author, everyone has to start somewhere? AMP is after all a publishing company, your main objective is to review the manuscripts sent and be able to determine the ones which should be received well vs the ones which may not.
Furthermore you send me a contract to sign without any communication in between, which is a little unusual for a business practice. I am an Estate Agent and I deal with contracts all the time, there is a lot that happens communication-wise before sending my clients contracts to be signed- like building trust and a working relationship.
And then the content of the contract is almost insulting. You want me to fork out a massive R50 000 to have my book published and this is what you call the partnership rate!!!!! I can have my own book self-published, maintain all the rights and get full royalties for a third of that price. You are asking me to pay an exorbitant fee, cede my rights over to you for my book which I have been working on for almost 5 years and then wait 292 days before I so much even receive the first edit.
Please tell me if you were in my shoes would that sound like a great option to you?
The most confusion lies in the fact that you assure me the manuscripts are read, because if AMP actually manages to hook some unsuspecting, naive, new authors from your point of view why would you give a hoot what they have written. Surely you would sign them up as soon as possible, you could always edit the crap out of their manuscripts afterwards. You have after all included in your contract that AMP are entitled to edit the manuscripts to their discretion. And there is no proof that you actually ever really get them out to bookstores, especially in my case I am in another country.
I guess I now have had my experience with a Vanity publisher and it was rather scary- I feel conned- Please delete my manuscript from your system.

Anonymous said...

Let us get it right. Austin Macauley are anything but publishers. So, authors shouldn't waste their time on these guys. Avoid them like the plague and you will not live to regret anything.

Natureslammer said...

Having read some of the warnings on this site, I distinctly wrote AM, saying very clearly that I would never contribute anything toward the publication of my book. They agreed, and --lo and behold -- a few weeks later, they proposed a contract whereby I had to contribute right out of the gate. That was the exact experience of some writer on this page, so I was prepared. Thank you, people of this site, for the warning ; thank you for a most welcome heads-up. All the blessings of the universe upon you. If you know how to use it, the Web is the voice of a Benevolent God.

Natureslammer said...

Furthermore, I would recommend all who believe in Vanity Press to ask yourselves why it is called Vanity in the first place, and then read La Fontaine's The Crow and the Fox.

Anonymous said...

Dear Alexandro Larossa,

Great! Yours was an extraordinary feat, fooling this terrible Vanity Press AM at its own game of apparent master deceiver. These guys do not realize that once people become aware of their devious nature, they can no longer fool them.

Slowly but surely, the AM vanity press is killing itself with its apparently dishonest game.

One thing though you took for granted was that everyone knows Jean de Lafontaine's fable of the The Crow and the Fox in which the fox, wanting the cheese in the beak of the Crow perched on the branch of a tree, flattered it to distract it, making its beak loose control of the cheese which fell down and the fox got and ran away with it.

The moral lesson of the fable is at the end: "The misfortune of some is the good luck of others" (my translation of the French phrase).

Only that the poor Austin Macauleyans were not foxy enough and they can't be foxy enough all the time; they acted rather foolishly in thinking that you had forgotten that you had written them to say that you would not pay them any monies. You the crow did not loose you cheese. Great for you.

Good lesson to the the AM Vanity press and other vanity presses like it.

Jean de Lafontaine, Fables de Lafontaine -- he was the fabulist during Louis XIV reign in France. Most of his fables attacked the ruling class and its gross stupidity. King Louis XIV did not like him but tolerated him.

Natureslammer said...

Victoria Strauss said : "Reputable publishers invest their own resources (rather than yours) in the publishing process, and therefore need to sell books in order to recoup that investment and make a profit."

And THAT'S what it's all about. That's the entire publishing process in a nutshell.

Anonymous said...

This is a wonderful website about Austin Macauley, so-called and self-styled publishers. A whole universe has been said about its apparent nature and rivers of ink have become streams on paper about the Vanity Press, which prefers to describe itself as a hybrid publisher because the term Vanity is as bad as being called LEPER or TERRORIST nowadays.

Leper or terrorist, no way! AM is nobler than that. Hybrid, gosh no! And what is hybrid, anyway? Does anybody want to believe than the Vanity press puts some money of its own, it apparently does not because it is not a money-making business but a money-grabbing-from-the-poor authors' enterprise.

It is, therefore, strictly a VANITY PRESS -- no more no less.

So, authors, you know that if you send them your money, you are losing it as you will never get anything in return from it. AM like any other vanity press will not feel sorry for taking your money from you. It will want to hook you in to be writing for it and keep you paying them. You can wait for the royalties it promises you, and you will never sees the checks coming.

Google "Austin Macauley reviews," you will find tons of websites which damn it and for a reason.

Natureslammer said...

Dear Anonymous : thanks for your encouragement and congratulations. As for the fable, I didn’t bother explaining it because I figured that most people who hadn’t heard of it and were yet interested would simply Google it. As for the moral, that’s a terrible translation. Here is La Fontaine’s beautifully rhymed French original, and my humble “currente calamo” translation which, you will see, is much more apposite to our case :

-- Le Renard s'en saisit, et dit : Mon bon Monsieur,
Apprenez que tout flatteur
Vit aux dépens de celui qui l'écoute,
Cette leçon vaut bien un fromage sans doute.

(The fox seized it (the cheese) and said, „My good Sir
Learn that every flatterer lives from anyone who will listen to him,
this lesson is well worth the cheese.“)

As for our foxy friends, you must admit that they sure know their crows. They wrote back to me after I posted here and denied that they were a Vanity Press ; that the market being as tight as it was, they forcefully and regrettably needed writer contributions ; and that, though they outright turned down many other fine writers, contributions notwithstanding, they had thought that my work was quite outstading, something really worth getting behind (the fox talking) and that it was a shame that I wasn’t willing to shell out some of my cheese in order to have the entire forest hear my enchanting voice.

Anonymous said...

After having a horrible day at work, I come home to find a big flashy crisp white envelope from NY on my kitchen counter. As pieces of paper flew, I couldn't believe my eyes. AM wanted to publish me. Me! I smiled. I laughed. I even sung a little song. (Okay...It was an exceptionally bad day at work.) Singing aside, I rushed through the contract, happiness pouring out of me...until I found a very peculiar "contributory" clause stating the AUTHOR had to pay the PUBLISHER. $3K??? I could afford it. Sure. But that's a lot of money. You know how many movies I could see for that much dinero? But as pathetic as it is to admit, for one small horrible second, I actually considered signing it. I mean, a new hopeful writer sending off her manuscript like the world was ending, finally hearing back from a real publisher who actually wanted to publish HER work? It was like the heavens opened up, and THEY finally saw me. But as I read through the first chapter of what I sent AM, it was...garbage. I found myself editing most of the first page. Grammar errors and repetition. Basically, all the stuff you should catch before sending it out for serious consideration. I've rewritten it since then, but my newest book is a big step up. But all in all, I just want to say, THANK YOU. Finding this thread saved me from making a massive mistake. I'm no great writer, and I have a lot of work ahead of me as I edit this new book for the umpteenth time, but I'd rather spend another year looking for a literary agent than pay a few grand for a big empty promise. I hope everyone who receives that shiny publisher's contract, finds a site like this before they make a mistake that could cost them both time and money.

Thanks again!!! :)

Anonymous said...

Yet another setback for the AM Vanity press. Some people are lucky to find a site like this one or from googling names of publishers. There will be more than one warning against any of the robber baron vanity presses."

Some people are fated to believe in the pledges and promises of the Vanity Press even after reading a site like this one, but they later discover that they goofed, and goofed terribly. Then sadness strikes them a full blow on the face, but by then the fox will have run with their cheese. It is only then that they vow never ever to deal with vanity presses, as they are essentially deceitful, if not outright reprehensible.

