If there was one lesson that I took away from my screen writing classes, it was this: No legit agent will make you pay anything to read your script. They may want a percentage of any profit from selling it but if you’re not making money on that script, neither is your agent. This means that it is in your agent’s best interest to help you market and sell your screenplay. In the words of Max Bialystock (from Mel Brook’s The Producers), “NEVER PUT YOUR OWN MONEY INTO THE SHOW!”
Penguin Publishing seems to have missed this little tidbit of wisdom. Or rather, they are hoping that new and desperate writers have never heard that wise piece of advice. Not content with just e-book price fixing; Penguin has bought a company known as Author Solutions which specializes in exploiting new writers. Author Solutions claims that for a large sum of money ($1,199), they can set new authors up with a “web-optimized press release”. They have also been tied to claims that they don’t pay their writers, hard sell overpriced services and provide shoddy customer service to their clients. Their entire business model is built around exploiting the writers who are new to the field. The writer may be desperate to get published. All they have to do is give Author Solutions a sum of money and they will be published writers. On top of all those fees though, Author Solutions takes a large percentage of money from the author’s book profits. In some cases, they take about 50% of the writer’s profits. Sometimes more.
Trying to get published can suck. It really does. Hell; I am deep in negations with a publisher on a gaming book and while it is going well, it is moving slower than an ice glacier. However, NEVER PUT YOUR OWN MONEY FORWARD! There are plenty of legit ways to get published. Read submission guidelines to publishers. Look at sites such as Lulu or Amazon. Network. Write reviews. Freelance. Get your name out there. Just don’t put your own money forward to a company which will use you and spit you out.
Original article on Penguin buying Author Solutions: http://indiereader.com/2012/07/penguins-new-business-model-exploiting-writers/