In this show I talk to (eventually) successful author Chrissie Parker about her experiences using the Author House assisted publishing service in 2008-2009, which in the end turned out to be something she found profoundly unsatisfying.
Why did you decide to go down the assisted publishing route originally?
Chrissie decided to use this route as she enjoyed writing and had finally finished a complete manuscript. After the death of her grandmother she inherited a small amount of money and had failed to get an agent for her book. She heard about assisted publishing companies and using the money from her inheritance invested in a package from Author House to publish her book.
Her initial dealings with them were positive but she was mildly concerned by their failure to provide them with her copy of the agreement she had signed, with constant promises that it would be sent in the post. She liked the cover they designed and their initial work before the book was listed on Amazon. However once the book was published she was persistently asked to purchase extra marketing packages in an aggressive way she did not like. Going on the internet she discovered people in the U.S who had similar experiences. They suggested getting out of the contract with Author House. However this turned out to be a very slow process.
Did you ever get the signed contract back?
Her efforts to contact her initial contract advisor were met with responses that she was busy or had left the company. Chrissie never received her signed contract back, but discovered that as she had a copy of the example contract and this was the same as the one she had signed she could use that to help get out of the contract. Making sure everything was in writing it took Chrissie 6-7 months to be free of her Author House contract. Her next issue was trying to get them to take the book off sale at Amazon. It was still on sale at Amazon for up to a year after the contract had ended. Author House blamed Amazon and Amazon blamed Author House for why the book was still on sale, despite Chrissie having got her rights back.
In fact even now the listing still exists, even though thankfully it now says “Out of Print” (check it out at http://amzn.to/1TI2xNj !). Chrissie was most upset by the amount of stress and pressure placed on her by the whole process.
Did you end up self-publishing or using another assisted publishing company when you got the rights back?
She ended up self-publishing and has built up a team of people to help her : an American editor, a British proofreader and a cover designer. The American editor ensures her work is understandable by people in the U.S, while her British proof-reader makes sure it appeals to a British audience.
What advice would you give people in terms of choosing an assisted publishing company or self-publishing?
Chrissie recommends REALLY doing a lot of research into an assisted publishing house before using it. Ask Authors who have used those services about it and authors you like who have self-published about their opinion. She stated that while she has heard people refer to Author House as a scam, she personally wouldn’t refer to them as that; they are mainly a commercially driven company trying to make as much money as can and their mentality does not necessarily tally up with those of most fiction writers. Chrissie says that cost-wise you are better to talk to other authors and find people who have found inexpensive ways to do things rather than just going with these default marketing packages.
Why did you get so upset over the interview with the Author Solutions CEO in the Bookseller?
I asked Chrissie about why she had got so upset about the interview with the boss of Author Solutions in the Bookseller magazine. She said that she felt the interview was disrespectful in its tone to those people who had had issues with Author Solutions companies, while admitting that it was a long time ago she had had dealings with them. She felt that she could have decided to walk away from writing because of the experience and was worried that other customers of Author Solutions may have done the same. Chrissie hopes that the staff there now have improved and support their authors and don’t pressurise them.
Where can people find out and contact you?
Chrissie has a website www.chrissieparker.com. Her e-mail is firstname.lastname@example.org. She’s also on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest – in fact everywhere! On Twitter she is @Chrissie_author and on Facebook she is Chrissie Parker Author.
Chrissie has three books in the Amazon store:
If you liked this interview then you might like to listen to Lucienne Boyce’s more positive experiences with assisted publishing here or my interview with Helen Sedwick about legal issues.
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