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The writing process is a love/hate relationship.

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Self-Publishing Traps Are Sucking Authors Dry

Hi, everyone. I recently made a Facebook post about self-publishing companies that are scamming independent authors out of their hard-earned money. These companies offer self-publishing packages. These packages are dressed up to look glamorous to new authors. However, these “special features” are not worth the money that you are spending. I am going to pick apart some of the features show you to show you the actual cost. I’m also going to show you the complaints that people are making about these companies. A little research goes a long way. The stuff I have found online is horrifying.

Who They Are

First things first. Who am I talking about? Recently, a friend came to me to tell me that she had been scammed out of $3,000 by a company called Xlibris. My heart nearly stopped at that number. The company made all kinds of promises they didn’t keep and tried to publish her unformatted manuscript. I reformatted it for her and helped her get it published properly through Amazon and began immediately looking into the company. This is what I found. The company operates under 17 different names. It’s easier to scam people if some names are taking longer to get tarnished, right? Here are the names:

Author Solutions is the parent company, and all these are its little children.
Abbott Press
Author Learning Center
AuthorHouse LLC
Balboa Press
Booktango
Content Distributors LLC
Inspiring Voices
iUniverse, LLC
LifeRich Publishing
Palibrio
Partridge Africa
Partridge India
Partridge Singapore
Responder Media
Trafford Publishing, LLC
Westbow Press
Xlibris, LLC

Telemachus Press (Not sure if it’s affiliated with the others, but they are also scamming authors out of thousands)

What They Do… or Don’t Do

I wouldn’t be surprised if there are more out there. If you know of one, leave a comment, and I’ll add it to the list. I decided to start with A and check out the website of Abbott Press. This is what you get for $3,000.

They offer an ISBN assignment. Sounds magical right? You can get an ISBN for free. If you want to name your own fancy publishing name, you can buy one from Createspace for $10.

They offer volume discounts for authors, B&W interior, color cover, Amazon “look inside”, U.S Copyright protections, worldwide distribution including Barnes & Noble, and some other stuff that sounds amazing if you’re new and don’t know what you’re doing. All of that stuff is FREE and automatic when you publish through Amazon’s Createspace.

So what do they do that you would actually have to pay for? A book cover and formatting. A book cover and formatting is not worth $3,000. They buy a stock photo for a couple bucks and put your book title on it. That’s something anyone with Photoshop can do. If you don’t know how, you can ask someone. If you want a more creative cover, you can buy one from dozens of people for anywhere from $50 to $200. Formatting is also something that you can get from $50 to $200. On top of it all, from what I saw from my friend’s book, they don’t format it. All they did was give her the book cover and a headache.

So let’s say you’re paying top dollar for these 2 services. You’ve spent $400. So where is the other $2,600 going? In their pockets. As an indie author, how long do you think it could take to make $2,000 off of your book? It depends. You could do it in a year, or you could break even in a few years. Either option is terrible.

I looked over some e-mails that an author received from this company. The company is claiming to be an arm of Penguin/Random house. That’s obviously not true. A legitimate publisher would never condone something like this. 

I stand corrected. It turns out that Penguin/Random House purchased Author Solutions a few years ago. I’m not speculating anymore about this. They have always been a highly-respected publishing company. I’m not sure why they would associate with Author Solutions. In good faith, I’m going to assume that they don’t realize the extent of what’s happening. I really hope they figure it out and wash their hands of Author Solutions because I don’t want to see them end up in trouble because of it.

Real Stories From Authors

So what are other authors saying about their experiences?

I remember reading one account of an author saying that after selling hundreds of books, he received a check 6 months later for $2. Here are some other accounts that I have screen shotted from various websites.

These are about Xlibris:

1

3

Yes, you read that right. 5 THOUSAND bucks for a failed marketing package.

2

Here is a screen shot of iUniverse on a scam site, which of course, is another arm on the same body.

4

$160 THOUSAND. They have scammed $160k from authors, all of which has gone unresolved.

This last one is a post from an author who used Balboa Press. They offer a package to illustrate children’s books, but they apparently draw whatever the f*ck they want to.

