Author Academy Elite: Review of Kary Oberbrunner’s Author Academy

POSTED ON May 13, 2020

P.J McNulty

Written by P.J McNulty

Home > Blog > Reviews > Author Academy Elite: Review of Kary Oberbrunner’s Author Academy

Author Academy Elite is just one of many companies in the digital publishing space. 

As the self-publishing industry grows, the amount of book publishing services and companies grow, too. 

And although Author Academy Elite claims to not be a self-publisher or traditional publisher, it is essentially a vanity press – that is, a company that authors pay to publish their books for them. 

Related: Self-Publishing Companies

It can be tough to know which path to take as an aspiring author. Should you go it alone and soak up information for free? Pay for a company to handle your book on a done-for-you basis? Invest in coaching?

No matter which option you look at, there are plenty of companies claiming to be the best.

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A Note To Our Readers:

We want you to make informed decisions when it comes to how and where to invest your money. That’s why our mission is to help educate authors on the various self-publishing companies and services that are on the market today.

Our reviews are meant to be unbiased, 3rd party reviews, but we will speak up if there is a scam or a clearly better option.

So, let’s take a close look at Author Academy Elite, and if they it's really the best company to help you become an author.

Here’s what we’ll cover in this Author Academy Elite Review: 

  1. What is Author Academy Elite?
  2. Author Academy Elite Programs and Cost
  3. Is Author Academy Elite For You?
  4. Other Reviews of Author Academy Elite
  5. Alternatives to Author Academy Elite
  6. Final Rating 

What is Author Academy Elite?

Author Academy Elite is a combination of a vanity press that publishes books, mixed with an author training program. You pay Author Academy to publish your book, and you get video training and book coaching to help you with writing, publishing, and marketing. 

Note: A vanity press, or vanity publisher, is a company that authors pay to publish their books for them. 

The program was created by Kary Oberbrunner who experienced success from writing and publishing his own books and decided to share his knowledge and experience.

Related: How to Publish A Book

On its website, Author Academy Elite prominently mentions that it disagrees with both traditional publishing and self-publishing. It's stated that Author Academy will act as the publisher for their students' books, but it's unclear why this would offer any advantages over self-publishing, since that is the process that Author Academy is following.

Unlike many other author training programs, Author Academy Elite doesn’t really publicize exactly what they provide and how much it will cost before you reach out to them. Many might consider that to be something of a red flag.

Related: Self-Publishing Costs

Despite Author Academy Elite's somewhat obfuscating website, we've hunted high and low to bring you as much information possible on what’s included, if it’s for you,  and how much it will set you back.

Author Academy Programs and Cost

One strange and interesting thing about Author Academy Elite is they seem to operate two very similar websites advertising programs helping aspiring authors publish books. 

These sites are Author Academy and Author Academy Elite respectively. They are both based around Kary Oberbrunner, but it's unclear how much crossover there is otherwise.

It appears that Author Academy is focused around marketing training and author platform building, whereas Author Academy Elite is a more generalized program covering writing and other aspects. 

Related: Book Marketing

Let’s take a closer look at what’s listed on both platforms – Author Academy and Author Academy Elite.

Author Academy 

Author Academy itself is described as “the premium marketing system for authors to maximize their influence, impact, and income.” What exactly does this punchy line refer to?

Author Academy breaks its training down into the following three phases and modules:

#1 – Pre-Launch Phase

  • How to Build a Killer Book Launch Team
  • How to Borrow Other People’s Platforms
  • How to Leverage Book Trailers To Increase Impact
  • How to Create Social Shareables that Spread

#2 – Launch Phase

  • How to Host an Unforgettable Launch Party
  • How to Make a Digital Press Kit that the Media Loves
  • How to Create a Powerful Marketing Plan
  • How to Get a Bigger Stage in 30 Days

#3 – Post-Launch Phase

  • How to Turn Your Book into a 6 Figure Business
  • How to Maximize Book Back Ads
  • How to Create Relevant Lead Magnets
  • How to Produce Life-Changing Products and Services 

Author Academy mentions that you will receive training with over 35 videos as well as practical exercises, scripts, templates, and examples. There's no mention of how long these videos are, and no examples are provided anywhere on the site. 

The major red flag about this program is the complete lack of information about how much it costs. If you’re a regular reader of Self’s reviews, you’ll know that even companies we don’t recommend are more upfront than this about their pricing.

The fact that Author Academy isn’t sets our alarm bells ringing. 

So how about Author Academy Elite?

Author Academy Elite

If you head over to Author Academy Elite's website, you'll notice they begin by breaking down what they claim to be the problems with self-publishing. 

But any knowledgeable or informed aspiring author will know that a lot of the claims they make aren't exactly correct.

Let's just consider a couple of points from the above image. 

Are self-published authors really locked out of bookstores and libraries, as claimed? No, self-published can get their books in bookstores, libraries, and the like – they just have to learn how to.

Publishes anybody with out giving proper attention to quality? Just because self-publishing means anyone can do it, does NOT mean that everyone skimps on quality.

In fact, the best quality books are those that you can't discern whether it's traditional or self-published – because when you write and publish a professional-quality book, that's ALL that matters.

