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December 14, 2018

Amelia Publishing and Amelia Book Company: Sons of Litfire Publishing


Posted by Victoria Strauss for Writer Beware

In 2014, I wrote a long (and recently updated) blog post about LitFire Publishing, a publishing and marketing service provider that copied the Author Solutions business model (overpriced publishing packages, junk marketing services, and aggressive solicitation), and was founded and run by former Author Solutions call center employees in the Philippines.

I didn't know it then, but LitFire was in the vanguard of an invasion of Philippines-based Author Solutions copycats (I've written about some of them here). These predatory schemes are a major danger for the self-published and small press authors who are their main target. Not only are their "services" expensive, falsely presented (phone and email solicitors often claim to be literary agents or book scouts or to have connections with major publishers), and frequently substandard, they are everywhere. I know of over 30 of them at this point, at least half established just in the past year.

LitFire is one of the oldest of these ventures, and like any outfit whose main aim is extracting cash from vulnerable writers through misdirection and hype, word has gotten around. Complaints are accumulating online, along with commentaries and exposes (not to mention all the reports and complaints Writer Beware has received). Even Wikipedia has taken note.

Now LitFire may be doing what dodgy businesses often do to escape a bad reputation: changing its name. Introducing Amelia Publishing and Amelia Book Company

Amelia Publishing is a general purpose publishing and marketing company, with a suite of Author Solutions-style publishing packages (black and white, color, and "special"), junk marketing services (press releases, video trailers, pay-to-play book reviews), and add-ons such as editing. In other words, it's a lot like LitFire.

Amelia Book Company (ABC--get it?) targets children's authors. It too sells publishing and marketing packages, as well as merchandise (magnets! Stickers! T-shirts!) and illustrations. It also has a "subsidiary" generically titled Children's Publishing, a grab bag of poorly-written and in some cases oddly terse articles interspersed with ads and links to Amelia.

The Amelias' About Us pages feature conveniently vague information that can't be verified, and their websites include the frequent English-language lapses that are typical of Philippines-based publishing and marketing scams ("Amelia Publishing. Your Self-Publishing Headquarter.") Both Amelias' domains were registered on May 24, 2017, and they both have business registrations in the state of Georgia. They also share an address and phone number. (I'm including so many screenshots because I expect that at least some of the evidence will vanish after I publish this post.)



So how do I know that the Amelias are LitFire? Well, a little bird told me. But also, Litfire is really, really sloppy.

Amelia Book Company (the one for children's authors) has a bookstore, though it's not linked into the main site; I found it on a Google search. The first thing you might notice is how few of the books are for children. There's a good reason for that: they're all LitFire books. For example, here's a book at Amelia:


And here's the same book at LitFire:


Inspecting a page's source code can also yield clues. For instance, on one of Amelia Book Company's book pages, this snippet of code:


Or this relic of LitFire's footer, complete with LitFire's street address, which is on every Amelia Book Company book page that I checked:


Similar lapses are all over Amelia Book Company's website.

By contrast, Amelia Publishing's website has been more carefully vetted. But an apparent effort to convert the LitFire blog into an Amelia Publishing blog wasn't so successful, which likely is why it has been removed. It still shows up in a Google search, though:


And then there's this. LitFire apparently caught it and got rid of the page where it appears (the link is to a Google cache)--but I had to laugh. Whoops.


Apparently I'm not the only one who has figured it out.
LitFire appears to be alive and well at present, so there's no way to know whether it's planning to ditch the LitFire name entirely and become Amelia, or whether the Amelias are just an attempt to establish additional income streams. Either way, Writer Beware will be watching.

5 comments :

Anonymous said...

Litfire and Amelia are one. Oh no!

Anonymous said...

Damn it! I've been contacted by Litfire. This really sucks. Even more, that I had been contacted by Xlibris, which somewhere along the line says Litfire and Xlibris are connected but they both pretend not to be affilitated. I've been shelling out money to them. The things is, I've self-published with Xlibris and so I believed, against all of the negative things said about them, that they were reputable since services were rendered but I've gotten less than $50.00 all together from Royalties after all the years working with them. And now, Litfire! They did build my website but as beautiful as it is; it's half-assed. Like, When people go to contact me on the page it doesn't go through to my email and I can't post anything to it without paying additional to what I've already shelled out. I may have to do some extensive research to find a reputable lit agency or publisher to finally get my book up and going. It's a pity to do this to people that has worked so hard to finish their book and to have them being bamboozled is scandalous! What a pity!

Victoria Strauss said...

Anonymous 1/24,

I'm so sorry to hear about your experience with these two companies. What you describe with the website--not being able to have it updated without paying extra--is another example of how these predatory companies bleed their clients dry.

LitFire and Xlibris are not connected, by the way. Although its business model is derived from Author Solutions', and many of its Philippines-based staff worked for Author Solutions, LitFire is a competitor of Xlibris and other Author Solutions imprints.

Anonymous said...

Would someone please give me the name of a legitimate self-publishing company in the USA that is not a Philippine knock-off fraud? I've had disastrous connections with Author House, Tate Publishing (now a defunct fraud) and most recently with LitFire.I would be most appreciative to anyone who can give me a company that will take my business and work with me in a legal and proper manner.

Anonymous in Texas

Victoria Strauss said...

Anonymous in Texas,

I usually suggest that authors who are interested in self-publishing start by investigating the free or low-cost services with good reputations in the self-pub community: Kindle Direct Publishing and IngramSpark if they want to do both print and ebooks, and Smashwords, Draft2Digital, and Kobo Writing Life if they want to do an ebook only.

All of these are DIY-style services. If you'd prefer a less hands-on, more soup-to-nuts service, BookLocker and BookBaby are worth checking out.

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. There are also many copycat services--like LitFire--that are even worse and that are actively soliciting authors; see my blog post for the names of some of them and tips on how to recognize them: http://accrispin.blogspot.com/2018/01/army-of-clones-author-solutions-spawns.html.

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 the Self-Publishing page of Writer Beware: http://www.writerbeware.com/.

 
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