6

Never ever, ever, EVER hand over thousands of dollars and your manuscript. One Google search showed me hundreds of scam complaints regarding these companies. I know how it feels to be anxious to publish a book. I was there recently. You can do it yourself. You don’t need any company to self-publish a book. There are so many resources out there offering free and low-cost help getting the book ready. When it comes time to publish, there are thousands of indie authors who will help if you’re confused about part of the process. Too many authors have fallen victim to these companies and it needs to end now. Pass this around, tell your friends, and keep indie authors away from these vultures.

The Whistleblower

I was just about to hit publish when I found something else. An ex-employee of these people decided to speak out against them. This might be my favorite piece of information.

7

A Special Announcement

I’ve been keeping my works in progress quiet; however, I’ve decided to give a little announcement. My next novel, Wishing it Away, is about the struggle a couple faces when the husband comes home from war with combat PTSD. The story is from the view of the wife, who has no idea how to keep their marriage together. 15% of my royalties will be donated to War Dogs, which trains service dogs to help veterans cope with PTSD. It’s a serious problem, and we need to be part of the solution.

http://wardogsmakingithome.org/

A New Scam Targeting Freelancers *BEWARE*

If you’re a freelancer, you have to careful when finding private clients. If you aren’t working with a reputable web site, you don’t really know what you’re getting into. Web sites like Upwork.com allow you to find clients to do work for, which can drastically increase your income if you’re proactive about it. So what happens when you find someone who is just looking for a freelancer to scam?

I came across a job posting on Upwork the other day for an accounts payable/receivable job. As a writer, it’s out of my realm, but not something I can’t do. Here is the original job posting that I applied for.
upwork 2

When I received an invitation to interview, I was very excited. The interview was via yahoo messenger, which I found odd. Maybe other people use it, but I’ve always done them through Upwork (Odesk) or Skype. However, I downloaded the app and proceeded. The person who claimed to be the hiring manager asked me some questions about accounts receivable/payable. Thanks to my article writing experience, I knew the answers. I was told I would do training for two weeks at $10 an hour, then I would make a whopping $18.50 an hour. Who could pass that up? I was ecstatic, but at the same time, I felt like something was off. I got the job way too easily. I thought maybe they fire people during the training phase if they don’t do well, so I pushed my concern aside.

I was told the job is through a company called OM GROUP. It’s a legitimate, publicly traded company. I checked them out. My problem was that I had no proof that this person was actually with the company. Before we finished the “interview”, the major red flag was waved. The “hiring manager” told me that I need some software to do the job, but no worries, they would send me a check to buy it. Here’s the kicker, I had to buy it from their vendor. My thought was, if they had a vendor, they could send me the software. Why would they had out large amounts of money to people after a short interview, and hope the money is spent on what it should be spent on? All this happened on a Friday, so I figured I would just call the company’s corporate office Monday morning and ask them myself if the whole thing is legitimate.

I received an e-mail to sign and send back. It was supposed to be the company offer letter. It was some typed up information with a sad attempt at sounding professional with a copied and pasted image from the company’s web site at the top of it. Here is the first page of the letter.
offer letter 1

I’m not sure what’s better, the first page or the last. The entire thing was about 4 pages long, and then signed by my superior, Johnny Depp.
offer letter 2

While the “offer letter” was eyeroll-worthy, I still wanted to call the corporate office. I called first thing Monday morning. I got about one sentence out about what I called to ask and the lady at the other end said, “Yeah, it’s a hoax. We have IT working on it.” I asked her for her e-mail and sent her what I have, which isn’t much since these creeps use different names and e-mails constantly. I only hope there aren’t freelancers out there that are so desperate for bill money, they’re ignoring these red flags. I got back on yahoo messenger and told off Mr. Depp or whatever his name is. He signed off and probably deleted that account.

The hoax was most likely this: They would send a bad check to buy the “software”. The fake software site would accept the transaction and take the money before the check bounced, taking all the victim’s real money and leaving them in the hole with a bad check. Luckily, I knew better. If you find a similar job, please run far, far away. Spread the word. Not everyone is aware these scams are out there, or they need money so bad they’re hoping for the best until it’s too late. Share this post and make it so these idiots have no one left scam! Stay safe fellow freelancers.

Here is another scam job posting from the same people.

upwork 2

~Book Giveaway~

Hi everyone! Enter to win one of two signed paperbacks of …And The Stars Fell Silent! The giveaway is hosted by The Swanky Bibliophile’s Book Blog. *Re-posted from their page*

༺❃༻ GIVEAWAY ༺❃༻
Author Trinity Roberts has offered a signed paperback of her novel “… And The Stars Fell Silent.” There will be two winners. Here is how you can enter.

