I don’t think there’s much dispute that the many “imprints” under the Author Solutions umbrella are among the most negatively regarded of all the author services companies.
From the predatory business practices that gave rise to two class action lawsuits, to the huge number of customer complaints, to the relentless sales calls and deceptive recruitment methods, to the dubious and overpriced “marketing” services that are one of the company’s main profit sources, AS’s poor reputation is widely known. Along with other factors, such as the competition from free and low-cost self-publishing platforms, this has pushed AS in recent years into steady decline.
Unfortunately, whatever gap AS’s contraction has created has been filled by a slew of imitators. Why not, when hoodwinking authors is as easy as setting up a website and opening an account with Ingram? In some cases, the imitators have first-hand experience: they’ve been founded and/or staffed by former employees of AS’s call centers in the Philippines (as well as ex-employees of other disreputable companies with operations in the Philippines, such as Tate Publishing and BookWhirl.)
Like AS, the clones rely on misleading hype, hard-sell sales tactics, a lucrative catalog of junk marketing services, and outright lies. Even if authors actually receive the services they’ve paid for (and judging by the complaints I’ve gotten, there’s no guarantee of that), they are getting stiffed. These are not businesses operating in good faith, but greedy opportunists seeking to profit from writers’ inexperience, ignorance, and hunger for recognition. They are exploitative, dishonest, and predatory.
CLONESIGN: HOW TO SUSS THEM OUT
The clones share a distinctive cluster of characteristics that can help you identify them. If the company that has contacted you exhibits three or more of the characteristics below, be extremely wary: it is likely a scam.
1. Solicitation. Like the Author Solutions imprints, the clones are big on out-of-the-blue phone calls and emails hawking their services. Often they’ll claim your book has been recommended to them, or was discovered by one of their book scouts. Sometimes they’ll claim to be literary agents looking to transition you to a traditional publishing contract, or represent you to Hollywood. Their phone solicitors frequently have foreign accents (most are based in the Philippines). Email solicitors use a recurring set of job titles: Book Scout, Executive Literary Agent, Senior Literary Agent, Senior Marketing & Publishing Consultant (or Senior Publishing & Marketing Consultant), Executive Marketing Consultant, Marketing Professional, Marketing Supervisor.
Solicitation is the number one sign of a scam. Real literary agents, publishers, and marketers do not typically reach out to authors they don’t already represent. For scammers, on the other hand, it’s their main mode of recruitment. Any out-of-the-blue solicitation, no matter what it’s for or who it’s from, should be treated with caution.
2. Offers to re-publish authors’ books. A big focus for the clones is poaching authors who are already published or self-published (often with Author Solutions imprints). They claim they can do a better job, or provide greater credibility, or even get authors in front of traditional publishers. Often, re-publishing is presented as a pre-requisite for pitching a book to traditional publishers or film studios.
3. Elaborate claims of skills and experience that don’t check out. A clone may say it’s been in business since 2006 or 2008, even though its domain name was registered only last year. It may claim to be staffed by publishing and marketing experts with years or even decades of “combined experience”, but provide no names or bios to enable you to verify this. A hallmark of the clones’ “About Us” pages is a serious lack of “about.”
4. Poor or tortured English. The clones have US addresses, and purport to be US-based companies. Many have US business registrations. Yet their emails and websites frequently contain numerous (and sometimes laughable) grammar and syntax errors (see below for examples). Their phone solicitors appear to be calling from US numbers, but commonly have foreign accents, and may get authors’ names or book titles wrong.
5. Junk marketing. Press releases. Paid book review packages. Book fair exhibits. Ingram catalog listings. Hollywood book-to-screen packages. These and more are junk marketing–PR services of dubious value and effectiveness that are cheap to provide but can be sold at a huge profit. It’s an insanely lucrative aspect of the author-fleecing biz, not just because of the enormous markup, but because while you can only sell a publishing package once, you can sell marketing multiple times.
This is a page right out of the Author Solutions playbook. AS basically invented junk book marketing, and most of the marketing services offered by the clones were pioneered by AS. If you follow the links below, you’ll see the same ones over and over, and if you hop on over to an AS imprint marketing section, you’ll see them there, too.
Authors are often serially targeted by the clones. For instance, I heard from an iUniverse-published author who bought an expensive re-publication package from Book-Art Press Solutions, and shortly afterward was solicited for marketing services by Stratton Press (fortunately she contacted me before she wrote a check). Another author bought a publishing package from BookVenture, plus extra marketing from Window Press Club–both as a result of solicitation phone calls.
UPDATE, 2021: When I first put this post online, publishing and marketing services were the main pitch for these scams. Over the years, however, they’ve shifted focus in an attempt to evade warnings about their tactics, and also to keep up with the changing realities of the day, including the pandemic. While they still solicit potential victims with marketing and re-publishing offers, they’re currently just as likely to pose as “literary agencies” that can transition writers to traditional contracts, or market books to major film studios and streaming services.
Below are the clones I’ve identified to date (several of which I found in the process of researching this post–I actually had to stop following links or I’d never have gotten this written). The list includes a few that, based on their websites and other public information, I suspect are clones but haven’t yet been able to document with complaints or solicitation materials.
One thing you’ll notice if you follow the links is how similar the clones’ websites are. It’s not just the characteristics mentioned above: the same terminology, menus, and products appear over and over again, as do distinctive English-language errors (many of the clones urge authors to “avail” of services, for instance). Also, of the 13 companies I looked at, ten are less than two years old, and seven started up in the past year. It really made me wonder, especially after I discovered that two apparently separate clones are in fact the same outfit, and two others appear to be connected.
I have no doubt there are many more clones out there. If you’ve encountered any I haven’t listed below–or if you’ve had an experience with the ones featured in this post–please post a comment.
- LitFire Publishing, also d.b.a. Amelia Book Company, Amelia Publishing, and GoToPublish
- Legaia Books
- Stratton Press
- Toplink Publishing
- Book-Art Press Solutions
- Window Press Club
- Westwood Books Publishing (formerly Greenberry Publishing), also d.b.a. Authors Press, Book Vine Press
- BookVenture Publishing
- Okir Publishing d.b.a. ADbook Press and Coffee Press
- Zeta Publishing
- Everlastale Publishing
UPDATE, 2021: There are definitely more clones out there. See my followup blog post for the full list of those I’ve discovered–more than 100 to date. The list also appears in the sidebar to the right.
