I've been reading a lot of the articles and blogs recently concerning the Simon & Schuster deal that occurred where they launched into the Self-Publishing market with Archway. For those not in the know, Archway is actually Author Solutions, one of the most disreputable of all the Self-Publishers in business currently.
Everything I've read has all been negative. All of it. It's also hard to imagine how anyone could honestly think that something like this would be perceived as a good PR move, or that there just wouldn't be blowback onto the primary brand. With as much information out in the world these days about 'Pay-to-Play Publishing', one would think that this would be one of the last things to come out of the Big 6, er Big 5. But one has to ask the main question? Why? Why would they do this?
The answer is simple. Simon & Schuster obviously got to see the raw data pitched to them from Author Solutions about participation in their service. Random House tried this a few years back with Xlibris and that didn't go very well on the PR front either. But who reads the news anymore? Who follows publishing news with every heartbeat? I knew for sure who doesn't. And that's what they're betting on.
The saddest thing about this -- is the most obvious victim. Aging Baby-Boomers who are looking to publish their "memoirs" or stories, who have little to no knowledge about publishing and who are thinking that this is actually a legitimate route into publishing because it's being promoted by Simon & Schuster. Many retirees actually have a few thousand dollars to spend on something like this, but many don't. Regardless though, many of them will take the plunge, hoping to make financial gain.
"Jo Rowling raked it in ... why not me?"
Many in that particular 'generation set' were raised on a specific principle about money. There's a persistent belief that because you are paying money, there is an inferred sense of legitimacy. The more you do pay, the more legitimate it must be. And from all outside appearances, this is being pushed by Simon & Schuster. What can go wrong? Well, twenty five thousand dollars can go wrong. That's what. Yes: $25,000.
Ever been to Writing Conventions or even BEA (Book Expo of America)? Ever notice that there are often hundreds to thousands of elderly people there participating, far outnumbering everyone else? While that's definitely not a bad thing, they're already used to the 'Pay-to-Play' model, as many of the more enterprising seniors engage in it themselves directly, although with a much more altruistic lean. They honestly have good intentions and wish to publish materials they like, and obviously for a reasonable price. Most of them have already paid for something along the lines as well. I've spoken to many, and have a large cadre of elderly friends, that would desperately do anything to get their memoirs published. Many work at it like there's some more immediate deadline. In their mind, I'm sure there is.
This is incredibly sad and incredibly predatory by Simon & Schuster. They know it's wrong, they know that their targeted demographic are seniors citizens in doing this, and yet they're pressing forward. To me, it's just one more disgusting facet in the on-going drama of people trying to bilk senior citizens for all they're worth and the wheezing, dying gasps of an outdated industry that continually doesn't have a clue.
It's elder abuse. Plain and simple.