Archway Publishing: Simon & Schuster Adds a Self-Publishing Division

Well, it’s happened again. Another traditional publisher has added a pay-to-play “division.”

Yesterday, venerable trade publisher (and one of the Big 5) Simon & Schuster announced the launch of Archway Publishing, a self-publishing services provider.

“Through Archway Publishing, Simon & Schuster is pleased to be part of the rapidly expanding self-publishing segment of our industry,” said Carolyn Reidy, president and CEO of Simon & Schuster. “Self-publishing has become a viable and popular route to publication for many authors, and increasingly a source of content for traditional publishers, including Simon & Schuster. We’re excited that we’ll be able to help more authors find their own path to publication and at the same time create a more direct connection to those self-published authors ready to make the leap to traditional publishing.”

Like the other self-publishing divisions of trade publishers (LifeWay’s Cross Books, Thomas Nelson’s West Bow Press, Harlequin’s Dell’Arte Press [which, unlike other ventures of this sort, produced a furore upon its introduction and had to change its name], Hay House’s Balboa Press, and Writer’s Digest’s Abbott Press), Archway Publishing is outsourced to Author Solutions Inc. S&S is the biggest fish ASI has landed so far.

S&S seems to be hoping to differentiate Archway by presenting it as a “premium” service. According to the Archway (God, I have to stop thinking about those cookies) Free Publishing Guide–which you can’t access without giving Archway your name, email, and phone number, even though it’s present on the website behind a hidden URL–the familiar ASI basics are joined by such “unique” extras as inclusion in Edelweiss (a national bookseller catalog), a Speaker’s Bureau, an author reception at BEA (cue eyeroll), and various video services (some of which are already available from ASI a la carte).

There’s also a concierge service, where you work with just one person to coordinate all aspects of publication. Unlike the other extras, this doesn’t appear to be included in any of the packages; nor could I find an a la carte price. Instead, Archway invites authors to call to learn more. Hmmm.

As you might expect, with premium services go premium prices. Even by the standards of ASI–which is generally pricier than similar self-publishing service providers–the cost of Archway’s packages is eye-popping. For fiction and nonfiction, prices start at $2,000 and rise to $15,000. Children’s books are slightly more economical, beginning at $1,500 and topping out at $8,500. For the business package, you can’t get in the door for less than $2,200, and if you go for the whole shebang you’ll be on the hook for a cool $25Gs.

Plus, as with all the ASI “brands,” there’s a whole range of additional–and often highly dubious–“marketing” services you can drop big bucks on.

Archway Publishing has the S&S name in its logo. However, unlike West Bow Press, which prominently touts its connection with Thomas Nelson–or Dell’Arte Press, which doesn’t mention Harlequin at all, anywhere–Archway is at some pains to make clear that while S&S has provided “guidance,” it’s ASI that’s running the show. There’s still the carrot, though.

Additionally, [ASI] will alert Simon & Schuster to Archway Publishing titles that perform well in the market. Simon & Schuster is always on the lookout for fresh, new voices and they recognize a wealth of talent in Archway authors.

Um, yeah. But that’s not actually what Archway Publishing–or any of the pay-to-play subsidiaries of traditional publishers–is all about. What it’s about is the money–publishers’ desire to cash in on the boom in self-publishing services, and capture a piece of a lucrative revenue stream.

How lucrative, though? The action in self-publishing right now is in the ebook realm, where publishing services are available free. Beside Smashwords, Amazon’s KDP program, PubIt! from Nook, etc., expensive POD-centric ASI-style services seem clunky and old-fashioned. Why invest in a costly publishing package when you can ebook for nothing on Smashwords, POD for nothing on CreateSpace, find reasonably-priced cover design services on DeviantArt, and so on?

Of course, there are people who don’t want to DIY, and there’s no shame in that. Even so, there’s no reason to pay an arm and a leg for a publishing package. There are many service providers that are far more cost-effective than ASI.

Crucially, there are also many self-pub service providers that have far better reputations. It’s not an exaggeration to say that, right now, ASI is the most hated name in the self-publishing services world. For why, do a search on “Author Solutions” on this blog, or take a look at Emily Suess’s many posts about the company. Emily breaks it down:

 The short list of recurring issues includes: making formerly out-of-print works available for sale without the author’s consent, improperly reporting royalty information, non-payment of royalties, breech of contract, predatory and harassing sales calls, excessive markups on review and advertising services, failure to deliver marketing services as promised, telling customers their add-ons will only cost hundreds of dollars and then charging their credit cards thousands of dollars, ignoring customer complaints, shaming and banning customers who go public with their stories, and calling at least one customer a ‘fucking asshole.’

These are all very similar to reports Writer Beware has received over the years. ASI is the only self-pub service provider about which we get regular complaints.

Look, I understand why traditional publishers want to get involved with self-publishing. It’s a business decision–a way for publishers to bring in money to help support their core operations. As long as the publisher doesn’t misrepresent the benefits of paid self-publishing services, or mislead authors into thinking that using its service is a back door to a traditional book deal, or attempt to monetize its slush pile by steering rejected writers toward its service (see below), I can live with that.