LitFire Publishing is the first Author Solutions clone I ever encountered, and the one that alerted me to the phenomenon. My 2014 blog post takes a detailed look at its false or unverifiable claims, its illiterate solicitation emails, its plagiarism (it’s still doing that), and its Philippine/Author Solutions origins (its phone solicitors sometimes claim AS imprints are “sister companies”). See the comments for many reports of solicitation phone calls.
LitFire is a good deal more sophisticated now than it was in 2014, with a flashy website from which the English-language errors that marred it in the beginning have largely (though not entirely; its blog posts could use some help) been culled. But it’s still a solicitation monster, and its Author Solutions-style publishing and marketing services are still a major ripoff. Take a look at its insanely marked-up Kirkus Indie review package (you can buy reviews directly from Kirkus for less than half the price).
In 2018, perhaps to escape mounting complaints or maybe just to establish new revenue streams, LitFire started doing business under several new names: Amelia Book Company and Amelia Publishing, and GoToPublish.
LitFire claims it’s headquartered in Atlanta, Georgia, and it is actually registered with the Georgia Corporations Division. Possibly to get ahead of negative discussion, it has admitted–partially–its Philippines connections. It’s also aware of my warnings about it, and has responded with some fairly incompetent trolling.
Legaia Books is also a solicitation monster. It heavily targeted authors of Tate Publishing right after that disgraced vanity publisher collapsed.
Legaia offers publishing packages, but its main schtick is Paperclips Magazine, an online rag that consists primarily of ads, reviews, and interviews sold to authors at gobsmackingly enormous prices, interspersed with plagiarized general interest articles and illiterate feature pieces written by Legaia’s English-challenged staff. Legaia’s website is full of howlingly funny (or cringingly awful, depending on your perspective) English-language mistakes. Keeping to its penchant for plagiarism, and incidentally acknowledging its roots, it has copied much of its FAQ from Author Solutions.
My blog post on Legaia goes into much more detail.
Like other members of clone club, Legaia claims to be headquartered in the USA, with a street address in Raleigh, North Carolina. But there’s no trace of any North Carolina business registration. When the Better Business Bureau attempted to contact it by paper mail, the mail was returned by the post office.
Stratton Press claims to offer “an experience that is one of a kind for both novice and veteran authors”. Oddly, it doesn’t display its publishing packages on its website; you have to go to its Facebook page to see them. Named after famous writers, they start at $1,800 and go all the way up to $10,500.
The website is replete with vague claims (“our team’s eight-year experience in the publishing industry), shaky English (“Since every book is unique and every story is special, it is just but right to have a team of experts behind your back.”), and plagiarism (here’s “How to Write a Novel” by Chuck Sambuchino of Writer’s Digest. Here’s “How to Write a Novel” by “Chuck Subchino” of Stratton).
Stratton is the one of the only clones I found that doesn’t actively try to conceal its Philippine/Author Solutions roots. A Cebu City address also appears on its Contact page; and per his LinkedIn page, Stratton’s co-owner, Aaron Dancel, worked for three years as a Sales Supervisor for Author Solutions’ Cebu call center.
Stratton claims to be located in Wyoming, where it has a business registration as an LLC with an initial filing date of November 2016. It has an A rating at the BBB, but there’s also a number of complaints from unhappy authors, as well as this:
UPDATE 12/14/18: Stratton seems to be having some trouble paying taxes on time.
UPDATE 1/17/19: Stratton Press LLC has been administratively dissolved in Wyoming for tax delinquency. Not to worry: planning ahead, Stratton Press Inc. was incorporated in Delaware in June 2018, and has switched its US address to Wilmington, DE.
UPDATE 10/14/19: Stratton has overhauled its website, so much of what’s described above is gone (there’s still no verifiable info about the supposedly expert staff, though, or any mentioned prices). It also has a new Facebook page, and a new page at the BBB. The old BBB page is gone, and with it that pesky Alert.
UPDATE 2/12/22: Stratton Press’s BBB rating has dropped to A-, but its catalog of customer complaints now stands at more than 20, and it has an average review rating of two stars (based on nearly 30 reviews).
ReadersMagnet describes itself as “a team of self-publishing and digital marketing experts with more than 10 years of combined experience”. Its motto: “Your Success is Our Delight!” So is your money.
You can pay as much as $29,999 for a Premium Color Adult Book publishing package. On the junk marketing side, you can shell out $6,299 for an Online Brand Publicity campaign, or $2,799 for a Premium Dynamic Website, or $4,999 for a 90-second Cinematic Deluxe video book trailer.
In true clone style, ReadersMagnet is a tireless and prolific phone solicitor (hence the many complaints that can be found about it online). I’ve heard from many authors who have been repeatedly called and/or emailed by this outfit; one author told me that she got so annoyed that she blocked the caller’s New York number, only to be contacted a couple of days later by another ReadersMagnet solicitor, this time with a California number.
Writers have also told me that callers have foreign accents and Spanish surnames. A search on LinkedIn turns up two Philippines-based ReadersMagnet staffers. Oh, and ReadersMagnet apparently had a lovely Christmas party last year…in Cebu.
ReadersMagnet’s current website reads okay, with occasional lapses. But its original website, which came online in mid-2016, was full of howlers. Compare this early version of its About Us page (courtesy of the Internet Archive) with the current iteration, which isn’t high literature but at least is more or less grammatical.
The company hasn’t worked as hard to clean up its correspondence. Here’s a snippet from a recent solicitation email–it’s really kind of a masterpiece.
ReadersMagnet originally claimed a New York address. Now it says it’s located in California. As far as I can tell, it has no business registration in either state.
UPDATE 12/6/19: I’m a little miffed that this essay from ReadersMagnet protesting that it is not a scam names two people who’ve apparently posted negative comments about the company, but doesn’t mention me. What’s a girl got to do to get called out by a scammer? (Among other feeble attempts to prove legitimacy: “ReadersMagnet is a business listed in various business listings online.”)
