Caution - Self Publishing Scam AheadSelf-publishing is a big industry right now.   Which means big money.  Not necessarily for authors but for companies who sell self-publishing services to authors wanting to self-publish.  One contender, Balboa Press has been calling my cell phone every month or so. Writers Beware!

A class action complaint has been filed against Balboa Press’s parent company, Author Solutions, for its sketchy dealings that are bringing in the big bucks.  The class action complaint breaks it down:

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.

Self-Publishing

The apple doesn’t land far from the tree.  I’ve had a pretty shady experience with Balboa Press so far.  I’ve checked them out and everything I’ve read indicates they are ripping off their own customers.  If you want a prime and horrific example look no further than this author’s experience:

The illustrative sketches and colorization were a disaster. It was apparent that there was a problem with adherence to the RAD/character description form. Pictures that were provided, or the coinciding text (page number and line number) from the manuscript provided to aid the illustrator were obviously ignored or subjectively reviewed. It was so evident, to the point where I was wondering if anyone bothered to read, or if they even couldread the RAD form. There was clearly no oversight of the illustrator’s work before remittance to me. I had continued to write, please call if you have any questions…

After months of inexcusable errors, it was apparent the Art Director, or whomever, did not adhere to “set up an artist that best suits your project.” The project was/is light, airy, and whimsical. I received “dark.” In most cases, the illustrations were sparse (not intricate detail) with no color consistency, no innovation, wrong genders, wrong race, missing or incorrect features, etc. An ancient woman was drawn as a bald-headed, old man numerous times, despite repeated pleas and request for adherence to the RAD and characterization forms. The little girl’s bed looked like a cot out of an army barracks or prison. Angel wings on a helicopter were inverted, objected to, and objections to the CIAC remained ignored – a lame excuse was offered.

How much does it cost to self-publish a book?My own experience with them so far has been subpar at best.  They called me up and tried to rope me in by getting me excited about my novel’s potential.  They told me how great my ideas were and how much I deserved to get my book out there.  They wanted to help me achieve my publishing goals.  All they needed was to relieve me of $999 to $7,999 of my money, and we could get started.  Even if I had that kind of money lying around I wasn’t totally sold that first call.  No deal.

typing once upon a timeA few months later someone else called again.  But this person had no clue about me or my novel.  What was my book about? No idea? Back to square one.  Apparently no one at Balboa ever cares enough about what potential clients say to make any file notes.  No points gained there. * Click.*

And on it went.  For a few years now.  (Yes really.)

Which brings me to another call today.  Same thing.  Starting from scratch with another clueless representative from Balboa.  I wasn’t buying.  *Click.*

Then I get the following email.  Then it hits me.  Not only did they pack this letter so full of stupid writing cliches that it reads hilariously, but they are preying on the dreams of writers’ with this letter and others like it.

Subject:  Believe in Yourself

Hi Lauren,

Be proud of who you are as a writer. An author’s voice is unique and no one will tell your story like you do. Don’t lose your voice. Stand out by having your own style. And your book doesn’t have to have an outrageous plot to be important. Simple can be good. Stick to who you are as a writer and your message will always hold significance.

Financial stability is a challenge nowadays. Money is something achievable but it will depend on you. It will depend on how committed you are in publishing and sharing your message to the world. Money comes and goes in life. If it is meant to be, it will happen. We can’t just wait for it to happen though. We need to do something about it. Dreaming for success is for everyone but putting it to reality is for those who are brave enough to take the next step even if there is fear of the unknown. Let us take this one step at a time.

Why make excuses when you can start your dreams? Why do nothing when you can begin something? Look, you have a lot more power within you that you’re revealing to the world. We all do. But because of distractions and interruptions and responsibility and excuses we sell to ourselves, we coast along at the same level for the best of our lives.

Only few have the guts to make A LEAP – a leap to new habits, new routines and a whole new story about their new place in the world and their service to it.

The Gandhi’s and the Mandela’s and the Zuckerberg’s and the Mozart’s were just ordinary people who had an idea, protected it from the voice of dissent, advanced it via tiny wins and got up every time they got knocked down.

You have this power too, but power unused deteriorates and potential not expressed turns to PAIN.

Now is your time to fly and to shine and to rise up. This is the day to show the world who you truly are.

I would like to assist you with your dreams. Yes, publishing will ask you to shell out money from your own pocket, but what I can assure you is that Balboa Press can expose you and your book to the rest of the world. This way you truly get to say to yourself, “I’ve done my part, let the book speak for itself now!” It is not easy to invest in something that you’re not sure of its future, but nothing is ever certain. What you can do as a writer is to invest in your dreams and believe that you can be someone that you never expected to be. Your sacrifices can result to a life changing journey if you give your book a chance.

All the best,
[Name Redacted]
PUBLISHING CONSULTANT
Balboa Press
A DIVISION OF HAY HOUSE

[Contact Information Redacted]

This email is an advertisement.

Gambling Piggy BankSo I’ll be staying away from Vanity Presses.  There are ways to legitimately Self-Publish but using Balboa Press isn’t one of them.  If they contact you, remember it is called a vanity press for a reason.  They play to your vanity and emotions.  I know they tried to get me that way.  It’s enticing to think that the only thing standing between you and your dream is your savings.  But it’s a gamble.  And Balboa Press is the house that  always wins.  The only way to beat them at their own game is to not play.