(I can’t help but roll my eyes when self-publishing advocates condemn traditional publishers for an outdated business model, yet get morally outraged when they actually change the model. But I digress.)

My problem is with how S&S and others have chosen to dabble in self-publishing–by choosing to work with a company that exploits authors through deceptive PR tactics, misleading rhetoric, and terrible customer service. ASI’s poor reputation is not a secret–it’s all over the Internet. Could S&S and others not have chosen a more complaint-free service provider–or, even, created the service themselves? You’ve got to at least give the much-reviled Book Country props for that.

There’s also this disturbing tidbit in PW’s coverage of the launch: “S&S will refer authors who submit unsolicited manuscripts to the Archway program.” I didn’t find this in other news coverage, and I’m hoping it’s not true–or if it is true, that S&S will re-think it. Such referrals are seriously questionable, since authors who receive them are likely to give them more weight because they come from a respected publisher.

It’s been pointed out by journalists and others covering the Archway launch that there’s a weird twist to the story: ASI is part of S&S’s competitor, Penguin Random House. When Penguin’s parent company bought ASI and folded it into Penguin, I expressed the hope that Penguin would start to clean up the problems at ASI, make it more customer-friendly and transparent, as Amazon did years ago when it purchased the then-very-troubled BookSurge. I still hope that will happen–but I know better than to hold my breath.


  1. I’m a single mom who published a book through archway and haven’t received a cent. It is called Exorcism of the heart. It’s a poetic anthology they told me it would be sold at Barnes and noble and Amazon it’s being sold all over the internet and I have made nothing even though I invest my last money to do so. I’m really upset.

  2. Archway Publishing intitated a monthly billing of my credit card for $9.99 for the "Author Leanring Center" without my consent. Despite multiple calls and letters, they continued to bill my account for months until my credit card company issued a stop payment. My credit card company reversed all charges but it was headache. This is not the company you want to help you self-publish.

  3. Kathleen,

    A quick Google search turns up many books with the same or similar title (titles aren't protected by copyright) and similar storylines. I'd suggest that you order the other book and look it over to see whether it really is the same as yours. If it is, you can then decide on what action to take.

  4. I JUST SAW AN EXACT COPY OF A BOOK I WROTE AND PUBLISHED through ARCHWAY. Its called The Mouse in the House by Kathleen Ziska, c 2015, and now there is ANOTHER book, The Mouse in the House, by Mary-Page Clay with the EXACT TITLE and STORYLINE, published in 2017!!!!!! Beware, ARCHWAY IS SLIMY.

  5. I self-published with Archway. The book was well-designed. Having said that, the amount of money I paid for Archway to publish my book was double what it should have been. The next book was sent to a different publisher and this book has an excellent cover design, and there was assistance available at all times through the publishing process.
    The second publisher charged less than half the amount charged by Archway. My second book has clear print, an attractive cover and I worked with a representative of the company from the beginning to the end of the process. My advise is to compare prices before you sign a contract; and, read the small print.
    I am speaking from a voice of experience. Many new authors are inexperienced in selecting a publisher…..don't do what I did and waste thousands of dollars. Sign me "Sad and Wiser"

  6. Yes, I used Create Space which was free and they did an excellent job. I sold a few hundred books, but that’s nothing. It’s so hard to get good agents to even look at your ms. I have another book now and am getting a professional designer to do the book covers, but I know that if I sell 500, I’ll be lucky. I

  7. I was very disappointed with Archway services, to the point that I would rank them with timeshares and used car sales along with other forms of false advertising. Very persuasive in selling you their “premium” editorial services. For @$7,000 for a top flight editing services, I received just a few punctuation technical corrections and the only comments were to “spell out the acronyms”, and two almost obligatory comments on the side “your wording isn’t clear” out of 324 pages. No comments about content length or any other qualitative adjustments. They basically just let me wander with the book, and when I realized it should have been planned better from the start while still under this editorial services contract, the book had to be substantially revised and had exceeded the contractual allowances for revision. In other words, Archway wanted more money to place their commas and single inside double quotes and other minutia like that.
    You are far better off just using
    Archway was a complete waste of money. Badly rewrote the back cover summary and I should have never let them do that. Fortunately, I declined to use their “promotional services” for it not matter. The book bombed, but that is besides the point. The price has now been reduced to that of a used throwaway comic book. My Medical-Legal Back Pages

    In October 2016, I was sold a very expensive package by an Archway Salesperson to get my book published through Archway that included a so-called publicity package (very vague – "you will be assigned two publicists" to promote your book. That was about as much information as they shared. I did, however, specifically mention I would like to do radio promotion. THIS NEVER HAPPENED. When they sold me the package, even though I specifically told them I was interested in doing mainly radio promotion, no one EVER said "our publicists do NOTHING but offer social media". In addition, I was never contacted by a publicist. Never. Not once. When I followed up, they claimed it was because they never got the form they sent me (how about following up with me and letting me know there was a form you needed? I never saw this form but submitted it immediately after two months had already passed without me knowing they ever sent me this form. There was absolutely no follow up on their part). I was then informed they CONTRACT OUT publicity (something they never told me) and THEY WILL NEVER READ YOUR BOOK. Yes, only AFTER you pay, do they tell you that they contract out to people who NEVER EVEN READ the book they are supposed to be marketing. So I guess they are supposed to figure out who your audience is through osmosis. When they said all they can offer me was SOCIAL MEDIA, and that's what I paid for, I stated I would have never paid for that had you told me BEFORE I paid because that doesn't interest me. So there you have it everyone. Buyer beware. They must have had a lot of complaints because he told me they changed their publicity package and if I want to pay MORE money, I can possibly have something closer to what I want. This is just horrific customer service on all fronts.

