So today's blog post is a warning to all the writers out there looking to self publish, or in the process of searching for someone to print your paperback copies. I'm returning to old ground here, as anyone who knows me will know that I self published my first book, Broken City, through Authorhouse. It was NOT a mistake I made with my next five books.
Authorhouse have, deservedly, one of the worst reputations around in self publishing. They promise the moon but only ever deliver more and more bills for you, the struggling writer, to pay. I have waxed lyrical on the subject of avoiding them sooooo many times, but they appeared to have sunk to ever deeper depths and I think it's only right that people be informed just how deep the black hole they suck you into goes.
I self published with Authorhouse several years ago, it cost me almost £2000. I haven't even made a pound in royalties in all that time, so were talking less than six books sold. In contrast Broken City has been downloaded as an ebook THOUSANDS of times. I receive the SAME royalty from a 99.c ebook as I do from a (wait for it) $20.47 paperback.
Now we'll ignore the fact that NO ONE is going to pay $20.47 for a book they've never heard of, and concentrate on the fact that Createspace offer the same service for a fraction of the price ($399). I have just started to produce copies of all my books through Createspace. If you are willing to put in the time and effort, watch a few youtube tutorials on how to formate your book for Createspace (I used this one), you can publish them for FREE. Createspace take their cut from each sale of your book. If you want to price your books at their lowest possible price (mine was $14.39) then you'll get the same .20p royalties. Amazon will sometimes drop the list price further, but that comes out of their cut, not yours. Amazon has dropped the price on my book The Promise and it is now available for $11.93, almost HALF what Authorhouse would be charging!
Now I realised quite quickly, but not quickly enough, that Authorhouse had no intention of selling my books. You see; potential readers are NOT their customers. Selling books is NOT what their business is built on.
YOU, the author, are their customer.
YOU, the author, are their client base.
Their business begins and ends with YOU, the author.
Every few months I get calls for them offering me a new, fantastic, once in a life time deals that are going to sell me shed loads of books.
ALL with a hefty price tag.
The email below is the latest in a long line of spammy phone calls and emails. This one is so bad I've felt the need to write the blog post. So here you are, ladies and gentleman, have some spam for breakfast. I should probably mention that he rang me first telling me this once in a lifetime offer, and then demanded I make a decision then and there. I asked for the email so that I could post it here and warn others and he agreed to it only if I got back to him within half an hour.
The title of the email: HOLLYWOOD MOVIE ADAPTATION GUARANTEED!
Here is the email you requested:
Hollywood already accepted your story , and guarantees they will make a film as soon as we give them the cinematic format called Hollywood Treatment. There is already a professional screenwriter from Hollywood tailor-fit for your story, and you will receive the draft 3 months after and you can suggest your creativity in how you would like your story to be presented as a film. The film executives will be in touch with you then to discuss offers for the full rights of the book.
Here are some books already that became movies.
A blockbuster movie sequel
Long March to Freedom by Tom Hargrove
This was turned into a blockbuster movie,
Proof of Life, with Russell Crowe and Meg Ryan.
This is based on a true story.
September Dawn by Carole Whang Schutter
Directed by Christopher Cain and starring
John Voight. This was released in August 2007.
The Color of the Prism by Tom Nichols
The author optioned movie rights to Tarantino Productions
Growing up Laughing with Eddie Murphy by Harris Haith
Optioned movie rights
Rugaroo by John S. Myerchin
The author optioned movie rights to the former executive
producer of The Exorcist.
Doctor Lopez by Elliott Baker
The author optioned movie rights with role for
Dustin Hoffman for the movie
A Fine Madness by Elliott Baker
The author optioned movie rights.
This inspired a 1966 movie with Sean Conner.
Lord Vishnu’s Love Handles by Will Clarke
Film rights have been sold to Paramount.
Undercover White Trash by David L. Kilpatrick
Movie rights have been optioned to producer
The Climbers by George R. Robey
The book is a corporate thriller optioned to Hollywood-based
Rafelson Media Consulting, Inc. for a future large-scale
Better Off Dead by John Paul Carinci
The author optioned movie rights to Charles Addessi,
producer/director of Wannabees.
How Can An Angel Take My Heart? by Regina Knox
The author optioned movie rights to Warner Brothers.
Matari by Luke Rhinehart
The author sold movie rights to a Hollywood production
Whim by Luke Rhinehart
This is currently being shopped by Paramount for movie production.
As mentioned, the first thing that we need to do is to transform your book in a material that can be understood by Hollywood executives since they said YES already to make a movie out of your book.