Authors, Vanity presses, which by definition are anyone asking for payment to allegedly publish you like, are not your friends. They are your undoing because what they do wastes your time and insults your talent besides taking your money for returns you will never ever see or receive from them. Your money is how they make their money and profits and not from having your books for sales in bookstores which will not stock their badly done printed stuff.

Shun and keep away from them like the plague. Like I have a story out there, revising another one to go out and I have to revise and rewrite an earlier one, but none of them will ever go to any pay-to-play vanity publisher, even if I had the money. I would rather use that money to buy myself good food and beer...

Anonymous said...

Dear Anonymous,

Interesting what you said about that prompt acceptance of your error-ridden first manuscript by AM. It comes to prove the claim made by one of AM former employee that when AM receives manuscripts (in Google Glassdoor), it does not read them. It keeps them somewhere for sometime before sending their letters of acceptance praising the works so as to ask for money, the so-called contributions. It follows that those manuscripts whose authors don't agree to pay are discarded and the few whose authors agree to pay are kept for apparently printing a few copies, some of which are sent to the authors to make them believe that their works have really been published.

I agree with your that writing itself, as I have discovered is never a difficult job. The real hard work is when it comes to revising and rewriting. Repetitious passages and words have to be removed, unnecessary verbiage obliterated, typos corrected and details added to give depth to the language, style, theme(s), subjects and the general outlook of the story.

Even so, in the end there are no manuscripts going to publishers that are completely error-free. That explains why publishers edit and proofread the manuscripts over and over again.

Despite this, not all mistakes are caught and purged. One finds occasional small mistakes even in works that have been published by Penguin.

Just forget AM and get your story out to serious publishers. It may take a long time before you hear from traditional publishers.

Thomas said...

Something to mull over is the pages with reviews - there are a lot of 1 star reviews and 5 star reviews - little in the way of 2, 3 and 4s. AM always reply to the 5 stars and I will propose this - to counteract the negativity AM are posting fake reviews on fake profiles. Just a thought

Anonymous said...

Dear Thomas,

I have the impression that the 1-star reviews, which are somehow critical of the Vanity Press are perhaps genuine from individuals who decry its modus operandi. It is also possible that some of them are posted by the Austin Macauley Vanity Press itself in an attempt to show that it tolerates criticism. The truth is that a seemingly obscure organization with an apparently secretive modus operandi can't be open and pro-freedom about itself."

Those 5-star reviews AM welcomes and praises by commenting on them seem to be fake; and, as you say, are an attempt at countering the global negative reaction it draws to itself.

It is also meant as propaganda tool to draw authors to do business with it. It is curious that the reviews never ever refer to book sales and benefits to authors.

What with this site having received over 15,000,000 visitors and counting, the Vanity Press appears to have every reason to celebrate ... It is resilient. It is a fighter for its cause it deems glorious and who sees nothing wrong with himself, despite the fact that elsewhere some unkind people have placed it in the list of FIVE THUMBS DOWN PUBLISHERS. That is not nice, but I also believe it is part of our democratic world.

Anonymous said...

Denying being vanity press as AM apparently does is a bad thing. You are a vanity press, a vanity press, a vanity press, spare us the claim of you being Hybrid, because you ask for money from authors who write to make money and you take the little they have with no guarantee that you will make money for them from their works since you have next to no sale markets.

Anonymous said...

It appears that Austin Macauley is feeling the pitch of criticism and is reacting with quite some virulence with kicks on everybody-friend or foe-and on itself.

Someone in poorly written English on one of its various Facebook sites says that he/she is pleased working at AM which is doing a good job and attacked those of its employees, former or present, who deplore it in Google/Glassdoor and for writing as Anonymous.

Perhaps the reviewer forgot that he/she is also writing anonymously, as some former employee says, AM gives false names after recruiting new employees. Pseudonyms are another of people identifying themselves as ANONYMOUS. If AM uses pseudonyms, why does it decry others for writing as Anonymous or for using pseudonyms?

I thought that the AM defender was trying to hit this website and others where in order to protect themselves from AM, reviewers of AM do not identify themselves b their own names and write Anonymous.

The writer vows that AM will stay the course as a pay to play publisher or a VANITY press and will not change, no matter what.

The AM employee ridicules those who criticize it for being in Cambridgeshire for which it provides no address for that place and yet he/she does not provide one and denies that its London Office is not a Virtual Office where AM just go to collect mail and there may be someone who answers calls for AM, who may not necessarily be its employee.

The employee categorically states that it is a real office with AM staff in it during the office hours. People who dropped there to investigate the matter say that it is a VIRTUAL OFFICE no more no less. And someone even says that no one answers calls made to the number AM provides.

The employee bashes SFWA (Science Fiction Writers of America) for what he/she alleges to be its unfair criticism of AM.

He/she also attacks authors who claim that AM does a poor job and that they accrue no benefits as writers from it.

Good to see AM alive and kicking, but it does not convince me that it is a publisher that I should take seriously. I will keep or even destroy my stories if I don't find publishers than wasting them with a VANITY PRESS.

P.S.: Elsewhere, an AM employee on Google/Glassdoor, former or present, accuses it of regarding authors as "cows" from which to get money.

Unknown said...

Hi Yes, I had the same thing with AM. Promises of promotion before signing with them, but they did absolutely nothing for me once signed! My contract is up with them now and glad of the release! They said my book didn't sell enough, even after all they did. I reiterate, 'they' did nothing. Funny how every book signing I have done, I sell out like mad! My book has a five star rating on Amazon's site (all fruits of my own efforts I might add). So, this beggers the question. What did they actually do for me? If you read this AM, I would love to know. I write because I enjoy it. If my book sells, that tells me others are enjoying it too. I have just finished Writing a sequel to the first and want anyone's advice on where to publish. My first book will now be self published with Amazon.

Anonymous said...

Dear Unknown,

Austin Macauley is a Vanity Press which means that it gets authors to pay them money allegedly to publish their books. AM is not a publisher as such, as it claims. Better get away from them as fast as you can and from any other adventurers in search of easy money from authors. They deny that they are not a Vanity Press which they are, lock, stock and barrel, for anybody asking for money from authors or any pay to play or charging publishers are Vanity presses, which are up to no good to authors.

How could your book have sold enough since AM don't have sale markets apart from placing your title on Amazon, which does not mean much. Amazon itself makes money through advertisements.

AM promises big things but does not deliver because there is nothing for them to deliver to you after taking you money. As a Vanity press, it makes money from authors and not from selling books. The amount of negative reviews on it is enough for any bookstores not to accept to sell material printed by them and not publicized or marketed.

A real serious publishers will not ask you to pay them money. They will pay you money instead.

A few days ago, I received one mail from a Vanity press, not AM, and my reply to them was simple: "Sorry, I only deal with traditional publishers" and did not even bother to sign my name. I felt I should not entertain such a pesky adventurer in search of easy money through tricks.

Anonymous said...

