LitFire also does business as Amelia Publishing, Amelia Book Company, and GoToPublish–see the updates below
A few weeks ago, I began hearing from writers who’d been solicited, out of the blue, by a company called LitFire Publishing. In some cases by phone, in others by email, a LitFire “consultant” claimed to have received or seen information about the writers’ books (or even to have read them), and wanted to offer a wonderful marketing opportunity–for, of course, a four-figure fee.
Here’s how LitFire describes itself and its services (also see the screenshot at the bottom of this post):
Founded in 2008, LitFire allows authors to skip the hassles of traditional publishing. The company started out as a publisher of digital books. With hundreds of published titles and more than 50 publishing partners, we have learned how to succeed and soar in the eBook market. In 2014, LitFire expanded its horizon by offering self-publishing. Today, we offer all the services you would expect from a traditional publishing house – from editorial to design to promotion. Our goal is to help independent authors and self-publishers bring their book production and marketing goals to fruition.
In other words, LitFire is one of those outfits that offers publishing packages, but makes much of its profit from hawking adjunct services such as marketing.
Cold-call solicitations, hard-sell sales tactics (writers report receiving repeated phone calls and emails), expensive publishing packages with silly names, absurdly overpriced “marketing” services: are you detecting more than a whiff of Author Solutions, the much-criticized self-publishing service conglomerate that owns AuthorHouse, iUniverse, Xlibris, and Trafford, among others?
In fact, at least four of LitFire’s “consultants”–Portia Peterson, Tori Mesh, KC Normanns, and Mark Advent (also see the screenshots at the bottom of this post)–are or were employees of Author Solutions imprints. And LitFire’s publishing agreement bears many similarities to an older AuthorHouse agreement (from 2012; the most recent agreement, which is much more complicated, was revised in 2014). Compare, for instance, AuthorHouse’s Clause 18, Termination by Service Provider, to the last paragraph of LitFire’s Clause 14, Refunds and Work Termination.
But there are reasons other than possible Author Solutions connections to be wary of this company.
– False or conflicting claims. Of the “hundreds of published titles” and “more than 50 publishing partners” claimed in LitFire’s description of itself, there is no trace.
Eight books appear on Litfire’s website, only one of which seems actually to have been published by LitFire. That one shows up on Amazon, along with just two others. A few more surface with a websearch (interestingly, these also show up–with different ISBNs–as having been published by Author Solutions imprints). All in all, that’s seven titles. Total.
LitFire also appears to be confused about how long it’s been in business. Its website claims a 2008 founding date, but its URL was only registered in June of this year. On the other hand, according to one of its email communications, it’s been around for 8 years, which would push its founding date back to 2006.
– Illiterate written materials. Most of LitFire’s website, while it won’t win any prizes for business communication, doesn’t read too badly. But the LitFire correspondence I’ve seen…yikes. For example, this email from “Senior Publishing and Marketing Consultant” Tori Mesh:
The most charitable thing I can say is that it reads as if it were written by someone for whom English is not a first language. Tori’s resume includes a current or former stint at AuthorHouse UK; we do know that a big portion of Author Solutions business is outsourced to the Philippines, and that Philippine staff use American or British-sounding aliases, presumably to make it seem as if they actually work at AS headquarters in Bloomington, Indiana, but actually resulting in some very odd-sounding names. (See, for instance, this recent Author Solutions marketing pitch.)
When can one’s writing writhen out a reader’s metaphysical standpoint?
How about this: Somebody wrote a book saying that the laws the world is following today: spiritual, political, logical are but a rehash of the Primo genial world that the Primo genial human beings have cleaved to and everything everyone believed in that world turned out to be flawed and destructive, thereby the First Apocalypse. He doesn’t claim himself a Messiah or a prophet or whatnot but proves his evidences authentic, like the codex of that first world, every inch of it intact.
I did not make that up.
– Plagiarism. A solicitation email from “Senior Marketing and Publishing Consultant” Mark Advent (formerly of Trafford) is a peculiar mix of the kinds of ESL mistakes found in Tori Mesh’s email and relatively fluent passages. There’s a reason for this: Mark has borrowed the good bits from others, without bothering with attribution.
The red-boxed passage is from an article by marketing expert Penny C. Sansevieri (see the last paragraph). The blue-boxed passage has been filched from speaker and consultant Al Lautenslager.
So what is LitFire? Despite the many Author Solutions connections and similarities, I don’t suspect that LitFire actually has anything to do with Author Solutions itself. AS is a big company, and it has no need to be coy about what it does. If LitFire were a new AS imprint, we’d know it. I think it’s far more likely that LitFire is an Author Solutions clone, created by former or current AS workers in hopes of siphoning off a share of their employer’s business.
Either way, one thing is clear. If you hear from LitFire, just say no.