  9. Hello. Like Unknown, I found this blog after giving Archway my contact info, including my phone number. Fortunately, my phone technology allows me not to be disturbed by folks not on my favorites list. Anyway… I am an aspiring writer who would like to publish science fiction and nonfiction science books. Thanks for this info as well as the all the resources mentioned in this blog post!

  10. Unknown 9/11,

    You can do either. As for copyright, you have it from the moment you write down the words. Drop me an email at, and I'll send you some general information to get you started.

  11. Hello- I just found this blog while researching Archway- thank you all so much for the info! Coming from someone who is completely naive and has a book I'd like to sell- what is the best way to go about it? Do you have to go through a publisher or can I just get copies printed and sell them myself? I was under the impression that you need a publisher for copywrite, etc. Thank you so much for your time!

  12. I wanted to find someone to publish a book, so I found them, they told me how much it would cost, and I told them I was going to think about it, but never heard from them again and it's been a month now. I consider using someone different if you want someone to help you publish a book.

  13. It is 2018, and I have had a horrendous experience with Archway Publishing. Please do not affiliate with them. I worked with Create Space a few years ago and their personnel, software and approach is much superior. I was lured in because of their affiliation with Simon & Schuster and after seeing the level of unsophisticated software and their incredibly pushy salespeople, I asked for a refund within 48 hours, and received none. I did receive an apology from them, admitting they were pushy in calling on Saturday and Sunday with their bait and switch I signed nothing. This is a terrible scam.
    M Wise

  14. Without reading any of the above posts, I can tell you as a newbie that Archway was a complete rip-off, especially their "premium editing package." I am college and professionally educated and therefore can write a few coherent sentences, but had never written a book before.

    For the $6,000-7,000 extra? Forget it. Just use or submit your manuscript to your old 10thgrade high school English teacher to proofread. My Archway reviewer made just three comments on the side, advising three times over the 324 pages to "spell out acronyms" like NAPD (National Practitioner Data Bank.) No editing, no recommendations about content, or rearrangement of subjects, etc., just superficial punctuation changes and verb tense from simple past to past perfect tense.

    On the back "about the author" page which dealt with the theoretical targeted audience of doctors, lawyers, judges, medical and law students, Archway tried to make the book more appealing to the dumbed down Oprah addicted romance novel reader. Obviously, Archway had NO IDEA whom they were marketing to, yet kept asking for additional marketing fees. A complete waste. My Medical-Legal Back Pages. Bryce Sterling. I am glad its over. Do not intend to write another book, and would never contemplate using Archway again even if I did. Save your money.

  15. I recently had a children's book published by Archway. I had Archway do the illustrations, and they were so bad that Archway finally agreed to have them all done over. The re-do process was done at no cost to me, but added months to the preparation time. Since the book was completed, I have not been able to get my assigned book order representative to return emails or phone calls. The level of service has been very poor, especially for a self-publisher who is so expensive.

  16. I looked into their website before I came into this blog. Based on the details they provided, it's crystal clear that it's a huge risk to take with little to no chances of generating an income out of it. It doesn't even sound like it's a self-publish given the process and payment they offer. Just searching on this company alone basically solidified my impressions on this. Good thing I didn't fall for the email they sent me.

  17. I contacted Archway Publishing. They wanted more than 2k up front before even looking at my work. Said if they didn't like it, they would return all but $400. You are literally expected to fill out an online form, give your credit card number next. Who would do that? Not I.

  18. I submit my manuscripts to literary agents and have self published through Create Space. I would never pay to publish. And yes people buy my books.

  19. I published 4 books with Archway, had great service and high quality books. I guess you can get mad at them if your book does not sell but that is not the publisher's fault. People here on this blog seem to just love to complain. I see a lot of fabrication on this blog and negativity. Keep complain ing if it makes you happy bur I Love Archway! A.W.

  20. Lies,lies,lies, from the beginning, the sales rep did nothing but mis- represent information. Shame on me for not digging deeper into legal verbiage, and blogs, but once I was sucked in, I was trapped. What I was told I was receiving, is not what I actually got. I was even misled about " All American" when in fact, they use the Philippines for majority of activities…..same as Xlibris, which I originally signed up with , and once reviewed their contract, was able to recover my funds, several months later…and only after getting BBB involved and threatened court.
    I have waited now for over a year to receive my copyright, and to date, no one from Archway can even verify they submitted the application. Every time I call, I get a different story, and again, from the Phillipino call center. Take this warning, do not trust them, do not use them or any of the "Author Solutions " affiliates. They all use the same tactics, to suck you in. Do you homework, it may take you a bit longer, but you can save thousands.

