Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Just what the world needs: yet another sleazy, sloppy, egomaniacal pay-to-publish company

(left-click to enlarge)

Christmas is normally a "slow news day." This means several things:

(1) Since most people are busy with Christmas events or on vacation and few people are paying attention to news media, it's really stupid to make an announcement that you want people to notice.

(2) If you do make an announcement on a slow news day, you will have less competition for those few eyeballs that are actually focused on the media.

Apparently, Self-Help Publishers thought #2 was the right strategy. It worked a little bit, at least. It attracted my attention. Maybe the company would be happier if I did not pay attention.

PRLog (Press Release) – Dec 25, 2010 – "! This website is designed for assisting the authors in editing their books and making the book publishing process entirely seamless. The array of tools available on the website allows the authors to select from a range of choices available throughout the book publishing process.

“The website divides the entire publishing process into several cardinal steps such as signing the contract, submitting the manuscript, reviewing the work etc. These steps enable a systematic book publishing process where the authors get a continued support and advice from the professional publishing consultant. ” says CEO 

Yup. The stupid release twice says that the CEO's name is a web address. Who proofreads this shit? Nobody, apparently. You can read the whole thing here.

The horribly written release brags that "This website attracts a large and loyal audience . . . ."  That's pretty impressive for a "New Website."

Like many other self-publishing companies, Self Help is deceptive.

One page on its new website shows a changing strip of book covers, including the cover of a book written by former U.S. President Jimmy Carter. The presence of these books on a publisher's website strongly implies that the books shown were published by the company that operates the website, and are there to build credibility to attract other authors.
Strangely, the word "advertisement" appears over the top book. Both the word and the covers are part of a clickable link -- but clicking will take you to a blank page. This is not an auspicious beginning for a new company announcing its grand opening.
Refreshing the page shows more book covers, the cover for an old issue of Time magazine and a picture of two men in Victorian apparel. We see a book cover with Arabic text, and the cover of a book written by another former president -- Bill Clinton.
It didn't take much research to determine that the Clinton book was published by Knopf and that Carter's book was published by Simon & Schuster. It's highly unlikely that two American presidents would need to pay to have their books published, or that they would choose a Canadian publisher instead of an American publisher.
The Lyn book is a Kindle edition that sells for a buck-fifty. Amazon says the publisher is Beau To Beau Books -- not Self Help. It's very different from what the ex-prexies wrote. 
Here's an excerpt: "Hunger was in the air, filling the car with desire. Stephanie’s body felt as if it were floating out of the car and into the cool night breeze. Julian’s large hand gripped Stephanie’s thigh harder, more intensely now. He wanted her just as much as he [probably should be "she." When a book sells for $1.50, there's not much money for editing.] wanted him, if not more so. Julian pulled up outside the hotel and a member of the staff directed them to a vacant parking bay. “Paradise Hilton” the bold red sign spelled out. The two lovers got out, and after getting their room key they headed toward the elevator that would take them to their haven of love. [Wasn't "Haven of Love" a song recorded by the Dixie Cups in the 1960s? Oh -- sorry -- that was "Chapel of Love." OK, I now return you to the dirty stuff.]  Once inside the hotel, Julian pulled her toward him and kissed her hard, grabbing and squeezing her butt. He pushed her up against one of the elevator walls and ground his pelvis into hers, over and over and over again. Their bodies made a sweet rhythm that was welcomed by Stephanie’s moans as they escaped her throat, Julian’s tongue moving in and out of her, sucking and massaging it every few seconds. [That's not a good sentence, but WTF.] She pulled his face deeper into hers, devouring him as if she had been deprived of food and water for a very long time. By now the shine from her lip gloss was smeared all over his mouth. Julian’s hot mouth was hovering over Stephanie’s ear, heavy breathing constantly moving about them both. He kissed her and she moaned into his mouth. They continued kissing, passion and heat oozing from every pore of their conjoined bodies."
TIME OUT. I'm going down the hall to be with my wife for a while.
OK, I'm back. That's a pretty hot bit of heterosexuality. Strangely, its publisher, Beau to Beau Books, "celebrates Male Love" but it has a division for straight soft-porn.

But, I digress. It's easy to get distracted by dirty stuff.

So, why the hell is Self-Help displaying books published by other companies? I can think of only two answers:
  1. Self-Help wants people to think it publishes presidential books, dirty books and Arabic books.
  2. Self-Help had planned to make money by selling books from other publishers, but the website designer screwed up
OK, back to what Self Help is trying to do and how they compete with the zillion other companies in the field.

The company says, "Our professional services such as marketing, editorial, and self publishing authors can expect their book to beat the competition available in the market." It seems like something is missing from the sentence. The publisher needs an editor!

And: "Check-out our Publishing Packages and pick up the publishing package that best suit your publishing goals. "Suit" should be "suits." Where is that damn editor? Distracted by smut, maybe.

Self Help claims to be "one of the renowned book publishing houses" and "one of the best book publishing companies." Renowned by whom? Declared one of the best by whom?

The company says, "Our editors help you in maintaining your book’s quality. They will thoroughly check your book for any errors and edit the content to get you the best content." Apparently they can't thoroughly check their own website.

Here's some horrid writing from a section about the company's editing services: "The enhanced editorial is of two types basically, progressive editing and star editorial package. This just not includes the normal spelling checking, punctuation checking, pace, plot, style, or the grammar mistakes but goes beyond that to deliver you the quality work." Blecccchhhh!