UPDATE 11/11/14: Either as a result of this post or of the accompanying discussion at Absolute Write (which includes a lot more speculation and information about possible LitFire staff names and aliases), changes have begun to appear on the LitFire website. I’ve therefore appended a bunch of screenshots at the very bottom of this post.
UPDATE 8/8/15: Ha! LitFire has decided to come clean about its Philippine roots. Well, sort of. According to this recent press release, Litfire has decided to “tap into the Philippine global IT industry.” It says it has only outsourced “parts of its design and lead generation activities”, and still claims to be “headquartered” in Georgia. Yeah, right. It seems this blog post has had an impact (I know this also by how regularly it gets trolled).
UPDATE 1/17/17: As the comments below will attest, LitFire is still at it. And it seems like they’re not even trying all that that hard. Today I got this email, apparently meant for someone else:
Good day Mark,
How are you ? I hope you are doing great. I am Kate Avila, Senior Consultant with LitFire Publishing. I have been trying to get in touch with you in regard to your Book Project. I’m hoping you could get in touch with me as soon as you can. We’d like to know if you are still pursuing the book because we would like to help you.
Feel free to visit our website to know more information about us https://litfirepublishing.com/
Please feel free to contact me at 1 800 511 9787 ext. 8125 or send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
I am looking forward for your response.
Mark, whoever you are, I’m glad to take the bullet for ya.
UPDATE 2/22/17: LitFire is reportedly soliciting former Tate Publishing authors (Tate went out of business earlier this year, amid lawsuits and a massive number of complaints).
UPDATE 2/23/17: I received this lengthy complaint today, from someone who made the mistake of buying one of LitFire’s marketing packages. It explains exactly why LitFire and its ilk are a ripoff.
Writers beware LitFire Publishing. Please share this post to protect fledgling authors, as many people have called BookExpo to complain about this company already and have tried to warn writers on the internet. This is my personal experience.
This publishing house which seems legitimate, inconspicuous, and appears to have evidence backing up such claims, is nothing more than a ploy to take advantage of new authors. Litfire promises a marketing campaign of either Deluxe or Ultimate for $2,000 or $2,300. The original promise of these packages was a booth at Book Expo America in NYC, where major publishing houses and 200,000 attendees (as well as authors such as Scott Kelly and Stephen King) would be present and where an author thus, through them, could begin to fortify his or her portfolio, and the ability for the author to come and help man that booth if desired (although not necessary).
If purchasing the Ultimate package, LitFire promised an ad in the author catalog given out to all attendees as well as a full spread in “Wayfairer magazine” and 100 “gift cards” to give away to people at the fair and encourage them to buy the book. For the Deluxe, there were no “Gift cards” promised nor author catalog, but the author would receive a quarter spread in “Wayfairer magazine.” With both packages, a 15 minute web internet radio interview over the phone was promised and a press release would be sent out for over 5,000 media outlets.
These promises, however, are no more than bait.
At the last moment, my LitFire representative claimed “misunderstanding” and said that I would have to separately procure a pass to attend the event, even to go to that booth (where I specifically got a very different answer before, an answer which claimed that my badge was included in the total cost). In a previous follow up before my representative claimed “misunderstanding,” he specifically said that I would not have to pay ANY admission or undergo the application to attend the Book Expo, that it was all set, and that once I paid I would be assigned a financial marketing assistant who would tell me where to procure my pass and where to meet up.
Further, once I asked how much money was on the “gift cards,” it was revealed that they aren’t gift cards at all, but advertising cards with QR codes to better direct people to buy the author’s book from Amazon or another major site. The name “gift card” was misleading.
Another change was in the “press release to 5,000 media outlets.” At first, a “full marketing campaign” was promised. Upon further questioning, it turns out that this “full marketing campaign” is just bait, and they are simply referring to the booth at the Expo, advertising the book by genre to passersby, and the press release. Even worse, at the last minute, although the phrase “over 5,000” was used multiple times, my representative changed the number to “over 100 media outlets.” No specific media outlets were specified, but that question was dodged.
The worst crime, however, is the exploitation of the name “Wayfairer Magazine.” Since these baits are sent over the phone, if one were to look up Wayfarer Magazine (different spelling), one would find a reputable literary magazine. I called this magazine and found out that a full color spread costs $3,600, a B&W full spread costs $2,900, and that even the quarter spreads in color exceeded $1,000 and in B&W neared $1,000. LitFire’s promise sounded like a fantastic deal.
At the last minute, upon request, I was sent PDF photos of “WayFairer Magazine.” It is not a real magazine at all. In fact, it can’t be found on google anywhere–only in the email, and is created by LitFire publishing themselves. The magazine itself is fake. Litfire banks on authors looking up Wayfarer Magazine when hearing the name over the phone since it isn’t spelled anywhere except in what I was sent.