  21. My book is as I wanted, but I put forth the details, etc. Archway personnel polite, but most communication via email through several personnel changes. While the book isn't a best seller,many have been sold, and no accounting or check forthcoming. I receive offers and opportnities to send Archway money for me to sell my books. Essentially, They want me to pay them, for me to work hard to sell the book and they have diuble income from a single source…ME. Stay away from these crooks!

  22. I just recently signed a contract with Archway Publishing and cancelled before a week into it. They wanted me to send everything pretty much "camera ready." As I told them, I'm not a graphic artist, but I do have experience in layout. (not on the technical side) I've been trying to get them to credit my credit card back but I've been bounced around to numerous people. Today I was connected to a "sales specialist" and have no clue what he has to do with my refund. He told me, according to my contract, they have 30 days to issue the credit. Well, I couldn't find it. Guess I'm still waiting. Next step will have to be with my credit card company filing a dispute.

  23. Thanks so much for all these remarks. Once Archway has a name and email, they are aggressive marketers acting like cheerleaders. The beginning price of $2,000 may be the norm for the business but, really, what are the odds of a self published, (never reviewed, not marketed) book ever selling enough to break even?
    I have used Create Space, the cost is much more reasonable and author copies are about $3 a piece so it won't require a second mortgage to take a few out and sell them where the opportunity arises. They are well done and available on Amazon so a FB post can nudge at least friends and family to order one.
    This minimal $2,000 package felt to me like opening my checkbook for endless additional services.
    If you are Tom Clancy or Robert Ludlum you don't need such service but for the majority of writers, it is well worth doing the simple math- If your book seems likely to sell over $2,000 in royalties, query Simon and Schuster instead.

  24. My experience with Archway Publishing was very depressing! I was treated like and old grandmother that just wanted a couple of books in order to impress my grandchildren before I die!
    The first printing was sent to me and all of the pages were wrinkled and they used such cheap paper that the illustrations could be seen through from the other side. They kept prompting me to place an order for more books, but why would I order anything from them with such a poor quality, as well as their ridiculous price? They’ve taken me for a total of $7300.00 and, yes I am almost a senior and it’s very hard to bounce back when one loses that amount of money at my age and being a sole provider.
    I remember nervously doing the paper signing because I had a bad feeling from the start! Unfortunately, I overlooked a spelling error – MADE BY THEIR EDITOR, and, naturally, they wanted more money to correct it. When I refused to spend another nickel, they passed it off by saying that there are a lot of mistakes in books anyway, if I’ve read any lately. This was a children’s book, so how dare they! We can’t be setting that kind of an example for our kids! Wow!!! Not just rude, but corrupt as well!
    So, Beware! Don’t let them fleece YOU!!! I’m a Canadian and because they’re out of Indiana, USA, I suppose they’re laughing all the way to the bank at my expense. They’re right about one thing . . . I’ve lost so much money already, how could I possibly afford a lawyer to work on my behalf in the USA. If they’ve done this to me, I’m sure they’ll do it to others at every opportunity! If you’re into telephone scanning and preying on seniors, maybe you should get a job with them. You’ll be able to hide your dirty tricks behind a corrupt company!

  25. Self published a children's book dealing with divorce. It was based on a true account. They led me down a road of fantasy and after spending thousands it reached dormancy. They now want me to invest more money to get it out there. Really???? Gail

  26. Archway charges $1999. That is not a fortune, nor is it life savings. Is it just that their services are so bad?

  27. Thank you for the nice post. I actually published with Trafford in the year 2001 (I believe) and they were first to do POD and the owner made himself available to me on multiple occasions. My first book,"Burke's Law," A New Fitness Pardigm for the Mature Male" was very lucrative for them–and a modicum for myself. When Trafford was sold, it became an awful mill of churning, burning and lost to the authors so I moved to (Amazon-owned)Create Space. They are ok, but there are other options now.

    Two books and 6 ebooks later, I am going to try it on my own for a really big manuscript and if anyone knows Book-cover design, please post.
    THank you

  28. The negative reviews appear to be sour grapes. I have one book published and on my second. I have faith in them and I have not been disappointed. They are professional, and seem to be honest when evaluating your manuscript. Sometimes the review can be brutal, but in my case so so much but what they had to say was very correct. The prices are reasonable and fair. I do not know where $25,000.00 came from, but that is their story. The people I talk with were honest and up front with recommendations. So far everything is good and we recognize that self-publishing is to make money, it is a business and if that is not what you like, go elsewhere.

  29. I'm so glad I read this before going through with Archway for my book. But a better question is, who do you actually recommend as a great publisher, self publishers or otherwise?

  30. Linda,

    "Best" is relative–it really depends on your goals and needs, so it's best for you to do the research for yourself. There's lots of information and links to help you at Writer Beware's Self-Publishing page.

