Solicitation Alert: LitFire Publishing

Posted by Victoria Strauss for Writer Beware


A few weeks ago, I began hearing from writers who'd been solicited, out of the blue, by a company called LitFire Publishing. In some cases by phone, in others by email, a LitFire "consultant" claimed to have received or seen information about the writers' books (or even to have read them), and wanted to offer a wonderful marketing opportunity--for, of course, a four-figure fee.

Here's how LitFire describes itself and its services
Founded in 2008, LitFire allows authors to skip the hassles of traditional publishing. The company started out as a publisher of digital books. With hundreds of published titles and more than 50 publishing partners, we have learned how to succeed and soar in the eBook market. In 2014, LitFire expanded its horizon by offering self-publishing. Today, we offer all the services you would expect from a traditional publishing house – from editorial to design to promotion. Our goal is to help independent authors and self-publishers bring their book production and marketing goals to fruition.
In other words, LitFire is one of those outfits that offers publishing packages, but makes much of its profit from hawking adjunct services such as marketing.

Cold-call solicitations, hard-sell sales tactics (writers report receiving repeated phone calls and emails), expensive publishing packages with silly names, absurdly overpriced "marketing" services: are you detecting more than a whiff of Author Solutions, the much-criticized self-publishing service conglomerate that owns AuthorHouse, iUniverse, Xlibris, and Trafford, among others?

In fact, at least three of LitFire's "consultants"--Portia Peterson, Tori Mesh, and Mark Advent--are or were employees of Author Solutions imprints. And LitFire's publishing agreement bears many similarities to an older AuthorHouse agreement (from 2012; the most recent agreement, which is much more complicated, was revised in 2014). Compare, for instance, AuthorHouse's Clause 18, Termination by Service Provider, to the last paragraph of LitFire's Clause 14, Refunds and Work Termination.

But there are reasons other than possible Author Solutions connections to be wary of this company.

- False or conflicting claims. Of the "hundreds of published titles" and "more than 50 publishing partners" claimed in LitFire's description of itself, there is no trace.

Eight books appear on Litfire's website, only one of which seems actually to have been published by LitFire. That one shows up on Amazon, along with just two others. A few more surface with a websearch (interestingly, these also show up--with different ISBNs--as having been published by Author Solutions imprints). All in all, that's seven titles. Total.

LitFire also appears to be confused about how long it's been in business. Its website claims a 2008 founding date, but its URL was only registered in June of this year. On the other hand, according to one of its email communications, it's been around for 8 years, which would push its founding date back to 2006.

- Illiterate written materials. Most of LitFire's website, while it won't win any prizes for business communication, doesn't read too badly. But the LitFire correspondence I've seen...yikes. For example, this email from "Senior Publishing and Marketing Consultant" Tori Mesh:


The most charitable thing I can say is that it reads as if it were written by someone for whom English is not a first language. Tori's resume includes a current or former stint at AuthorHouse UK; we do know that a big portion of Author Solutions business is outsourced to the Philippines, and that Philippine staff use American or British-sounding aliases, presumably to make it seem as if they actually work at AS headquarters in Bloomington, Indiana, but actually resulting in some very odd-sounding names. (See, for instance, this recent Author Solutions marketing pitch.)

Also check out this blog post on, er, craft, from Jill Bennett, LitFire's Book Marketing Specialist. Here's a sample:
When can one’s writing writhen out a reader’s metaphysical standpoint?

How about this: Somebody wrote a book saying that the laws the world is following today: spiritual, political, logical are but a rehash of the Primo genial world that the Primo genial human beings have cleaved to and everything everyone believed in that world turned out to be flawed and destructive, thereby the First Apocalypse. He doesn’t claim himself a Messiah or a prophet or whatnot but proves his evidences authentic, like the codex of that first world, every inch of it intact.
I did not make that up.

- Plagiarism. A solicitation email from "Senior Marketing and Publishing Consultant" Mark Advent (formerly of Trafford) is a peculiar mix of the kinds of ESL mistakes found in Tori Mesh's email and relatively fluent passages. There's a reason for this: Mark has borrowed the good bits from others, without bothering with attribution.


The red-boxed passage is from an article by marketing expert Penny C. Sansevieri (see the last paragraph). The blue-boxed passage has been filched from speaker and consultant Al Lautenslager.

Tsk, tsk.

So what is LitFire? Despite the many Author Solutions connections and similarities, I don't suspect that LitFire actually has anything to do with Author Solutions itself. AS is a big company, and it has no need to be coy about what it does. If LitFire were a new AS imprint, we'd know it. I think it's far more likely that LitFire is an Author Solutions clone, created by former or current AS workers in hopes of siphoning off a share of their employer's business.

Either way, one thing is clear. If you hear from LitFire, just say no.

5 comments to Solicitation Alert: LitFire Publishing

  • Dane Hays

    I was contacted by phone today by Mike Garcia from Litfire. He stated that a “reviewer had read an old manuscript I had published with Author House and the reviewer had forwarded comments to Litfire stating that the manuscript could be rewritten and turned into a good novel. I asked him to email information to me as I did not make quick decisions on the phone and that he could call me back later today. To me, it looks exactly like what Author House promised me in 2009, and failed so miserably. I don’t even acknowledge the resulting publication. As I normally do, I began to research Litfire and found this Alert and others. I am doubtful about discussing things any further with Litfire.

  • Victoria Strauss

    Hi, Kelsie,

    Sorry it’s taken me so long to reply to your comment.

    My own feeling is that you shouldn’t spend money on any of LitFire’s promotional offers. The “marketing” packages they offer are extremely costly, and involve either things you could do for yourself (or for less cash)–author websites, social media accounts, listings/giveaways on Goodreads and elsewhere, book reviews, business cards–or that are not effective book marketing methods–such as news releases and Combined Book Exhibit participation. They are easy and cheap for LitFire to provide–which means there’s a huge markup on the price they’re charging you. For instance, they charge nearly $1.900 for their Kirkus Review package–but you can buy a Kirkus review yourself for $425 (or $575 for the express service).

    I’d be interested to see whatever contract or agreement you signed with LitFire, if you’d be willing to share it with me (in confidence, of course). I’d also be very interested to know how they might have gotten your contact information (for instance, did you sign up at any websites, or use any of the “find a publisher” online services?). Please contact me–again, in confidence–at beware [at] sfwa.org. Thanks.

  • I hope I haven’t done a bad thing. I just self published my first book a western, CHAD’TU, with litFire publishing. It should be out by the end of November in paperback, hardcover, eBook and pod.
    I did get a phone call from KC Normans, out of the blue, probably because I had been on-line searching for a self-publishing Company. Alone with what they offered, their price seemed a bargain. So far … I have been satisfied with them. But they want me to put money into an promotional package. I have been putting them off for financial reasons. Do you think I have I done a bad thing going with this company?
    Sincerely, a fellow writer.
    Kelsie R. Gates

  • Please do check this out Benjie Aquino (http://www.linkedin.com/pub/benjie-aquino/a2/ba4/939), an employee of LitFire Publishing. Philippines? Lead Mining?

  • [...] Victoria Strauss Website: http://www.victoriastrauss.com/2014/11/07/solicitation-alert-litfire-publishing/ [...]

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