Tag Archives: author solutions

Links o’ Miscellany and MHO On Them

First: I am in love with this article by Sherwood Smith and Rachel Manija Brown.  As I mentioned in comments at Sherwood’s LJ, a female character cannot be confident, competent, and likeable without being deemed a Mary Sue.  (That doesn’t even touch upon appearance, which is a whole ‘nother target of spite and vitriol.)  I remember a beta reader once telling me a character was a Mary Sue because of those three factors.  It didn’t matter that the character had been show to earn those traits; the three in combination simply Could Not Be Done is the character was to be “realistic.”

Think about that for a moment.  A character with competence, natural and practiced talents, who was liked because of the way she actually treated others was not realistic.  She simply wasn’t insecure enough, tormented enough, or outcast enough to be realistic.

That’s a fucking sad commentary on what “real women” are supposed to be.

And I should note that the majority of folks I read throwing about the Mary Sue accusation to other writers are women.  That’s double-fucking sad, in my opinion.

(Yes, I know the original definition of Mary Sue.  Alas, linguistic drift has bestowed a slightly different definition now, and that’s the one we’re stuck with, and I don’t deem it interesting, necessary, or productive to insist everyone use the phrase in its “proper” fashion.)

Second:  This post by John Wiswell–now a fellow graduate of Viable Paradise–made me cheer first (because hooray! more VP grads!), then made me grumble to learn some self-publishers thought it was a waste of his time.  *sigh*  I know there is a subset of self-publishers who cannot fathom the worth of critique prior to publication, nor the bliss of spending days among writers who care about storytelling.  My suspicion is it’s the same subset who would have, in the pre- self-publishing days, written long diatribes to agents and editors in response to rejections.

Me, I see nothing incongruent between attending Viable Paradise and self-publishing.  One is for craft and fellowship.  One is a business decision.  Anyone with shoulder-chips might indeed have good information about their side of the argument, but not the best judgment on which path is best for others.

Third: I have no link for it, but have been following various blog posts and Twitter comments from folks attending WFC in London.  From writers who have the “proper” credentials, who should without a doubt be treated to at least the crumbs of common courtesy.  And they are not.

That sort of disregard of writers–at what is supposed to be a celebration of such creativity–is a pretty good indication of what value such folks place on the writers’ creations.  And don’t sing the “But they’re all volunteers!” song my direction.  I’ve volunteered for numerous non-genre, professional conferences and conventions. I and other volunteers assumed courtesy and professionalism were standard expectations, not something guests received if they caught us a good time and were appropriately humble in their requests.

Fourth:  Check out David Gaughran on the tightening of Traditional Publishing/Author Solutions ties.  If you’re planning to go the traditional publishing route, it’s critical you read and understand it.  If you’re self-publishing, it’s equally important.  Alas, it’s becoming more difficult for new writers to avoid being shuttled into dead-end and horribly expensive self-publishing “services” that are endorsed by the same traditional publishers who sneered at Author Solutions and their ilk just a couple years ago.  “I know those other people say Author Solutions is a scam, and is being sued by their past customers,” says the new writer in search of validation, “but Big Respected Publisher says they’re awesome, so it must okay to give them thousands of dollars!”

And I was certain I had a fifth link, but it has vanished.

Edited 10-18-2013 for clarity.

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An Additional Piece on Author Solutions

David Gaughran takes on the Author Solutions situation again, this time from the perspective of their participation in a Canadian book festival.

The festival’s stance boils down to, “Well, writers should know to investigate them first.”

Here’s the deal: Writers trust writers groups and book festivals.  They assume there is a basic ethical standard that would keep said groups from inviting and supporting known scam artists to stand beside professionals at their events.  They assume said groups wouldn’t want their own professional image tarnished.

Increasingly, alas, it’s the assumption of shared basic ethics that permitting companies like ASI to hook new writers with the full support of publishers and book festival organizers.  “Sure, ASI is ripping people off, but we’ll keep endorsing them as Super Cool, and blame the writers who fall for it!”

Go read the article and marvel at the book festival response.

 

Update to “Interesting Timing”

Back on May 21, I mentioned that Bowker was recommending the vanity press Author Solutions as a great place for self-publishers to find needed services.  And now–Hooray!–the endorsement of Author Solutions has been removed.

However–Boo!–the first choice on the list is now Vook.  This is a company that charges $6 per page for copyediting.  This is a company that calls ebook retailing “complicated,” thus justifying the percentage of royalties they will take.  Oh, and the payments from ebook retailers go to Vook first, and Vook will pay its customers (the writers).  Is Vook more acceptable because it doesn’t have as many complaints against it as Author Solutions?  I’m not sure.  It looks as if I’d have to “sign up” to get more information.

Never trust a company that requires you to “sign up” to learn about what you will be paying for.

If Bowker understood self-publishing, their links would be instead to the various self-publishing platforms and information centers rather than companies that charge huge fees for work that can be performed by professionals at reasonable rates

(As an aside, Vook works in partnership with Publishers Weekly on a program that has self-published writers paying a fee for a line listing in PW publications that go to folks working in the publishing industry.  Truly, if one wants to spend money marketing, it would likely be best to target readers.)

This stuff drives me crazy.

Interesting Timing

Today I followed a link provided by David Gaughran to a website run by Bowker (the exclusive provider of ISBN numbers in the U.S.).  The site purports to be informational for folks looking to self-publish.  The trouble is, their recommended service includes Author Solutions.  ETA: It used to be listed as the first option, but has oddly enough been moved down the list.

If you’re not sure why that’s a bad thing, check out the Writer Beware blog for years’ worth of background.

The rest of the site is also filled with misinformation that does, indeed, make self-publishing sound so immense, costly and daunting, it’s small wonder inexperienced writers, or writers who haven’t researched much, would see it as a relief to have companies like Bowker and Author Solutions on their side.

What’s interesting is that this news–this seeming support of self-publishing from Bowker–comes on the heels of big (yet oddly quiet) news from the distribution sector of the publishing world.  Book distribution company Baker & Taylor changed its policies, permitting self-published titles to appear alongside of, and be sold at the same terms as, titles published by the “Big Publishers.”

So why did this happen now?

I think it’s tempting to assume it’s because self-publishers and small presses are seeing greater possibilities for success than ever before.  But I’ve a cynical bent, you see.

I believe these two major shifts happened because, as is outlined here, the large publishers who work with Bowker and Baker & Taylor now have their own “self-publishing” divisions which are–what a coincidence!–mostly supported by Author Solutions.  While the main source of income for Author Solutions has been authors purchasing services rather than readers purchasing books, I’ve no doubt “Big Publishers” wanted a better chance of making money off bookselling as well.

That doesn’t mean small press and self-publishers can’t take advantage of the opportunities.

Warning All Writers Should Heed

David Gaughran outlines the on-going influence and growing reach of the Penguin-owned vanity publisher Author Solutions.

Follow the links he has provided.  You’ll find an extensive background on Author Solutions, as well as the current lawsuit against them.

Write down the names of publishers that have chosen to support Author Solutions by funneling their own imprints to them.

Write down the names of those publishers’ imprints.

Consider those lists when deciding which publishers you’ll submit your work to.  Expect to read your contract very, very closely, and have an IP attorney review it as well.  As Gaughran stated, “And it’s much harder to tell the scammers from the legitimate organizations when they are owned by the same people.”

After seeing the number of major publishers and writing-related businesses that have chosen to bind themselves to Author Solutions, this writer is far far far more concerned about steering new writers away from such exploitation than I am that Amazon will somehow subjugate over a 150,000 writers.  Alas, most of the business seems to be otherwise occupied.