    There's actually no need to pay for self-publishing at all. Both Lulu and CreateSpace offer free options, and ebook platforms like Kindle Direct Publishing and ebook distributors like Smashwords are also free.

  31. I simply want your advise. Who is the best self publisher at the best price? I have never published a book but I have two to publish. I cannot afford a large price tag. Thank you.

  32. Uh, nowhere do I see on Archway's website that there is a charge of $25,000 to have your book "simply published". This blog was written a day or two after S&S made the announcement and before a single book was published through Archway–so how can you comment on quality? The more expensive packages which are several thousand dollars include a publicist, creation of an author video, and a press release that go out to 250,000 media outlets…not just simply putting a book together. If you are DIY great but many times these books come out looking amateurish and yes, you can upload your book to Amazon for free…but that is one outlet that competes with 10,000 other authors that have done the same thing and has zero distribution, can't offer the 11 other e-book formats..only Kindle, or marketing, or a chance of having your book in bookstores since that is your local mom and pop bookstores main competition. Archway utilizes Simon and Schuster's network of 38,000 retailers…not bad for $1599 plus them creating the cover design, copy cover edit, interior book design, creation of author webpage, all 12 e-book formats, and copyright registration–plus about ten other features. If you are a genius author, brilliant graphic designer, can create and design your own webpage, have distribution to 38,000 retailers, and also perfectly market your own book…then yeah DIY….if not pay less than $2000 and get it released with all those things included in 3-4 months. The comments on here are crazily exaggerated and not one of you even checked out the Archway website or services (admit it)…just went on the word of mouth of one blogger–who needed something to blog about. This obviously won't even get approved by the mod so I don't know why I am wasting my time. Whatev.

  33. This doesn't surprise me one bit. With all these other houses providing self publishing services at hefty prices, like iUniverse and such, the traditional publishing houses see it as the revenue they are not getting, but can dip into. So why not? But for those amounts to not receive the best editing, cover and formatting as well as marketing, and shitty treatment from their customer service and the house itself, it's beyond the shame and I truly can't see why would a reputable publishing house stoop so low and partner with someone like this.

  34. Having worked in book and magazine publishing for decades, I can't help but balk at this rabid desire to self-publish "for free." In publishing houses, designers and editors are paid salaries. I've been among them. The assumption is that every author needs at least one other set of eyes on his or her material. Ah — but not you clever aspirants who just wanna lay it on the world as cheaply as you can … who exempt yourselves from editing, revisions, book design or marketing plans. Guess what? You're the flip-side of ASI. You're as dumb and greedy as they. It's honorable to pay for professional services. Maybe not 25K. But expect to pay something if you want to publish a book worth other people's time.

  35. Well, for a big company, a $25,000 package that provided real service, such as editing, distribution, and excellent illustration work, etc that would be ok. Problem is that they don't do that.

    I wrote some chapters for a book put together by the military. When I saw the book I was kind of appalled. There were chapters with glaring typographical errors, and the chapter content varied from excellent to ridiculous.

    The book publishing was contracted out to Praeger Security International. Praeger collected something like $25,000 from the army, and kept the copyright! They then sold the books back to the army for hundreds of dollars each.

  36. Btw – Victoria – I was looking through the Archway site today when tiny bells began going off in my head. So I immediately came to your blog and found this post which answered so many questions. Nice going! And thanks again!

  37. Excellent post! That was extremely informative, and very helpful – thanks a lot! Happy New Year!

  38. $25K to self-publish a paperback book
    You can do that for under $300 if you just learn how to use the Adobe acrobat and photoshop software.

    Even less if you use CreateSpace.
    What a Rip.

  39. I hope S&S puts you on their worst scam authors list and charges you one million dollars for a crappy book with your actual crappy writing unedited.

  40. I'd be shocked to discover that S&S would actually make a good deal of money on this venture? With the plethora of e-publishing ventures out there (as you pointed out), it just seems hopeless and pointless to pay up to 25K to get a book published nowadays!!!

  41. While nobody ever went broke underestimating the stupidity of… etc. etc., it really sounds like S&S's strategy depends on people being very stupid indeed. Why the hell would anyone pay for "services" which are either unnecessary or cost less elsewhere? Once Amazon made self-publishing virtually "free" for e-books and inexpensive for print, they won the game. Unless these "affiliated" self-publishing scams can actually get books on store shelves (the continuing bete noir of self-publishing) this new venture is doomed. And even getting into stores grows less important every day as online shopping takes over.

  42. So now even the last few big publishers have become vanity presses. But as long as you are cashing in, I guess you don't mind and will not put them on your "worst publishers" list.

  43. Hi Victoria – I saw your response on Porter's blog, and I thought I should reply here too in case you don't see it:


    I don't have a problem with publishers offering services per se, but I think clear dividing walls need to be built (a point with which I presume you agree). I argued that was not the case with Book Country. As I said in my blog post at the time:

    "The head of Book Country is Molly Barton, who has been working at Penguin since 2005, and was promoted this week to the position of Global Digital Director. Book Country was set-up by Penguin, is funded by Penguin, Penguin’s logo is all over the site, and Penguin staff write blog posts for the Book Country blog. The demonstration for Book Country’s new self-publishing services was even given in Penguin’s offices."