Any informed indie author or self-published author knows these claims are false, yet Author Academy seems to be using these commonly accepted misconceptions to its advantage in its marketing strategy.

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Also, let's look at the dubious claim of ‘forcing you to make all the decisions', such as pricing and ISBN.

These terms may sound scary, but again – any informed aspiring author knows that getting an ISBN is very easy, and pricing your book is a walk in the park. 

And will Author Academy determine the price of your book for you? Probably not. Even if they did, why would you want them to?

With that note of caution sounded, let’s explore what Author Academy Elite claims to teach. 

Author Academy Elite breaks its content down into the following sections:

#1 – Video Training

Video modules covering various aspects of writing, publishing, and marketing. No further information is given on exactly which topics will be covered. 

#2 – Workbook

Author Academy Elite has trademarked what they call ‘52 mini missions’. This appears to be a workbook guiding you through the various video lessons in the program. They claim you can go through this at your own pace, but 52 missions strongly implies a weekly approach. 

#3 – Coaching

Students get access to group coaching calls. These take place every weekday, and students can join these for a year and a half.


Author Academy calls this group Igniting Souls. It is a private Facebook group for anyone who purchased one of Kary Oberbrunner’s programs or products (including conferences and live events). 

Published Book

The company states it will be the publisher of your book and will provide you with five versions – softcover, hardcover, ebook, ePub, and audiobook. The company claims that your book will be distributed by “the world’s largest distributor” without specifying anything further, which likely means Amazon. It’s also not clear if you receive one copy of each of the above formats or more. 

Next Steps

If you spend any time reading about Kary Oberbrunner you’ll soon notice it’s often mentioned he turns his books into ‘18 streams of income’. It’s not clear what these are, but the company claims it will teach you how to do the same. 

So how much does Author Academy Elite cost?

Author Academy Elite costs at least $5,000, and more if you plan to enroll in a payment plan.

As we mentioned earlier, when you first access the Author Academy Elite website, there is no mention of cost anywhere. You have to undergo an ‘application' process then are sent the “Finalist” page, which lists the pricing.

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  1. One-off payment of $5000. 
  2. 3 x monthly payments of $1767 totaling $5301
  3. 6 x monthly payments of $927 totaling $5562
  4. 12 x monthly payments of $487 totaling $5844

I’ll just say it plainly – this is a lot of money for a program that doesn’t break down exactly what you’ll learn from it. It also seems a little odd that aspiring authors will pay up to $844 extra if they can’t pay straight away. 

One last word of warning about the pricing at Author Academy Elite – the company prominently states you can get a money-back guarantee within the first 30 days. Sounds good, right?

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However, if you read on you’ll notice that the following disclaimer applies.

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That's right – canceling within 30 days will cost you $487, which you'll notice is the price of a monthly installment!

Whether this is more accurately a “deposit that covers registration and processing fees” as Author Academy Elite claims, or the cost of one month's access, is for you to decide. 

Is Author Academy Elite For You?

So far, I've tried my best to give you the fullest picture possible of what you'll get from Author Academy Elite and how much it will cost you – despite the fact the company goes out of their way to hide that information.

Now, let’s consider who this program might be a good fit for.

Despite some questionable marketing and lack of transparency, I'm not going to say you should completely avoid Author Academy Elite. From everything I've read, Kary Oberbrunner seems to be a legitimate author who's experienced real success. Plenty of authors who have published with Author Academy Elite seem to be happy with the experience they received, and their testimonials seem genuine. 

Author Academy Elite might be for you if: 

  1. You have at least $5000 to invest in a vanity publishing services/training program
  2. You are comfortable not having full control of your book (Author Academy Elite will be the one to manage your published book and make edits/maintenance updates)
  3. You realize that you are paying a company to essentially self-publish your book
  4. You understand that all book writing and marketing will be up to you 

Author Academy Elite is NOT for you if: 

  • You are more research-savvy and informed to know they make false claims against self-publishing
  • You’d rather not have a vanity publisher, meaning you don’t want to pay extra to have someone else “self-publish” your book for you when you can do it yourself and not pay extra fees when you need something in your book changed
  • You’d rather invest in an education company that truly teaches you how to self-publish & market your book the right way, so you can do it again and again (without paying someone else to do it for you)

Of course, you're reading this review of Author Academy Elite at, so naturally, we're going to stand up for that form of publishing.

But we don't expect you to just take our word for it. Look carefully into the pros and cons for yourself before you decide which route is right for your book. 

Review: The Pros & Cons

In a nutshell, what are the pros and cons of opting for Author Academy Elite to learn the process of publishing and marketing a book?

The Pros:

  1. Kary Oberbrunner has had genuine success publishing
  2. Plenty of students seem happy with their experience
  3. Daily group coaching calls for 18 months is a lot of support

The Cons:

  1. Overpriced for what you get
  2. Takes a misleadingly negative view of self-publishing
  3. It’s a vanity publisher at its core
  4. Questionable approach to hiding the cost of the program initially
  5. Not a lot of information on what you’ll learn and how in-depth the video modules are
  6. Claims to have limited spots and an application process which is likely a marketing tactic

Other Author Academy Elite Reviews

As much as we strive to provide the best possible information for you as an author, we know it’s wise to get as many viewpoints as possible before choosing whether or not to invest in a training program.