In hindsight my naivity as a debuting author is a leading motive in making my contribution to your blog. First, when AM offered me a contract I asked "to meet the team" - something which came naturally when I signed traditional publishing contracts with my subsequent books. I was told that because of "security" such a meeting at their London offices was not possible. That should have been the first alarm bell but here was a firm willing to publish my book so I let it pass. I suspect all the staff are homeworkers; something which seems apparent from the hugely disjointed way the firm works and the total lack of management.
Next, copy editing. Only when I came to work with a real publisher did I see what professional copy editing looks like. I was surprised my book with AM passed with few corrections. They allowed a poorly edited book go to print.
Marketing services - only now I appreciate the huge machinery required to launch a no-name author. Like everyone else the first results were abysmal. In fact I think I know everyone who bought my first book in the first six months.
Then came a reality; publication of my next book. Doing research I discovered hardly any author continues to publish with AM. What does that say? Not everyone goes straight on to get traditional publishing contracts with their next books as in my case. Horror - something I should have checked at the begining and didn't. The first book experience with AM seems to suggest few make the same mistake twice.
Terminating contracts. There should be a common law firm to represent authors wanting to quit /get compensation from AM. I get the impressions there are hundreds of authors caught in a trap of being threatened by AM - they told me I could not terminate my contract unless I paid several hundred pounds to them. I think I've done enough for them not to pursue this line but I still don't have an official confirmation from them that my contract has been terminated. A law firm representing authors is needed.
Finally, AM is fantastic at blocking sites where authors get together to warn others and post their experiences. On FB this has happened a number of times and it's a shame your blog is not better positioned on the Google search engine. I'm pleased I found you and hope this post helps others...AM are still a sham.

Anonymous said...

The more we hear about Austin Macauley, the more puzzled we become about how sham it proves to be. One of its workers was reported to have categorically stated that its so-called London Office was an office operating with full staff during working hours, which should not fear to receive authors or anyone willing to know about it, for that matter. But the last anonymous entry above tells us that when he/she requested a meeting with the team at their London office, he was told that such a meeting would not be possible for safety reasons?

Who would present a threat to a company legally operating in its office, if such a company was not engaging in criminal activities? IS AM afraid of the British police? Is it afraid of authors whose monies it has taken without delivering what it promised? Are AM owners honest people?

AM claims to be in Cambridge and yet does not provide a Cambridge address, but a virtual office address in London.

Let us, fellow authors, be clear about Austin Macauley, so-called publishers. If you have lost monies to them, accept that you have goofed as a human being errs and vow not to entertain AM again or other "fakes" like it or don't even argue with them once they ask you to pay them money.

Move away from them. Don't tell them about your next works. Try different avenues.

Online gives myriads of addresses of publishers, but you better research on publishers who deal with your genre. Google each publishers so as to make sure that they are not fake adventurers in search of easy money through tricks.

As for contracts signed with AM, why should authors who have been tricked worry about them. Those contracts are invalid, having been invalidated by AM itself after it did not live up to its promises. AM can't enforce contracts it violates.

Ideally, the best thing would be to pursue the owners of Vanity presses and try to bring them to book legally. How do you do that with a company without a face and without a proper address?

A good number of Vanity presses in Britain have died, having killed themselves by their own tricks. The Tate Vanity press in the United States is in deep trouble with some of their owners have been arrested.

Lewis Long said...

Update on Tate Publishing.

Information from Google indicates that the Tate Vanity Press in the United States has closed down its doors while still with court charges over the heads of some of its former BIGWIGS dangling like the terrible sword of Damocles that could snap and claim victims.

The ?Christian? Tate Vanity press is now as dead as a doorknob. It can't be deader than dead. Let all the other vanity presses in Britain, the United States and other places bite the dust for the world of writing and authors to be really happy, happier than happy.

Sara said...

Austin Macauley deny in their blog page titled, 'Happily Every AFter' that they are giving authors false hope, however, after reading, their section, 'How do I become an author,' the last line about their marketing strategy they say, 'where marketing is concerned the sky's the limit, your work could end up being made into a film all from one raw manuscript.' In my opinion, they are contradicting themselves saying this. Also, on that same blog page, they say they will market, edit, value authors, and make sure they will get authors books into the hands of readers, but authors will definitely not make money.

AM claim they are professional editors, yet criticisms from people on here prove otherwise, I read on their facebook page that people had noticed 'tautology' mistakes on a book sold on Amazon, which, went unchecked, although I cannot recall what they were, my example would be, 'The children happily enjoyed playing with their gifts on Christmas morning.' The term would be 'enjoyed playing with their gifts,' or 'happily played with their gifts.'
Which begs the question would AM notice the error in my sentence?

Lewis Long said...

Dear Sara,

Austin Macauley are under fire for a reason or for reasons. It appears that nothing they say is honest and they are there seemingly to grab monies from authors who should be getting monies from them as publishers instead like happens with traditional publishers.

Never mind that AM also claims to be traditional publishers; a fantasy by apparently semi-educated individuals who can hardly write to make sense in in English, not to speak of their ability to edit or proof-read written works to be published and read by people.

All those pay-to-play or vanity presses are aberrations that authors should learn to avoid like the plague. I wonder how many stories that should have been best sellers and would have netted millions of dollars or pounds to their authors and known world-wide are wasted and turned into no books by the likes of AM and other vanity presses.

Lewis Long said...

I do not know much about the American "Publishers Weekly" (PW) magazine for me to be able to comment much about it. I suppose that it is just a business that promotes and advertises whatever serious staff and also flotsam and jetsam landing at its editorial desk, probably for pay and not for free. If it is for money, who can blame them? Everyone wants to make money.

In an article with the title FAST-GROWING PUBLISHERS, the magazine included what Austin Macauley wanted to be known about itself and what a number of other publishers including the James Morgan Vanity press and other publishers, perhaps some serious ones, wanted advertised and people to know and believe about them.

Austin Macauley later made it sound as if the promotional article had been exclusively about itself and changed the title of the article from FAST-GROWING PUBLISHERS to FASTEST-GROWING PUBLISHERS it has NOW added to its websites with the aim of drawing in authors it can charge to print a few copies of their works.

However, readers were not fooled. Four readers have so far added sarcastic comments about AM and James Morgan to the PW article online.

MarieGibson48 said...

I am in the same position, now a year later, but grateful for having seen this information ahead of making a wrong decision. I hope since last year you have found what you needed to publish. I'm just staring the path.

John Andrews said...

DOWN is a message I sent to Publishers Weekly regarding its promotion of AM to which they have not reacted or will not react. I have slightly edited the message or I should say that I have removed a word and replaced it with the "people." I thought that whoever praises a vanity press should be held to account and be alerted of the possible disservice they render to authors who are apparently deceived to pay thousands of pounds or dollars and who in the end don't get back as much a single pound or dollar.
Jul. 22 at 4:30 p.m.

Dear PW,

I fear that authors may no longer take you seriously. I wonder whether you promoted the Vanity Press called Austin Macauley Publishers based in Cambridgeshire but which claims to operate from London, England, and now from New York, with on your own initiative to praise them or was it that they asked you to so? (They sort of bribed you? A joke.)

Please, visit visit Austin Macauley reviews and what you will find about these people will shock you.

I hope you do some reality check on these people and you will come cleanly to disavow your promotion. Your promotion will lead many people into paying them the money they ask to apparently publish their works.

That is a heavy moral responsibility you have placed on your head.

Anonymous said...


I want to thank you so very much for this page. I submitted my very first attempt at becoming a published author. I got an acceptance letter from them and asking me for $2,900 to start the process. Because I strongly believe that if anyone asks the author for money instead of offering the author royalties and requesting zero from the author, they are shady. Because I saw them ask for money I came across this page. To verify further, I did another submission to AM. This time I submitted the synopsis that had absolutely nothing to do with the actual story. The new acceptance letter asked me for even more money, and it "personalized" the letter by stating how incredible and intoxicating my story was. Only problem is that they only made references to what I had put in the synopsis and some the story was completely different than the synopsis, it proved to me beyond a shapes of a doubt they had not read any of my story, simply just read the synopsis. Yet they claim their entire board voted that my book was intense and would sell like crazy basically. Either all of this "board" are an entire panel of illiterate idiots, or they just read the synopsis so that they can lure you in with a "personalized" response with examples from your story so that it comes across like they actually did read it and thought it was amazing.