    This, of course, leads to inexperienced writers thinking they have a shot of a deal with Penguin if they go with Book Country (something Penguin play up in the promotional literature). And it also leads to articles like this one from The Guardian, which really don't help:

    "Want to be published by Penguin, the historic press which is home to authors including Roald Dahl, Beatrix Potter and Kathryn Stockett? Now you can be – and for as little as $99 (£60), as Penguin’s American arm announced a move into self-publishing."

    That issue aside, my problem with Book Country was (and is) two-fold: it overcharges for basic services, and then picks the unsuspecting writer's pocket a second time through grabbing a huge chunk of your royalties (despite disingenuously claiming otherwise).

    I detailed all this in my blog post at the time:

    Self-publishers aren't reacting angrily to Book Country, Author Solutions, Penguin and Simon & Schuster because of some reflexive disapproval of anything a publisher does, there is real substance to their complaints.

    It springs from a desire to protect our fellow writers because we know there is a much cheaper and much more effective way to self-publish.


  44. This doesn't surprise me one bit. With all these other houses providing self publishing services at hefty prices, like iUniverse and such, the traditional publishing houses see it as the revenue they are not getting, but can dip into. So why not? But for those amounts to not receive the best editing, cover and formatting as well as marketing, and shitty treatment from their customer service and the house itself, it's beyond the shame and I truly can't see why would a reputable publishing house stoop so low and partner with someone like this.

  45. I'm sorry to hear about all this – it's as if people were sheep to be fleeced by publishing companies…it's just depressing.
    There are ways authors can self publish without spending a dime – but it's complicated and most people don't have the time or aren't tech-savvy enough to get an acceptable copy (thinking Lulu or Creat-a-space) and of course, the company offers 'help' for a 'small price'…

  46. Simon & Schuster also just announced their new Friendly Connections division. For a modest fee, you can "connect" with a new friend, who will be your companion, attend fun events with you, hang on your every word, and give you a shoulder to cry on. It's all the benefits of friendship with none of the inconveniences.

    Want to go to the movies? You get to choose. The opera? Your new friend will love it. (Or at least pretend to.) You can tell your new friend about the jerk at the office who keeps backstabbing you–and you can tell the long version–without fear that your friend will be bored after hearing it for the fourth time.

    Packages start at $20 an hour for basic companionship, to $100 an hour for less-popular events such as attending knitting classes together, to a week-long post-breakup friend session where your new friend camps out on the couch with you eating Ben & Jerry's, handing you tissues, and telling you that he was a jerk and you deserve so much better. (Post-breakup sessions begin at $7000 plus expenses, with an a la carte menu for extras such as back-patting, tear-wiping, and translating your incoherent, cry-talking.

    The premium package is the Simon & Schuster Post-Rejection Package. Your new friend will arrive at your door with the rejection letter from S&S for your most recently submitted manuscript. He or she will bring along two boxes of tissues, a case of wine, a case of Ben & Jerry's ice cream, two spoons, a fifth of vodka, and a lovely shadow box in which to mount your rejection slip. The new friend will stay with you for two weeks to help you recover from the rejection and to spend several days assisting you by outlining the new Archway Self-Publishing packages available to you. Please note that picking up the two-week-old tissues, empty bottles, and old ice cream cartons before your friend leaves is an optional service. Please call Simon & Schuster's new Friendly Connection division for pricing on this premium package.

  47. Rants are fun, but do they really ever convey any serious information? This is an issue that we *should* all be discussing seriously instead of descending into Rantland. And I'm sorry, but I really would feel that I could take posts like that more seriously if they didn't always seem to come from "Anonymous."

  48. A few thoughts on the decline of western civilization and the pub industry's role in it all (not to mention our depraved society and mentally disordered government):

    1) Simon & Shyster is just the next of major corporations to screw consumers and potential clients/employees. Author Solutions and ideological exploitation of the naive and easily deluded is the cancer that is killing publishing (not to mention American politics — hint, hint, the "free stuff" society).

    2) Self-pub will always have this stigma regardless of what the big names hope to do with it, and maybe now a bigger one. The blame lies not only with scammers like ASI (which should be drawn and quartered by the FTC, by the way) but with trashy fame whores like E.L. James. Amanda Hocking I have respect for because she is earnest and hardworking and deserves to be living her dream. She also does not write pr0n and is therefore not a fame whore. James is. She's the self-pub equivalent of Marquis De Sade, and the popularity of her book above others that might be decently or even well written but not toe-curlers like that filth renders self-pub the equivalent of amateur skin vids.

    3) None of this matters anyway, since nobody reads anymore, and Fifty Shades would do better as a movie aired late at night on Skinemax or distributed on Redtube. A book? What's that? Something in the dinosaur exhibit? People are declining in literacy, and as the Internet generation ages and others die out, books will become as antiquated as land lines, typewriters and stone tablets. This is the dumbing down of our society and it's inevitable. So don't bother creating something that might have lasting impact. People would rather pay $0.99 for a burger and steal your book if they really want to. But more likely, they'll still pay $0.99 for the burger and pirate Photoshop instead to make cat memes for a site also called — ironically enough — "I can has cheeseburger."

