Class Action Lawsuit Filed Against Author Solutions Inc.

UPDATE: This lawsuit, along with another brought later, was dismissed in late 2015.

In March, I wrote about New York law firm Giskan Solotaroff Anderson & Stewart LLP, which had opened an investigation of Author Solutions Inc. (ASI).

Well, now the other shoe has dropped. On April 26, Giskan Solotaroff filed a class action complaint on behalf of three plaintiffs against Author Solutions Inc. and Penguin Group USA (ASI is part of Penguin) in US District Court for the Southern District of New York. Allegations include breach of contract, unjust enrichment, various violations of the California Business and Professional Code, and violation of New York General Business Law.

The full text of the complaint can be seen here.

The complaint highlights issues that will be familiar to anyone who has followed discussion of Author Solutions over the past few years: poor quality products, poor quality customer service, relentless up-selling pressure on authors, particularly for ASI’s expensive “marketing” packages, and trouble with accurate payment and royalty reporting.

4. Author Solutions’ revenues are estimated at $100 million per year. Of the $100 million Author Solutions earns as revenue, approximately one third of that amount, or $33 million annually, comes from book sales. The rest of its revenue is derived from the services it offers, such as editorial services, formatting and design services, production services, and marketing services (“Services”).

5. Despite its impressive profits from book sales, Author Solutions fails at the most basic task of a publisher: paying its authors their earned royalties and providing its authors with accurate sales statements.

6. Author Solutions also fails to take diligent care of its authors’ works, making numerous and egregious publisher errors — errors made by the publisher, not the author. These errors include errors on book covers, in addition to various typographical and formatting errors. In fact, Author Solutions profits from its own mistakes. Aggressive sales techniques ensure that these errors are corrected only for a fee of several hundred dollars. Even though, as a matter of policy, Author Solutions promises to correct publisher errors for free, it rarely does.

7. Most of Author Solutions’ earnings are derived from its publishing and marketing Services. These Services, which can cost authors tens of thousands of dollars, likewise fail to deliver what they promise: more book sales and more opportunities for authors.

8. Therefore, even while Defendant Author Solutions prominently markets itself on its website as “[t]he leading indie publishing company in the world,” authors often discover, once it is too late, that Author Solutions is not an “indie publisher” at all. It is a printing service that fails to maintain even the most rudimentary standards of book publishing, profiting not for its authors but from them.

In addition to asking the Court to approve class action status, the complaint requests release of publishing rights for the class, and payment by the plaintiffs of restitution, court costs, and compensatory damages in excess of $5 million.

Authors wishing to contact Giskan Solotaroff about the suit can use this online form.

I’ve blogged about ASI and its questionable practices a good deal over the past few years. For background, here’s a selection of my posts:

Pearson Buys Author Solutions (but questions about ASI’s business practices remain open–will Pearson address them?)

A Partridge in a Penguin Tree (ASI expands into India).

Archway Publishing: Simon & Schuster Adds a Self-Publishing Division (outsourced to ASI, and it’s eye-poppingly expensive).

Fake Jared And His Friends: Author Solutions’ Misleading PR Strategies

Democratization or Disinformation? (ASI’s misleading “white paper” on independent” publishing).

Posts by others:

Writer and editor Emily Suess is a relentless critic of ASI, and has exposed many of its business practices and collected many complaints from unhappy authors who’ve used its services.

Mick Rooney of The Independent Publishing Magazine has a long piece on the Giskan Solotaroff investigation and related matters.

Author and blogger David Gaughran deconstructs the ASI empire.


  1. I published with Author House ; back when they were called First Books in 03 ; and I'v e had trouble with them from the start . First putting out my book with no professional edit , and not even obtaining a copy write ( I learned years later ). The hardest and most painful thing to deal with though is not knowing if they are being honest about sales . My book ( Hitchhiking With An Angel ) by Walter Scott III is advertised all around the globe , and to this day they say I've only sold less then a dozen copies . I haven't seen a dime in over two years ; no I just don't trust them ; but the question is how do you make them honest and pay .