John Andrews said...

Where would a story PRINTED by the likes of Austin Macauley publishers with so many unfavorable reviews ONLINE sell like crazy, since they they are a print-on-demand printers, and not publishers as such, according to one of their former employees writing as Anonymous on Glassdoor and have no sale markets apart from mentioning titles on Amazon sites of many countries?

Did we not learn recently that they were afraid of meeting an author in their alleged London office, which is just a virtual office, for fear of lack of safety? The lack of safety claim was a way to obfuscate the fact that they have no office in London, as the author would discover, if they had agreed to meet at the address they list, which is where they collect the mail regarding their "business." Calls to the phone number they indicate are not answered.

They appear to have a rundown place called Ely House in Cambridgeshire which is ringed with Orwellian monitoring devices which monitor their unfortunate staff, according to another anonymous employee.



Anonymous said...

I Join John Andrews to plead with authors to keep away from the likes of Austin Macauley Vanity Press and all other Vanity presses which are up to no good in publishing. They waste our time without consideration for our hard work in writing our stories besides walking away with our monies for no benefits whatsoever to us.

Don't be taken in--Vanity presses are what they are: wasters of our time, talent and snatchers of our monies. Don't hesitate to tell them off.

If we keep them away, they will die off of their own unreasonable behavior.

Anonymous said...

I have been monitoring the frequency of people visiting this website and the number of visits I have observed at any one time I check the numbers is staggering. At any one time, there is or there are people viewing this website. This is absolutely pleasing, as the more people get to know the danger of Vanity presses, the better they are placed to make better choices and avoid useless pay to play, contribution-demanding printers alleging to be hybrid publishers or so-called partnership companies and others seeking money the easy way and the number of such high-handed individuals is immense.

Finally, I wish to express my gratitude to Victoria Strauss for operating this site. I am sure that it has helped a good number of people from making the wrong choice of trusting the Austin Macauley Vanity Press and any other fee-charging printers. Forewarning people is forearming them. And let adventurers seeking easy money simmer in their own stew.

Thank you Victoria Strauss and God bless you.

Anonymous said...

I sent my book to them a long time ago in paper form. They sent me a flattering letter just as they do to everybody, and a contract. I was so excited that I signed at once and returned it.
Then I came across this site and realised that this company is only after my money. I asked them to return my book so that I could alter it and they actually did this. I was working on amendments and additions and got a letter asking when they could have it back, signed by somebody who was not the one I had not been dealing with, who had left.

I fobbed them off and then I got an invoice for £3800. I phoned them and said they had not published my book and I was not going to pay. The man was very apologetic and I have heard nothing further. I am really glad I sent them a hard copy and not an electronic copy otherwise I might have been worrying that they would publish it anyway and I would have to pay.

Currently I am still working on the book and it is no longer at all what it was originally. I am never going to publish with a vanity publisher again. Others have contacted me since!!!

Anonymous said...

If Austin Macauley were able to have the anonymous author above pay that huge sum of money, its owners would have celebrated. But, fortunately for the author, AM's intention was frustrated as a result of existence of this website he ran into and convinced him not to make the mistake of parting with his money.

For a company that makes its money from authors and not from publishing and selling books, according to two or more of its former employees writing anonymously in Glassdoor, this failure is indeed a serious setback and blow to Vanity press AM.

I think that AM suffers more setbacks than it is able to draw in unfortunate authors to part with their money. I sensed this from its claim that it turns down many authors without stating that it does so when they fail or refuse to pay them money.
Vanity pressing is a chancy and risky business, as the number of authors drawn in cannot be assured and the vanity pressmen have to act as faceless individuals.

I congratulate the author on not having fallen into a financially ruinous undertaking and trap with the AM and on his decision never to publish with a vanity press again. Let all other authors follow his example because vanity presses or pay to play or charging claiming to be hybrid or partnership companies in publishing are our enemies and not our friends.

Tim Jones said...

For the sake of having some fun a few days ago, I e-mailed the England branch of the Austin Macauley Vanity press saying that I had a story for publication, which indeed I have and is being assessed by an imprint of one of the big five and it would never ever be for the AM outfit. In less than 24 hours, AM sent a message expressing interest and asking me to send the story and talking about the advantages for authors who publish with it after being accepted traditionally or as "contributors."

After reading the AM message and after having had fun about it all, I deleted it and blocked the AM e-mail in order not to get messages from it. I now know too much about vanity presses to be taken it and waste money on such people looking for easy money from authors who should get money from publishers instead and not the other way around and from whom I would never ever get any single benefit whatsoever.

John McCallister said...


ACCORDING to a London writer who took his manuscript to the place in London that Austin Macauley fronts as their office, the vanity press has no office there. What it fronts as its office is a POST OFFICE BOX or a postal address where the Cambridgeshire-registered Austin Macauley vanity press collect its mail for its obscure business.

This revelation appears to explain why AM personnel turned down a request from an author who stated in this website that the vanity press refused to meet him there, claiming that they feared for their safety. It is now clear that the shady outfit did not want him to know that what they claim to be their office is a POSTAL ADDRESS or a virtual office.

It was also possible that AM thought that the request was a ploy for someone to be there with police officers to arrest them, as they know that a lot of people are not happy that they have taken their money without honoring their promises.

So, therefore, AM cannot be trusted and authors should avoid it like the plague.

Anonymous said...

Is there a way to know if Austin Macauley is paying me royalties for all copies of my books sold? The royalty statements that I have received from them indicate that they have sold fewer than 20 copies of my book in the course of the first year, which is incredibly low. I don't think they have done any marketing of my book, but I wonder if they have sold more copies than they are telling me? Does anyone audit them? Would anyone else care if they weren't paying authors their due? (P.S. They charged me 1,800 pounds to publish although I was previously published.) Thanks for any and all helpful responses.

Victoria Strauss said...

Anonymous 4/21,

When you sign a publishing contract, you are dependent on your publisher to give you accurate sales and royalty reports and payments. Distributors and retailers won't give that information to authors. If there's a clause in your contract that allows you to audit the publisher, you can potentially do that--but it would be at your own (considerable) expense, and you'd be taking the risk that whatever discrepancies might turn up wouldn't justify the cost.

I'd never rule out the possibility of accounting errors. Also, companies like Amazon can take up to 90 days to report sales--so if any books sold at the end of the year, they might not be reflected on your royalty statement. Unfortunately, however, with a company like Austin Macauley--which has limited distribution and provides little if any meaningful marketing or promotional support (despite its claims)--I don't find it unlikely that sales would be so low. I think that your experience is probably more typical than not.

Sorry not to be able to give you a more optimistic assessment. If you have other questions, my email is .

Jean de Lattre said...

Not that I had a story for the vanity press, the name of which I will keep anonymous and my own name down below is a pseudonym, to prick vanity press people everywhere and give them a dose of their own medicine and let them know that authors do feel sad and disappointed with them after they cheat their way around. The content of my "provocative" message follows down below:

"I have a story and am looking for a reliable publishers. If your are a vanity press scam, don't even bother to ask for the story, as I dislike with all my body and soul publishers who charge for publishing and run away with other people's money. Such behavior is really unacceptable, as such crooks make poor people trying to make money through writing poorer."

Jean de Lattre

Anonymous said...

Thank god I found this page. I have just received what seems to be exactly the same offer as everyone else in terms of the partnership contract asking for the massive upfront fee. I was initially over the moon of course, especially after some rejections from agents. The details all arrived in this posh looking folder, and although it was obvious a lot of the letter was cut & paste, there were a few details that made me think they must have read my book. And it all looked so professional and convincing!