    End of world. End of transmission.

  49. Why would anyone do this– and not only this particular Archway Publishing scam, actually. Why would anyone pay one cent for self-publishing? WHY? This is not a rhetorical question; I'm really asking. There must be some kind of strong appeal. I've read the article and all the responses, and I still don't really see any clue why any author would do this.

    I know an author who paid for design of their book cover. This is totally legit. I've been using PS and AI for ten years, and by the time the final cover is done, I'll have been working on ideas for a year. So I'm not going to do that, but I can see why he did. Some people pay for line edits. I was a proofreader for two years, and I've been a beta editor since 2004 on several large boards. I'm not going to pay for line edits. But these are legitimate choices on the part of authors. But anything even REMOTELY like the Archway situation– WHY???

    (Sorry about the excessive exclamation points. And yes, I can't stop thinking of those cookies either! 😉

  50. Is it only me, or has the publishing industry just reached a new low in money-grabbing indecency and cynical, parasitic behavior?

    For all new authors out there: there is a simple litmus test. Money should flow to the author, not from the author.

  51. Actually, given the way this comments conversation has steered, are there many differences at all between vanity and self-publishing?

  52. JR Tomlin–

    I don't condemn self-publishing. I counsel taking the advocacy with a grain of salt, and making the decision to self-publish (or to seek traditional publishing) on the basis of knowledge and a sober assessment of your goals, rather than on the basis of the hype and misinformation that's everywhere around.

    However, I think that in some parts of the self-pub community, anything less than a full, uncritical embrace is seen as hostile. That's too bad. Authors need to make decisions that are right for them–not what other people tell them is right for them.

    As to vanity publishing: years ago, when the ASI-style services were pretty much the only game in town for self-publishers who didn't want to go to the expense or the work of hiring printers, etc., I was pilloried for pointing out that the ASI-style business model was, essentially, the same as vanity publishing. ASI called it self-publishing, and so did the people who used it. Anyone who disputed that was accused of bias.

    Nowadays, with the free services–and especially with the advent of free digital services like Amazon's KDP–a lot of people have decided that "true" self-publishing is free, while any service you pay for is "vanity publishing." The EXACT SAME SERVICES, mind you, that a few years ago would cause advocates' heads to blow up if you breathed the "v" word.

    And by the way, when did "self-publishing" become associated with "free"? Richard Bolles didn't self-publish "What Color Is My Parachute" for free. Richard Paul Evans didn't self-publish "The Christmas Box" for free. What about Lisa Genova, who paid for an iUniverse package to publish "Still Alice?" She's often presented as a case study of self-publishing success. Did she vanity publish?

  53. Victoria, when you pay thousands of dollars up-front, that is vanity publishing and not self-publishing as many of US understand it. KDP, PubIt, iApple are self-publishing. I would have less criticism of them, though if their serves weren't ridiculously over-priced and if there wasn't the whole implication of getting something that they just do NOT get-an in with a big publisher.

    If the Big 5 (or however many they've reduced themselves to now) ever get into self-publishing, it will be an interesting event. So far they have not. You are simply wrong to say that they have. What they have done is glom onto old-fashioned rip-off vanity publishing and tried to pass it off as self-publishing as it is now known. I am truly sorry to see you either helping them or buying into it.

    I think your own general condemnation of self-publishing and those of us who self-publish is blinding you.

  54. Dave–thanks for alerting me to that comment. I would definitely like to be put in touch with Khloe–thanks.

  55. David Gaughran said,

    "I'm not sure why you are rolling your eyes. When we called for change, we didn't ask publishers to make things *worse*."

    I'm not talking specifically about pubs allying with ASI–which I've criticized consistently since Thomas Nelson established West Bow Press (which, IMO, is presented in a much more deceptive manner than Archway Publishing). That is worthy of condemnation.

    What I mean is that there seems to be a general condemnation in the self-pub community for trad publishers having self-publishing divisions at all. The outrage over Book Country is one demonstration of this, I think. Book Country did not get in bed with ASI–it created its own service from scratch. But it was greeted with the same outrage, and the same accusations of "Traditional Publisher Goes Vanity!", as the ASI ventures.

    As I've said, I understand why trad pubs want to get into self-publishing. It's lucrative, and (like agents, who are increasingly branching out into adjunct businesses and services) trad pubs need to find new ways of supporting their core operations. There needs to be separation and integrity, of course. If S&S had done something similar to Book Country, I'd have looked just as closely at the service and at the way it was being pitched–but depending on what I found, I might well not have had the same concerns. I'm willing to bet however, that much of the criticism on the wider Internet–which is currently focusing on ASI, but which I think has at its heart a profound conviction, on the part of trad pub supporters and opponents alike, that trad publishing should never sully itself by dabbling in pay-to-play–would have been very much the same.