For that reason, we’ve taken the time to gather together some of what others are saying about Author Academy Elite.

Positive Testimonials

The company has some impressive testimonials on their website, so that’s encouraging. 

You can also find a few good reviews sprinkled in through a quick search on Google and social media. 

However, we couldn’t actually find a business page for Author Academy Elite. Since businesses pages usually have credible reviews for online companies, digging for actual reviews was a process.

Surprisingly, there aren’t that many reviews to be found of this company, which means they manage their reputation with a tight leash, or authors with actual experience with the company aren’t given a cause to share their thoughts. 

Author Academy Elite Complaints

Over on Medium, Conny Manero confirms she also struggled to eventually learn the $5,000 price point, before then receiving some very false marketing emails from AAE, as seen in the following image.

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Over at Reedsy, who we’ve previously covered here, you can see their comment on AAE, as well as a response from Mr. Oberbrunner himself. 

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It’s a little bit interesting here to see Kary Oberbrunner talking about ‘the real facts’ when his marketing strategy centers around false information about self-publishing

And, Reedsy states the program costs $5,000, which is the lowest price point it can be had for. What exactly isn’t factual about stating that? 

Alternatives to Author Academy Elite 

Based on everything we’ve heard about Author Academy Elite, we feel there are better value alternatives out there if you’re looking for complete control of your publishing process.

Author Academy Elite’s business model is a bit complex (vanity press mixed with online training program), which makes it in a unique position to have limited direct alternatives.

However, if we had to guess, we’d say that company Author Incubator is a close comparison to Author Academy Elite, since the two companies have many similarities. You can read our full Author Incubator review here.

If you’re more interested in learning how to write, publish, and market your book on your own (so you can do it again and again), with full control and coaching support, we can recommend investing in an online education program for authors. 

There are plenty to choose from, but not all are the same. And some cost more for less, so please do your research.

We’re affiliated with Self-Publishing School, and genuinely feel what they have to offer is better and more affordable than Author Academy Elite. You will invest less and get more control. 

However, we know that learning to get a book out into the world is by no means a one size fits all matter. Why not take a few moments to see what your options are and which resonates with you the most?

Author Academy Elite VS Self-Publishing School

If you're interested in a complete solution to learning how to write and publish a book, and grow your author career, the Self-Publishing School author education programs might be worth looking into.

While we are affiliated with SPS, we always strive to inform authors of their many choices.

Our Become a Bestseller program taught by Chandler Bolt and team will walk you through the self-publishing process step-by-step, in a way that gives you total creative control over your book, and helps you write and self-publish the right way, while saving you lots of money so you can reinvest in your career as an author.

Here’s what Self-Publishing School offers aspiring authors: 

  1. Specific learning paths tailored to fit your publishing needs. Are you a first-time author ready to write and self-publish your book? Or maybe you’re a fiction writer that wants to create a bestselling author? Maybe  you’re ready to sell more books, or launch an online course from your book? We have programs to fit your author style.
  2. Bestseller guarantee. We have helped thousands of authors become bestsellers through our proven framework.
  3. 1-1 high touch coaching with an expert author.  All of the book coaches—successful published authors themselves—walk students through the process of self-publishing. Check out the programs for more information on this.
  4. Online education with step-by-step guidance for self-publishing success, so you can learn how to write and publish a book, and use those skills to continue publishing more books.
  5. Mastermind community access. There is a community of 2,000+ authors in the Facebook Mastermind group to support each other. You can converse with the members on topics related to your book, get instant feedback, and gain confidence in knowing you belong to a group of authors working towards a common goal: to become a successful published author!
  6. Weekly group coaching calls. Every week we hold weekly group coaching calls that are free for students of self-publishing school. You can join any of our online group calls to help you write, market, and publish/launch your book. You have total accountability and a solid team of supporters helping you to succeed.
  7. Full royalties and rights. Self-Publishing School does NOT take any of your book sales or royalty fees. You own all rights to your book.
  8. Lifetime access to high-quality up-to-date courses managed by industry specialists. Only the best people are hired by Self-Publishing School to research the market for current trends in publishing and marketing. Our courses are updated regularly to provide you with the best resources and current strategies for marketing your book.

If you want to continue your research (which we encourage you to do!), check out some of our other reviews: We'd suggest reading the following guides:

Take the time to weigh up the tangible aspects of each self-publishing course, like the material provided and how much it costs, as well as the intangible, yet invaluable, aspects, like the vibe you get from each and how much you feel you will be a good fit for the program.

Final Rating

Our Rating
Based on everything we know about Author Academy Elite, their approach to pricing and marketing, and what others are saying, we rate it 3 out of 5 stars.
3 Star Rating

Although they’re not a scam, and Kary Oberbrunner walks the walk, better information is available elsewhere at a much lower price point. 

Do you have experience with Author Academy Elite? Share your thoughts!

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