  2. I've been scammed as well and trying to get my money back now. We'll see, if they do not refund me, i will have to take it further.

  3. Anonymous 3/24,

    The BBB isn't really a good way to judge publishers or publishing services…for whatever reason, writers often contact the BBB when they have problems. There are some very dodgy publishers and publishing services that have good BBB ratings.

    Also, when you join the BBB as an accredited member, you get an A+ by default. To maintain a good rating, pretty much all you have to do is to respond to BBB communications. If you fail to respond, or if too many consumers don't accept your attempts to resolve their complaints, your rating can tank or you can lose your accreditation (as happened recently with predatory vanity publisher Tate Publishing)–but it has to be a pretty extreme situation for that to happen.

    I don't see that AuthorHouse has a BBB rating, but its parent company, Author Solutions, does. It's an A+. Sounds good, right? But you need to look deeper–namely, at the Reviews and Complaints tab. There, you can see that Author Solutions has gotten 224 complaints over the past 3 years, 65 of them in the past 12 months. Mindful of its rating, AS is excellent at responding, but the complaints reveal the kinds of problems authors repeatedly experience with AS services (Writer Beware has received many similar complaints).

    AS also has 24 customer reviews. These, which AS doesn't have the ability to control or respond to, paint a more accurate picture: 75% are negative.

    Anonymous, I'm not sure why you're not getting a response from the BBB; they are usually responsive, and as noted above, AS is good at responding as well. Perhaps there's a backlog? Also, I don't know how you made your complaint, but if you didn't make it online, you might try doing so using the BBB's complaint form (there's a button in the right-hand column of AS's BBB page). I'm sorry you've had problems.

  4. Did any of you guys ask Better Business Bureau in Bloomington for help? BBB rate AuthorHouse as A+ and this is what persuaded me to use AuthorHouse services. Now, that I am complaining I don't seem to get any response from BBB whatsoever!

    What's going on?

  5. Authors the best self publishing route is via Create Space. If you are computer savvy you can do formatting for no charge. The cost per book is half of Authorhouse or more. I would advise all potential and established authors to go the Create Space route, an Amazon division. I would like to retrieve my published books from Authorhouse and go thru Create Space, the best publishing deal for authors.

  6. Update on last comment; On April 12, 2016 I received a phone call @ 4:54 pm from an iUniverse associate who informed me that my book had been chosen as a book they want to submit to the New York Times and that such a submission would be an honor and certainly would increase my sales. All they would need is my OK and…..$5,000.00.
    Needless to say I did not immediately jump on such a lucrative offer. But if they would send me the royalties they owe, I might consider such an offer….NOT. He offered to transfer me to their Royalties department. Been there – done that.

  7. Sorry to say I'm another one that got caught up with Author Solutions and iUniverse. If there is still an ongoing class action suit I would like to be included or directed to one that can advise me about how to be enjoined in such a law suit. I wish I would have known about this a long time ago. All comments above can be echoed by myself, especially since I see my book is doing well around the world, yet I haven't received any (very Little) royalties and can't get a straight answer from anyone from Author House/iUniverse.
    If anyone has any information I would be very grateful if you would contact me asap.
    E-mail me at

  8. I am going through the same thing. My consultant does not return my phone calls or email when I want to ask about royalties. The constant high pressure sales by Author House. I am about to take suit with them. I recommend you check out other publishers like LuLu
    or Baker and Taylor. You might be better off self publishing through Amazon or finding a smaller publisher that is honest. Author house wants 3,900 to get me a booth in the L.A. book expo. What a joke. I can a booth myself for a quarter of the cost. Karl
    If you want to chat

  9. I've just sent in my complaint, I'm just tired of their constant cold calls and harsh sales techniques, always stroking your creative ego, with false promises of TV and movie rights, not one of the Authorhouse crowd as ever read the book I wrote that's the irony, how can anyone qualify to be selected for the ''special'' packages that Hollywood movie executives can gain access too. Bull, I'm just tired of them all and all the so-called Marketing Consultants I've had over the past 6 years. If I'd had received a £1 for every time my book marketing consultant was changed, I would have made more money than my book in royalties, funny yeah, but it’s true, they never tell me or communicate sales figures either. I’m glad I got my book published, it protected the work, but Authorhouse fail to protect the authors, to them, we’re walking, talking and writing-money-machines…it ends right now!

