Austin Macauley: our opinion

In our previous post on Austin Macauley, we asked some serious questions about the firm in an attempt to understand whether this is a good and innovative firm adding value to its authors or whether, in effect, it’s just an old-style vanity publisher, which operates legally but without honour. Does it appear to promise mountains and deliver the teeniest of little molehills?

Well, we still don’t know. We asked our questions. The firm promised a response. And we’ve seen nothing yet.



We posted this article to warn writers about what we think is probably a terrible firm and we were, almost immediately, contacted by the firm’s solicitors who warned us against making the following statement:

I think the firm stinks

We totally accept we were wrong to make that statement. We withdraw it unreservedly and with multiple apologies to those affected. Instead, we would like to replace it with the following – much more accurate – representation of our views:

We think the firm stinks to high heaven

A merry Christmas to all our readers.

So in the absence of hard facts, all we have to go on is opinion, guesswork and an attempt to stitch together the little we do know.

And what follows is what I think/guess about the firm. On the plus side:

  • I think it probably operates within the law.
  • It prints books. Those books may be well enough produced and certainly the book covers generally look fine.
  • It makes those books available on Amazon
  • It probably makes them available for order by bookshops (though – see below – that is NOT the same as saying that AM’s books are likely to be stocked in bookshops.)
  • I think it may make some, quite modest, efforts to secure (quite modest) publicity for its books and authors
  • I think AM is not the worst vanity publisher I have ever come across.

On the minus side:

  • I think the firm stinks [but please see correction above]
  • I think that most writers should run a mile before entrusting a single penny to the firm
  • I think those running the firm are far more interested in enriching themselves than adding any value to their authors
  • I strongly suspect that authors are not dealt with openly, honestly and transparently. If the firm had a policy of transparency with its authors, it would surely have been willing to be open in response to my questions.  Instead, it preferred a policy of almost total non-disclosure.
  • I strongly suspect that AM’s business is very heavily skewed towards vanity publishing. I can’t really find any meaningful evidence of a thriving traditional publishing operation
  • I doubt if AM has any meaningful distribution of its books in bookshops. Yes, there are probably individual local-interest titles stocked by individual bookshops – but are most books stocked on a national scale by national retailers? No. No way. Of course not.
  • I seriously, seriously doubt if more than a tiny fraction of AM’s authors make any money on their investment in ‘partnership publishing.’
  • I seriously doubt that, with most of the books it takes on, AM actually expects to sell any significant number of copies.
  • I think it is a vanity publisher that trades on the legitimate hopes and excusable ignorance of its clients
  • I hope the firm dies, and dies soon.

As I say, these are opinions and guesswork based on an insufficiency of facts. If Austin Macauley chooses to present me with facts that would cause me to revise these opinions – and they’ve had plenty of opportunity to do so already – then I’ll revise them loudly, publicly and remove, immediately, this post and the previous one.

In the meantime, if you’re considering entering into a partnership agreement with Austin Macauley, then don’t. Just don’t. Either self-publish yourself via CreateSpace and Kindle Direct. Or hire a trustworthy and open outfit such as Matador to do the fidddly bits for you. Matador and its ilk are not publishers the way that Penguin or Faber or HarperCollins are publishers, but they don’t lie and they don’t steal. They work for you, and tell you truthfully what can and can’t be achieved.

Have a wonderful Christmas, and thank you for reading.

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  • Anon

    Ref: Austin Macauley

    ‘We think the firm stinks to high heaven,’ Scathing but very accurate. with regards the rest of your post and the one prior to that, I fail to understand why AM are refusing to answer your questions, about their business, which in my opinion were put to them in a polite and formal manner, you weren’t being intrusive or personal. Surely it is in AM’s interest to provide members of the general public with the relevant information, in fact, they should be more than happy to do so. Instead, they’re resorting to legal action, which raises questions about their tactics, which I feel is nothing more than a double-standard on AM’s part, meaning: they find it acceptable to charge such extortionate rates to authors for very little, if anything in return, yet are denying people, like yourself the right to free speech. I disagree that they operate within the law, as no legitimate publisher would make false promises to authors, just to take £1000’s from them, without fulfilling those obligations.

    In July last year AM sent me a publishing contract, with the following terms: £1900, for e-book, paperback. £2900, hardback, e-book. £4400, hardback, e-book, audiobook. Needless to say, I didn’t reply.

  • Harry

    Hmm – to be clear, they HAVE now replied, though less fully than I’d have liked. And on the legality issue? Well, nothing I’ve heard has suggested to me that they act illegally in any way. That’s not to say they act ethically – but ethics and the law? Two different things.

  • Whisks

    Go Harry!

  • Christopher Graeme

    Thanks for the discussion and warning. The fact they have needed to bombard the net and FB with adverts recently may be a red flag. If something looks too good to be true, it’s because it usually is. I have sent them a submission but will tread extremely warily. Most publishers and literary agents are so swamped with submissions they only gamble on what looks to them like a reach chance of success. They generally don’t need to advertise themselves at all.