Exploring the Unknown

Exploring the Unknown
Representing the 99%!

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Self-Publishing With LAP Lambert Academic Publishing

When I was first approached by LAP Lambert Academic Publishing back in February 2014 I was rather surprised. My MPhil dissertation in Sociology had been collecting dust in the depths of University College Cork's library since I graduated in 2006 and was most likely never to be read by human eyes ever again. Unlike most, my thesis is not accessible online. It is under UCC's Library Special Collections on Request and is restricted to Library Use Only. So I was rather curious as to how or why Mr. Dmitrii Ghimisli, an Acquisition Editor for LAP, could have even come across my work. Of course, thanks to Google, it didn't take long to find out that LAP itself has a reputation for being a book-mill. After some polite correspondence between Mr. Ghimisli and myself I soon retreated and gave the topic little thought. That is, until I came upon Mr. Joseph Stromberg's article "I Sold My Undergraduate Thesis to a Print Content Farm: A trip through the shadowy, surreal world of an academic book mill." Stromberg's article got me thinking. I began to consider publishing with LAP again. Why, you may ask? Good question! The fact is I have been extremely fortunate in the past and have been published through two other book publishers including Trickster Press, and more notably, Gill & MacMillan. The similarities between LAP and Gill & MacMillan in particular got me wondering about how different they are really, if at all?


LAP Doesn't Pretend to be Anything Other Than What It Is!
Mr. Ghimisli had gotten my name and title of thesis correct after all. After some deliberation I decided to bite the bullet and send my dissertation into LAP for review in May 2014. I hadn't heard from LAP since my last correspondence. Which, in itself made me question how aggressive LAP actually is in acquiring new bodies of work for publication. Normally, companies looking to rip folks off would be hounding you until you either gave in or you decided to move to another country. Maybe my work wasn't worthy of hounding? Maybe Dimitrii was just really bored and came across my work by accident and figured, what the hell? Who knows what goes on in the mind of an Acquisition Editor, least of all one from Lambert Academic Publishing. However, as Stromberg points out, they are upfront from the beginning of what they are and how you may profit from it. No guarantee is given or implied. Just tips on how to promote your book.

Ms. Irini Rusu?
Photo © LAP 
As Stromberg said they would, I received a response the very next day. Only it wasn't from Mr. Ghimisli but instead, it was from Ms. Irina Rusu, my new Acquisition Editor. I never bothered to ask what happened to Dimitrii and Ms. Rusu never bothered to tell me. Neither of us felt it mattered, though I did find myself wondering why she had been reading his emails. Twenty-four hours later I received the same email that Stromberg received: "Thank you for your patience. We assessed your work with great pleasure and confirm our interest in publishing it." - LAP And so my journey began into the already chartered territory of the not so murky waters of a bonefied book mill.


The Facts of LAP Part 1: LAP Publishes Readily Available Dissertations that are FREE from their Respective Universities or Online. 


Stromberg's article outlines the step by step process of publishing with LAP. I felt it would be more helpful to compare and contrast the experience I had with other publishers, not least of all because so many people feel duped after publishing with LAP and I am not sure why exactly. Lambert Academic Publishing doesn't even attempt to hide that it has basic email templates ready to be sent like spam to as many people as possible.

You Get To Partially Design Your Own Cover!
Although you do get some creative input into your book cover, it is important to note that it is limited to the cover page picture, book title and sub-title and a short blurb on the rear of the book along with a tiny bio. You can put a picture on the back of your book too if you like but unfortunately I didn't have a pipe handy or the money to procure one in a timely manner so I opted for being mysterious.

Lands of The Lakota
Photo © Joseph Stromberg
According to Stromberg, "LAP Lambert’s real plan finally became clear: They make money not by selling arcane tomes to readers, but by selling the books back to their authors after they’ve already signed away the rights. The company isn’t technically a vanity press, because it doesn’t charge authors publishing fees, but its model is essentially the same." Whilst it is true, like he I did receive an email asking me to purchase copies of my own book which would later lower the actual selling price of my work I didn't have the same experience. When I received the email from Ms. Rusu, I responded immediately informing her that I simply didn't have the funds to purchase two thousand copies of my book, even if it meant lowering the selling price to 37.00 Euros to future customers. The fact was, I didn't have the money to even purchase one copy and discretely asked instead how I was to go about downloading my FREE electronic copy of my published book, or e-book if you will. Within two days I received a response. Although she kindly did not mention my financial situation she did gave me step by step instructions on how to actually download a copy. Unlike Stromberg, who received multiple emails, that was the last time I had been approached to purchase any books. All that was asked of me was to register with MoreBooks.de, the website where I would have purchased my numerous copies had I chosen too.

