The Mail I Get

Posted by Victoria Strauss for Writer Beware

Received in email this morning via Google Alerts: this press release from an outfit called 3L Publishing, announcing publication of a book called Vanity Circus: A Smart Girl’s Guide to Avoid Publishing Crap.

A manual on how to avoid bad writing? Not exactly. “Vanity Circus is an entertaining, funny and insightful book that guides readers through the complex, sometimes frustrating but always interesting world of publishing.”

As it happens, the book’s authors are co-owners of 3L Publishing, and 3L publishing is a book producer–or, if you want to be less polite about it, a vanity publisher. I don’t whether to laugh at the press release’s opening line (“Business owners and individuals who have lost their jobs or seek new ways to supplement their income are turning to book publishing as a way to make money”), or cry at the fact that anyone would advocate paying a lot of dough to a book producer as a way of beating one’s economic woes (“People are out of work and reinventing their lives. Many people just have stories to tell yet need help from a ghostwriter or editor. They don’t know anything about the business. We wanted to help these people through the process”).

Think I’m being too mean? Check out 3L’s “Publishing Service Sheet,” which promotes their “New Hybrid – Pay for Play” business model by contrasting it with fake facts about “traditional” publishing.


  1. Horrible experience with 3L! The owner has serious personal issues and honestly is clueless with how to work with customers. Spoken with many authors who used the service and left to other publishing companies.

  2. Quote from Victoria Strauss "A good publishing service company–like any good service provider–will do its utmost to ensure excellent customer service and satisfaction. But their principal income derives from what authors pay them, not from selling books to the public. It's a crucial difference, and one that's often overlooked by writers who choose pay-to-play publishers."

    I can personally vouch for 3L Publishing! They work extremely hard to sell your book to the public! No, that's not their big money maker….so what! They put a lot of attention to it anyway, because they actually care about their authors!

    Yes, I am yet another of 3L's fabulous authors….and proud to be so! My book, "Achieving the Balance Dream" could have been published with several different publishers. I chose 3L after much research!

    3L does not publish just anyway who has a buck to spend, so the posters who alluded to that are completely out of line. They have turned down thousands of manuscripts as their company policy is to only publish books they believe in and know will sell well.

    The fact that you feel the need to smear a company that you have no actual experience with is very telling. Perhaps you should work on your own 'stuff' before making it up about someone else?

    Just because someone does it different than you, doesn't make it bad or wrong. So maybe boutique publishing isn't for you. So what?! It works for me.

    3L Publishing is a company with high integrity and run by a smart and savvy business woman who does have years of experience in this industry. If that's not the kind of company you want to do business with….go find one that suits you and leave off on crap comments about someone you have no actual experience with!

  3. Not sure why you feel the need to give a lecture on the research needed when choosing a publisher. It's important that you give authors such as myself the respect they deserve, and assume that they do research instead of making such a critical decision based on "hype".

    "Pay-for-play" publishers do have their place in this very tough business, and if the 3L authors are not complaining, why are you?

  4. Anonymous 7:39, I'm glad you're happy with your experience with 3L. However, writers who pay for publication should always remember that they are buying a service, not being chosen for a privilege or recognized for their talent. A good publishing service company–like any good service provider–will do its utmost to ensure excellent customer service and satisfaction. But their principal income derives from what authors pay them, not from selling books to the public. It's a crucial difference, and one that's often overlooked by writers who choose pay-to-play publishers.

    Writers need to be careful in the choices they make, and make them on the basis of research, not hype.

  5. Lance, it's certainly true that most authors make very little from their writing. Book writing is a notoriously non-lucrative business. But their odds of making anything at all are much reduced if they first pay a lot of money for publication.

    Self-publishing can make a lot of sense in certain circumstances–but writers should shop around, make sure they're getting the best value for their money, and, especially, make sure that self-publishing (which many writers leap into without doing adequate research) is a good match for their goals.

  6. Very mean-spirited comments about a company that gives new authors an opportunity to publish quality books after nothing but rejection from "traditional" publishers, and after dealing with agents that accomplish nothing on their behalf.

