David Gaughran broke the news when he reported earlier today:
Penguin Random House is speeding up the international expansion of its vanity press operations, while also seeking to integrate them more closely with the traditional side of the business – hoping to counteract flat growth for Author Solutions at a time when self-publishing is booming.
Author Solutions launches a new self-publishing service company for the Spanish market next Tuesday – MeGustaEscribir – which contains the usual mix of crappy publishing packages and ineffective, overpriced marketing services, as well as some extremely questionable practices such as reading fees (more on that below).
Pitched as the supported self-publishing platform of Penguin Random House Grupo Editorial, MeGustaEscribir bears all the hallmarks of an Author Solutions operation.
With packages starting at 299 euros, MeGustaEscribir bundles unnecessary services into package deals that leave out important parts like editing while overcharging for things like author copies, ISBN, cover design, and layout.
At its cheapest, MeGustaEscribir overcharges for a basic conversion and distribution package which does not include cover design. For that, an author will have to upgrade to the next tier, the 699 euro package (or purchase it separately, at prices which are not disclosed online).
While MeGustaEscribir's cheaper packages are bad, the upper tier packages are even worse.
MeGustaEscribir goes one step beyond, firmly embracing an unethical practice which had been consigned to the dustbin of publishing history: reading fees.
Heavily touted on the MeGustaEscribir site is the Recognition Program – where customers will be recommended for review by an editor from Penguin Random House Grupo Editorial (that link is in Spanish, but Google Translate does a mostly reasonable job of getting the gist across).
Here’s the really shocking part. Consideration by a Penguin Random House editor is contingent on writers undergoing an Editorial Evaluation Report by MeGustaEscribir. The only publishing packages which contain this Evaluation Report are priced at 2,899 Euro (approx $3,600) and 3,999 Euro (approx $4,970).
With companies like Lulu, S&S (Archway), Penguin India (Partridge), Harlequin, and B&N (Nook Press - probably) fronting for Author Solutions, PRH Grupo Editorial is not the first publisher to sign a deal with the devil.
Buyer beware. Or as they say in Spanish, caveat emptor. (So it's Latin. Sue me.)
images by Images_of_Money