Toplink Publishing bills itself as “the global leader in accessible and strategic publishing and marketing solutions”. It boasts every one of the warning signs identified above: Solicitation. Re-publishing offers. Unverifiable claims about staff and experience. Tortured English. Lots and lots of marketing.
Toplink’s publishing packages are categorized a la Author Solutions (black and white, full color, children’s book, etc.), and neither they nor the marketing packages provide any prices; you have to call to find out. Hard-sell sales tactics work better on the phone.
Also, no prices on an author services company’s website is nearly always a giant clue that they’re super-expensive. Here’s the marketing proposal one author received–note how Toplink wants the author to believe that the ridiculous amount of money he’s being asked to pay for his “compensation share” is more than matched by Toplink’s “investment” (a classic vanity publisher ploy).
Toplink claims addresses in North Carolina and Nevada, but there are no business registrations for it in either state. A number of complaints about it can be found online, including at its Facebook page. It also has an F rating from the BBB, based on its failure to respond to consumer complaints.
UPDATE 4/5/19: Toplink’s website appears to be gone, possibly as a result of proliferating complaints at the BBB and elsewhere. Its Facebook page is still extant, but that doesn’t mean much–there’ve been no posts for nearly a year.
UPDATE 10/14/19: Toplink has a new website, although most of the content is the same. Its Facebook page has vanished. It now has an F rating at the BBB.
Book-Art Press Solutions (not to be confused with the graphic design company of the same name, or with Book Arts Press) and Window Press Club present as different companies, but in fact they’re two faces of the same ripoff.
My recent blog post about this two-headed beast goes into more detail, including the identical website content that gives them away.
Book-Art Press employs an exceptionally deceptive approach to authors, portraying itself not as a self-publishing provider but as a group of “literary agents” who want to re-publish authors’ books in order to give them the “credibility” needed to “endorse” them to traditional publishers. The cost? Only $3,500! Authors are encouraged to believe is all they’ll have to pay. In fact, as with all the clones, the initial fee is just a way to open the door to more selling.
BAP/WPC is a pretty recent venture, with domain names registered just last year. BAP claims it’s in New York City, although its business registration is in Delaware. WPC doesn’t provide a mailing address, but its domain is registered to Paul Jorge Ponce in Cebu, Philippines.
Here’s one of BAP’s solicitation emails, reproduced in its entirety. It really tells you everything you need to know.
Westwood Books Publishing, which claims a Los Angeles location, registered its domain name in March 2018.
If you’re wondering how I could predict an event in March while writing this post in January, that’s because I’ve updated this section to reflect the fact Westwood Books Publishing is a brand-new name; the company, which started up last August, was originally called Greenberry Publishing. (Hmm. Could they have seen this post? Or maybe they just wanted to ditch their F BBB rating.)
To confuse matters further, Westwood/Greenberry also does business as Authors Press. A few examples of the links between these three entities: a book listed as both Greenberry and Westwood; a book listed with all three companies; also, as of this writing, nearly every book listed at Authors Press shows on Amazon as published by Greenberry.
Greenberry/Westwood/Authors Press’s M.O. is clone-standard. Out-of-the-blue solicitations (also see the comments, below). No names, vague claims. Shaky English (“ideal for manuscripts that needs more work on sentences structure and grammar”). Re-publishing offers (see the Greenberry solicitation below, which I’m reproducing because I think it’s so funny; what genius, looking for an enticing photo of a published book, thought it was a good idea to pick one in Cyrillic?). Budget-busting junk marketing.
Greenberry’s business registration shows a Pittsburg CA address, and lists its owners as Maribelle Birao and Aaron Gochuico. Birao and Gochuico now appear to reside in California but are originally from Cebu. Westwood’s business registration, filed in April 2018, claims a Los Angeles address and does not list owners’ names. Authors Press doesn’t appear to have filed a registration, but according to its website, it’s located in–surprise!–Pittsburg CA, and its BBB listing shows Maribelle Birao as CEO/Owner.
There’s some evidence that yet another company is running under the same roof: Book Vine Press. Testimonials on Book Vine’s website extol the wonderfulness of the authors’ publishing experience–but on further investigation, the authors turn out to be published not by Book Vine, but by Greenberry. And Book Vine’s book fair display packages are identical to those offered by Authors Press.
UPDATE: In solicitation emails, Authors Press touts its “physical bookstore”:
Local business records confirm the address:
There’s even a website! As you can see from these photos and also these, it’s mostly a school and parties supply store in a strip mall, but there is a rack of books.
Like some other clones, Authors Press also publishes its own “magazine”, called Authorial, which it claims to distribute at book fairs. Such magazines have no independent existence outside of the fairs, and are merely another way for the clones to make money by selling hugely expensive ad packages to writers.
UPDATE 8/21/19: Westwood Books Publishing is now claiming a Florida address, and has a Florida business registration filed in May 2019. Its California business registration is still in effect.
BookVenture started up around the same time as LitFire, in 2014. It’s got all the identifying characteristics of a clone: phone solicitations, no meaningful information about the company or its staff, a range of Author Solutions-style publishing packages with goofy names, a dizzying array of marketing, publicity, and add-on services.
Equally predictably, these are seriously overpriced: $2,399 for a Kirkus Indie review, which would cost a mere $575 if you bought it from Kirkus; $199 for US copyright registration ($35 if you DIY); $4,199 for a half-page magazine ad that actually costs $1,400. See also this angry blog post from Self-Publishing Review, which discovered in 2016 that BookVenture was offering its review services without permission and at steeply inflated prices.
BV’s website doesn’t display the same level of English-language lapses that are a giveaway for other clones–but someone should have done a better job of vetting its Publishing Guide.
Or this editorial services pitch:
Like other clones, BV claims a US location–Michigan, to be precise–but a search on LinkedIn turns up a lot of Philippines-based staff (who in some cases are Author Solutions alumni/ae). Although BV doesn’t acknowledge its parentage, I’ve gathered enough breadcrumbs to be certain that it is owned by eFox Solutions Inc. (formerly Yen Chen Support Corporation), which is registered in Wisconsin (where it’s listed as “delinquent), but is actually based in Mandaue City, Philippines.
eFox also owns notorious book marketing spammer BookWhirl, which in terms of hard-sell solicitation tactics and overpriced junk marketing services has been giving Author Solutions a run for its money since at least 2008.