    3L Publishing produces quality books, and as an author, I am proud to be affiliated with them. I did get my book published in 6 months, and the editing and coaching offered were priceless. The book design was also absolutely beautiful.

    As colleagues in a very tough business, we should be supporting each other like 3L does their authors, instead to tearing each other down.

    3L Publishing will continue to succeed, and will be around for many years to come, thanks to satisfied authors like me!

  7. Well where to I start? Well the first thing is I am also a client of 3L and if you find it interesting that the authors respond, maybe it’s because when they see a post that is so blatantly uninformed and inaccurate they find it necessary to shed some light on the subject. For starters when I signed with 3L everything they stated they would perform was accurate, honest and seen through to the end. They were very helpful and I would recommend them to anyone trying to make a book a reality.
    Second what many of you are missing is many (actually most) make very little from having a book published. When I asked one published author for advice, he stated to have something else to sell besides just the book. This worked well for me because I was also trying to line up speaking engagements (which I have). Another aspect of writing a book is to strengthen your existing business, in which being a published author has also done for me. Lastly, which many of you are unwilling to do, I bet on myself! I wasn’t afraid to put some money into my project knowing it would be successful AND by doing so I am making more money per book sale. You may not agree with the MODEL but make sure you get the facts before you attack a business that is honest, ethical, provides the service they promised and worked best for my goals as an author.

    Lance A. Casazza (Yes you are happy to email me)

    P.S. And before criticizing me for coming to the “defense” of 3L, ask yourself what do I have to gain? Better yet, do you have the guts to contact me?

  8. I always find it interesting when the owner of a company appears, and shortly thereafter I start to hear from the company's writers.

    That said…Silent Voices, I'm glad you're happy with 3L, and I'm sorry you had a bad experience in submitting your book. But if the editors and publishers you approached told you that you needed tens of thousands of dollars to publish (or even ten dollars to publish), they weren't real editors or publishers. Real publishers don't charge fees.

  9. Im shocked to see all the mean comments. I am an author that is working with 3L and Im here to say, my experience has been wonderful! I would have never been able to do my book without 3L Publishing.

    I contacted and spoke with many editors and publishers and I have to admit, they were all very rude and only seemed interested in their percentage of my book. They had no interested in me as a person or as a new author. Most told me I needed at least 40 to 50 thousand to do my book. I was so disheartened. I almost gave up.

    Then I read a great review of 3L Publishing in the Success Magazine. Thank God! The owner of 3L took a chance on me and has given me the utmost professional and personal experience. Plus, it only costs a fraction of what all the other publisher wanted. 3L only cares about the author and getting the most for them. I feel very blessed to have found 3L and I know my book with do very well with them.

    So – to all the negative comments. You really do not know what you are talking about. I suggested you to investigate more completely before ripping a company you do not know. I can guarantee you…all the other authors associated with 3L feels the same as I.

    Its a great company and I will always recommend them to all future authors. Sincerely, Silent Voices.

  10. Wow! I am the CEO of 3L. You guys are interesting in your comments. Maybe you ought to speak to some of our "ripped" off authors?? Almost all of our titles have five-star reviews on Amazon. And do get into bookstores. We have two top sellers in their Amazon categories — Fertile Kitchen and A Feast at the Beach. We have "ripped off" no one. And not a single author has anything but kind words to say. I'm actually very good friends with our authors. You all might want to quit speculating about what you don't seem to know anything about before you post such nasty comments.

    Michelle Gamble-Risley
    3L Publishing

  11. I looked at "Copies given to author to sell" and saw that as "author has to sell the books out of the trunk of his/her car." I'd rather have the limited number of my books McFarland gives me to sell, give away, use as doorstops — and let THEM sell the rest, like they're supposed to!

    3L's folks are definitely dead wrong on who has the copyright when you are "traditionally" published. Read the verso of the title page of any "traditionally" published book.

