Beware the Predatory Penguin: A Warning to New Authors Who Want to Be Published

It used to be simple. If a publisher was interested in your work he paid you an advance and published your work.

These days once respected publishers like Penguin operate as vanity-presses. They try to sell you something, for thousands of dollars, that you can do for yourself or for which you can hire people do to it for you for tens of dollars.

In other words, they prey on the vulnerable and naive, fleecing them for all they’re worth. In some cases you can take this literally.

This is a warning to new authors who want to be published: beware the predatory publishers like Penguin and save thousands of dollars.

Many articles and blog posts argue that self-publishing will be the end of the publishing industry, no, the demise of Literature, if not the utter destruction of Human Civilization and All Life on Earth.

Often the argument goes that publishing houses like Penguin care for authors and literature and they should be the Gatekeepers. Writers are admonished that if they are good enough, eventually they will be published by the industry and richly rewarded.

Nonsense. Publishing houses don’t exist to produce books and protect literature. They exist to produce money — not for you, silly writer, but for them — and to protect their profit margin. The only person who has any value at all in this process, the only one who creates something out of nothing, the author, is disrespected, treated like dirt and gets fobbed off with a pittance.

For a long time there was no alternative for writers but nowadays you can self-publish and get a far better return for your work by simply bypassing the publishing industry. This, as you can imagine, is not to the liking of publishing houses like Penguin. How dare a writer make money without giving any of it to them, the Gatekeepers, the Arbiters of Taste?

That’s why Penguin bought Author Solutions. Simply put, they take your money up front — and an awful lot of it — without giving anything of remotely the same value in return. No, you can’t even claim to be published by Penguin. Several thousands of dollars later you’ll have an ebook published, which you could have done yourself at no cost at all.

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6 Responses to Beware the Predatory Penguin: A Warning to New Authors Who Want to Be Published

  1. scavola 2013-05-06 at 23:44 #

    Well, there are those people who prefer it. A friend wrote a book and paid amazon/createspace $300-400 to format the interior and convert it to eBook. I offered to do it for free, but she “wanted it done right.” It also took about eight weeks, where I could have done it in a matter of hours. But again, she has that kind of money to blow! ;)

    • Rochelle 2013-05-09 at 21:38 #

      $300-400? isn’t it just $60.00 (I believe) to convert a book to Kindle on create space? Seems like your friend may have gotten other services done along with the conversion.

      • scavola 2013-05-09 at 22:13 #

        yes, it was about $300 for the interior formatting and they then gave her a discount on the conversion.

    • Andrew 2013-05-09 at 22:22 #

      This is a completely different thing.
      Createspace asks reasonable prices for conversion etc. and only if you can’t do it yourself.

      Author Solutions, a division of Penguin, asks for several thousands of dollars up front and the rights to your book. You actually pay them to lose the rights to your book. They make the victims believe that for that price they are getting the best of both worlds: self-publishing and trade publishing. They ask for several thousands of dollars more for the editing… which turns out to be amateurish to say the least. A high school student could do a better job.

      Please read David Gaughran’s post, The Author Exploitation Business. The two cases are just not comparable. Createspace is a paid service (if you need it). Author Solutions is a legal scam.

      • scavola 2013-05-09 at 22:56 #

        Just to be clear, I’m not indicting createspace, I’ve used them myself. My point was that penguin will find customers because some people just don’t know better / don’t care. Most independant authors I know are of the mindset, “I finished writing it, now take it away.” Me, I have to do it all myself ’cause I can’t afford services anymore!

        • Andrew 2013-05-09 at 23:14 #

          Both valid options.
          If you can’t do it yourself, get help. Get help for a moderate flat fee.
          If you can’t or won’t invest moderate fees, learn how to do stuff yourself.
          But don’t sign the rights to your books away. Don’t pay thousands upon thousands of dollars for rubbish.

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