BV has racked up quite a number of complaints about quality, timeliness, and customer service. The one complaint I’ve received about this company is very similar. I’ve also received reports of telephone solicitations (BookWhirl is infamous for phone soliciting).
Check out BV’s referral program–you can earn $150! Also its several Author Solutions-style shill sites, which pretend to be independent but are actually author recruiting tools.
If you’re a glutton for punishment, you can read one of BookVenture’s extremely deceptive (not to mention wordy) sales pitches here.
Okir Publishing says it started out as “a marketing services provider” in 2006, and transitioned to book publishing later–but according to its Wyoming incorporation data, its initial filing was just last September, and its domain was registered in October 2017 (to add to the confusion, its Terms of Service are governed by California laws).
Okir has overhauled its website since I started researching this post, and has scrubbed it of most of the English-language lapses, but clonesign still abounds: phone solicitation by “literary scouts” with re-publishing offers, an About Us page with, basically, no “about”, a large number of junk marketing services (check out the eye-poppingly costly “social media account management” program). As with so many clones, there are verifiable Philippine connections. There’s also this, from the BBB:
UPDATE 1/18/19: Okir is accumulating complaints. There are several at the BBB, and more at PissedConsumer.
UPDATE 8/14/19: Okir’s website is still online, but it hasn’t been updated since 2018 and Amazon shows no published books since October 2018. My guess is that it’s defunct.
UPDATE 12/7/19: Okir’s website is gone.
“Are your [sic] ready to publish your book?” asks ADbook Press. “Grab this once in a lifetime oppurtunity [sic] and get yourself started by availing of the package and service that is a bang for your buck.” Registered in Nevada but claiming to be based in California, ADbook sports all the clone signs and signals. Its publishing packages carry no prices (and you know what that means). It offers a full complement of junk marketing, including the Author Solutions favorite, the Hollywood Book to Screen package. In fact, ADbook’s Hollywood package is an exact duplicate of Author Solutions’.
UPDATE 10/25/18: ADbook Press’s URL appears to be dead, and it hasn’t published anything since September (hence the archived links above).
UPDATE 8/14/19: ADbook is back online at a new URL. Its most recent pub date for a title is May 2019.
“Let’s Get Brewing Today” says Coffee Press. Purportedly located in New York, Coffee Press has its English pretty much under control, but other clonesigns tell the story: solicitation, unverifiable experience claims (“visionaries with over a decade of publishing expertise”), and the usual menu of junk marketing “starting at $2,499.”
Coffee Press’s Terms of Service are identical to those of Okir Publishing. Both companies are using a generic template that appears on many other websites, so that’s not really a smoking gun. What is: a telltale typo reproduced on both sites:
And that’s not all to suggest that Okir Publishing and Coffee Press–and ADbook Press as well–are good buddies. Check out the logos in the background of the photo below. I strongly suspect that many other clones are similarly interrelated.
Zeta Publishing is incorporated in Florida. English-language errors are apparent throughout its website, and the About Us page includes the usual non-information. There’s a full raft of Author Solutions-style marketing and add-on services, all insanely marked up. You can get your copyright registered for $189 (or do it yourself online for $35). You can pay $4,150 for a half-page ad in Bookmarks Magazine (or you can contact Bookmarks yourself and buy the ad for $1,400). You can also buy a 10-minute radio interview with internet radio personality Stu Taylor, who just happens to be Author Solutions’ favorite radio talk show host.
Clonesign is there as well at Everlastale Publishing: no concrete info about the company or staff, whimsically-named Author Solutions-style publishing packages, the familiar range of overpriced junk marketing services. Everlastale’s President, Don Harold, is an alumnus of BookVenture/BookWhirl, and Everlastale’s publishing agreement has been substantially copied from BookVenture’s. It’s a revealing demonstration of how these predatory companies seed imitators.
UPDATE 6/14/18: Everlastale is now defunct.
UPDATE 1/26/18: As noted above, LitFire Publishing is miffed at what I’ve written about it, and has been persistently (if infrequently and not very competently) trolling me. Here’s its latest English-challenged salvo, posted today in the comments section of my original article about it. Bad blogs, bad blogs, whatcha gonna do…
UPDATE 12/31/18: I’ve identified more than 20 additional clones. See my followup post: Army of Clones, Part 2: Twenty-One (More) Publishing and Marketing “Services” to Beware Of.
UPDATE 8/16/19: Since first putting this post online, I’ve identified well over 100 Author Solutions clones. My most recent blog post provides a roundup of the posts I’ve written about these scams, as well as a constantly-updated list of the scams I’ve discovered to date. I’ve also added a complete list to the sidebar of this blog.
I just got an email out of the blue from Westwood Books Publishing, and looked them up on Writer Beware immediately, and found this page. This was the text of the email:
My name is Raven Perez and I am your Publishing and Marketing Consultant in Westwood Books Publishing here in Florida. We work with aspiring and published authors around the US publishing a new book, republish an existing book and market the book to a bigger audience. I would like to discuss the opportunity of having your own competent production team once you take advantage of our services.
We have several packages, all of that information can be found here: https://www.westwoodbookspublishing.com/
Our promotion for this month would depend on your publishing needs. You can take advantage of the 2-1 package deal wherein you can publish 2 books for the price of one publishing package. If you only have 1 manuscript to publish, you can take as much as 60% off for both Black and White and Full Colored packages.
If this sounds like something you are interested in, let me know and we can set up a time to speak or you can call me at +1 424 210 8472 extension: 6102. I am in the office from Monday – Friday, 10 am to 7 pm EST.
Looking forward to hearing from you!
Publishing and Marketing Specialist
Phone Number: 1-424-210-8472
Toll Free Number: 1-888-420-8640 Ext. 6102
Fax Number: 1-424-288-4921
11416 SW Aventino Drive
Port Saint Lucie, FL 34987
This email, including any attachments, is confidential and is solely intended for the addressee(s). Access to this e-mail by anyone else is unauthorized. Its contents may be legally privileged and if you are not the intended recipient of this email, any disclosure, copying, distribution or any action taken or omitted to be taken in reliance on it, is prohibited and may be unlawful. If you have received this email in error, please contact the sender immediately by return email or telephone and delete/destroy the message. We do not accept liability for any corruption, delay, interception or unauthorized amendment of the e-mail or their consequences.
