Friday, May 20, 2011

A rant: self-publishing ...

Self-publishing? Who the hell called it that? Giving-your-hard-earned-dollars-away-to-crooks is a more appropriate name ... in my case anyway. My journey into self-publishing started in December, 2010, and I wish that I knew then what I know now.

Most 'ranters' would probably shy away from pointing the finger at one company in particular, but my experiences with Xlibris 'Publishers' has been so painful that I have no reservations about telling prospective self-publishers 'Here they are!'. Instead of going through the pain of writing their name for about the hundredth time, for the sake of this post I'm going to call them 'Worm'. Yes, that's much more entertaining.

If you're considering self-publishing I strongly recommend that you stay away from Worm. Yes, their call centre staff are lovely, and they could probably sell ice to the Eskimos, but this is a mask for their sinister game of 'They'll Believe Anything'. This is how I was trapped in the first place.

An abundance of false promises and praise has left me with months worth of trying to get my money back... hmmm that may not be the right way to describe it ... months of running around with a saucepan on my head and running face-first into a brick wall may be more fitting.

Everything was going well until I received my manuscript back from their so-called 'editors'. I've studied professional writing and editing, but there are always mistakes that can only be seen by fresh eyes. So, I paid for the copy-editing service upfront (how silly of me), and received my 'bleeding' manuscript back after about a week. Now some of the edits were fine, but one in particular made me call Worm straight away and demand my money back and cancellation of their services. I don't know what they were doing over there, but their computer spell check was way off. I mean, when you're talking about 'world' as a plural, as in more than one, you fling an 's' on the end to create 'worlds', but in Worm's opinion it should be spelled as 'world's'. Not impressed.

After I called them to complain, they asked no questions about the editing and no offer to get someone else to look at it, they just refunded the money for the 'editing' service straight away. This tells me that they've had complaints about this service before, and chose not to argue. I continued to express my concerns that my needs were not being met, and as I had paid (again, up front) $1,500 for a pre-publishing package, that I wanted a full refund of everything and wanted to find another POD publisher. Of course, they talked me around with their promises of better service and a whole heap of discounts and freebies. The warning bells were going off, but I agreed with the excitement of getting a free press release for my book. Oh, how I wish I had of resisted!

So weeks went by, and I was pleasantly surprised to be getting frequent phone calls from my 'publishing consultant' to keep updated on the progress of my book, and to answer any questions I had about the process. As the launch day for my book was fast approaching, I was pumping out that book faster than ever. I had to have it done with enough time for Worm to get it to the printers and get my 50 copies ($1500 paid upfront) of my book for release at Supanova on April 1. I was told that if I had my book completed by a certain date, which I did, I'd have the copies well in time for the release day.

All they had to do was put the pages of my book in order and send to the printer, as I had formatted, designed and put the entire book together to their specifications myself (to save money. Yeah right!). So, after I completed my book and transferred the files to Worm, I had to sign a release to say it was ok for them to sell my book on their website. Everything looked ok, so I signed the release. Big mistake! After my book was up on their 'bookstore', all communication with them stopped. They stopped calling me, or even emailing me to answer my questions. It was like I was totally forgotten once they had the rights to sell my book.

I was left hanging when I sent email after email telling them that my name was spelled incorrectly on their bookstore - oh come on! It's written on the cover of my book and they still get it wrong! When I received the draft for my press-release they had spelled my name incorrectly AGAIN. And, again, it was sent back to them with the corrections in red ... no response. I received a list of contacts they were going to send the press release to with people totally irrelevant to my book or genre, so, again, back it went with suggestions ... no response. They sent me a proof of the website they were going to set up for my book, again, with my name spelled incorrectly all over it. Once again, I sent it back with the corrections ... no response. By this time, I was so angry I was ready to explode. But, I thought this is something I can fugure out with Worm after all the hullaballoo had settled down after the book release and Supanova. All would be ok until then once I get my 50 book copies to sell at Supanova ... or so I thought.

On the day of the book release, with me getting ready for Supanova set up and waiting impatiently for my big box of books to arrive, I get a phone call from some random Worm consultant that I'd never dealt with before telling me that I should receive a proof copy of my book within 10 days! What? Where were my promised 50 copies? I was so angry at the time, but was so relieved when I received this 'proof copy' in the mail, as the quality of print was terrible! What I held in my hand that day was a revolting, cheap looking piece of glossy crap.

On the day of my book release at Supanova, I was so very glad that I had thought ahead set up an account with and ordered 13 'Special Edition' back-up copies (all I could afford at the time) with them - all books I received in great time, and I was estatic with the lovely quality. And all books sold out at Supanova! Blurb are expensive, but great for quality and speed, and good if you really only want some books for special occassions, but that's another blog post! ;)

Anyway, Supanova was April 1, it is now nearing the end of May, and still the trouble with Worm continues. I have sent them several emails to their customer satisfaction department, and finance department, requesting a full refund of all money giving them very good reasons as to why I should receive it all back. Each email is getting a bit more agressive, and I am really reaching the end of my rope. I'm really at a loss of what to do next, as my emails are going ignored.

I'm now organising publishing with Lightning Source who have been recommended to me by clients who have successfully published with them. So, Children of the In-between will soon be out in the world again in lovely delicious quality and splendour!

I hope this blog post helps even just one person who is thinking about self-publishing. Xlibris should not be allowed to continue with this obvious lack of customer satisfaction.

If anyone has any suggestions on how I could get my money back, please let me know!


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