USA & UK based
Amazon.com titles – 42,000
Amazon.co.uk titles– 49,700
Standard Package starts at $599++
AuthorHouse have been providing self publishing services for authors for many years. They remain one of the heavy-hitters of the self publishing industry, are owned by Author Solutions, who also own iUniverse, and have the largest slice of self published titles in the market.
So why do many self publishing authors decide to use the services of AuthorHouse?
I’ve been familiar with AuthorHouse for many years. They are one of the strongest and widespread advertisers of self publishing services in the publishing industry. Their strengths are accessing and marketing to authors and presenting the scale of services they have to offer. They are easily contactable and will positively remain in communication with you long after you have dabbled with the idea of publishing with them. Their staff are strong on selling services, but like many POD publishers, their sales staff have a limited knowledge of selling books and the way the book industry works, from the perspective of a traditional author and publisher. A POD publisher who understands these differences from the outset, sets themselves apart immediately.
AuthorHouse books, from the samples I have seen, are physically good quality books. This is very much down to Lightning Source and Booksurge, the printers they use. Like all other POD publishers who print most submissions outside of pornography and sheer gobbledygook, the published books are open to the standard in editing and level the author has chosen to submit their manuscript in, or the degree of editing service they have chosen to buy. AuthorHouse are no different to any other POD publisher in this regard, and provide a wide range of add on services, but these clock in at the more expensive end, and an author using AuthorHouse's Standard publishing package would be better advised to shop around for additional services like editing and promotion. Where AuthorHouse let themselves down, and their authors, is the perceived idea they that try to sell about self publishing as a whole.
Let me be clearer. A good digital printer can advertise as a POD publisher offering self publishing services but also acknowledge quickly the fact that they are offering a print-come publishing service. They will not practice as a printer and pretend to be a publisher. This is where I differ with AuthorHouse's philosophy. Authorhouse are a POD publisher offering self published authors a range of services to publish a book. My biggest concern with AuthorHouse is the manner in which they attempt to present themselves as part of the 'traditional' publishing world and their model of publishing is the norm. It is not the norm, and although I am a supporter of paid publishing, under certain circumstances; that it can also be fruitful, viable, and a serious business avenue to peruse, is all made the lesser by misleading quotes such as the following from AuthorHouse's own author guide.
“Completing your manuscript is quite an accomplishment. Now it is time to publish and we’re ready to help you reach your goal. With AuthorHouse, you don’t need to hire an agent, spend months or years pitching your manuscript or endure numerous rejection form-letters. Instead, we offer you the personal attention, control and experience you want for publishing, promotion and selling your book.”
To be fair, you can find similar verbiage in the promotional literature of other large self publishing companies. AuthorHouse are one, if not, the largest self publishing company, and there are certain responsibilities which I believe should inherently go with that status. The fact is, if you want a credible way to go about getting your book published, then you need to approach agents and traditional publishers to consider taking on and supporting your work. These people will ensure that the author is properly represented and will play a strong hand in the future of you and your work. Crucially, agents and publishers ensure that money flows towards the author. For a first time author, there can be nothing more educational and critical in the development of them as an author and the quality of their work than the experience of dealing with tradition publishing avenues.
AuthorHouse have over the past year started approaching agents and some small publishers requesting that they will pay a fee for referrals of any author's who sign up with AuthorHouse. The unscrupulous agent and small publisher will refer any idiot who thinks they can write to AuthorHouse for the fee of $100.
One can suggest that this may be a way of welcoming in self publishing to the more traditional structure of publishing, but the fact is, that most of AuthorHouse's clients are first-time authors. I said earlier that AuthorHouse were the strongest, probably spend the most in advertising, promotion and marketing themselves the most; and if they were to put a tenth of that same effort into their authors, then, they may actually start to turn heads in the business and make a difference.
You get a very limited amount for the basic package at $599. Online distribution, a basic cover, no ownership on PDF files, double dipping on royalties (AuthorHouse charge you considerably more than what they pay the printers for author books - $9 per book for a copy of a book the author has already paid a service fee for!) AuthorHouse do offer additional services for a fee such as colour illustration books, editing, marketing packages and a myriad of other services. The reality is that an author considering self publishing should not touch them. They are excessive in fees, to the point of being extortionate. An author’s website is charged individually at $500, book copyright at $170, $75 for domain registration. All these fees are way in access of what they actually cost and should be. That in itself is a red flag warning sign. All in all it is a great pity, because AuthorHouse, like iUniverse, with their financial turnovers, are in the best possible positions to offer authors the most cost-effective and competitive deals in the self publishing print industry.
Looking at AuthorHouse's packages made me squirm; from $599 to $948; look hard, and in reality, all you seem to get is a bloody ebook and hardback option for the extra $349, and the ebook can be created from the same files as your original paper book! Lots of work involved there! Their $1298 package seems to add in a personalised back cover blurb as well as the further interior and exterior options. Again, at an extra cost which far outweighs the extra money an author is charged.
In short, what you get from AuthorHouse, at the fee charged, can be got far cheaper somewhere else. I would always try to engage discussion with self publishing companies and direct and advise authors to particular ones if I think an author is suited to a POD Publisher. AuthorHouse are far too expensive for someone looking for a bargain; they overcharge for additional add-on services, supply an unfriendly author contract, limit the author royalties by double-dipping on royalties, and engage in marketing and promotion in the wider publishing industry which is less than satisfactory.
If AuthorHouse put as much ingenuity into the authors they take on, as they do into their own self promotion of their services, then their business would be far stronger and their reputation in self publishing would be second to none.
UPDATE: August, 2009.
AuthorHouse have update their colour publishing packages by introducing the Portfolio and Masterpiece.
Details on them here.
UPDATE: March, 2010.
Author Solutions announce their publishing brands will have all new books featured as Kindle titles.
UPDATE: August, 2010.
Author Solutions introduce Author Education Program