But I'm a student. I don't have that kind of money to throw around. If I hadn't have done my research the money I would have used would have come out of my savings!! And something about them just didn't feel right. I'm so glad I followed my gut and did my research. Although there seem to be mixed opinions on calling them an actual 'scam', it definitely felt like I was being taken advantage of as a new author who doesn't know what they're doing and was initially so excited at the prospect of getting to publish my book.

I certainly won't be publishing with them. Back to seeing if I can find an agent I guess!

Paka Coles Williams said...

Better not to be published than wasting time, talent and money with Austin Macauley. Austin Macauley is not a Publishers or they are a fake publishers. If anyone wants to see an array of negative articles about them, suffice it to view "Austin Macauley Vanity Press Scam."

Authors are waking up, the AM vanity press is being less and less successful in hoodwinking authors to part with their monies for no profits to them. It is struggling to survive. Hence its never ending propagandizing.

It runs fake reviews about authors who have "published with it" as being very satisfied, but the vanity press has so far not placed a single review about authors' financial satisfaction from publishing with it.

I am as yet to see any movie, or film, that has been made from any error-ridden books printed by AM nor any of its books that have been translated to other languages.

It has no book markets and no bookstores sell their books.

KEEP AWAY FROM AUSTIN MACAULEY and other Vanity presses such as Olympia, Pegasus, Ashwell, Authors solutions, Xlibris, James Morgan

Paka Coles William in London, 27th April, 2019

Anonymous said...

I have joined the club, well not actually but very nearly, you see no contracts had been signed. I sent my manuscript off to AM and was informed it showed promise or words to that effect and it should join other famous authors and for a sum of £2500 it surely will.I thought Rowley or whatever yer friggin' name is "eat yer 'eart out". I could afford £2500 but I thought if my book showed merit why am I being asked to pay this 'Hybrid sum' for being an unknown first time author if I am going to join all the greats.

I had hesitated in good faith then decided not to join the club.

Paka Coles Williams said...


1. RUNNING away from vanity press scams like the Austin Macauley which asks you to pay huge amounts of money by claiming that you are new or untried writers who present risks to their businesses. It is Austin Macauley, a fake publishers, that poses risks to you authors. The vanity press pretends that what it asks you are contributions. Contributions, my foot! Hogwash. The truth is that it does not put in any money at all towards your books. It makes money and profits from you authors, no more no less, and not from selling books.

2. By researching or googling every organization claiming to be publishers and avoiding those about which there are negative reviews online.

3. By not entertaining those vanity press SCAMS advertising for manuscripts ONLINE and hunting for NEW AUTHORS who may be easy to hoodwink and have them part with their monies.

4. By dismissing fake reviews and propagandistic claims such as are found ONLINE by Austin Macauley which do not reflect the truth.

5. By not entertaining vanity press SCAMS such as the Austin Macauley, Olympia, Pegasus, Ashwell and scores of others because they are not worth of you and you are not worth of them. They are up to no good to you. They will be your financial undoing, if you take them seriously and throw your monies to them.

It is not fair for you to spend years on end writing stories which in the hands of traditional publishers could make you famous and bring you money to have a SCAM like the Austin Macauley Vanity Press devalue the time you put in, your talents and run away with your monies on top for no advantages whatsoever to you.

IAmAWriter said...

I want to start off by saying 'thank-you' to this website, article and all the people that responded on Austin Macauley Publishers.

I sent them a query letter after finding them in the Annual 2019 Children's Writers & Illustrators Marketplace book. I wish this book had talked more about this topic and had been a little more honest about vanity publishers in general. I just took it at face value that if the publishing house or agent was listed in this book, that it would be legitimate.

After they responded to my query and said they were interested, and I cried tears of joy. After I got that out of my system, I read the contract which included the phrase 'contributory contract'. I had no clue what this meant and so I used the great resource that is the internet. I also did a specific search for Austin Macauley and contributory contracts and came across this site.

In the contributory contract they offered me, they wanted me to pay $3,500. A little research goes a long way though. I now know more about vanity publishers and that writers shouldn't be paying people for the hope of being published. I hope all new authors or authors in general research the people and companies they might work with before signing any contracts.

I won't be signing this contract. While I was super excited to get the nice, seemingly professional and encouraging acceptance letter from AM Publishers, I'm not too disappointed either. I now know what it feels like when I do get published. And I now know more about contracts then I did before without sacrificing money or my author rights. And I also know now that even if a publisher or agent sounds professional and legitimate and nice and friendly and supportive of you as a writer, that doesn't mean they are. The only way you're going to be able to see their trustworthiness is based on the reputation they've built.

Thank you!

So thanks to all the people here...I learned a lot from the article as much as I did from everyone who took the time to make a thoughtful comment. said...

Austin MacCauley led me on as though they were a standard publisher. They had me submit my materials and sent them for "review." After several months I received an email that asked me to sign the contract. I signed. Only after you enter your electronic signature does the PDF come up that tells you that they are charging to publish. Me the fool for not checking them out immediately.

Paka Coles Williams said... is pitying himself or herself for feeling that he/she been duped by the Austin Macauley vanity press scam. I wouldn't worry about paying them money after discovering that I have been duped before throwing money to them. If he or she has already paid them the money, just too bad like for the other people because they will never recover their money from the gang whose real address and site are a mystery. There is nothing they can do against him/her to enforce the stipulations of their fraudulent contract which the obscure scam gang does not fulfill. Many people are duped by fraudsters only to discover their real deceptive nature later after they lost their money to them. Paka Coles Williams, Cambridge, England.

Jim Macdonald in New York said...

Unbelievable! The name given ONLINE may be false. An entry in Glassdoor by a former Austin Macauley employee says that staff working with AM operate under false names, which appears to suggest intent to defraud people and for protection against legal persecution.
An article ONLINE contemptuously refers to the person owning the AM vanity press as "THIS PERSON." It goes on to say that "THIS PERSON" who resides in Cambridge,England,whose name I withhold, also runs other vanity presses such Pegasus and Olympia, formely Ashwell.

How can individual run vanity presses just take money from authors without the intention of doing serious business that can benefit the authors?

Quite unbelievable.

deluded said...

I was so excited when I received a lovely letter from AM telling me how great my book is and how the whole board had loved it, that I sent off the signed contract straightaway. I was going to be charged a huge amount of money. However I was bathing in a warm glow and did not even think about the money. Once I had got over this, I asked for my book back which was in hard copy as I had been unable to email it, saying I needed to make some changes and these would have to be on my computer, so I needed the original to compare. I was finally sent the manuscript and have been working on amendments to it. From time to time I got letters from AM asking me about my progress, and requesting the money. I fobbed them off saying it was taking longer than I had thought. Since then I have received letters with threats of legal action. I have told them I will not pay without seeing my published book, and they said they will not publish without the money. What fool would pay without seeing the finished book?
I believe they no longer have a copy of my book unless they took a photocopy of it, and if they have I have told them not to publish it anyway as the second version which I am still working on is much better. I am not sure where I stand now. Its a bit concerning.

Victoria Strauss said...


AM won't publish your book unless you pay. As for threatening you with legal action because you're not paying/not sending in the book, I'm not sure how much genuine legal standing they have to do this. You'd need to consult a legal expert to be sure. They may just be trying to intimidate you.

Unfortunately, since you signed the contract (which is an exclusive life-of-copyright contract) you can't legally publish elsewhere. It's not just that AM might pursue you if you did; it's that a new publisher won't be willing to take on a book whose rights the author isn't 100% free to grant. Even self-publishing platforms require you to warrant that you have the right to publish--which, if you're under exclusive contract to a different company, you don't.

