If employee reviews of iUniverse & Author Solutions, Inc. are any indication, the company and it’s many self-publishing imprints face an uncertain future.

According to anonymous reviews on Glassdoor.com, an online community providing information about jobs and companies, the approval rating of Author Solutions CEO Kevin Weiss is a staggering 12%, and the overall company rating is 1.3, which translates to “very dissatisfied” according to the Glassdoor.com rubric.

Of course it’s likely that only the most disgruntled employees are taking the time to vent. But with such horrible ratings, one has to wonder where the loyal employees are hiding, if, in fact, there are any loyal employees to be found.

The review headlines for a majority of the anonymous responses are cringe-worthy, particularly when you take into account that  majority owner Bertram Capital would like to unload Author Solutions in the near future.

A March 7, 2012 Publishers Weekly article states:

“Coming off of a year with sales of $99.8 million and net income of $4.2 million, representatives for Author Solutions Inc. are looking for a buyer for the self-publishing giant. According to the offering memorandum, majority owner Bertram Capital, which made its first investment in ASI in 2007,  is interesting (sic) in ‘pursuing a liquidity event as part of the normal investment cycle.'”

Maybe a sale could shake things up enough to change some of these review headlines:

  • Disappointing
  • Poor leadership
  • Just not worth it
  • Awful first job
  • Poorly run and slightly delusional
  • Poor upper management
  • Great idea…pathetic, greedy implementation

Poor Leadership

Employees’ stories have several recurring themes: poor leadership, constant fear of outsourcing, and dishonest business practices. In fact, one reviewer wrote of the leadership at Author Solutions, “Senior management … spends bulk of their time watching Hulu and playing on Facebook.”

Another reviewer expressed concern about the executives’ lack of regard for customer satisfaction. “As I spoke with more and more customers and took it up the ladder, I realized that the company did not have its customers’ interests at heart.”

That reviewer was not alone. Another writes,

“AuthorHouse’s [an imprint of Author Solutions] management is the worst. Their entire focus is the bottom line with very little care for their employees or their customers…Middle Management at AuthorHouse is usually good, but Upper Management is out of touch with production or the realities of the processes they have installed. Most of the time it ends with customer dissatisfaction, unprofessional products, and shoddy workmanship.”

Threats of Outsourcing

Several employees report that they fear losing their positions to outsourcing citing a “culture of constant fear” and “fear of your job being outsourced.” This came as a result of operations and production responsibilities being shipped to the Philippines. An employee writes, “Pretty soon this company will be completely run out of Cebu. After I quit, my position was sent overseas rather than filled in the States.”

The reviews just get worse:

“The final blow was how they treat expansion. Make no mistake, Author Solutions is moving where the labor is cheap… And the employees that get replaced? They get taken into a room and fired with no warning, no notice. The boxes to clear your desk are piled by the door, and these meetings include 10-20 people at a time. Worst business ever.”

Customer Disservice

I feel for some of these Author Solutions employees, I really do. When you need a job, you take one. And it can be weeks or months before you realize what kind of outfit you’re actually working for.

To those current and past employees of Author Solutions, iUniverse, Author House, et al. who regret taking advantage of customers and being a part of this organization, take comfort in the fact that at the very least you haven’t lost your humanity yet.

If you ask me, any place getting these kinds of comments should do some serious soul-searching.

Author Solutions and iUniverse Complaints Index

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