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Report: #1028558

Complaint Review: Author House Publishing - Bloomington Indiana

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  • Reported By: Les Sir — Canonsburg Pennsylvania United States of America
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  • Author House Publishing 1663 Liberty Drive Bloomington, Indiana United States of America

Author House Publishing No support, as contracted, no answers; Extorsion Attempt; Intentional or negligent withholding of vital info (book review by professional Review Company). Bloomington, Indiana

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In 2011 into the first quarter of 2012, I penned a manuscript titled


Originally I intended to leave my memories to my children and grandchildren only but was advised by friends and family to publish as they were too valuable to withhold them from a broader readership.

My research led to self-publishing since traditional publishers would not even look at the work of an unknown author.

I narrowed down my potential publishers to
- Dorrance Publishing,
- X-Libris Corporation, and
- AuthorHousePublishing (AHP).

After careful consideration, the decision fell in favor of AHP, an American Corporation with their corporate seat in Bloomington, IN.

The first contact with AHP was established on March 15, 2012 and confirmed by e-mail the same day. This mail also included a list of the best features of publishing through AHP.
On March 19, 2012 I received my first program package from the Publishing Consultant containing the different publishing contracts to choose from including a half off (50%) discount for certain choices. The Cornerstone option appeared to be the most valuable to me considering What You Get vs. price. Five (5) pages of Terms and Conditions and six (6) pages of Schedule A were also included. However, at least one (1) page, points 9 through 12 were missing. In spite of several requests, they have never been supplied by AHP.

The mostly legal language caused me to carefully study the programs extensively and conducted several telephone conversations with the Publishing Consultant. The calls were

initiated by me to answer as many questions and uncertainties I could find.
Finally, on March 28, 2012. I received mail from the Publishing Consultant who informed me the sale we are running concludes at the end of the month.

Very much feeling subject to pressure I signed the Cornerstone Contract on March 29, 2012 leaving me with my first doubts about my selection.

I will, however, point out that the professional attitude and convincing handling of the Publishing Consultant, a real superb and knowledgeable sales-man, contributed greatly to my growing confidence in a mutually amicable and profitable relationship with my publisher of choice.

This confidence continued during the following publishing process, hard on me but uneventful. All decisions were my responsibility. I often wished more advice and would have appreciated more help as I was completely inexperienced in all publishing matters.

On July 7, 2012, I received the two Author-Copies and discovered a few typos and the omission of a whole paragraph on page 29 of my manuscript = page 66 of the book, which was on the flash drive I had previously sent to the Check-in Coordinator. I had instructed her to return said flash drive but never received an answer. In order to avoid further delays and disputes I accepted responsibility and paid the resubmission fee (my e-mail, dated July 8, 2012).

A few days later, I discovered that several (?) faulty books had already been printed, together with my author copies and distributed to vendors. This information was given to me by the Book Sales Consultant who could not do anything about this mishap any longer; an embarrassing experience!

The book was officially published on July 12, 2012.

The following months and events are proof of my non-dwindling enthusiasm and the dwindling support by the Marketing Consultant and the Book Sales Consultant. During my initial contract negotiations, my publisher had repeatedly assured me to have the right to receive continuous guidance and support; however, that was not supported by the facts.
Some features of my Cornerstone Contract, at first sight promising, proved to be of no or little value.
Social Media campaigns seem to be impressive but are ineffective when the author has not yet built up friends or followers, etc. Starting from zero will not result in any sales (at least not for a long time. After installing Twitter and making my first approaches, I found the Wall Street Journal, Huffington Post, even questionable women, etc to be my followers. My cries for help to AHP co-workers remained unanswered.

The one million recipients campaign, also impressive in the brochure, reaches standard customers of AHP regardless of their interest. Fifty thousand hits and three thousand openings did not result in one book sale.

The 800 (or so) press release campaign allows the author to exert some influence and resulted, caused by my input in one important success, a book review by MIDWESTBOOK REVIEW to be dealt with later.

Retailers (bookstores) I contacted hate Print on demand. They want the interested customer to enter their store, purchase a book and leave. POD forces them to prepay and return after eight to ten days and pick up the book.

I have talked to numerous large distributors and found rejection. Among them was Ingram. They informed me that they do not directly deal with authors but only with publishers. All my attempts were made known by me to AHP. It took several months until someone informed me that Ingram is the main distributor of AHP.

Attempts to interest local book retailers failed or ended with little success. Example: I managed to convince the seven bookstores of Barnes and Noble in the Greater Pittsburgh Area to purchase one or two books each after corporate (New York) permission was granted. The books had no exposure being jammed in with hundreds of other books on the shelves.