☆☆☆ TO WIN ☆☆☆
1. Like this post + our page. (You must be a fan of The Swanky Bibliophiles Book Blog to win)
2. Like Trinity’s FB page: https://www.facebook.com/TrinityRobertsWriter
3. Sign up for Trinity’s newsletter: http://mlgn.to/1q5r
4. Comment when you have done all 1-3.

☆☆☆ ADDITIONAL ENTRIES ☆☆☆
– Share this post from their Facebook page (make sure it’s public so we can see it) for 5 extra entries.
– Tag friends! Only ONE comment. Each tag = 1 extra entry.

This giveaway will end on Tuesday September 1st. Winners have 24 hrs to claim prize or new winners will be picked. US ONLY.

…And The Stars Fell Silent on Amazon Top 100

Hi everyone! I’ve had quite the exciting couple of days. Yesterday, out of nowhere, …And The Stars Fell Silent skyrocketed on Amazon. It went from almost 500th place to #64 in Dystopian. When I woke up this morning, it was #43. I’m so grateful that it has become a best seller. It’s truly a dream come true. Thank you everyone for your support. It’s been a rough and exciting journey. I’m working on the sequel now and anticipating a release next spring. I can’t wait to share it with the world. If you haven’t read …And The Stars Fell Silent, go check it out. Please leave a review on Amazon. I put my heart and soul into my novel, and I would appreciate feedback. Thanks so much. Have a wonderful day readers.

…And The Stars Fell Silent on Amazon.com
best seller

Here is my interview with Trinity Roberts

authorsinterviews

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Name  Trinity Roberts

 

Age  29

 

Where are you from

I’m from eastern Washington, but I live in Indianapolis, Indiana.

 

A little about yourself- i.e. your education Family life etc  

I joined the Navy when I was 19. I was stationed on the USS Nimitz. I met my husband in California. He was in the Marines and stationed at Camp Pendleton. We moved to Indiana and had two children. I went to school for Information Technology and hated every minute of it. Writing is something I have enjoyed since I was a child, and I decided to go for my dream. I have chronic pain, which keeps me down often, so working at home works out well for me.

 

Fiona: Tell us your latest news?

I released my debut novel, …And The Stars Fell Silent, on July 24, 2015. It’s a dystopian novel about…

View original post 1,738 more words

Surprise Early Release!

Hi everyone! …And The Stars Fell Silent is now live on Amazon and Smashwords. My editor and I worked like crazy, and we managed to get it done ahead of schedule. As of right now, you can buy the kindle version from Amazon, or one of several different formats from Smashwords. As soon as the rest of the approval goes through, the e-book will be live on: Apple iBooks, Barnes & Noble, Scribd, Oyster, Kobo, Overdrive, Baker & Taylor, Inktera, and Versent.
The paperback will be live on Amazon shortly, and in other bookstores and online retailers and in the next few months.

You can click on the ‘Books’ tab or “Shop Now’ to buy the ebook, or check back for the paperback version soon.

ATSFS Update!

Hi everyone! I have some exciting news. While …And The Stars Fell Silent has been delayed until August 1st, it is going very well. My editor is working through the book now, and will be finished very soon.

I decided that delaying the book 11 days is better than rushing a release. I want it to be perfect for release. I hope everyone enjoys reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it.

I want to thank everyone who has helped me along the way. I am giddy with excitement, and I couldn’t have done it without my best friend, my editor, my family, and of course, my readers. This is my first, and it certainly won’t be my last. 21 days!

Site Makeover

Hi everyone. I’ve been so busy working on my novel and promotions I haven’t posted in a while. Other than pushing the release date back to July 20th, things are going well. I’d rather have a well-polished story than release it too soon. I hope everyone likes the makeover to my web site. I logged on today and thought, “Why did I make my web site so ugly and confusing?” I’m not sure what I was thinking, but it’s much better now in my opinion. I hope you all like it too. You can find the information about my current works on the “coming soon” page and a link to my Goodreads giveaway on the “events” page. I’m so touched and grateful for everyone who has entered and showed interest in reading my book. Thank you all for your support.