In the world of self-publishing, there are a group of publishers widely known in the industry as vanity publishers.
If you started to do your research on how to publish a book, you no doubt came across Author Solutions (or the subsidiary publishers it represents) as a choice to publish your book.
But before we go any further, there will be no sugar-coating here with Author Solutions.
As you will soon realize based on our research of the company and its affiliated partners, Author Solutions has a reputation – and it’s not good.
If you are thinking of doing business with Author Solutions, we urge you to continue your research, and see this article through to the end.
If you are writing your first book and looking for a simple way to publish your book, investing time on research could save you from making a cosmic mistake.
Related: How to Become an Author
On our journey to provide industry education and create thorough review guides on the best (and worst) self-publishing companies, we’re always staying up-to-date with the top publishers for authors.
In our effort to do so, we spent some time researching Author Solutions, and have compiled our results in this complete review.
Here’s what we’ll cover in this Author House Review:
- What is Author Solutions?
- Author Solutions: Partners and Imprints
- Author Solutions: Buyer Beware
- Author Solutions Scams & Lawsuits
- Alternatives to Author Solutions
- Final Rating
What is Author Solutions?
Author Solutions also maintains partnerships with traditional book publishers Simon & Schuster (Archway Publishing), Thomas Nelson (WestBow Press), Hay House (Balboa Press), and Guideposts (Inspiring Voices), as well as with Writer's Digest (Abbott Press).
With its headquarters located in Bloomington, Indiana, on their website Author Solutions reports helping over 225,000 authors publish 300,000 books.
Before we get too far into this, it’s worth mentioning now Author Solutions is the parent company for the world's biggest and renowned vanity publishing companies.
Author Solutions – A Vanity Publisher
A vanity publisher—'subsidy publishing' or ‘vanity press'—are older terms that refer to a publisher that entices authors to send in their manuscripts and then gets them to pay for overpriced publishing packages that usually over-promise and under-deliver.
If you take the path of vanity publishing, prepare to pay a lot more money for publishing your book than you normally would if you did it yourself.
Vanity publishers have no selection criteria and take anyone with an open wallet. They respond to email submissions with a positive offer to help you publish your book. Once on the phone, you are talking to a salesperson that has never published a book but knows a lot about getting unknown authors to sign up for expensive packages.
Author Solutions is the parent company for several of these vanity publishing companies. And they have a reputation that dates back to the early days of self-publishing. A long trail of angry authors and class lawsuits proves that this company—Author Solutions–and any of the subsidiary publishers they own must be approached with caution.
Related: How to Write A Book
Although not all the partner companies have terrible reputations, as the experience varies, you definitely want to do your research here and learn everything you can before deciding to invest.
Author Solutions Partners and Imprints
Author Solutions owns 7 major imprint companies, and a handful of smaller imprints.
These companies are subsidiaries of Author Solutions and are classified as vanity publishers. They don’t advertise this, but that is what they are.
We have spent considerable time in researching each of these companies and writing individual articles for each one.
The Author Solution imprint companies are:
- iUniverse. Read our full iUniverse review. iUniverse now has over 20 years of experience in the publishing industry, and is said to have published over 30,000 titles. In September 2007, iUniverse was purchased by Author Solutions, the parent company of hedge fund-owned rival AuthorHouse.
- Xlibris. Read our full Xlibris review here. Xlibris Publishing, founded in 1997, was acquired by Author Solutions, Inc., in 2009. Before that, 49% of the company had been owned by Random House, one of the big five publishers.
- Archway Publishing. Read our full Archway Publishing review here. Archway is the joint venture between publisher Simon & Schuster with Author Solutions as the umbrella company. Archway is on ALLi’s watchdog advisory list of publishing companies to avoid.
- Balboa Press. Read our full Balboa Press review here. Balboa Press is the paid publishing division of self-help book publisher Hay House Publishing. All their packages and services are administered by Author Solutions (ASI).
- LifeRich. An imprint of Reader's Digest.
- WestBow. A division of Zondervan Publishing and Thomas Nelson.
- Partridge. For international authors, Partridge Singapore has a catalogue of publishing packages. This company extends to all authors outside of the United States located in the Asian region. This helps to overcome any language barriers with staff that speak multiple languages. But the business model is the same as any other vanity publisher under Author Solutions.
Based on our research, it appears the umbrella company has a long reach into the self-publishing universe.
Most of the big vanity/hybrid publishers operate under Author Solutions as independent companies selling similar publishing packages with variations between each publisher.
Author Solutions: Buyer Beware
By now, you’re no doubt asking yourself, “If these companies under the control of Author Solutions have such a bad reputation, how is it they are still operating? Why do authors continue to buy into this business decades later?”
By visiting Google and searching for “Author Publishing Scam,” guess what advertisement pops up first? A Google Ad inviting you to sign up for a free self publishing report by one of the vanity imprints connect through Author Solutions.
That’s right – by using paid advertising, these companies are able to get ahead of the curve. If you scroll further down to other articles and dig deeper, you’ll find the dirt. But for unsuspecting authors, landing on any one of the imprints can be an enticing bargain.
Author Solutions has a system set up to fleece unsuspecting new authors. They sell the dream of “appearing on national TV” or doing massive book signings at Barnes and Noble with copies of your book stacked to the ceiling.
But guess what: This will likely never happen. The business model is set up to overcharge authors and get them to purchase thousands in promotional material, which doesn’t actually sell books.
