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What happened w/ the Author Solutions Suit?

1406 Views 11 Replies 7 Participants Last post by  Janet Michelson
Three authors have begun a federal class action suit against Penguin and its self-publishing services provider, Author Solutions, seeking damages of more than $5 mn. This was from 2013. Anyone know what happened?

Says Publishers Weekly:

The suit, which seeks class action status, alleges that Author Solutions misrepresents itself, luring authors in with claims that its books can compete with "traditional publishers," offering "greater speed, higher royalties, and more control for its authors." The company then profits from "fraudulent" practices, the complaint alleges, including "delaying publication, publishing manuscripts with errors to generate fees, and selling worthless services, or services that fail to accomplish what they promise." The suit also alleges that Author Solutions fails to pay its authors the royalties they are due.

Publishers Weekly reports that the suit has been filed in the Southern District of New York and will be heard by Judge Denise Cote, who is current hearing the ebook price-fixing case.

The full complaint, filed by Kelvin James, Jodi Foster (not that Jodie Foster) and Terry Hardy can be read on Victoria Strauss' site. Strauss, who has covered Author Solutions in depth for the Science Fiction & Fantasy Writers of America's Writer Beware blog, says that "Allegations include breach of contract, unjust enrichment, various violations of the California Business and Professional Code, and violation of New York General Business Law."

The suit could expand rapidly as the authors' lawyers, Giskan, Solotaroff, Anderson & Stewart are asking other writers who have "self-published with Author Solutions or any of its brands and have been the victim of deceptive practices" to come forward.

When Giskan et al say "any of its brands", it turns out that there are a lot to choose from. David Gaughran points out that Author Solutions has "dozens of self-publishing brands including iUniverse, AuthorHouse, Xlibris, Trafford and Palibrio as well as media companies FuseFrame, PitchFest, Author Learning Center and BookTango."

Author Solutions also operates Archway, a self-publishing imprint that is actually owned by Simon & Schuster. Furthermore, Penguin's Indian self-publishing brand, Partridge, is another imprint run by Author Solutions. Says Gaughran:

Author Solutions' modus operandi is pretty despicable, and they've been badgering, swindling and confusing writers out of money--and lots of it--for years.

The deceit starts with the web of brands they've established. With so many imprints, Author Solutions has tricked authors into thinking they have dozens of choices. In reality, however, the parent company is just slapping up half a dozen different logos, renaming packages, and selling the same grossly overpriced services to all of their customers no matter which brand ends up on the cover.

On top of that, AS has been accused of launching supposedly unbiased, purely informational comparison websites to help customers pick the self-publishing company that's right for them, except all clicks lead back to Author Solutions brands.
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This will be interesting to watch. 
Hold on.  I am confused by your title.  If the authors are self-published, it means they did not publish through AS.
Or did these authors do both. 

David Gaughan can you shed some light please?
Never mind, it seems to be lawyer miss speaking.
When I followed the link to Forbes, I saw that the article was from May 2013. If I had looked at the link more closely, I would have seen the date before clicking.

Any updates?
Oh, good point. I didn't see the date. :p
cinisajoy said:
Hold on. I am confused by your title. If the authors are self-published, it means they did not publish through AS.
Or did these authors do both.

David Gaughan can you shed some light please?
Never mind, it seems to be lawyer miss speaking.
Author Solutions is a vanity press.
Hi guys,

I can give you an update.

This is very much ongoing. AFAIK, the discovery process is complete or almost complete and class certification is scheduled for mid-April. Oh and the presiding judge is Denise Cote - the same judge from the price-fixing trial in 2013.

Author Solutions/Penguin Random House has tried to get the case thrown out a number of times since the action was first filed, but without success.

I'm not a lawyer, and even less familiar with American law than Irish/UK law, but I gather that there are all sorts of technical reasons why a class action can fail that may have nothing to do with whether Person X was scammed by Company Y, so I don't have all my hopes wrapped up in these proceedings, and I'm continuing to campaign in whatever way I can.

I will be watching proceedings very closely, however.

Cinisajoy: Author Solutions has rebranded itself as a "self-publishing service company" but it's the same old vanity press under the new lick of paint.

If anyone wants the skinny on Author Solutions and/or why this case was brought, this is a good starting point:

IMPORTANT: If you have used Author Solutions services (or those of its subsidiaries/imprints like AuthorHouse, iUniverse, Trafford, Xlibris, BookTango, Archway, Balboa Press, Abbott Press, DellArte Press, Westbow, Liferich, etc.) then consider getting in touch with the lawyers behind the class action. You could be part of the class if this goes to trial, or you could help the plaintiffs.

I think many people are either afraid to come forward, or embarrassed that they were scammed, or have rebuilt their writing career under a new name and don't want to publicize the old one. Just be aware that you can provide information anonymously, and it's not like you are going to be forced to testify or anything like that. The lawyers are happy to get background information too.

You can get in touch here:
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Bluebonnet said:
Article from May 2014. The lawsuit was dismissed, but there was an appeal and it was reinstated.
Just to be clear, the case above is a different case (the Harlequin/royalties class action).

Penguin/Author Solutions have tried repeatedly to get the case in the OP dismissed, but have failed. There only "victory" was to have Penguin removed as a party to the proceedings, but, AFAIK, that doesn't really affect anything and was expected.
I can't be the only one whose google ad boxes on that Forbes page are full of ads for those services that are being sued...
Nope. Author Solutions spends tons and tons of money on advertising. They have to, because nobody genuinely recommends their services.
I hope more authors come forward and strengthen their case. (This is a bump.)  ;)

David, thanks for your work on behalf of authors everywhere. 
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