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Authors Beware

Why are Traditional Publisher getting into Vanity Publishing?

First things first ... if you don't know the difference between vanity publishing and true self publishing then you need to read this one page FREE PDF document or visit our Do-It-Yourself-Publising website. http://goo.gl/B0mwIr

You could also visit this authors personal experience with Balboa Press a vanity publisher. http://goo.gl/Sn0Zr9

Now, to answer the question as to why traditional publishers are offering vanity publishing.

The reality is that trade publishers need to diversify in this  economy if they wish to survive ... that's business. Essentially it can be a lucrative decision so many trade publishers now have a 'pay-to-play' division. (Transparency Notation: MBS Press is our pay to play division).

It is a way for trade publishers to bring in money to help support their core operations. It is important though that the trade publisher doesn't misrepresent the benefits of paid self-publishing services or mislead authors into thinking that using their services is a back door to a traditional book deal (If you believe this then you believe in the tooth fairy). One hopes that these trade publisher are not just attempting to 'monetise the rejected author slush pile' by steering them towards its pay to play service, but unfortunately this seems to be the case. 

The real problem is though how TRADE Publishers are choosing to work with a company that exploits authors through deceptive PR tactics, misleading rhetoric, and terrible customer service. Author Solutions poor reputation is not a secret, it's all over the Internet (just  google it). Better still pick any one of these writers/organisations and see what they have to say. They've been reporting on them longer than we have. Victoria Strauss; Writers Beware; Mark Rooney; David Gaughran; Mystery Writers of America; Emily Suess; The Digital Reader; Kathleen Schmidt; Mark Coker and Laura Hazard Owen.

Three authors have begun a federal class action suit against Penguin and its self-publishing services provider, Author Solutions, seeking damages of more than $5 mn. Says Publishers Weekly:

The suit, which seeks class action status, alleges that Author Solutions misrepresents itself, luring authors in with claims that its books can compete with “traditional publishers,” offering “greater speed, higher royalties, and more control for its authors.” The company then profits from “fraudulent” practices, the complaint alleges, including “delaying publication, publishing manuscripts with errors to generate fees, and selling worthless services, or services that fail to accomplish what they promise.” The suit also alleges that Author Solutions fails to pay its authors the royalties they are due. PDF you can read of the complaint

The Alliance of Independent Authors has said that it welcomes the suit: [Author Solutions’] true business is not publishing, the complaint stresses, but selling services to authors. ASI is a company about whom we regularly receive the most complaints from a wide variety of authors.



Our FREE Booklet  will give you more insight into this publishing SCAM.


The AUTHOR EXPLOITATION Business - One and the Same- absolutely NOT.


Make sure your  chosen self publisher individually deals with each book title they receive ... do not be one of those misguided authors paying for a book template system with hundreds of thousands of other authors... you are but just a number. They print and publish your book then leave you to your own devices.

In this era of publishing there is a gradual co-opting of the independent publishing houses worldwide in the form of an alliance with subsidy king Author Solutions which is now owned by Penquin (a massive book producer - not book seller).

Independent publishing houses are struggling in these economic times and they are seeing every day how much authors are willing to pay to publish their books so they've cash in, and Author Solutions is the back end of their self publishing company (a hugely automated money machine promoting as many add-ons as they can to increase the money they receive from you).

Author Solutions owns AuthorHouse, iUniverse, Trafford Publishing, Xlibris and Wordclay imprints. It describes itself as 'a world leader in indie book publishing' and yet to be honest there is nothing really 'indie' about the books it produces (or the company). It is the same mass produced production line for all books no matter which division you go through (the cookie cutter book machine on a treadmill).

It gets worse - now you can't distinguish them in the market place as many independent publishers have joined forces with Author Solutions. First it was Thomas Nelson, the huge bible and religious publisher, with West Bow Press and yes even Balboa Press is an Author Solutions subsidy branch of Hay House (a respected independent publisher of self-help and spiritual books). Truly, both Balboa Press and West Bow Press etc are enterprises operated solely by Author Solutions. Here is a listing of who else is affiliated in some way or utilise the services of Áuthor Solutions (but you may never know it).

It gets even WORSE. when in March 2012 word went out that  self-publishing giant Author Solutions was looking for a buyer. Now it has one: Pearson, the parent company of Penguin Group. According to the official press release, Pearson is paying $116 million in cash for ASI.

Penguin’s chief executive John Makinson said: In 2011 Author Solutions generated revenues of approximately $100m, growing at an average annual rate of 12% over the past three years. Its business is split broadly evenly across three key areas: publishing, marketing and distribution services, with revenues generated primarily from services to authors.

