Book Publishing Today … Avoid Preying Publishing Predators

Reading … cooking and eating … movies … some of my favorite things. A day/evening of cooking with a good movie–either at home or on TV sometimes becomes the catalyst for writing ideas. I was ready to love, love, love the book that had them all, and I didn’t.

The Difference

First of all, I have to tell you . . . I did not like Elizabeth Gilbert’s book, Eat, Pray, Love. Oh, there’s no question that the author is talented. It’s well written—about a married women who doesn’t want to be married. She’s got to do a re-direct on her life to find herself, so she’s taking a year off and schmoozing, learning and speaking Italian plus eating in Italy, praying in India, and loving in Indonesia. And though I like Julia Roberts, I didn’t go to the movie.

Did I mention she does love her husband, David—the one she doesn’t want to be married to? What scares the hooey 20100309-obc-eat-pray-love-220x312out of her is having a baby—something that, in the early days of their relationship, they agreed they would do when the big 30 hit. Fast forward to now; it’s approaching and our author is a blabbering mess.

Here’s what I didn’t like about the book and the author: she did not communicate to hubby that babies weren’t her forte and that it wasn’t going to work for her. Then the two could have come to closure instead of her dumping him for a new language, some pasta, and eventually meeting a guy who wasn’t interested in increasing the population.

What’s this got to do with authoring and publishing besides the book itself? Everything. Let’s start with clear, effective communicating, which is what many of the iUniverses, AuthorHouses and those who package publishing projects don’t do. My favorite thing about AuthorHouse is the coining of the word “authorcentric”—it’s a very cool word and one that I embrace. I wish AuthorHouse did. Then there’s iUniverse, which claims to be the champion of “supported self-publishing.” What’s supported self-publishing? It’s a great term for a publishing predator to use!

Per iUniverse (via its website):

Self-publishing your book with the support of iUniverse is a professional, affordable, and fast way to get your book into print. Compared to publishing on your own, it costs you control of some aspects of the publishing process, but only in exchange for less hassle and expense. iUniverse professionals with book-publishing expertise will educate and guide you through the entire process for an affordable price.

Supported self-publishing also enables you to test your marketing abilities and learn about the publicity process without emptying your bank account or making it your full-time career. And, because you control the rights to your book, you can get started with supported self-publishing but move to a traditional publisher—or choose to self-publish on your own—after you have experience and a track record.

Let’s look at the folks at AuthorHouse via its website:

AuthorHouse has grown into the largest self-publishing company in the world – responsible for helping more than 40,000 authors publish more than 60,000 books. AuthorHouse allows you to maintain creative and financial control of your book while receiving all the personalized attention and support you need – from publishing to promotion and everything between. AND AuthorHouse has print-on-demand service that combines high-quality production with speed to market. Plus, formatting options and distribution capabilities can help set your book up for selling success.

Each boasts about its marketing services (very expensive), low cost entry into publishing for the author, generous payments (really?), distribution capability, etc., etc. AuthorHouse and iUniverse are just two of the many, many who proclaim themselves as “self-publishers” but who are, in reality, Vanity Presses.
Period—nothing more, nothing less. They are huge and have a literal boiler-room approach, just like a hounding credit collection agency would—dial and re-dial … “If you don’t respond by today at two, our special offer will no longer be available … blah, blah, blah.” They eat, prey (on writers), and probably just love themselves. Communicate clearly? … nope. It’s grey everywhere.

They all use a POD model—which I’m the first to admit has a spot where it’s the right method for a quick print or end of life. But for the serious author/publisher, the one who intends on making
money with a pBook format, this is a pass.

Publishing predators eat, prey and pretend to “love” the author when what they love is the money and a fat credit card. Masters of deception, authors must beware. The self-published author is their favorite meal.


Self publishers





Judith Briles is known as The Book Shepherd a book publishing expert and coach. She is the Founder of Author U, a membership organization created for the serious author who wants to be seriously successful. She’s been writing about and conducting workshops on publishing since the 80s. Judith is the author of 31 books including Author YOU: Creating and Building Your Author and Book Platforms (ForeWord Indie/Fab Book of the Year), Snappy Sassy Salty: Wise Words for Authors and Writers and a speaker at publishing conferences.

Become part of her inner circle by joining the Author’s Ark and exclusive monthly webinar and coaching event. Each summer, she holds Judith Briles Unplugged, a two day intensive limited to a small group of authors who want to be seriously successful. Her audio and workbook series, Creating Your Book and Author Platform is now available. Join Judith live on Thursdays at 6 p.m. EST for Author U – Your Guide to Book Publishing on the Toginet Network at . Follow @AuthorU and @MyBookShepherd on Twitter and do a “Like” at AuthorU and Judith Briles – TheBookShepherd on Facebook. If you want to create a book that has no regrets, contact Judith at

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6 Comments on Book Publishing Today … Avoid Preying Publishing Predators

  1. I am going to have to respectfully disagree with you on some of your points. Particularly about Eat, Pray, Love. The book, in my opinion, is about making mistakes and learning to be vulnerable, not only with others but with yourself, a difficult task no matter what the circumstances.