  10. Yesterday I filled out the form at the law firm's website. I am one more very unhappy client of Authorhouse. Received 3 sales reports all with zero sales on Amazon, the main channel for my book.

  11. Thank God I am finding out about all this now, I am with IUniverse today, but not tomorrow. Going to Telemachuspress, where John Locke publishes 19 books. Print and you keep all Royalties after Amazon cut (30%) Flat fee and rest is yours. Thank you Brave souls for putting forth this lawsuit. Let me know how I can help get it out in social media even more. Thomas Gillis Indie Author to be.

  12. I always thought authors should stay far, far away from Author Solutions, and it doesn't seem like I'll have to revise my opinion…

  13. Trafford is part of Author Solutions–so yes, it could be possible for you to join the suit. See my post for a link to the law firm's contact form.

  14. I published my first book with Trafford and have experienced all of the abuses associated with Author House including being cheated on royalties and constant aggressive promotion of worthless marketing schemes. I understand that Trafford is affiliated with Author House. If this is so, would it be possible for me to join this suit?

  15. Thanks for keeping us updated on what this greedy company is doing. I hope the class-action plaintiffs triumph.

  16. This is scarey business. It's hard enough to write a decent book, but then to have what little it makes stolen is unforgiveable. Thanks you guys for following this. It's just another betrayal of the author. Always the big guys screwing the little guys.

  17. I just want to salute all the people who are standing up to the corruption and fighting it off. I appreciate the writers who are using their time and talents to expose and inform people. I am taking notes. I may never try to publish because of the swamp of deceit.

  18. This is the very reason many of us thought it strange when Penguin bought ASI. It made them vulnerable to just this kind of action.

  19. the reason why authors are having a hard time reaching their PSAs because they change people every now and then. That causes a lot of back logs. Truth of the matter their office in the Philippines is facing a lot of labor suits because on how they treat their employee, firing them w/o due process. Sales people are expected to hit their monthly quota, if they don't hit it for 3 months then they're fired. That's the reason why they are so aggressive in hitting their goals and one of the reason why every other month someone will call you and introduce as your new consultant.

  20. Penguin bought AUTHOR SOLUTIONS. .so they could do the same.."Rob people. .one day I looked at my royalty statement. .then seeing 60, 000$ in royalties…then the data corrupted with them putting in a fraudulent documents..showing a lot less..they have live operator monitors checking to see whos going on there royalty pages before they can get a chance to change, The document. .they changed my royalty statement right before my vary eyes…I called them saying ut crooked mother fuckers…and taped the phone conversation. .they even admitted to copyright infringement..and bad services; .and was supposed to stop others…and stop the free preview. .its still there today..the call was made last year…to" iuniverse"and you can bet mr.CEO..called..he got a piece of my mind..'fucking Crooked fucks!!..I was robbed big time to!! This class action suit. .should be worth a hellva lot more than 5 million dollars. ..some of us lost a hellva lot more than others…!!! AND I DONT WONT A FUCKING COUPON. ..I WANT.M.O.N.E.Y..fucking crooks! !

  21. just sent in my complaint, too. Have lost thousands to these criminals. Would love to see them brought to justice, or at least everyone notified. Thanks for the article. And yes, why on earth did Penguin buy them?

  22. Sad to hear that a company like Penguin allows itself to become involved in this sort of scammy behavior.

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