Greenberry’s solicitation is hilarious. That book in Cyrillic? It’s by Pushkin, as in, the renowned poet and writer who died in 1837 and is Russia’s number one classic. I wonder if the solicitation implies they republished and promoted him too…
I've just received an email from a client who was contacted by Westbook Books. It is a bit different from what you have. The address is Florida and they state they are an Ingram Literary Advisor. Below is the email. My client didn't publish on Ingram.
Hope you are doing well.
Your published book has been forwarded to us by Ingram Distribution who is the distributor of your book across America. Having said that, they see some potentials on your book not just based on your credentials and credibility but because of the books quality. However, those interested in your book has some concerns about your book being expensive price wise making it difficult for bookstores to see benefits in buying and selling it. As per Ingrams book calculator, the printing of books would only cost 1/10th of the retail price. (https://myaccount.ingramspark.com/Portal/Tools/ShippingCalculator ) but it is sold at an expensive price.
With this in mind, as per Ingrams recommendation, we would like to let you know that we can get your book republished and printed at the price of your preference basing on it’s printing cost so you could sell your book around $5.99 – $9.99 which is way more competitive and affordable to your buyers without having to sacrifice everything that you have done for your book.
This demand and interest being shown to your book is now the effect of your efforts on continuously marketing your project.
Please let me know if you are going to take this opportunity while people are still interested and eager to have a copy of your book.
Stumbled upon this, and just for fun decided to look at Stratton's website. On their 'Contact Us' page, I thought it was interesting that they have a New Hyde Park, NY listing (as this is quite close to where I live). Googling the address, it's a private house.
Received cold call from woman with American accent (spoke good English and didn't sound Filipino) last night around 8pm. She was calling from Westwood Book Publishing. Said my books were wonderful and offered to republish, make trailer on YouTube and promote at London Book Fair. (I published two books with Trafford in 2008, in the days when they were based in Victoria, BC and had an office in Oxford, England: I would NEVER have approached Trafford had they then been based in Atlanta and part of Author Solutions). From my questions to her, it was obvious that she had no idea what my books were about. As I hadn't got anything much to do, I kept her talking for 2 hours! (She did most of the talking: I said the odd word now and again). Eventually I told her I wasn't interested and terminated the call. She phoned again this evening at 8pm: I said I was watching a TV program that I wanted to see, and put the phone down.
Received another email from Westpoint Print and Media. I get at least eight of these a year from a female contact calling herself… Melissa Gilbert. Warning! tried to open website link at bottom of email only to find it doesn't exist. Must've been taken down.
Also they may have recruited an English speaking individual as the email grammer has improved immensely. Be careful!
The latest cold call comes from VHawk (Alex 925-234-9611). At least she's calling about a different title than all the others. She references an eBook that I published in Jan. 2020. Says VHawk has an interest in the book.
I haven't gotten any complaints (other than yours) about Tellwell, and it looks more professional (at least from its website) than many of these kinds of companies. It does seem very pricey, though, and I think it's likely that many similar services charge much less.
Lots of self-publishing service providers outsource to the Philippines, so that's not unusual or necessarily a strike against the company. But what you describe sounds pretty bad. Could you please let me know what happens with Round Three? email me at email@example.com
Is there any scams reported with Tellwell Publishing in Victoria, B.C. Canada?Their company has moved me and my correspondence to the Philippines without my knowledge with terrible customer service, and I had a really poor editor for round one. They have been combative and reactive with the contacts in the Philippines, and I have contacted a lawyer and demanded a full refund. I am fascinating my seatbelts for round three as I am now raising this argument to stage 2 escalation phase.
I'm afraid that Global Summit House is indeed a scam–it's on the list in the sidebar. It's among the first of these scams that I received complaints about, and wrote about–see my followup post to this one. My advice would be to not give them any more money and, if you paid by credit card and are still within the dispute window, to dispute the charges.
I am thinking that Global Summit House in New York has just scammed me out of a few thousand dollars, even though they actually did have me do a podcast and built me a website. Ms. Strauss, do you have any information on this company? At least some y the people I speak with are Filipinos and someone or somebodies at the company keep trashing my manuscript before they send it back for my review and corrections before printing. The galley copy I just got had more errors, in spite of my having returned a perfect copy for printing to them.
Now another offer over the phone (just like Rhinestone Cowboy), this time from Bookvine Press. Dean Mendel called, yet he didn't have the title of my book (I have 5) and had to ask me. I offered no info. His spiel was so rough I felt sorry for him. He told me to check Bookvine out in Better Business Bureau. Instead of offering a few presentation tips, I had to hang up.
"Author Consultant at Legaia Books Online"
Their "about us" page lists no names of their "Editors." Gosh, the "developmental edit" for my book DESERT SOLILOQUY would only cost a mere $8,780.58 for the "service," and they do not even state who would do the editing. If it were not evil it would be f'ing HILARIOUS.
Latest cold call came in the form of an email from an Author Consultant at Legaia Books Online, Inc. with an offer to join in a weekly podcast and tell all about my book (Tremulous Prism). Years ago this title did appear in paperback through Authorhouse, but a new self-published paperback version and an ebook.
I did not call back or visit the website.
"I grew suspicious at this because I am unaware of any publishing company getting private publishers interested in investing $20,000 in a book so that "you don't have to fork out any money right now"."
It would be awesome if you audio recorded any future telephone conversation. 🙂 Some states allow this if just one person in the conversation knows it is being recorded.
The average income for the life of a good book is less than US$7,000.
It would be *AWESOME* if you told the crooks (er, I mean "your new business partners") that as long as there are investors willing to put up US$20,000 in your book, you will sell the rights of your book to them for a discount of US$15,000. Then listen to the wailing, grunting, and excuses.
I've just had a voice conversation with a Marketing Executive from MatchLiteracy.com who informed me that his 'book scout' and 'publishing investor agents' had ID'd a book I published with Author House (AS) back in 2010. He was unaware that I had republished the book (due to text inconsistencies – which cost me an additional $575US at the time) in 2013. He stated that he has 'publishing company investors interested in investing in the marketing of your incredibly interesting book'.
