Simon & Schuster and Author Solutions: Not a Winning Combination?

I wasn’t surprised to see yet another big publisher trying to get involved in the self-publishing paradigm. After all, the whole publishing industry is undergoing massive changes at the moment, and there are profits to be made in quarters that didn’t really exist until a few years ago, at least not in the mainstream sector.

Not too long ago, we here in Australia saw a bookseller, Dymocks, testing the self-pub waters with D-Publishing, a division of the company that contracted writers into what claimed to be self-publishing but turned out to be nothing more than vanity-publishing, and seemed to be very publisher-driven rather than author-driven.

Now, Simon & Schuster have jumped in at the deep end. In partnership with Author Solutions, a company that holds one of the worst reputations in the self-publishing world, they have formed Archway Publishing. The new company offers packages for authors that begin at US$1,999 and top out at US$14,999. The lowest price would be okay if it included a professional edit (it doesn’t include editing, which is charged extra at $3.50/100 words) and a good bit of cover art, but the $15,000 seems very exorbitant. And it’s even higher if you write a business book. Lowest cost for that is $2,999 and the highest is $24,999. You would need to sell a load of books to recoup those costs.

As I said, the lowest price would be fine if it included editing and quality cover art, but the editing is an extra price (quite steep, too) and the cover art for ALL the packages consists of stock photos/images.

If you add the cost of editing to an 80,000 word novel, you would be looking at just under $5000 for a package and a ‘professional’ edit on the work.

Then you get the final kick in the nuts. After the author pays all this money, the company also wants a big share of your sales. They talk royalties as though they are a traditional publisher, when in fact they are closer to vanity publishing. For the privilege of charging you a ridiculous amount of money, they also want to keep half of your profits for e-book and print sales.

Looking at all the options incorporating each of the packages, you could likely do it yourself for approximately one-tenth of the prices charges here. If it was Simon & Schuster professionals that worked with you, then some would say that the industry-knowledge was worth the extra cost, but it’s not. According to the site, the people you get as guidance professionals are from Author Solutions, and from research, they are not the most professional people in the industry.

I’ll leave it to the loyal readers to do their own research on Author Solutions, which incorporates companies such as Author House, Trafford Publishing and iUniverse, all of which are cast under suspicion by many thousands of complaints by authors who feel ripped-off and bullied by them. The four links I just provided are but the tip of the iceberg.

In the end, you usually get what you pay for, unless you get a lot less than you pay for.
Do your research and make an informed decision whether to utilise the services offered by Archway Publishing, or whether to source your own professionals and maintain complete control over your work from start to finish.

GN Braun

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