  12. Book publishing can bring in good income if you know what you're doing and good at it.. My only concern is the time and effort to out into it and having enough creative ideas to keep readers interested. At the end of the day you have to know who you are working so that you can be known.

    Tracy Chatman

  13. It's no wonder that the publisher retains copyright because the author (apparently) doesn't approve or agree with any changes …

  14. Amazing gaul! AND she knows nothing about the writing life evidenced by her enticement of making $$—funny if it weren't infuriating-thanks again for the head's up!

  15. Also, you don't NEED an agent. You probably WANT an agent…they're highly useful creatures who handle a lot of stuff so you don't have to.

    But people can and do get their first contracts on their own and if you're going with smaller niche publishers you often don't need one. It's a myth that an agent is *absolutely vital*. They just help.

  16. Oh yes, self-publishers can get into national chains, though it's not easy. Even one of my niche books spent a little time in Barnes & Noble.

  17. If anyone cares about their chart: A self-publisher can get distribution through Amazon through (a) the Amazon Advantage Program (b) Amazon Marketplace (c) often, a distributor, or (d) sometimes, a major wholesaler.

    A self-publisher can hire marketers and publicists.

    The time involved to edit and produce a book depends on the book, as well as the publishing method.

    Whether profitability is achieved in the first 1500 copies sold (or more, or fewer, or at all) depends a lot on the quality of the book, how well it is marketed, the cover price, and more or less prudent control of costs.

    Copyright ownership is retained by author with all publication methods, unless the author is either really naive, or savvy enough to get paid a LOT of money to transfer all rights.

    I'm not averse to people acting as book coaches, which is what I think this outfit is trying to do. But they don't know jack.

  18. "A Smart Girl's Guide to Avoid Publishing Crap"

    So, this can go two ways: leave it as is or switch publishing and crap to crap publishing; either way, would this be in the case of irony?

    Or is that doing too much?

    Either way, I don't trust that title. Nor do I trust this company.

    (Note: I'm referring to this whole scheme as crap publishing. They're scheming writers, from the sound of it, while saying in their title says differently.)

    Sorry. Had to edit my comment.

  19. I should be surprised, but I'm not. 3 to 6 months?! Wow, that's all? Shit, I'm in. Where do I sign up? While I'm at it, hand me that brick so I can tie it to my writing career.

    Smart writers who are realistic will realize this is bullshit and not going to get them anywhere. Gullible writers will learn a tough lesson and never forget it.

    Writers who aren't serious will love it.

    Readers, sorry about your luck.

  20. Correction: Business owners and individuals who have lost their jobs or seek new ways to supplement their income are turning to ripping off desperate authors to make money.

    Fish in a barrel. Taking candy from a baby. Supply your own simile. There's so much money in exploiting the dreams of bad writers you have to wonder anyone tries to sell books to readers anymore.

  21. I'm not as kind, I think they know exactly what they are doing. That check list says it all, throwing the new writers bias straight to the "Pay to Play" column. Totally unbalanced list, this couldn't be made by just people who don't understand the industry. Advances only to Big Names.. hahaha.

  22. Lehcarjit, honest but ill-informed people are almost as dangerous as scan artists, though. It's unlikely they'll steal your identity or your credit card numbers, but it's also unlikely that they'll sell your book.

  23. Interesting website. It doesn't look like this group is out to con people (and I noted that WB didn't say that either). Rather that they are a bit naive themselves maybe?

    The title Vanity Circus. This makes it pretty clear to me that they are really writing about the vanity world and not traditional publishing (although the blurb seems to contradict this).

    Also in the middle of a long list of bad titles, covers, and descriptions (that felt like they were all written by the same person), is a blurb that says the book will help you find a fitting title. I don't think I'd want their help.

  24. But they're so sincere. That makes them trustworthy, right?

    I mean, why not trust someone who isn't actually able to get your books onto bookstores shelves if they have a winning smile and winsome style?

  25. oh dear! That publishing facts check list says "traditional publishes" have the copyright of what they publish!

    It's clear they've never actually seen a publishing contract if they think that is true.

    And "big names only" advances? Ha!

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