Smashwords Founder Criticizes Author Solutions Acquisition

By Dianna Dilworth 

Mark Coker, founder of self-publishing platform Smashwords, criticized Pearson’s acquisition of self-publishing company Author Solutions in a recent post.

He suggested that the purchase was an investment in a business that makes money off of authors, rather than an investment in self-published authors. Coker wrote:

Does Pearson think that Author Solutions represents the future of indie publishing?  Author Solutions is one of the companies that put the “V” in vanity.  Author Solutions earn 2/3 or more of their income selling services and books to authors, not selling authors’ books to readers.  Does Pearson think so little of authors that they’ve decided they can earn more money selling them services than selling their books?  Don’t get me wrong, I have no qualm with indies investing in professional editing, proofreading and cover design. I encourage that.  There’s just something about this that feels icky.

Coker is not alone in his criticism of the move. Last week, book blogger Jane Friedman argued that the move suggests not that self-publishing is the future of publishing, but rather that offering editorial services to self-published authors is the future. She wrote, “Unfortunately, many people seeking help are not well-informed, don’t have the patience to research their options, and end up writing a big check to someone to make the headache go away.”

Pearson’s move follows the launch of a self-publishing platform for its online writing community Book Country, which launches last year. Well-known self-published author J.A. Konrath has criticized the Book Country self-publishing platform, claiming that the publisher kept too high of a royalty.