You could throw yourself on their mercy and ask to be released from the contract. I've heard from writers who've been able to accomplish this--the downside, though, is that AM will still ask for money, as a kill fee or to compensate it for work it claims to have done. It will be a lesser amount than the original fee, though.

Another alternative might be to seek legal counsel to see how (or if) you could break the contract, but that's a potentially expensive way to go.

I'm sorry you're in this fix. I suspect it happens relatively often.

Paka Chadwick Coles Williams said...

Over to deluded,

Stop taking Austin Macauley seriously and letting the vanity press scam intimidate you. Forget it and it will forget you. Get your work ready for traditional publication somewhere else or keep it for yourself until you get a publisher. Better not to have it published than to through to the AM. "Don't throw jewels to pigs which will not know what to do with them," as the adage says.

Stop communicating with AM and ignore their scamming activity. There is nothing they will do to you.

You don't want to pay money to this shady scam from which you will never get a single dollar in any form or shape. It doesn't abide by the stipulations of its own fraudulent contract. And why should you? In a way, you are blessed that you found out they are shady before throwing your money to them. Don't pay attention to any vanity presses.

The obscure AM, which fears its own shade, has banked on your money for its finances, as it makes money from authors and not from any book sales at all. It is a print-on-demand scam. AM visits this website and will read my advice to you.

Paka Chadwick Coles Williams in London, 7th July 2019.

deluded said...

Thank you Victoria and Paka for your thoughts and rather conflicting advice. I will have to think about it.

A M claim to have taken action against individuals who defame them on line and that some matters have been resolved and some are in process. Yet this column has been going for years and so has Harry Bingham's and A M have done nothing about either. Or perhaps they have tried and have failed?

Thanks to both of you again and long may you continue.

Victoria Strauss said...


I just want to reiterate that if you've signed an exclusive publishing contract, you cannot publish elsewhere. Changing the title, revising, and adding to (or subtracting from) the book are not workarounds, as long as the revised version is recognizable as a revision or expansion of the original.

The problem isn't just that the original publisher might come after you for breach of contract. It's that a new publisher, which will also want exclusive rights, won't be willing to create potential legal problems for itself by taking on a project that's promised somewhere else. And if you try to hide the existing contract from the new publisher, and it discovers that you've lied, you will, again, be in a breach situation--because all standard publishing contracts require you to warrant that you have the unencumbered right to publish. Which, if the book is still exclusively contracted to a different publisher, you don't. This is true even for self-publishing platforms.

If you want to publish this book, or a revision of it, with a different publisher, you must get AM to release you.

Victoria Strauss said...


If you want to discuss this further in a non-public setting, please feel free to email me:

deluded said...

Thank you, Victoria, for the offer of a private discussion. I feel, however, that these posts are to help others, and so I would prefer to keep on the public page.

I wonder if anyone has actually been sued by Austin Macauley and if so, what as the result? As neither of you nor Harry Bingham have not had posts removed this seems unlikely.

Austin Macauley would also like first dibs on any other books I may write in the future, This seems unfair to me. I have already started one.

I really don't think A M would release me from the contract. That would seem out of character.

deluded said...

Thank you Victoria for your offer of a private discussion. I feel however that this column is to help others and therefore I would like to keep it public.

The new version of my book is substantially longer and has new characters. A M would like to charge me extra for all the changes. I don't know how much extra this would be. I believe it is a much better book.

I have telephoned them from time to time and never get the same person twice. It is a mysterious company.

Victoria Strauss said...


I can answer your question about lawsuits, at least partially, but I'm reluctant to discuss legal matters publicly.

I have heard from authors who asked AM to release them and were able to get their rights back--for a fee. So that is a possible path forward, if you want to try it.

deluded said...

Thank you for your post. I don't think there is much to discuss as I already have your previous posts and so I have a good idea of where I stand, and it is not a very good place. unfortunately.

I don't really know why you can't just come out and say whether or not A M have been successful in suing anyone or vice versa. This information would not damage them any more than what has already been said, and it should be in the public domain. It does not need to be discussed. A very simple sentence would be enough, such as " X People have been sued and x number of law suits were successful." A similar sentence such as X people have sued A M and X were successful. " Hardly a discussion!

I do not intend to lower myself to ask A M for my rights back, as that would be humiliating. I hope others will answer this post with their comments/experiences.

Thank you again.

deluded said...

Paka, thank you for your advice, and I will not be answering their recent letter. They took many weeks to respond to my last one. I am still revising my book anyway, and as it is much longer and different in many ways to the first draft they may want extra money. They may whistle for that.

Victoria says I will not be able to publish my book elsewhere as I am under contract to A M. Do you know how long the contract lasts for? Is it life long, or is there a limit of 5 years or what?
Does it still apply to a new version of the book I sent them and they have returned?

Is there anything in English law which could be used by ignorant and innocent writers against them, such as fraud?

Paka Chadwick Coles Williams said...

Always hats off to Victoria Strauss. She fine, great and courageous. I understand that she may be feeling that she is walking a tight rope. But vanity presses are paper tigers, as the Chinese say, which many look like powerful but are not what they appear to be.

Now that you see my point, I am glad. Don't be intimidated by these Austin Macauley who are dying for your money because that s the only way they can make money from authors. I would not care a jot about a vanity press, any vanity. I told one, Xlibris, to go hang when they accosted me for manuscript claiming that I had written to them when I hadn't.

AM have probably never read your manuscript. A former AM employee says in Glassdoor that when manuscripts arrive, they are put in a basket and never read and after a time, they are fished out and looked at for addresses, and not read as such, and the usual letter of acceptance is copied and pasted glorifying the stories and asking for money as contribution.

When a man I know got frustrated and fed up with these AM because they were not sending him the royalties they had pledged to pay him in their contract, he simply told them that he did not want to deal with them anymore before telling them that he did not want any further mail or correspondence from them, after earlier refusing to send them a manuscript of a new story. And that was that and they never disturbed him again.

I personally advised on AM FACEBOOK someone who withdrew from a contract with them not to pay they money they wanted him to pay for withdrawing from the contracted he had signed. The man thanked me.

Whatever, you do, don't loose your money to this vanity press, even if you have so much money to spare. If they want to publish the manuscript they have, if they have it ONLINE, let them do it with their own money or earn money for its sale for themselves and yourself, but not you paying them money to "publish" it. Don't send them your revised copy.

What to think of this AM company that feared to meet an author at their so-called office in London, which is no more than a post office box and not an office, for fear of safety, as per an author whose message is posted in this website.

Paka Chadwick Coles Williams, London, 11th July 2019.

Paka Chadwick Coles Williams said...


The fact that AM took a long time to get back to for your last message shows that they are losing hope on getting monies from you and they want you gone. They communicate fast with people who pay them or start to pay them. So, the best thing is to let the connection go and disappear and not worry about it because AM is not a traditional publisher, but a pay to play company.

I can assure you that you stand to gain nothing with these guys, even if they printed a few copies of your book and they will not print it as long as you don't pay them because they are looking for money from authors.

And don't forget -- it is the publisher who should pay an author and not the other way around. Any person asking for money to publish books is in the business only to make money from authors and not to benefit them.

Paka Chadwick Coles Williams.

Victoria Strauss said...


I haven't seen your contract, but I have seen other AM contracts. They don't state a term of rights (such as five years or seven years); the author simply agrees to grant AM the "sole right" to publish for as long as AM feels like it. Discontinuance of publication is "entirely at the Publisher's discretion" (I'm quoting from one of the contracts in my possession). So they have your rights for as long as they want to keep them, which potentially is for the life of copyright--your lifetime plus 70 years. Not that I think AM will be around that long, but the point is that they hold your rights exclusively, and they can release them, or not, as they choose. There's no automatic reversion trigger, such as sales falling below a certain number.