In fact, when I asked my representative to spell the magazine name specifically since there are multiple magazines with similar names (like Wayfare, Wayfair, etc.), and I wanted to be sure, he completely dodged the question. He banked on me being more entranced by the color photos of the full book spreads, which look very visually appealing and seem to market the books very well, and not noticing the tiny spelling difference between “WayFairer” and “WayFarer”
LitFire publishing is a scam–no more than bait to exploit the aspirations of new authors. Although they seem to check out at first, the true colors will bleed through upon deeper investigation and numerous calls to different corporations.
Although there are many “Beware LitFire!” cries on the internet, none actually explain why to do so, and make it sound more like an overpriced service than the complete illusory bait that it is. Do not trust LitFire, and do not pay them attention at the Book Expo America.
UPDATE 1/25/18: LitFire is one of a growing number of similar companies that appear to be Author Solutions imitators, staffed and, in many cases, started up by ex-Author Solutions call center employees in the Philippines.
These companies share a cluster of characteristics, including aggressive solicitation, re-publishing offers (often to authors who’ve used the various Author Solutions imprints), claims of skill and experience that don’t check out (or can’t be checked because they’re so vague), websites and written materials full of English-language errors, and an emphasis on selling junk marketing services (which is where these outfits make the bulk of their profit).
For more information, see my followup blog posts:
Army of Clones: Author Solutions Spawns a Legion of Copycats
Army of Clones, Part 2: Twenty-One (More) Publishing and Marketing “Services” to Beware Of
See the sidebar for a complete list of the more than 30 companies I’ve discovered to date.
UPDATE 1/26/18: LitFire has apparently decided that its best defense is to troll me. A few days ago, this appeared at PissedConsumer.com (given the quality of grammar and syntax, its authorship should be obvious):
Oh noes! My evil sekrit has been exposed! Then, today, this comment was left here (again, bad English is the giveaway):
Bad blogs, bad blogs, whatcha gonna do?
UPDATE 6/22/18: This is funny. Author Amanda Taylor writes that she has been threatened with legal action over an article on LitFire that she wrote a year ago that references this post. Here’s the threat, verbatim:
As Secretary of Office of Attorney General Chris Carr, I’m contacting you about Case raised against this website and persons Ann Crispin, Michael Capobianco, Richard White and Victoria Strauss regarding a criminal act against Accrispin.blogspot.com and named persons websites. Under investigation of breaking rules of good practice and monopoly in Publishing, we found this post on your website violate some rules. The URL is http://newbieauthorsguide.com/2017/06/16/litfire-publishing-a-chip-off-the-ole-author-solutions-block/ We are expecting soonest action from your side or the website and persons behind this will be subject of prosecution according to laws in the USA. If you have additional questions please call us at (404) 656-3300 or Fax: (404) 657-8733
Can you spell BOGUS? Once again, the tortured English is a dead giveaway. LitFire folks, you are really embarrassingly bad trolls.
UPDATE 10/31/18: One of the many junk marketing techniques employed by LitFire and companies like it is the publication of a magazine that’s supposedly distributed at book fairs. These magazines are filled with book ads, interviews, and articles for which authors pay a premium price. They have no independent existence apart from the companies that publish them.
LitFire’s version of this lucrative ripoff is WayFairer Magazine. Here’s the issue produced for this year’s Frankfurt Book Fair. Keep in mind that the authors who’ve bought ads in this rag have likely also paid for display in LitFire’s Frankfurt booth (book fair display packages are another favorite junk marketing offering). To further the illusion of respectability, there’s even an interview with a real industry professional: Elinor Bagenal, rights director for Chicken House Books, who I’m sure had no idea she was talking with a predator.
UPDATE 12/3/18: LitFire employees celebrate hitting their latest sales target.
UPDATE 12/14/18: LitFire is doing business under several different names.
– Amelia Publishing and Amelia Book Company (see my blog post for a full expose).
– GoToPublish.com. I got this info via an anonymous tip, and have confirmed it. Among other things, LitFire and GoToPublish have identical privacy policies, terms of service, and publishing agreements. Other content is also suspiciously similar; compare, for example, LitFire’s and GoToPublish’s “editorial” offerings.
UPDATE 1/21/19: The LitFire troll strikes again, in a comment left on this post yesterday. I am an abomination to the Publishing Industry! Glad to be of service.
UPDATE 1/27/19: A helpful commenter has pointed out LitFire’s secret alter ego: ClickableBrand Inc in Cebu City (I’ve found information that independently verifies this). As with LitFire, ClickableBrand’s website shows a fake US address. Its Facebook page is filled with job ads for sales reps, web designers, copy editors, content writers, and more, along with sometimes bizarre photos of social activities.
LitFire’s description of itself:
Jill’s illiterate blog post: