Self-pub imprints: treating their clients like second class writers?

The news about the class action lawsuit filed April 26th against Penguin, as the owner of Author Services Inc., riled me up this morning. I wrote more about it in this post on my blog, but here is an excerpt:

“…it has always made me deeply uneasy that major publishers such as Simon & Schuster—even Christian publishers such as Thomas Nelson—should offer two separate paths to publication. If you aren’t lucky enough to get an actual contract where they pay you to publish your book—and give you all the editorial and promotional services that go along with that, for free—there is a back door, a kind of servant’s entrance. You can still have that affiliation with S&S or Nelson, sort of—as long as you are willing to pay them for the privilege. But does that buy you the same careful editing, the book design, the cover art, or the promotion that a contracted author receives? Somehow I doubt it.”

What does this have to do with Penguin? Because the whole thing is like one of those nesting Russian babushka dolls: Penguin bought ASI, which in turn operates AuthorHouse, iUniverse, Trafford Publishing, Xlibris, Palibrio, and Booktango. ASI is also the force behind self-publishing imprints with traditional book publishers like Simon & Schuster (Archway Publishing), Thomas Nelson (WestBow Press), Hay House (Balboa Press), Guideposts (Inspiring Voices) and Writer’s Digest (Abbott Press).

What do you think about the big “traditional” houses like Penguin and S&S offering this back-door route to publishing with them? Please go over to my blog and leave a comment.

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