I love this one: This includes the line editing where by the proofreaders and the editors checks for each line for any errors.  Apparently those proofreaders and editors do not know that "where by" should be "whereby," "checks" should be "check," and that the first "for" does not belong there. IDIOTS!

The company boasts that "We offer you a complete control over publishing. With us, you will enjoy complete control right from the manuscript submission to the final book publication."

BUT the contract says "We will retain final discretion over style and formatting of the Work and its cover."

The restrictive and unfriendly contract also says, "We will have no obligation to provide to you any submitted materials or production files at anytime [sic] or for any reason." and  "You acknowledge that you may not utilize the formatted Work and cover with any other publisher, if we cease publication of the Work."

The company offers publishing packages priced from $499 to $1999. The packages include from one to 30 "complimentary" books which -- of course -- are not really complimentary since you may be paying nearly two grand to get them.

Even with the most expensive packages, eBooks are provided only in the PDF format. That requires almost no work by the publisher, and is just one out of three eBook formats you should be using.

Like most of its competitors, Self Help will be glad to sell you expensive services of dubious effectiveness and value.
  • For $2,499, the company will send out TEN MILLION emails to promote your book. Most of the ten million recipients will probably hate your guts and spurn your book.
  • You can pay the company $399 to design a website and $29 per month for hosting. Alternatively,. you can design it yourself for free and pay $5 per month for hosting.
  • The company touts several "Unique Offers," including a $5,499 plan that gets your book included in a New York Times ad, plus a press release and a Facebook page. I am not impressed.
  • Self Help charges $49 for a Library of Congress Control Number -- which  you can get for free with a few minutes' work.
  • It charges $149 for a U. S. copyright registration -- which you can get for $35.
The site has a section titled, "The People of Self Help." It lists and describes seven categories of people such as editors and designers -- but there are no names. The company's boss is Tariq Nadeem, who has written several books about immigrating to Canada. He wrote, "For American liberals, Canada represents all that America could be, and should be." He doesn't think much of America, but is glad to take money from American customers.
  • Strangely, I could not find any information about Mr. Nadeem on the website. Perhaps he thinks that his name would discourage customers.
  • I'm more discouraged by sloppiness and empty boasts like "Self Help Publishers is the world's leading provider of  Print-on-Demand book publishing, distribution and marketing services for authors."
The website has abundant bad grammar, sloppy formatting (e.g., text that should be roman instead of italic), missing illustrations and non-functioning links.

The website has an online bookstore which shows dozens of book categories. Nearly every category I clicked on shows "No Records Found."

The poetry section strangely offers a leather bound edition of The Complete Sherlock Holmes -- which, of course, is not poetry. Strangely, this edition was published by Barnes & Noble -- not by Self Help.

The Nature category -- which you might expect to deal with trees, rivers and lizards -- includes one book, Men of the Jungle: Book One, Untouched. by Jerri Drennen. It seems to combine murder and sex. I'm not sure, because clicking on the "Free Preview" tab does nothing, as does the "About The Author" tab. This book was published by Self Help. However, $19.95 for a paperback novel by an unknown author, that's not available from Amazon or B&N, is good insurance of failure.  The book description leaves off the first letter, saying "Otanist" instead of "botanist." Maybe it should be "Onanist."

The company's FAQ page is obviously unfinished and not ready to be viewed by potential customers.

The Copyright date shows next year, and shows the company name as "Self Help Publisher" (singular -- not plural, as is shown elsewhere on the site).

And elsewhere, the site says, "Regardless of your publishing goals, the quality of your work matters—no one wants to read a book that's riddled with typos . . .  Should y"

I didn't fake that. In the section about the evil of typos, a sentence consists of "Should y" and nothing more!
To the right is part of Self Help Publishing's section on "Design." it's hard to imagine a worse design than this demonstrates.  
In conclusion, all I can say is that Self Help Publishers is pathetically inept. If they can't get their own website or press release right, there seems to be little chance that they can produce a proper book. Maybe they'll get their act together at some time in the future. But for now, STAY AWAY.

NOTE: The early versions of this posting had some uncorrected typos. I lost electric power before I could fix them. I apologize to those who were offended, particularly dear "Anonymous" -- who loves to flame me but lacks the balls to identify himself (or, perhaps, lacks the ovaries to identify herself).

Although I strive for accuracy, I am imperfect. OTOH, I am not selling editing services or bragging about the talent of my "expert editors."


  1. As usual, a thorough and revealing examination of a company that probably has no good reason to exist. Thanks for the warning.

  2. Loved the post and laughed like a loon. It's nice to be educated and amused at the same time.

    I did get tickled about your definition of smut, however. The excerpt was tame compared to things I've seen in the market lately.

  3. It's much too easy for half-blind idiots to declare that they are publishers, and suck in money from ignorant wannabees.

  4. Unfortunately, so-called self-publishing companies like this one have hijacked the business as well as the the dreams of thousands of authors.

    Authors don't need ANY self-publishing company. POD printing is available to everyone through and thousands of editorial and design professionals stand ready to help turn a rough manuscript into a market-ready book.

    Michele DeFilippo
    Your book. Designed. With hand-holding.

  5. "This just not includes the normal spelling checking, punctuation checking..."

    True statement. It certainly not includes those things.

  6. I don't even know where to begin - that is the worst I have seen of these companies, by far. They've even got PublishAmerica beat in my opinion. Thanks for the write-up. Hope it steers others far from this nightmare.

  7. This has to be about the funniest review you've written yet, and in a good cause. The level of blind incompetence displayed by this company is astonishing. Thanks for continuing to do the "dirty work" of exposing these people for the rip-off artists they are.