Time to Boycott Writer's Digest?

I haven't talked too much here about Author Solutions, although I've written extensively on the topic elsewhere.  Here's the skinny: They take your book.  For the low cost a a thousand, maybe two thousand dollars, they (their sub companies, anyway) slap a software-generated cover on the book, spend a couple of hours formatting it to print, and jet it out to Lightning Source.  From there, it gets placed on Amazon, B&N.com, and most other online bookstores.

Leave aside for a moment that you can hire someone to do a real cover and formatting, including ebook, for a little more than half the cheapest "package" these folks offer for just print (ebook is generally about $300 extra - pretty good pay for an hour of work).  The worst is that after they place your book, they are keeping somewhere between 50% and 90% of the profit from each sale.  For doing absolutely nothing, they get at least half of the writer's earnings for as long as the writer keeps the book with them.

If the book is badly written, they lose nothing, because they're charging 2-10 times industry standards for their packages.  If the book sells well, though, they stand to earn hundreds of thousands of dollars, while the poor writer is left scratching his head about why SOME authors are making a good living from selling 2000 copies of ebooks per month, and he is making next to nothing.

Author Solutions and their sub companies have been panned by Writer Beware, have been revealed all over the internet as the scams they are.  And now - now, Writer's Digest, probably the best known writing magazine and writing book publisher, has partnered with this bunch of con artists to produce a new company: Abbott Press.

Abbott has one thing going for it, at least.  They're only taking 50% of the profit per book.  That's better than some.  But it's still 50% more than the author should have to pay.

The author is taking all risk: paying an up front fee for everything (and, as I mentioned earlier, paying far too much for those services as well).  Abbott takes zero risk.  And puts out zero effort after the few hours to get a cover and layout done, attach an ISBN (which costs them $1), and upload the book where it needs to go.  But in return, they are getting half of everything your book will earn.

No.  Absolutely not.  These companies are predators which exist to target writers who are desperate to see their work in print, and will agree to just about anything just to have that happen.  They exist to take advantage of people who don't know any better.

And now Writer's Digest has joined the club as the newest con artist in the house.  I am appalled.  They are taking a position of responsibility and abusing the trust of their readers to make money at their expense.  A magazine whose supposed role is to educate and inform writers should be warning people about the threat these companies represent, not pairing up with them to rake in the cash.

Bad Writer's Digest.  Bad.