I grew suspicious at this because I am unaware of any publishing company getting private publishers interested in investing $20,000 in a book so that "you don't have to fork out any money right now".
Since I know this is a clone, I'm curious to see what he'll offer me tomorrow when he calls back. Curious as well to see if the 'investor' chosen will be Philippino or have some other accent.
Gavin wanted to know more about me, hasn't even read my book, wanted me to give him my 'active' email so he could send me some quotes and his proposition.
Thanks to your blog, I now know what questions to ask him tomorrow….if he actually comes through. Any other suggestions? (I won't be signing anything or sending anything either, just throwing them a bone to keep them thinking they've got a gullible author on this end). I will refuse any help in the end.
I was first approached by AuthorsPress after I self-published with Kindle Direct Publishing. They were very insistent. I spoke with them on three separate occasions. I insisted that I did not want to pay for services I did not need such as editing and cover design. It did not matter to them. They had package prices and no other options. They did not seem to want to take "no thank you" as an answer.
Now, I get an email from Westwood that sounded identical to the initial AuthorsPress spiel. I became instantly suspicious when they claimed a phone number in a Pacific coast time zone, but had a Florida based company address. I wondered, "What's that about?"
Thank you for posting this blog. It came up following BBB complaints on the company. I read Westwood's response to the first complaint and was amazed at how illegible it was. It made little sense. Without your input many people may fall pray to these companies.
Brian S. Converse,
EC Publishing is indeed one of the copycat scams; it's in the list on the sidebar. I've also addressed the issue of these fake magazines in a recent blog post: https://accrispin.blogspot.com/2020/01/junk-book-marketing-pay-to-play.html
"Wondering if they are a scam or just bad at what they do."
The scam's web site would be amusing if they were not evil. Signs of a scam:
1) They mention nothing about who they/he are/is under the "About Us" page.
2) They use copyrighted images without paying for them, leaving the copyright mark on the image; The image is being used on other web sites that rob writers.
3) The physical address is a mail-drop between a used junk store and a used furniture store.
4) Victims are not told up front how much money they will be robbed.
5) The "service" uses the same tools offered by Kindle Direct Publishing, Lulu, Smashwords, and other web sites that let writers use for free.
6) Almost all of their "services" will not result in any book sales.
7) Past victims have complained.
I will add the "company" to my Reality For Writers blog.
Victoria, I just received a suspicious email from EC Publishing wanting to feature my self-published novel in their magazine at the London Book Fair.
Wondering if they are a scam or just bad at what they do. Person's name is Kenneth Lopez and his title is Senior Marketing and Publishing Consultant.
Thanks for everything that you do for us.
Paramount Books and Media
Yesterday for shits and giggles I viewed one of the "business'" YouTube video wherein the presenter was hyper-careful to not outright lie, yet implied they can perform miracles for their victims…. er, I mean "their customers." As if everyone's book is a prime candidate for a feature film, television show, and/or Broadway play.
Paramount Books and Media is on my list. See the sidebar. And yes–the clones do all operate in a very similar way–most notably, with lies.
"I would add Paramount aka Paramount Publishing aka Paramount Books."
Their "about us" page says absolutely nothing about them. From the web site:
"Paramount Books Media can help make your book available to agents, producers, directors, writers and actors…."
Yeah, uh, THAT AIN'T HOW IT WORKS! Good gods, how I detest people who prey on ignorance.
I would add Paramount aka Paramount Publishing aka Paramount Books. They have contacted me several times claiming they learned of my novel The Romanov Stone via their "scouts". All these outfits seem to have the same routine, all use poor grammar and seem to have the same foreign-sounding accents.
They do usually have booths at BEA and other book fairs (unless they're just re-selling services by the Combined Book Exhibit, which some of them do, at a crazy markup). It's really lucrative, because for $500 or more (sometimes lots more, depending on which scam it is) per book, they can display dozens or scores of books and make money on each one–even more, if authors buy extras like press releases or ad space in company magazines. Services vary from clone to clone, but nearly every one offers this book fair "service."
Rustik Haws is on my list. I've gotten a number of reports of its solicitations.
She offered to get my book in the NY Book Expo America at the Javit Center for $499 per book.
Wow. Five hundred dollars to leave someone's book on a table.
Just took a call from Sofia at "Rustic House"(813-467-7864 Tampa), saying she could not locate my book while searching the Authorhouse database. (I cancelled that contract a few years ago, as I explained.) She offered to get my book in the NY Book Expo America at the Javit Center for $499 per book. I asked for the website so I could research her company. She spelled the website as "rustikhaws.com." I have not yet tried to open that website. She requested my email address, but I did not give it to her.
I recently wrote a blog post about these vanity radio offers from the clones. Al Cole is one of the hosts they most frequently use.
Would you please share that email with me, for my files? firstname.lastname@example.org . All info shared with WB is held in confidence. Thanks.
December 11. Ralph Louis at parchementglobalpublishing.com offers an interview with Al Cole from CBS Radio "People of Distinction." "Over 23 million listeners who will be able to hear your story and details of your book. 15-20 minutes interview with Al Cole himself. It airs on Apple’s iTunes Radio Network (Professional News/Talk) featuring CBS Radio, Fox News, NPR, & C-Span. All professional, miscellaneous, and registration fees was waived by Parchment Global and you just have to collaborate with his assistant about the Air-time fee of the talk show."
Not sure how this offer originated. I did not reply.
As a first time author who is about to begin the submission process, i am deeply grateful that this website exists, especially the hard work and dedication of Victoria Strauss. Not only is this information invaluable in the jungle-like world of publishing but i don't feel alone in this enormous endeavour. Thank you so much!
"Please let everyone know about this and post this anywhere you could."
No. I will need evidence to tentatively accept your claims.
