Simon & Schuster has announced they’re getting into the self-publishing business with a new imprint called Archway Publishing.
Not really. Well, actually, not at all.
Why? Lots of reasons, the biggest of which being cost. The publishing packages go from $1,599 all the way up to $24,999. How much you get depends on how much you pay--and quite honestly, how much you get doesn’t seem at all commensurate with how much you pay. These are services you can provide for yourself at a fraction of the cost. Besides, I've heard there's a land called Amazon where authors can publish their books free of charge.
And a few of the services themselves seem questionable. For example, the packages don't include editorial assistance; those can be obtained for an additional cost ranging from .035 to .05 per word (So as an example, for a 100,000 word manuscript, you can add an additional $3500-$5,000). They do, however, include what they call an Editorial Assessment, which in reality, amounts to nothing more than a sample edit (typically the first chapter, or about 1,700 words).
Here’s another problem: after paying all that money, authors are also required to hand over a cut of their sales, half, to be exact, for an e-book.
One more interesting (if not misleading) fact: Simon & Schuster will not be hiring new staff to provide these services. Actually, they won’t be providing them at all. The venture will be operated by the folks at Author Solutions (recently bought by Pearson), a vanity press that itself has questionable practices, not to mention a litany of complaints from its customers, not to mention, a statement from an employee, quoted as saying:
You folks have no idea how deep the deceit runs at Author Solutions.
So really, Simon & Shuster is doing nothing more than lending an air of legitimacy to a company that seems to be lacking any. All this at a substantially higher cost than what Author Solutions normally charges its regular customers.
They do offer the enticement of the “Opportunity For Discovery”. According to their website, there’s this:
Additionally, we will alert Simon & Schuster to Archway Publishing titles that perform well in the market. Simon & Schuster is always on the lookout for fresh, new voices and they recognize a wealth of potential talent in Archway authors.
But you don’t have to be an Archway author for that. Simon & Schuster and several of the other Big Six (or soon to be, Big Five) publishers have been grabbing independent titles from Amazon's bestsellers lists for quite some time now. So again, yet another service you can provide for yourself, and again, at a fraction of the cost.
The short version? This feels like another example of the big publishing houses trying to take advantage of an industry they not only wanted no part of, but also one that came as a direct result of their poor treatment of authors and ones aspiring to be.
Or even shorter: a new way to rob the poor.