Almost all me requests for explanations, for help and advice were met with patronizing, even insulting answers or not answered at all. Most of the printed replies seem to be computerized. A few designed by the coordinators themselves were written in bad English not becoming to a reputable publishing company. {By the way, my main reason to have X-Libris eliminated was the fear of misunderstandings due to language problems. In the meantime, I learned that X-libris is at least associated with AHP. They even share the same address with AHP in Bloomington.}

The handling of book sales statistics is deplorable. Having been a CEO of a mining equipment corporation, I started and led to more than $ 43 million gross sales per year in less than five years gives me the right to convey my personal philosophy in this respect: LATE STATISTICS, LATE FINANCIAL STATEMENTS ARE WORTHLESS!
I am the CEO of my book enterprise and would like to use statistics to improve marketing. The present system of AHP allows me to see the sales statistics with a delay of up to five months: quarterly results plus another two months of administrative work to get it right.
Transparency is also poor.

I have numerous examples, all documented through my collection of e-mails. I did not receive answers on my written and verbal concerns or received even insulting replies like a copy of our contract telling me: you signed it! During a telephone conversation, I praised the statistics provided by, though not perfect and suggested to consider similar information to be gathered by computerization. With POD, a printed book is statistically, a book sold. Different print shops AHP may use in different areas can be easily integrated into the system and should not impede the transparency of the results without delay.
All I wanted was a discussion about ways to improve or at least understand the policies of AHP, not criticism but constructive suggestions to be read and understood.

A prime example is the handling of the book-stubs. After their long delayed receipt, they were marked free download although I had paid for them but had not been consulted for my approval. {Also, see point 5 of the AHP letter, dated March 15, 2012}. Several times I was advised, to check my inbox and thereafter got 11 - all the same - e-mails dumped into my inbox.
The 60 book-stubs, part of the Cornerstone Program I had purchased were mailed to me and marked Download your free E-book. Sixty E-books x $ 4.00 = $ 240.00. After I complained about a loss I was informed that e -books did not require my approval since they were just the electronic form of the printed books, which I had agreed to. Well, the books had not been marked free and could be sold. The e-stubs could not be sold and were according to AHP supposed to serve as promotional sales tools. Where is the logic? A book given away cannot be sold! If I am to be in charge of marketing it is to be my decision how to use them. It must not be dictated by an opinion of my publisher.

The Author Support Department has received a summary of my positive suggestions in writing. They called it the eight point discussion. This Department must be huge with no special assignment of co-workers to specific authors. I have talked by telephone to at least ten different people forcing me to repeat my concerns again and again. I never received real answers, except for the claim my concerns had been forwarded to a supervisor. No answers were ever granted. My demand to speak to a supervisor myself has never been realized. It appeared that they were being shielded from me.

I could continue with many (more) documented examples of a similar kind but will instead proceed to the culmination of my memorandum:

Finally, I will describe the two incidents of my biggest concern and importance. They might be linked together. There might be intent (I hope not since this could be construed as a criminal action) or a sign of organizational problems (as this would be gross negligence).

A) On June 12, 2012, one month before my book was published, I received a telephone call from the Marketing Consultant (RJ McPherson) with subsequent email confirmation as of the same date. The e-mail suggests to establish credibility thru a professional review. The proposed review company was KIRKUS. Verbally, high royalties, advances and even Hollywood Contracts were envisioned. The luring proposal would cost only $ 2,999.00.
In response, I made the following statements:
1. Why now since the book had not yet been published?
2. Does AHP have so little confidence in their marketing success I had just paid for that they suggest such additional expenses at this time?
3. Why have I not been told during our sales negotiations of such a step? It would have raised a red flag on my side (see point 2. above).
4. At this early time, I would rather wait for the promised and expected success of the book with so much confidence.
5. Today, I want to add: I could not find one person working for AHP who actually read my book and would stand for its quality and message. How can AHP justify such a proposal trying to cash in more funds from an inexperienced, unsuspecting author?

B) Following the press release I received an e-mail from Author Solutions (Stacey Rondeau) that MIDWESTBOOKREVIEW (MWBR) had requested two copies for their review on August 4, 2012. The copies were promptly mailed and received by MWBR. I had selected Wisconsin to be included in the campaign since my eldest daughter, now a professor in Virginia, had started her career in Madison, published some research results, and I was hoping for name recognition.

In spite of numerous calls and e-mails, I did not get an answer for a long time. Stacey had mysteriously vanished and no one took over her duties. Later I learned that she had left AHP. Organizational problem? My more than frequent inquiries remained un-answered until some time later: see the connection below (C and D) for further information.

