Lulu Signs Deal With the Devil – Now Partnered with Author Solutions

LuluLogo[1]Oh how the mighty have fallen.

The POD and self-pub service Lulu announced earlier this week that they were launching a new suite of marketing and publishing services. Authors can now choose one of several overpriced bundles of services (starting at $999) or authors can overpay for individual service. For more information, visit the Lulu website.

Here’s what Lulu VP Kathy Hensgen had to say about the deal: “We listened to our community, and they wanted enhanced options in services. As author needs evolve, Lulu continues to innovate with a deeper range of multi-media solutions for its customers as well as an even keener focus on personal attention”.

But there’s one important detail that Lulu isn’t sharing, and that is who is actually providing these services. I’m still waiting for Lulu to get back to me, but sources say that Lulu has signed a deal with Author Solutions. All the new services are actually provided by ASI, not Lulu, though Lulu is getting a commission on the revenue generated via their website.

Update: The news has been confirmed by Lulu.

Folks, the packages offered by Lulu are virtually identical to the ones offered by Simon & Schuster’s vanity press, S&S Archway. They are just as much of a bad deal, though I am unfortunately the only one to come out and say that about Lulu.

To put it simply, any service that you find via Author Solutions or one of their partners (like Lulu, S&S, Harlequin, or Penguin India) is overpriced of for no other reason than Author Solutions’ profit margin has to come from somewhere, and that goes double when there is a partner involved.

And even if the services weren’t overpriced, there is a cloud hanging over the head of Author Solutions. They are being investigated by at least one law firm that could be looking to file a class action lawsuit on behalf of authors. ASI is infamous for deceptive practices, failing to pay royalties, and other misdeeds. Do you really want to join their pool of victims?

P.S. I have contacted Lulu and asked for confirmation. If they respond (there is a first time for everything) I will post an update.

22 thoughts on “Lulu Signs Deal With the Devil – Now Partnered with Author Solutions

  1. Based on this, Hydra, Alibi, Scalzi’s blog and the reaction from both SFWA and RWA one would think we’ve got several of the horsemen of the apocalypse riding.

    Frankly, the more companies like Random House, S&S, Lulu, etc. impale themselves on thinking their audience is making money off authors and not readers, the sooner they will implode.

    I take a lot of this as indication of desperation from an industry that was not prepared for the digital age.

    1. Well said Bob,

      I cant help but think someone at Lulu sees what is coming and chose to cash in now for as much as they could. Lulu has been headed for the door for some time in my opinion. I feel this will just speed up the process.

    2. Very sad. Yes, either desperation or a cynical misjudgement of where publishing is headed. I thought better of Lulu than to hitch their wagon to these guys.

      Any scoundrel that would pitch $10,000 and $15,000 publishing packages to widows, orphans and other clueless newbies deserves to be tossed in jail. At that price, I’d expect editing from a professional editor at Penguin (ASI parent) or S&S (Archway parent), but these prices don’t even include editing. They include an “editorial assessment,” which I can only assume will lead to a sales pitch for an editing package. http://www.archwaypublishing.com/PublishingPackages/Fiction/

      Oh, and Archway, the S&S front for ASI, offers a $25,000 package for businesspeople with money to burn: http://www.archwaypublishing.com/PublishingPackages/Business/

      How do those in bed with ASI sleep at night?

  2. Hmmm. I’ve always used Lulu for printing, not for any of their packages. Hopefully they’ll still provide that basic service without setup charges, but maybe I should start looking for a non-Devil replacement… We’ll see.

  3. This is becoming like a gold rush, with publishers all yelling “There’s gullible writers with more money than brains in them thar hills!” One can only hope that they all die horrible Donner-party-style deaths.

    1. Actually, I’m thinking this may be a good thing in the long haul…

      At this point in time, the BPHs (and entrenched wannabes) have very little to offer a newcomer (that the can’t get elsewhere a lot cheaper) other than their imprints’ “seal of approval”. Essentially validation by branding. :)
      (Pun intentional.)

      As traditional publishers tie their fate to scams and ripoffs schemes, sooner or later (I expect sooner) the word will get out to every corner that they are not to be trusted and out to exploit the unwary. So, the more they tie themselves to the scams, the less value will remain to their validation and eventually even the rawest of newcomers will understand they are predators to be avoided like the plague.

      The vanity press “gold rush” is them cashing in their reputation and credibility for a few nuggets of iron pyrite. If they’re willing to sell it that cheap, we ought to help things along by passing out the word, right? Which is what Scalzi and the SFWA and now the RWA among many, many others, are doing.

      This is going to be fun to watch as it plays out.
      Especially watching the traditionalists try to defend the indefensible.

      1. That’s a really good point. These publishers are selling their names and their reputations, but the very act of putting those things up for sale makes them worthless.

  4. I finally got the press release. Here’s something interesting:

    To provide these expanded services, Lulu is partnering with Author Solutions. The combination brings together two pioneers in their respective fields. Lulu has been a preferred choice for independent-minded authors since its founding in 2002. Author Solutions is a widely recognized leader in author support services.

    Apparently drug use is rampant at Lulu.

  5. I self published with Lulu a couple of years ago. Since they are going this route, I sure can’t afford to go with them again if I intend to publish another book. Are there any self-publishers who are reputable? They all seem to want to sell you a bill of goods that no one can afford.

    1. There are a few small ones out there.
      First question you need to decide is what you need them to do for you that you can’t do yourself (via KDP, Pubit, Smashwords or the like) or hire a freelancer to do for you.
      That’ll at least give you a starting point to decide what their support is worth to you.

    2. You can still self-publish through Lulu at no cost to yourself. The partnering with the devil is only for those schmucks who insist that they need more support (ie: aren’t willing to do their own marketing & promotional work).

      And there are such schmucks REGULARLY posting on the lulu forums. People who want sales handed to them instead of actually doing their own legwork.

    3. The only SELF-publisher is the author himself or herself (owning the ISBN). Any company claiming to be a “self-publishing company” is lying. You cannot “self-publish” on someone else’s behalf.

  6. I monitor my account with Lulu daily and in the month of April, 2013, the revenue page showed that I sold 4 books, but by the end of April it said that I had only sold 1 book. What’s going on? I’m being robbed of my royalties. It started in March 2013 when they changed their revenue sytem.

    1. You are not being robbed of your royalties.

      Check the revenue page again. When you log into the page, it shows you your sales & revenue for the last 30 days. Thus if you don’t change the dates on that page, it will look like sales are “disappearing” when in fact they aren’t, they just are no longer in your reporting period.

      (I sell roughly 20 or so books a month through the lulu site, and this is something people complain about a lot on the forums – just change your reporting period and your sales are still there)

  7. This is, unfortunately another sign that corporate greed rules in this country. But, fortunately there are still affordable solutions. Starry Night Publishing.Com offers proofreading, cover design, ISBN, copyright, formatting for paperback, file conversion for Kindle, Nook, Kobo, iPad, promotion, distribution on Amazon, Barnes & Noble and other online retailers, CD, DVD, and a whole bunch of other services for one low price, with no additional hidden costs ever. And they normally get your book out for sale within 48 hours, depending on how much work it needs.

  8. Starry Night Publishing also appears to have one of the ugliest websites in the history of the internet. Not to mention a loud intro video that autostarts when you open the page. ICK.

    And how is $700 (on sale for $500) a “low price” for softcover + ebook release?

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