Hi, I would like to let everyone know this guy(photos below). The guy's real name is Seigfried Hernandez Taveros, but goes by the name "Friday", he was Friday West during his time with AuthorHouse but changes his last name every time he moves to a different company (been terminated mostly because of fraudulent activities). He's been moving from one company[PUBLISHING] to another if he doesn't get what he want. This Miguel Guzman wannabe is a notorious solicitor and will suck your finances dry, please beware. You'll be amazed by how he talks and presents his products but don't fall for it. If you remember how Lex Luthor got rich again in Superman Returns, that's kinda how he'll latch himself to you, a sweet but poisonous talker. Again, if anyone calls you that goes by the name "Friday", just don't entertain him. Please let everyone know about this and post this anywhere you could.
I am a living testimony that Litfire/Amelia and gotopublish is just one company. They have created gotopublish because they want to take down litfire publishing. I believe any author who has done business with litfire can attest that customer service is hard to reach or worst, cannot be reached at all. They created gotopublish so that business will go on. They are located in Cebu Philippines same building, same office as Litfire Publishing. On the other hand, Amelia started before publishing. They are only using Amelia for billing and charging purposes because litfire no longer have the merchant account due to refunds and chargebacks.
In my opinion Vivlio, which interchangeably calls itself Vivlio Hill, Vivlio Hill Publishing, Vivlio Solutions, and Vivlio Marketing Solutions, is another Philippines-based copycat scam. Any services offered are overpriced junk.
Have you ever heard of Franz Ross at Vivlio Solutions? They are in Edmonton, Canada. I've had an email from them (in good English) offering radio, TV and book store advertising – all for approximately $3,000.00. Are they a scam or clone?
The "Vivlio Solutions" web site's "who we are" page does not state who they are. LOL! That's classic scam behavior. For C$6,000 they will cheerfully do for you what you can do yourself for about C$200.
Please note that the average sale count for a popular book is less than 300 copies its first year, and may sell around 1,000 copies in a decade— that's for a well-written book. (Most self-published books are utter crap and may sell less than a dozen copies. The odds are excellent that your manuscript is utter crap.) That means the odds of you recovering the expense of Vivlio Solutions "services" and making any profit at all is close to 0:1 against.
The scammer's least-expensive "service" is C$800 and you will have to sell (average indie cost per book) at least 110 copies to break even— and that is only if you work very hard to market / "flog" your book and if your book is well-written.
I spent about US$120 to produce and publish my self-published book, and it has sold over 550 copies in 11 months 3 weeks — this is considered a successful book sale count. If I had paid someone to produce my book I would die before I see a profit.
A writer needs to understand the market. A writer needs to understand how the market has changed and is changing. A self-publishing writer needs to learn how to format a book (print and electronic). Just throwing money at a vanity press is *NOT* going to make your manuscript into a book worth reading, let alone a book worth buying.
egistrant Name: IT Administrator
Registrant Street: 932 N State Street STE 2
Registrant City: Orem
Registrant State/Province: Utah
Registrant Postal Code: 84057-3193
Registrant Country: US
Registrant Phone: +1.8018214072
Registrant Phone Ext:
Registrant Fax Ext:
Registrant Email: email@example.com
Latest cold call (8/30/19) is from AuthorCapital. The website was down due to "security enhancements."
I'm very glad your wife found my post! I'm glad you found it useful.
As for Michael Kravitz…he does appear on Author Reputation Press's website as an author. But he also seems to have a rather larger role in the company.
Based on ARP's corporate filings, I'm questioning whether it is in fact one of the Filipino scams. It's definitely a major ripoff and an Author Solutions copycat (and dishonest about its history: it claims to have been doing business for "two decades" despite having only filed a Certificate of Organization in 2018), but I think it may be a domestic endeavor helmed by Mr. Kravitz, who does appear to live in Massachusetts. (For instance, he had to file an amended Certificate of Organization because he mis-spelled his company's name–the original certificate was for "Aurthor Reputation Press LLC".)
Victoria, I have been contacted by Authors Reputation Press. I asked for an author who used their printing (reprinting)to contact me. A Michael Kravitz called me this morning sounding pretty straight forward and answered some of my off the wall questions about the company. He sounded legit. Then my wife, who is a real doubter-skeptic, told me to hold my horses before I signed the contract. Then she investigated/discovered your blog about clone companies and their disreputable practices. May I thank you from the bottom of my almost defrauded heart and wallet. I got nearly swindled. Thank you, thank you, thank you. And I owe my wife a big apology for not trusting her doubts about these kinds of unscrupulous companies.
" I am keeping a screenshot of this content and if the blog owner does not allow this comment on this thread, then I will get a confirmation that I am correct.
Let me guess: you are six years old?
Periodically a troll shows up from one or another of the clones and posts something like the comment above (a recurring theme is that I'm somehow in the publishing business and trying to stifle the "competition").
For real, though: Mr. or Ms. Troll, I would love to hear the experiences of Hancock Press authors or authors who've been solicited by it. Please send them here, or share my email address. All information shared with Writer Beware is held in confidence.
Victoria Strauss, I feel that your explanation about Hancock Press is so shady and backed up with personal interest. I am starting to have thoughts that you are affiliated with Hancock Press. I have spoken to more than one authors under the same company that I published my book with and there is a very weird similarity on how Hancock Press introduced themselves.
First they will ask you about your book and tells you that It's good that you have already someone taking care of your publishing need and then will tell you that it's still always better to re- consider your options. They will confirm your email address and a few days later they will send you the link of guess what? the link that they always send is "Writers Beware". This people from Hancock Press are similar from the publishing company that you have listed in your blogs. Victoria Straus I dare you to be transparent and hear out the voice of not one but 2 authors who've had the same experience with Hancock Press. If your goal is genuine to help out authors you should include Hancock Press on the list. If you don't then I will conclude your affiliation with Hancock Press and your only goal for this blog is to monopolize the publishing business. This blog is nothing but an outlet being used by a company that capitalizes in bad mouthing competition that has the same business practice as the competition that they are criticizing about. All for the sake of keeping the business all to themselves. You should be ashamed of yourself.
PS: I am keeping a screenshot of this content and if the blog owner does not allow this comment on this thread, then I will get a confirmation that I am correct. Will make sure to post this online to warn authors about you!
Thanks for the tip. Despite some similarities, I'm not convinced Hancock Press is a clone. For one thing, it's been in operation since 2011, which is a couple of years before the clone explosion. Its pitch has changed some over the years–it started out as a "literary agency" that purported to find traditional book contracts for authors–but looking at the various versions of its website on the Wayback Machine, a good deal of the old content is identical to what's on its current website.