Would the contract apply to a new version of the book, revised and expanded as you describe? I would think so, as long as it's recognizable as a version of the same book. Could you go ahead and publish it anyway? Sure--but it's not a good idea. Again, as I've explained, AM isn't the problem. It's a new publisher or self-publishing platform that's the concern.

The Society of Authors provides free advice to members, and may be able to give you more input. You may be able to join even if you're what they call an emerging author and don't yet have traditional publishing credits. Here's a link to the application form:

deluded said...

Paka and Victoria

Thank you once again for your kind advice/comments. Paka, my book was sent to them as a hard copy, not on line, because although I tried to send it by that method my skills are lacking and I could not get it to go on line. They sent the printed manuscript back. I have been working on my new version for about a year now, and I am quite pleased with it, whereas I was not happy with the one I sent them. It was the letter from A M saying that my book needed a lot of editing that made me look at it very critically, and I decided I could probably edit it just as well myself. I don't have much of the old one left as I use the pages from it to make notes on.

As for the new improved and much expanded version. it is also substantially longer. In the agreement A and M say (clause 9) ..."if the Author makes any changes or alterations in the proofs...or adds fresh material at any time following the date of signing of the agreement, the Publisher shall be free to exercise discretion regarding such material ...any such changes... charged to the Author. "

Unless they photocopied my original, it does not exist. They never even read the original, and the junior who dealt with it, and who admitted that he had only read parts of it, has now left the company.

So I am left with more of a puzzle! I wonder where this leaves me legally? I cannot magic the original out of the air.

Paka Chadwick Coles Williams said...


You are a righteous, conscientious and thinking person who subject yourself to a lot of scruples. I am afraid that may not be the case with people in vanity presses who get money from authors and become happy about it and even celebrate their defrauding feats.

Such people violate every stipulation of their one-sidedly written contracts.

Look at it this way: is it respecting civilized laws for someone to take money from someone pledging to do some business with it to benefit himself and the person from whom he takes the money and he does not do so?, e.g. information ONLINE states that more than 15,000 authors have been defrauded by vanity presses and their books have not sold more than 20 (twenty) copies or even sold no copies at all. What have such authors gained from such defrauders?

These AM guys may actually want to exploit your worries over matters of legality. AM visit this website more than most visitors. To illustrate this point: last year an author described them as a vanity press in this site and not directly to them in any way and manner. The AM wrote to the author directly, and not on this site, to deny that they are a VANITY PRESS.

Info indicates that AM is such a fluid and apparently secretive company that hardly keeps staff who according to details gleaned from past AM employees in GLASSDOOR are kept under watch and monitored with "spying devices at Ely House in Cambridge." An Orwellian state within the democratic state of Great Britain?

And their staff can hardly write in English. And you write in superb English.

FORGET AM and do not inflict unnecessary pain on yourself.

The Way to go: look for publishers online and google everyone of them for info on them and discard those with negative comments about them. If you contact a publisher who asks for money, kiss them goodbye. Go to a public library and find a Writers' manual with info on publishers, most of them will be genuine traditional publishers, although a few vanity presses also get listed because they pay fees to be listed. Such a manual will list publishers and literary agents.

Beware that there are crooks amongst literary agents. Pay nothing to a literary agent who may ask you to pay him money and who in principle should get about 20 per cent from advances after successfully representing you or selling your book.

Paka Chadwick Coles Williams in London

deluded said...


Thank you for your kind comments, and your advice.

I am beginning to think that there is not much A M can do to me, as I no longer have the book that I sent them. The person who sent me the contract left a long time ago, and before he left I spoke to him on the phone and he admitted he had only read some of it. I asked for it back so that I could compare it with the new version I was writing and after a short while he returned it. A M no longer have my book unless they photocopied it, and they no longer have the man who dealt with it and returned it to me. As they have a high staff turnover there may well be no member of staff who even knows of my existence, apart from those who periodically send me requests for money or threats.

Have you noticed the amazing number of superlatives A M uses to describe their authors next to pictures of their books? Renowned, promising, accomplished, endowed ! vivacious, proactive, astonishing, staggering ! bewildering ! phenomenal, incredible, stupendous ! spectacular, stupefying ! emerging, brilliant... Somebody must have swallowed some sort of dictionary and then regurgitated it. I am not sure I would like to be described in some of these words.

Anyway, I am simply going to get on with the new and improved version of my book until I am satisfied that it is the best it can be.

Paka Chadwick Coles Williams in London. said...

Laws or no Laws, I have no respect for people who use deception. AM is insignificant and appears to be on the way to self-destruction. I can't make much money because it does no business apart from the money it gets from poor authors.

Would Stephen King make about $17 million or more a year with a publisher, which is no publisher, like the Austin Macauley?

Vanity presses are our bane. We authors must stand up to them and not be intimidated by them. We must not accept blackmail.

deluded said...

I have just been sent a report on A M's financial standing. Unfortunately I am unable to see if they are doing well or not. They seem to be delaying publishing their accounts for some reason.
Mohammed Bu-Malik is now owner or director of other publishing firms. He must be doing well for himself.

Victoria Strauss said...


You can see AM's financial filings here:

There's currently a note on the Overview page to indicate that accounts are overdue.

Paka Chadwick Coles Williams in London. said...

I am no expert in accounts or financial matters, but what I have been seeing about Austin Macauley's accounts ONLINE leaves me perplexed. It does not make millions like real publishing businesses do, and it is dead set against doing publishing in the conventional way, preferring to take other people's stories and money for no profits to them and being deep in debt.

For sure, Mohammed Bu-Malik is a successful businessman and let him continue in this way to the promised land awaiting him. And that's my advice to him.

Paka Chadwick Coles Williams in London

deluded said...

Thank you for your comments.

Unfortunately being a bit dim I am unable to make sense of the financial filings and accounts. Paka, why do you think A M is deeply in debt? They have not filed their accounts for the last couple of years but as they are a small company that may not matter at this stage. But it looks as if they are solvent, doesn't it?

Paka Chadwick Coles Williams in London. said...

Vanity presses or pay-to-play presses operate against the gravitational pull that propels businesses to prosper. Any business that does not bend to that gravitational force involving honesty, investment, marketing, sales to gain profits is sabotaging itself to stagnation and self-strangulation. AM like all other vanity presses belong to this category because it does not invest money (doubt its claim that the money it takes as contribution goes to enhance its own contribution towards a book!)

It makes money from authors, but this is a very risky, if not, may I even say chancy, way of doing business. Vanity presses like AM fails to get big people to agree to spend money for their books in a competitive industry in which authors get money from publishers.

If a vanity press is able to hoodwink an author to pay it money once, or even in rare cases twice, the author, after getting no profits as promised, begins to see light and knows that there is something fishy about such a company. He becomes embittered and deserts such a company.The result is the huge array of unfavorable comments one sees ONLINE against vanity presses.

Owners of vanity presses fail to be smart. They keep borrowing money from banks or other financial institutions in the hope that they will make money from their risky businesses. And they end up with huge debts they can't pay back.

There is another side to this kind of businesses: moral turpitude or ugliness: I would be ashamed for taking and pledging to benefit the person giving me the money and fail to do it. There can also be a legal side for not honoring contract promises.

Paka Chadwick Coles Williams in London, 6th August, 2019

deluded said...

Nobody seems to be commenting any more.

Why not?