According to research done by David Gaughran, in 2011, Author Solutions successfully captured the phone numbers and email addresses of 475,000 writers. They set up to capture leads, and follow up aggressively with email and phone calls. The company has spent millions of dollars on customer acquisition for these ads.
In order to achieve huge financial targets and tarnish the industry without mercy, Author Solutions:
- Sets up fake social media accounts of people claiming to be independent publishing consultants
- Pays a ton in advertising to drive website traffic to drive down the complaints that appear online.
- Pays out bounties to bloggers and websites for referrals.
- Sets up fake websites that offer publishing services (like the one above) to trap authors into a phone call or email inviting them to sign up for a free publishing consultation.
What does all of this lead to? Author Solutions has to pay a fortune on launching a string of new businesses and sharpening the saw when it comes to scammy practices.
There are a ton of complaints and lawsuits out there, but they can be hard to find at first. You need to do your research and don’t sign up for anything. If you dig, you’ll find the truth.
Author Solutions Complaints & Lawsuits
Author Solutions has been sued so many times it deserves its own book. But I’ll cut straight to it with a few cases that have gone to court over the past decade.
When it comes to publishing companies being taken to court, Author Solutions holds an impressive record.
Why all the lawsuits?
Authors who signed up with a company under the Author Solutions brand and were scammed out of cash.
Once owned by Penguin Random House and sold to Najafi Companies in 2015, Author Solutions has a history of well-documented complaints online.
Self-publishing guru David Gaughran has been documenting the legal problems with Author Solutions from the beginning. Gaughran has written numerous articles detailing the level of scams Author Solutions has partaken in for the past decade and more.
To put this into perspective, David Guaghran says:
A well-documented lawsuit filed back in 2013 by New York law firm of Giskan Solotaroff Anderson & Stewart LLP:
According to Wikipedia, “Author Solutions is frequently criticized by author advocacy groups for predatory marketing practices, excessive fees, high-pressure sales, and poor customer service. These criticisms led to Author Solutions' inclusion in the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America's Thumbs Down Publisher List, multiple Watchdog Advisories from the Alliance of Independent Authors, and alerts from Writer Beware.”
Writer Beware, an online watchdog advisory that keeps authors and publishers informed of the scammers, is no stranger to Author Solutions, and has posted multiple articles about the scammy practices and legal trouble involving the companies.
To cap it off, here is another lawsuit brought against Author Solutions and the Penguin Group:
To find out more about Author Solutions and all the trouble they caused, check out David Gaughran’s complete blog post here.
After reading this article in tandem with everything we have laid out here for you, there shouldn’t be any more convincing needed.
But wait… Let’s see what the Alliance of Independent Authors has to say about Author Solutions…
ALLi’s Rating of Author Solutions
ALLi is one of the top reliable resources for getting accurate reviews on self-publishing companies. ALLi cares about the industry and its authors by providing real, up-to-date information on the best, worst and everything in-between with book publishing. They have decades of experience and keep authors well informed.
To prevent authors from falling for publishing scams, ALLi created its own watchdog desk to research the market. By providing up-to-date information on customer reviews and service satisfaction, the watchdog desk has proven to be a trusted source of information.
You can find in-depth information on Author Solutions here, in an interview with bestselling author and leading industry expert David Gaughran.
Author Solutions has been accused of and sued over deceptive practices several times. According to research done by ALLi and sources, this is the final conclusion:
We can’t be more convincing than what has already been laid out as an apparent company that targets authors for financial gain and makes money from them, not for them.
To wrap it up, ALLi, has rated Author Solutions as code red, which means it’s a Watchdog Advisory and should be avoided by independent authors.
Alternatives to Author Solutions
Don’t just take our word for it when deciding whether or not to work with Author Solutions – do your research!
There’s an abundance of reviews online, and no shortage of lawsuit action against the company and its imprints over the past decade.
For more reading, check out these resources:
- Vanity Press Scams and Self Publishing Companies to Avoid
- ALLI (Alliance of Independent Authors), a highly reliable source for up-to-date facts and information on the most trusted services and publishers
Our best advice to you: Determine what your specific needs are in a self-publishing course or program before you commit to one company, and do plenty of research to make an informed choice.
We offer author education programs through Self-Publishing School, an online education company for authors and entrepreneurs looking to write and publish a book.
If you’re looking for a self-publishing program, our Become a Bestseller program 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 self-publish the right way, without cutting corners on quality and still saving you thousands of dollars.
Author Solutions: The Final Rating
After looking into Author Solutions and its imprint companies that includes Xlibris and iUniverse, our conclusion is that this is definitely NOT a company you want to spend money or time with if you have any other option (and you have many!).
A history of legal problems and hundreds of customer complaints has convinced us you'll be making a critical mistake in your publishing career if you work with Author Solutions.
Because our mission is fully centered around helping authors find the best solution for publishing their dreams, we strongly urge you to pass on dealing with Author Solutions as the answer to publishing your book. It’s not, and you could be throwing away hard-earned cash better invested in a company with a solid reputation that gets results.
You’ve worked hard to bring your dream to life. Don’t throw it away now! If you are serious about publishing a book, get onboard with a company that has a solid reputation of helping authors get real results.
Like this review? Here are some other self-publishing companies we have reviews on:
- Self-Publishing School Review
- Hay House Publishing Review
- Lioncrest Publishing Review
- Reedsy Review
- BookBaby Review
- Author Incubator Review
- Scribe Media Review
- Self Publishing Formula Review
- Lulu Publishing Review
- Smashwords VS Draft2Digital Review
- Xlibris Review
All the best on your book publishing journey!