Also, its domain is registered to a named individual, Wayne Hancock, which is not typical of the clones–nor is the fact that he can be traced online. His website is gone now, but here's how it looked in 2016: https://web.archive.org/web/20160312032120/http://waynehancockbooks.com/.
So…suspicious, yeah. I wouldn't advise anyone to get involved with this outfit. But not a clone.
hancock press. i've been doin' some research bout 'em and their address looks really shady. it's a residential just like all the other clones that have been mentioned here. kindly include hancock press as part of your list ms strauss.
Yes, URLink has an address in Cheyenne but they are mainly located in the Philippines.Visit them at 2nd Floor City Times Square, Mandaue City Cebu under the name Centexus Global.
Production and marketing are fulfilled in the Philippines.
"The Grand Mirage, has been selected to take part in the Decatur Book Festival"
Gosh, this is like a Nigerian prince selecting someone to receive US$250,000,000. 🙂
Just got a solicitation from Elmer Jones Westwood Book Publishing that my self-published novel, The Grand Mirage, has been selected to take part in the Decatur Book Festival Aug. 30-Sep. 1. I'll pass.
Please see my latest post, which discusses Newman Springs, along with several other vanity publishers: https://accrispin.blogspot.com/2019/07/from-writer-bewares-files-seven-most.html.
I'd be interested to know what your experience is. Feel free to email me: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Hey Ms. Strauss.
I was hoping you could shed some more light on Newmansprings. I've been published through them since March of this year.
I haven't written about Book Avenue Publishing specifically, but I have gotten questions about it and it is included in my list of Philippines-based publishing and marketing scams (in the sidebar). The "book scouts recommended your book to us and we want to take it to book fairs" pitch is a common one used by these scams, as is "we want to represent you to traditional publishers."
"Book Avenue Publishing"
The scam sells book reviews.
I've been pitched by a new one, Book Avenue Publishing,that claimed their book scouts found me and want to exhibit me at the Frankfurt and Beijing Book Fairs. They also want a PDF of my manuscript although my book is already published. Cannot find anything on them by a Google Search, although they do have a website with grammar issues. Thank you for the warning. Dr. Tom Norris
https://www.brandingnemo.com is a scam, promise me a future in holiwood but nothing happen.
Hollywood Book Campaign
In the film industry, the path to getting a book turned into a movie is not so “standard” or typical. There are many different inroads into the movie industry—not all of which are familiar to someone whose main business is putting words onto a page.
If you want to turn your book into a movie, whether you’ve written a novel or a memoir, here is what we can do for you:
Pitch to Hollywood Executives/Companies for Film or TV consideration
• Professionally Crafted Pitch Letter
• GUARANTEED Responses from the Executives/Companies
I've gotten several complaints over the years about a Steven Grey, who sells similar types of services–but looking at Dream Books Distribution's website, I think the name is a coincidence. Dream Books is definitely a clone (and therefore a scam). It has all the markers–solicitation, poor English, junk marketing services, and no verifiable info on company or staff. You'll be charged an enormous fee for services that will at best be substandard, and at worst nonexistent.
More generally, selling a book to Hollywood is one of the unlikeliest outcomes of publishing a book. Even most very popular, successful books never sell or option movie rights. When they do, it's via an agent, not a marketing company.
I just got an email offering me hollywood package from Dream Books Distribution. This is so unreal. What do you think?
Thank you for time today! As I stated on the phone, here is the email proposal for this project. As per your request here is one of the author that was successful and her book was adapted into film adaptation. Anna Todd a first time author was a part of the 2017 submission, she is the author of the book "AFTER" that made it with Paramount Pictures into a Film Adaptation.
It’s no secret that Hollywood is desperate for brilliant ideas. Nothing gets producers and Hollywood executives more excited than seeing the next great idea that can be turned into a Hollywood movie or TV show. That’s where we come in. As discussed over the phone. We can help you get your book a notch higher and put your one foot on the door to fame. Dream Books Distribution submits ideas to all major production companies(e.g. Paramount Pictures, Warner Bros., DreamWorks and Columbia Pictures).
The competitive world of book publishing calls for a creative and entertaining way of catching buyer's attention. Professionally crafted visuals have been proven to not only be entertaining and captivating. But, also leaves a lasting mark on the potential film producer's mind and be remembered.
Dream Books Distribution considers self-published authors for non-fiction, fiction, children's books, young adult, how-to, spiritual literature books worthy of further consideration by the talent-hungry pipeline of the entertainment industry. Other than targeting the Entertainment world this would also entice Major Publishing houses to consider your craft to be traditionally published.
Why have a Book Video Trailer
The success of your self-published book will ultimately be determined by your ability to rise above the competition and the attention of your potential buyers. And let's face it – with all the books currently on the market, there are a lot of titles competing for your reader's attention. To stand out from the crowd, media savvy authors are using book trailers to entice book buyers and build sales. Some writers may wonder if using video to sell the written word makes sense. Think of it this way: You've most likely experienced the effectiveness of movie trailers. A well crafted movie preview creates buzz and convinces you to buy a ticket. In the same way, a professional book trailer will help you engage your audience and generate more interest in your book.
Senior Marketing Officer
Direct line: 213 279 2244 TOLL FREE: 888 857 6657 ext: 104
ADDRESS:10866 Wilshire Blvd. 4th Floor Los Angeles CA 90024
Have you any further details about them to enlighten.
I am not Ms. Strauss….
Never reply to any email from a "publisher" or "agent" or "service" (of any kind) that was unsolicited by you.
Never do business with anyone who does not provide names in the "about us" page, or anywhere else.
Never pay anyone who has a motel room as a business address (6065 Roswell Road, #450 Atlanta, GA 30328-4011).
Never do business with someone who has a web site that does not list services, prices for those services, nor the names of the people providing those services.
Thank you very much, Victoria, for your swift reply. It sounded so good, and certainly appeals to my current needs, but now I will not take this service. Have you any further details about them to enlighten. Many Thanks!
Divine Consciousness Series,
Gotopublish is a scam like the ones described in my post. It's included in the list in the sidebar of this blog.