A treatment is a thoroughly developed guide that outlines how a screenwriter would adapt your book into a fully developed blueprint for a movie. As the framework used to transform your work into another medium, Hollywood Treatment is the final step of making a movie. Not only does it provide the structure for the movie adaptation, but it also ensures that you and your screenwriter are on the same page regarding the direction your story is taking.
By defining exactly how a screenwriter is going to approach the adaption of your book, you eliminate work for agents, studios and producers. By giving them a shortcut to the essence of your book, you can clearly demonstrate that your book has what it takes to succeed on the silver screen.
HOW IT WORKS:
- From our network of screenwriters, we’ll match you with the one who best complements your book’s story and genre
- Your professional screenwriter will provide a thorough five to ten-page treatment detailing how he or she plans to adapt your book’s manuscript into a film and/or television screenplay
- The screenwriter waives all rights to the treatment, so you maintain full ownership of your story
FRESH CONTENT, EXCITING PLOT, STRONG AND WELL DEVELOPED CHARACTER.
I would just like to make it clear that you will still have the final say of how much you are selling the full rights of the book starting £30,000 and you can even go higher because of the quality your story has. This is already guaranteed, and with this being said, you’ve got nothing to lose. It’s a win-win situation for you, you get a professional screenwriter from Hollywood make a screenplay of your book at a very fair price, plus you get back your investment 6-8 months, so for this materialize since it’s already guaranteed, let’s not give Hollywood the impression we’re neglecting their offer. This is a big breakthrough for you as an author, and your book will be a legacy. I’m sure when you wrote the book you imagined this one day to be filmed and not just a mediocre material unnoticed and gather dust. Please do understand Ivan that I have very well intentions to the route your book is taking. After all I am your personal senior marketing Consultant. I’m the only one and the best person to talk to about this project. And as a season marketing consultant I am with full conviction encouraging you to do this. Let’s step up the game, and elevate the esteem of your book. Let’s put your book forward and make a difference. The movie itself will become a highly specialized marketing tool for the book, and you will still earn high royalties for that respect. Please do email me for any concerns or queries at all. Always direct your concerns to me as I’m the best person to walk you through with this guaranteed project. Thank you. I’ll be waiting for your response.
PAY PLAN TERMS AND CONDITIONS (HIGHLIGHTS)
THE BELOW MUST BE READ TO THE AUTHOR CLEARLY AND WE MUST RECEIVE A VERBAL “I AGREE” TO PROCEED WITH PLACING THE ORDER (Rev 1.18.11)
1. The amount due for the services associated with this agreement plus a £30non-refundable processing fee added to the first payment (Partners will split fees equally across payments) will be billed to you in three/four equal payments.
1st payment £696.67
30 days after:
30 days after:
*No more payments in the future.
*Even with the 1st payment, we will already forward your book to the screenwriter in Hollywood tailor-fit for your story.
2. The first payment will be processed at the time of the order. The remaining payments will be deducted monthly (one month from order date, two months from order date, three months, etc.)
3. Payment dates may not be changed or skipped.
4. The only acceptable form of payment is credit card or debit card. PLEASE DO NOT SEND IN CHECKS FOR PAYMENT.
5. In the event that the Credit Charge is declined for any reason you will be assessed a $30/ RP 1,000 non-refundable service fee and your account will be subject to a hold status. You will need to contact Author Solutions Payment Plans toll free at (888)xxx-xxxx xxxx to rectify the payment. To reactivate services you will need to pay any defaulted balance plus assessed fees.
6. If any update to card information is required, you will need to contact ext. 5030 two business days prior to your scheduled payment date to insure payment does not decline. Failure to notify of changes that result in a declined payment will be assessed the $30/ RP 1,000 non-refundable fee.
7. We are not responsible for any fees that you may incur due to non-sufficient funds at the time the credit charge occurs. We reserve the right to delay performance of services or delivery of final services related to this account until all amounts due are paid.
Take a deep breath, people, I know it's hard to swallow that much hard sell all in one go. I have to say that I'm pretty impressed by the level of fake excitement this guy managed to dredge up for a book he was trying to pretend he'd read. I'm also pretty astonished that he managed to get the whole of Hollywood on side and salivating over the rights to my book!
I would also like to point out that he intimated to me that a number of films had been made from this process he was offering, but the list of films he has sent through seem to be random films based on books, like Legally Blonde and Proof of Life which do not appear to have ANYTHING to do with Authorhouse at all.
If you're still not quite sure here's a review for the Hollywood Treatment service:
I (p)aid $6000 for the Hollywood Treatment, they promised the earth and delivered nothing.