Anyway we could go on and on but we've been advised that the following in RED are Author Solutions affiliated or White Label companies

Abbott Press (Writers's Digest)

Archway Publishing(Simon and Schuster)

Author Hive

Authorhouse UK -

AuthorHouse US -

Author Learning Centre

Balboa Press (Hay House Publishing)


Crossbooks (Lifeways)

DellArte Press (Harlequin)


Inspiring Voices (Guideposts)

iUniverse US -

Legacy Keepers

LifeRich Publishing (Readers Digest)


Partridge (Penquins new self pub brand in India)

Trafford Publishing US

WestBow Press (Thomas Nelson)


Xlibris US

LuLu - sources say (and confirmed) some of the POD and self-pub services Lulu recently announced (suite of marketing and publishing services) are signed as a deal with Author Solutions. All the new services are actually provided by ASI, not Lulu, though Lulu is getting a commission on the revenue generated via their website.


These websites present like an independent information website but all are designed to redirect you back to the largest vanity publisher powered and profited by Author Solutions. Is this illegal NO - unethical - YES.







to name just a few.

The inference with all these websites (and this is just some of them) is that the company wants to be consistent with the types of books published by the parent company. For example Balboa Press would make you believe that it is an independent publishing house run by Hay House Publishing and that they deal with all submissions. In reality none of the parent companies employ a submission filter that tells the author that her/his submitted book of 'Dreams' will not find a home at Balboa Press, and nor for that matter will any author submitting the next great Aussie novel. They publish all and sundry through Author Solutions.

In reality you are not aligning yourself with Hay House Publishing (or any others mentioned above) whatever their website might suggest or allude to. You are in fact aligning yourself and your book with Author Solutions (ASI), the author solutions company who run and provide the publishing services for Balboa Press (as an example).

A great article than just puts it in a  nutshell is The Author Exploitation Business

Transparency would be nice.

It would be much better for all authors if self publishing houses where more transparent. Nowhere do they mention the involvement of Author Solutions, and the continued implication is that an author is paying for services and work carried out by staff aligned directly with the independent publishing house (i.e. Hay House Publishing). In essence, Author Solutions do not share the same core values as the independent publishers that they represent. In reality these imprints of Author Solutions just provide another book by Author Solutions (ASI) and that is not what the likes of Balboa Press claim to be selling authors.

Now there's nothing intrinsically wrong with paying for publishing services with Author Solutions. That's how MBS Press operates too - except for - we do the work. However writers are sold by manipulating the dream they have of becoming successful published authors by riding the coat tails of the parent company. The best thing to do is to take a book from a self published website and see if the parent company offers it with their trade titles (we do).

Furthermore, if you look at the "packages" that these companies offer (Author Solutions in disguise), you soon realize you will be spending thousands of dollars to get into print, and that's before all the up sells kick in. And, before you start buying your own books at inflated prices (not a BASE price).

Who sets the recommended retail price (you or them), how much does the publisher ask you to pay for your own books (usually a highly inflated price where they profit from every book purchased by the author)? Do they have their own distributors? These are but some of the questions we would ask - or go here for a list of due diligence questions before you commit to any publisher.

Isn't There Another Way?

Many writers don't want to take on the responsibility as the author/publisher of their book, and look for a "one stop shop" type of solution. Do-It-Yourself-Publishing with the support of a book coach is a much better option. However if you still want to pay a publisher to publish your book then all we ask is that you educate yourself before you commit to a particular publishing path (click for questions to ask).

We've consulted with half a dozen writers recently and just by showing them how to educate themselves with better information (by using our questions) in the publishing process ... that authors make better decisions. When the facts are plainly in front of them (in black and white - not a wolf covered in sheep's clothing), most people know right away what to do, it's not confusing at all.

We would hope that many of you will see that as a self publishing company that we honour our authors. Our quest is to save them time and money and to ensure the publishing process happens with Joy, Love and Ease. We are transparent about our services instead of relying on hype to seduce you. We do not CONSTANTLY ring and harass you. We provide you with as much information as possible to make informed decisions. We are committed to helping our authors succeed at the most important task anyone in this business ought to be dedicated to - getting their books the widest possible readership (and sales).

Self publishing is an incredibly exciting and rich place to be right now in 2014. There are huge opportunities for the entrepreneurial and committed author.


NOTE: Before doing business with POD publishers or any other person/company that charges a fee for service, do your research. Undertake a Google search for:

(That company name) + Scam; (That company name) + Problem; (That company name) + Complaint(That company name) + Rip-off; 

(That company name) + Fraud; (That company name) + Better Business Bureau  (for US companies)