C) On December 3, 2012, Mr. Jim Archer called, introduced himself as the successor of RJ McPherson as the new Marketing Consultant and presented yet another proposal that

I should purchase a Literary Prime Prospect Package, now engaging Baker & Taylor. While Kirkus (see A)) had been appraised as the best and most experienced in the business. Baker & Taylor was even better, which was also expressed by their service price of almost $ 12,700 for similar services: mainly book-reviews to serve as springboard to Literary Agents and conventional publishers. Success was almost guaranteed. In order to gain more knowledge about unfamiliar business dealings I had recently studied some information about Literary Agents and conventional Book Publishing. The overwhelming result of independent sources was that serious and ethical Agents do not charge up-front fees but a percentage (10 to 15%) of future revenues of the author made possible by the wok and success of the agent.

At this point, the timeline becomes very important! Mr. Archer confirmed his phone presentation by an e-mail, dated December 4, 2012.

Mr. Archer continued to threaten by saying: if you dont accept this offer it will be the end of our relationship. Mr. Archer apologized one day later after he received my e-mail response about his insults. I accepted though left with the taste of extortion.

I made it clear that there would be no acceptance of the new venue until I received information about the MWBR review. I also sent a copy of this mail to the Marketing Service Representative, James Aguilar.

D) Suddenly, a miracle happened: On December 18, 2012, Mr. James Aguilar sent an e-mail containing the missing book review from MWBR. The opening statement is; I just received an e-mail information in reference to the Midwest Book Review. The review is archived on the Midwest Book review web site at (link)..
Further investigation revealed that the review had been published already on the first day of November 2012. In addition, AHP was individually informed in writing no later than Mid-November.
Suddenly (again) this information originated from Author Solutions and a gentleman, named Skippher Rheed Lumbab, from X-libris Corporation served as go-to Liaison. His e-mail is dated December 24, 2012 .

It is utterly inconceivable that such a positive review of my book was buried, forgotten or withheld for such a long time>> six weeks! The resulting question is whether the delay was wanted to convince me to accept the review offer through Baker & Taylor and for this reason I had not been informed about the availability of the Mid West Book Review.

In any case, it is obvious that my personal insistence through quite a few e-mails as well as numerous telephone calls were solely responsible for the wake-up call of co-workers of AHP. Without my engagement, I might still be waiting for the valuable result.


This should also be seen under the fact that I was not supposed to respond to any book-review request myself but refer them to AHP, as I had been instructed by e-mail on August 4, 2012.

After receipt of the MWB Review in Mid December, I have repeatedly asked AHP to use this already existing review to our advantage utilizing the same connections AHP had been offering for $ 12,700 or $ 3,000 respectively.

There (again) has not been any response, no explanation, no hope!!!

Great damage has been done and it is not reparable. Looking at the established timeline one can conclude that intent may have played a role. I cannot believe that such intent is a result of corporate policies rather than personal motivation to show financial accomplishments.

I will conclude for now although I could add pages and pages with examples of the - for me - so damaging and disappointing relationship and cooperation with a self-publishing corporation. I could write a second book or brochure subtitled


thus referring to the subtitle of my original book.

It could serve as instructions and caution unknowing and unsuspecting new authors about their realistic expectations.

It would also be valuable to see statistics about the return on the investments of all self-published books by contracted programs. I hardly expect much positive results.

Marketing is the most important area for improvement. One man, the author, in my case almost 82 tears old, cannot manage such a huge task having no knowledge, no experience in publishing without the active help of professional experts. Unfortunately, there is a significant discrepancy between the authors confidence and actual assistance provided by the publisher.

Being a never dying idealist, I have much faith in the message and quality of my autobiography. I believe in the overwhelming positive feedback and reviews of my work, which would lift it into the ranks of a bestseller with proper and effective marketing. I cannot do it all alone. Facebook and Twitter will not do it; the 1 million recipient campaign had no success, only the press release campaign led to the success of the review.

I have given quite a few flash point slide presentations in local libraries, though highly appreciated they create only limited publicity.

As of today, I do not believe that any actions of AHP have led to one book sale. I am taking credit for all of the almost 300 copies of real and e-books sold so far. This is not enough to brag about it though I am proud of this accomplishment given the circumstances.

To me, the message the book contains is more important than revenues.

I believe the idea of self-publishing is good - the execution needs fundamental improvements.

I am looking forward to your serious reply after a thorough evaluation of this memorandum. I am neither difficult nor disgruntled though disappointed but do not want to give up.

Thank you for your patience and understanding

Les Sir
(February 2013)

This report was posted on Ripoff Report on 03/14/2013 08:21 AM and is a permanent record located here: The posting time indicated is Arizona local time. Arizona does not observe daylight savings so the post time may be Mountain or Pacific depending on the time of year. Ripoff Report has an exclusive license to this report. It may not be copied without the written permission of Ripoff Report. READ: Foreign websites steal our content

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