Paka Chadwick Coles Williams in London. said...

deluded appears to be disappointed to see no people commenting on a vanity press. A vanity press like AM is what it is: no news. There is a saturation of reviews ONLINE about it so much so that people no longer wish to waste time on it because it is no news.There are better things in the Internet than vanity presses.

deluded said...

How long can A M withhold its accounts before Companies House gets involved and forces it to give them the accounts? I believe that even small companies have to tender accounts eventually. Does the Director get paid, or does he only get expenses? If he only gets expenses, how does he make a living?

deluded said...

I am not really disappointed, just surprised that the flow of comments has dried up. There were so many people writing about their experiences and suddenly nobody wants to share any more. Most likely they are expressing their view elsewhere. I cannot believe that this thread has reached a natural end...

I have said all I wish at the moment.

paka Chadwick Coles Williams said...

It appears to me that only in publishing do government allow less than honest companies like Vanity presses to remain without being investigated and continue to go unpunished. Governments such as the UK and the American governments know that citizens of their own countries and of other countries are being scammed by companies like the Austin Macauley vanity press and yet they do absolutely nothing about it -- to curb the activities of such a vanity press.

Perhaps, they will act one day and better soon than later.

As for individuals commenting on vanity press, perhaps the novelty of it is over. Individuals who visit a blog like this one do so to garner some information and read the latest entries. And believe it: there are several individuals who visit this site every minute or second of the day not only in the United States or in the UK, but worldwide.

It is was here that I insisted that deluded should ignore these AM seekers of easy money and forge ahead with his life and disregard the dishonest AM contract. Why go in fear of faceless individuals? Surely, these AM guys will take advantage of people they can intimidate.

Paka Chadwick Coles Williams in London, 21st August, 2019

Anonymous said...

8 September. Wonderful site to read on AM trying to take advantage of authors despite the fact I have published before. Clearly this company is rotten bananas to say the least. Got the contributory contract asking for £2300 saying wonderful things about my manuscript. They failed miserably to fully answer my questions. Whoever set this site up has done a very good job.

Donna said...

Thank you for your site. I was nearly fooled. I had never been so high and excited as when I received the contract from AM yesterday. My husband and I read through it, checked sites like this one, and concluded that AM--- a vanity press! I did not sign. Today, however, I am feeling absolutely low.

Ju said...

Hah! Oh - I got the full 'contributory contract' bumpf on Thursday and knew immediately what it was. How cheeky of them to send it out hard-copy and glossy! It's annoying that they're listed in the 'Children's Writers' and Artists' Yearbook 2019' though. And, actually, that publication could be a lot more helpful and a lot less anecdotal. New authors need a flowchart guide as to what they should do at each stage not a load of stories from authors that may or may not be relevant.

John C said...

I just received a contract wanting $3100 US to publish my book. I’m a first time author and had no idea that this wasn’t normal. Luckily, I’m a bit paranoid of scams and thought this was a bit excessive. After a bit of research and finding this page, BTW thanks Victoria, I’ve found that this is plain ridiculous. You guys saved me a lot of money and also my sanity. My wife, who is a paralegal, looked through the contract and even without the up front charge, was not impressed with what they offer.

Sandybum said...

Many thanks to you all! My initial warm glow of impending fame and riches has been replaced by relief that I still have my money.

deluded said...

Yay! I have received a letter from A M releasing me from my contract! Stand up to them, dont send your book to them especially not on line. You cam do a lot with your money, If you want to publish try Amazon or Kindle or other such companies. My niece has self published with Amazon and has sold a lot of books in a series. She has a lot of devoted fans. Her books look very professional.

deluded said...

Yay!! A M have released me from my contract!

Albert Jones said...

My note here is about all vanity presses and not any in particular: all those claiming to be contributory, partnership, hybrid and all those-pay-to- play presses.

They waste your time, talent and take your money for no profit to you, making your poorer.
They are not honest.
They invent brilliant reviews and place them on their websites.
None of their reviews ever talk about authors' financial satisfaction with their kind of publications.

Authors should avoid vanity presses because they are not publishers. They taka money for nothing.

Vanity presses are a dying brand of businesses and authors should contribute towards their demise by avoiding them.

Victoria Strauss said...

I wish it were true that vanity publishers are a dying business. But, sadly, they're not. There are many, many more of them now than when Writer Beware started up more than 20 years ago, and they are cleverer than they ever were about using deceptive terminology and disguising their fees (for instance, the latest fad in vanity publishing is "hybrid" publishing, where you supposedly get a real traditional publishing experience--you just have to pay several thousand dollars for it). Vanity publishing is not going away, unfortunately.

Albert Jones said...

Grateful for elucidating us, Victoria Strauss. There are more vanity presses being born than dying. Wow! Amazingly sad. The vanity press in question here appears to be listing like a warship that has been torpedoed. It appears to be aggressively removing ONLINE reviews it doesn't like and attempting to overcharge with someone saying he was asked to pay 4,000 (four thousand) Pounds for the publication of his book. That is a lot of money for the poor Britons and other people in the world.

The term hybrid is meant to bamboozle authors into believing that this a new trend in publishing and that they are pitching in toward the publication of their stories for which they will get no returns whatsoever.

But I personally would not engage in vanity pressing, as it appears to be a risky way of doing business because it can't force anybody to accept paying because some authors see the deception through the net or the majority of authors don't have the money for this kind of hogwash.

deluded said...

Austin Macauley have published their latest set of accounts and I am sorry to see that they are doing better than ever. Very annoying! I was hoping that they were going down the drain...

Albert Jones said...

I checked the ACCOUNT SHEET released on the 21 April 2020 on the money AM says it made on the period up to 31 August 2019. They appeared to have made slightly less or was it more than the previous period? Their cash in the bank goes no over Pound 410,000:00 for a company that has been in existence since 2006 while traditional companies doing serious publishing, marketing and selling of books earn millions, if not billions of dollars yearly. AM's liabilities are higher and so is the money they owe to creditors.

The company receiving such reports said specifically about AM, in a review I saw online last night, that they had not verified the supplied figures. Would it be that this company is inflating the numbers to attract authors? I don't know.

Albert Jones said...

Among the many people visiting this blog some are probably book publishers or people aspiring to become book publishers. My advice to those aspiring to be book publishers is this: avoid engaging in vanity press publishing by charging fees, by claiming to do partnership, by pay to play, by "contribution" and by other dubious claims, as it will earn you bad repute like most so-called publishers suffer. And it will not help you to make money without restraints.

The advantage of doing honest book publishing is that you earn massive amounts of money while benefiting your authors. Your books will be valued and sold in bookstores and translated to other languages unlike the books by vanity press "publishers" no bookstore accepts. And you will not have to depend on adverts to get manuscripts and hide your face because you will probably be aware that you are offending many people and violating the law. Being legally registered does not entitle you to cheat or deceive and violate the laws that are meant to shield the citizenry of any country from high-handedness, deception or fraud.

galaxy pleiades said...

Mr. Austin Macauley and myself have met, well not personally that is. I was a new author you have probably heard of me.I am not a new writer per se, I do have two blogs one has had over 59,000 hits world wide, with articles as varied as The inconsistencies of witness statements,a discussion on religion, The Layman's guide to Quantum Physics to the Woodstock Shagfest,and another blog of short stories, these I sent to A.M

All these stories above mirror mine with a deal that ever went through, cus it smelled, or is that smelt?

Anyways I did find my submission did attract comments like we feel your work deserves to be published and given the opportunity to be launched to the reading public alongside other famous publications.....A.K. Whatsername name eat yer heart out. So that made me feel really good.

"We offer you a contribution based partnership". I declined the offer to vanity publishing and saved myself a couple of thousand quid.

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