  56. Victoria, you can roll your eyes all you want over our indignation, because the fact is that they are NOT changing the model. They are adding a new income stream by ripping authors off with over-priced services and false promises that this will get Penguin to look at their work.

    You want to tell me how that is "changing their business model". Well, all right, maybe now actually ripping people off instead of merely having draconian contract terms is. But hardly for the better.

  57. So now almost all publishers will be vanity publishers. I see the demise of the industry coming fast. Never thought I would see it. If a writer wants to self publish and can learn to format and do covers, the best way is to do it yourself through LS. You can do a book there for probably 100 dollars if you are willing to do the work to fit their format. Why pay a fortune to people who only want your money?

  58. Thanks, Victoria.

    This was an informative and well-researched post.

    If it weren't for sites like these, writers would be signing a sucker's deal.

    Thanks for your hard work.

  59. "S&S will refer authors who submit unsolicited manuscripts to the Archway program."

    It's not just that writers will give them more weight because the recommendation comes from S&S… many of them will assume that the referral is an actual "offer" to publish. In my experience most of the general public thinks authors pay publishers, if they think about it at all.

  60. Thanks, Victoria, as always your advice is excellent! The association of S&S with ASI is simply one that every newbie is likely to fall for, I'm sure they'll make a pile of $$$!

    And this should serve as a good reminder to newbies that it's very, very easy to publish without incurring any costs, not just e-books but paperbacks too, using Create Space's program which is really incredibly user-friendly! I love the POD model, it avoids all storage problems…

  61. You did a great job of researching this in depth.

    I looked at the terms they were offering and when I got to the $1,500 to $25,000 price tags, I clicked out. I didn't even care about the negative associations this deal presented.

    For a reason: About a decade ago a friend of mine wrote a cookbook. I published it for him – went out and found a printer and a bindery myself. Had 1,000 copies printed – total cost for everything was about $1,100. I had them perfect bound, which is more expensive than paperback. That price includes all the peripherals associated with getting a book into print. With doing the design and layout, it was definitely a learning experience, but fun.

    Even lacking the PR resources of a company, the book did sell well. I thought I had sold out, but I found a couple of boxes buried in a closet when I recently moved, so I will now probably have to come up with another strategy to move them.

    I live in the Twin Cities, so I most likely had more resources than a lot of folks, but people can do this themselves if they want hard copy.

  62. So this is pretty much S&S sitting back and letting the author shell out their life's savings with a figment of hope that they might make it big someday. If their book happens to 'slip through the cracks' and become a best-seller, then S&S will immediately snatch them up and bank on the money themselves, leaving the author with pennies'-worth of revenue.

  63. But don't forget Francis, self publishing through the practical, proper and business like channels will not give one that "association" with a big name publisher, it will not include that hinted at dream of being "discovered" by Penguin:)
    Your comparing facts to fantasy and fantasy has a way of trumping all, sadly, for most new writers:)

  64. Hi Victoria,

    You might remember that I told you a month or two ago about Author House calling up a prospective customer and asking them "if they wanted to be published by Penguin" saying that Penguin would help market their book etc.

    You asked me to let you know if I heard any further reports of Author Solutions companies using Penguin's name in this way. Well, this morning I got a comment on my post about the S&S/ASI link-up. Here it is in full:


    I very nearly got sucked into Xlibris … Still trying to get my money back.

    They told me that with Penguin buying them they could, basically, guarantee that penguin would look at my book and because it was so good (she'd read the first couple of pages) they would definitely pick it up – the next 50 shades I was told I would be!

    They talk a good game and definitely take advantage of the unaware newbie author.

    I'm just glad people like you are warning others and saving so many people money and heartache.
    Well done.


    The comment is here if you want to read it (scroll down, it's comment #108 near the bottom):

    And if you want me to put you in touch with Khloe, let me know.


  65. Just saw this news on a writers/illustrators group this morning. I said there, will say here, S&S should be ashamed. They have likely partnered up with AS, because it costs nothing to do so. I am assuming lending their name was enough for AS to cut penguin in on the profits, which will certainly grow because of the association?
    On the AS web site they have already posted they are now part of the Penguin group and the YouTube featured on their site is just very sad. Most especially the cancer victim who published to leave something of herself behind. Does S&S not care about profiting from that kind of thing? I suppose not.
    The children's package is just ridiculous!!

    >your book will be drawn by hand and colored digitally. At this level of artistry, your Archway Publishing illustrator will add basic shadows and highlights to objects and scenery, giving your book’s artwork a greater level of depth and dimension.<

    WOW, for just under $400 you can add 6 ( yes 6 only as far as i can see) digital drawings to your book, and COOL, there will be basic shading!!!!

  66. This is way overpriced for what it delivers and the entire paradigm is moving away from print. E-books an be produced, even with a contractor for formatting, for a few hundred dollars. Lightning Source/ Ingram Digital will print your books for you, with your brand. . Bowker will sell you ISBNs. Cover art can be found through at very reasonable prices. It takes a little effort but DIY is not all that hard.

  67. I'm not sure why you are rolling your eyes. When we called for change, we didn't ask publishers to make things *worse*.

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