    Part of the reason Gilbert’s marriage did not work is because she couldn’t be vulnerable and she couldn’t figure out who she was or how to be her true self. She was what everyone else in her life wanted her to be and that’s why the relationship ended. It was based, for lack of a better description, on a fictional version of herself. The saying “You have to love yourself before you can love anyone else” comes to mind. Having been there myself, I can understand how easy it is to confuse your identity with that of the person you love because you love him/her and want to please that person/those people.

    Gilbert admits she actively participated in the marriage but that eventually it became clear that something wasn’t right. It was more than just having a baby – that was the tipping point. It was that she had no true identity of her own. Not to mention, it’s very difficult to identify, in our society, when “babies aren’t your forte” because there’s so much pressure for women to have children, especially when you’re married. It comes from all sides and some of the heaviest influences come from those well-meaning individuals closest to us – friends and family.

    All the clear communication in the world would not have been enough to solve this problem because the problem was her. And she realized it. Not an easy mirror to look into for anyone, let alone admit to on paper for millions of people to read and dissect.

    That being said, you kinda lost me with the comparison to the publishing world. If it’s a matter of identity, then I guess I follow it. Sort of. As a self-published author it’s more appropriate to identify yourself as an independent publisher rather than self-publishing. But how you draw a parallel between that and Eat, Pray, Love, well, I’m just not seeing that too clearly. Maybe it’s just me?

    I do like the phrasing independent publishing much better than self-publishing because self-publishing automatically brings to mind sloppy work or work that’s been determined “unfit” by traditional publishers who have a decision making process that is entirely too subjective for my taste.

    I’d be interested to see how you would define independent publishing specifically. And where does that leave traditional publishing? What’s the line between the two? Is it size of the publisher? Or the fact that the book is published by an individual without the traditional publisher’s oversight? Is it determined by who is making the investment into the product? In an industry that is still evolving and changing, I would be hesitant to put too strict of a label on it without a solid reason and understanding, for fear of stifling the industry while it’s still learning to take baby steps. I have an analogy I could make but I’ll save that since I’ve gone on long enough. 🙂 Very thought provoking post and I appreciate the opportunity to share my thoughts with you.

    • Judith Briles says:

      I was using the title of the book–and my opinion stands on how I felt about it–and inserted “prey” as in predators for the “pray”. So many in the publishing world today say the love the author and they really are lurking in “prey” as in predator. Vanity presses like Author House, Author Solutions, Xlibris, iUniverse, etc. and all the knock-offs that many of the “traditional” publishers are creating in offering a self-publishing model to would-be authors who can’t in the front door–a side, or back door approach. With publishing daze/glaze in their eyes, these authors sign on (I have a publisher!) for what they think is an expensive venture and get sucked into many thousands of dollars of “upsales” … and they end up dealing “stealthly” with Author Solutions in most cases–a company or format that they didn’t want anything to do with in the first place.

      With that said… there is a significant difference in the independent world–where authors either create a small press and are serious about building sales/business around it; or a small press who works with authors–their goal is also to be successful. Independents are deeply involved in all aspects of the creation/manufacturing of the book. They are (usually the author) the vision for marketing and sales. Yes, the author is fronting money–which forces them to be realistic about their game plan and their Platform. If they have the Vision and the Platform, getting national distribution is fairly simple.

      Traditional publishers are those who operate in the NY model–an advance-sometimes, royalties, some editing (nothing like the old days!), cover and interior design, national distribution, very little marketing-if any today. Authors are in shell-shock when they realize that the traditional publisher does little to “move” the book.

      For me self-publishers, go down the vanity press route–pay to publish. The stats on their sales are dismal. No game plan, little-if any- energy, time, commitment, money–directed toward their book’s lifeline.

      An author needs to learn about the business of publishing–not the la-la side. All the “real authors are only published by NY” snobbery has to be put aside. Very few care who published the book. What the reader cares about is that does it solve a problem or eliminate my pain; for fiction, does it entertain, etc. Authors who take the Independent route find that they can move faster and can turn a book production within months vs. years; they have access to top designers both for cover and interiors; they can control the quality of what is used and presented; and they make more money.

      Of the 28 books I’ve published, 18 with NY publishers, exiting that relationship was one of the best things I did for books sales, foreign sales and branding myself. I wouldn’t go back, just as many authors who were successful via the traditional route are doing now. I just wrote an entire book on this–Show Me About Book Publishing which covers far more and in greater detail.

      Good luck with your publishing–Judith Briles

  2. MaryAnne Beyer-Tweed says:

    Dr. Briles, I recently signed up for your blog. Thank you for enlightening me about AuthorSolutions–I had no idea Xlibris was part of that entity! What would you advise seeing that I had signed up with Xlibris back in 2010? Also, if you do consults, how much do you charge per consult and what is your contact information? Thank you, Mary T.

    • Judith Briles says:

      Hi MaryAnne… info on my consults is on my personal website, …. XLibris–if your book is just limping along, it may make sense to terminate with them and start anew. Judith

  3. Jennifer Getts says:

    There is a book you should check out, called “Self-Publisher’s Legal Handbook” by Helen Sedwick. Her website, has a ton of great info and I think it’d be a great guide for self publishers. Thanks for the article, self publishing can be a difficult world to navigate if you don’t know where to start or what questions to ask, so any information out there that helps make it a smooth ride is always wonderful!

    • Judith Briles says:

      You are welcome Jennifer… I’m familiar with Helen’s work. a good resource. Judith

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