Here is an extensive post I wrote on the self publishing service iUniverse, which charges ridiculous amounts of money for baseline services, squeezing newbies out of vast amounts of cash. Aspiring pro authors hope they’ll get a bestseller, and all they really get is a big bill.

iUniverse charges you $699 to tell booksellers they can return your book if it doesn’t sell.

Returnable books is standard in publishing, except for the comic book direct sale market. Why on earth anyone would charge you $699 for this service I cannot fathom.

Except they want to make a buck from your ignorance.

First off, you guys gotta realize that once booksellers see your book coming from iUniverse, they know it is self published and are far less likely to stock it. Booksellers know Vanity Press when they see it. OK? Let’s just get that out of the way right now.

Scour the shelves of any retail bookstore outside the direct market, and I defy you to find five copies of anything self published. I’m not saying it never happens, I am saying it is sort of like, I dunno, having a meteor hit your house.

You know what all of this stuff is, don’t you?

These people convince wannabe pros that the only real difference between them and a bestselling author is big money, and that big money will buy you fame. It’s the Kim Kardashian school of accomplishment.

For only $799, we’ll make you go viral!

Say, folks, don’t you think that if $799 was all that stood between you and instant internet fame, everyone would be doing it? You think?

When I originally posted my little review of the services of iUniverse, some internet asshat tried to dismiss it as me being a big bully on behalf of my good friend Arlene Harris, who approached me about her bad experience at iUniverse, and asked me to make it public.

Folks, I’ve probably met Arlene three times in my life, and I consider her the same kind of internet friend I consider many of the people who come to my blog: good conversation, and some fun posts. I am not her personal sock puppet to make shit up and post bad things about honest publishing companies. No conspiracy here, but thanks for playing.

But you don’t have to take my word about iUniverse, or its parent company Author Solutions, now the property of Penguin.

Have some fun reading these articles over at Suess’s Pieces blog.

iUniverse Complaints: The Complete Index

I’m a midwestern, polite-to-the-point-of-death person (you could be stabbing me and I would ask you to please stop), and I ended up shouting over this woman, “Gracie! Gracie! Gracie! I am not buying any more services!” She was going on about how iUniverse was the number one self-publishing company. I said, yes, I have already published my book with them, and I’m not doing any more for it. In a very accusatory manner, she said, “So what do you expect me to do with your book?” I said, “Nothing. Let it go.” “You want me to ignore your book?” She seemed very angry.

You really REALLY need to read this

What I find funny is that even with all the promotion I did, iUniverse tells me that I haven’t sold but a total of 49 books in the 3rd quarter (July, August, Sept, 2011) and 70 books in the 4th quarter (October, Nov, Dec 2011). I know this is a lie, and I have proof that I have sold more then was being reported through Amazon and Barnes & Noble.

In fact, after I called customer service at least 50 times to no avail, I finally got a call from Pamela H. She was completely incompetent and downright mean. She said, “We will publish anyone’s book, we are not going to market and hold an author’s hand. That is the author’s job; we are simply a POD [print on demand] company.”

I got mad and reminded her that I hired her, and that IUniverse was working for me, not the other way around. iUniverse did not represent themselves as a simple POD when they were selling me their services. I insisted she send me proof of my sales and royalties and explain where their 80% was being spent.

OK, I will tell you that being on a television show will not necessarily bring in big sales. I speak from experience. Being on one episode of a show on the SyFy Channel will not change your life.

But the kicker there is the royalty is a net royalty agreement. In accounting speak, net pretty much means nothing.

For added snaps and giggles, here’s a fake id and fake account from an Author Solutions consultant.

Now off to the Attorney General of Indiana.

Because the fun never ends, one of my old Very Bad Publishers has now entered the self publishing racket. For the princely sum of $7000, they will now publish your self published book!

This is what happens to publishers how are very very bad at their jobs, and who end up selling their own building to do business out of their own basement.

You know I can’t wait to write that blog post.