Photo © Wikipedia
Another complaint I have seen via many of the forum comments on various websites is that LAP is evil because it publishes readily available dissertations that are free from their respective universities or online. Unless you refused to submit your MPhil or PhD dissertation for academic review in order to complete your degree, this is actually true of any university and academic publishing house! Very few people even consider having their dissertations published and those who do inevitably have a free copy lurking about in their university library. It may or may not be online. However, you can rest assured that your university librarian isn't feverishly trying to get your work out there into the world! Another point of contention for folks is that LAP does publish online material produced via Wikipedia in one comprehensive book. LAP not only admits to doing this but clearly state on said publications: "Please note that the content of this book primarily consists of articles available from Wikipedia or other free sources online." (Morebooks.de) Their logic? Save time and get everything in one concise, comprehensive albeit expensive package! This shouldn't surprise people given we live in a technological age that has given rise to "gimme gimme gimme" fanatics who don't want to spend the time and trouble to do the work for themselves.


The Facts of LAP Part 2: If You Want Something Done Right, Do It Yourself!


Take Responsibility for Your Own Work!
Photo © CreativeStoryTellers.eu
Many people, surprisingly authors, have complained that the books published by LAP is not proofread properly prior to publication. As Stromberg states himself "For kicks, I’d buried an errant phrase deep in the middle, partly to see if LAP Lambert’s editors ever actually read the thing. When I got to Page 86, I was gratified to find that they hadn’t noticed it. Right there on the middle of the page, amid talk of Oglala Lakota politics and tribal sovereignty was my insertion.  “Is any proofreader actually reading this book before it gets printed?” I’d asked. “Didn’t think so.” (2014: 3) The problem is that LAP Academic Publisher doesn't claim to review your work in any way other than to ensure that it meets the basic requirements for their printing company.

Lazy LAP or Lazy Authors?
Photo © Columbia Pictures 
LAP Academic Publishing's logic regarding editing is simple. If it was good enough for a University, it is good enough for us! Truthfully, the amount of errors being found in people's work is telling of the standards set forth not only by individual authors but equally of the universities whom accepted the dissertation in the first place.  Even then, there is only so much that should be expected of  the university as well. After all, universities are not publishing houses. I have had many a student who have asked me for feedback and upon receiving said feedback STILL submitted a copy of their work with the very same errors in it. So who is to blame here really? There are plenty of excuses as to why we miss mistakes in our work and admittedly, even mine had some issues despite my best efforts in avoiding unnecessary mistakes.

Is Publishing With
Gill & MacMillan Any Better?
Should LAP take responsibility? Naturally. After all, it's their company's name on the book. However, more and more publishing companies are leaving the responsibility of completely editing their work to the authors themselves. Gill & MacMillan is one such academic publishing house. Located in Dublin, Ireland, they specialize in both academic and non academic work. When my wife, Jennifer, and I were approached by my colleague, Denise Lyons, to write two distinct chapters for Creative Studies for the Caring Profession, I remember being surprised that she was also in charge of editing the entirety of the book on her own. Of course, every author was responsible for their own chapters but essentially, it was Denise who deserves the credit for ensuring that each and every single chapter was up to snuff for publication. Gill & MacMillan simply provided her with stringent guidelines on what to do and when to get it done. The same could be said for Trickster Press. It was Dr. Louise Gauthier who not only came up with the idea of going against the norm and publishing student work in Stories From Montreal: Ethnographic Accounts of Life in North Americas Francophone Metropolis, but as well who created a panel of students to review and edit students work suitable for publication. Thus, the moral of the story is if you want something done right, do it yourself!


The Facts of LAP Part 3: Show Me The Money….pretty please!?


pretty please….
Looking to make a quick buck? Look harder! If there is anyone out there who is in fact making money from academic publishing could you please share with us your secret? Lap Academic Publishing claims that you need to sell over 50.00 Euros a month in book sales in order to claim royalties. At the end of twelve consecutive months if you achieved this goal than you will receive a cheque. My book is presently available via Barnes & NobleAmazon and MoreBooks.de for the princely sum of $75.00 (USD), $81.73 (CAD), 55.90 Euros respectively. With prices like that I can see why so many people are raging on forums complaining that after so many years they still haven't seen one cheque from LAP. This is likely where the "vanity" in vanity press comes into play. Just because you wrote it, doesn't mean that people will buy it … or read it! Least of all for those extortionate prices!

I suppose I should apologize to my potential readers for not having purchased two thousand copies after all. I do agree with people who claim that LAP should release information about individual authors book sales but lets be honest with ourselves. There are seven billion people in the world and amongst them there are likely maybe only three, or four people (including your mother) who would actually want to buy an academic dissertation for those prices, and only because its yours. A growing trend amongst academics is to write their own textbooks and have their students purchase them. LAP actually provides you with an easy way of doing so and conceivably you could have purchased many copies yourself at a reduced price and have your students purchase them directly from you. Personally, I just uploaded my FREE e-book version onto Lea, the Omnivox Classroom and have students read a chapter or two every now and then when the mood strikes me. Like me, they're poor. Both my previous publications with either Gill & MacMillan or Trickster Press have made me a total sum of.... wait for it.... $0.00 CAD. That is in any currency in case you were wondering, so don't try converting it. This is academic publishing after all, right? I digress.


The Facts of LAP Part 4: To Publish Or Not To Publish?


Is LAP Academic Publishing Evil?
I have been writing for years and have made very little money from doing so. Yes, I am probably just that bad. No, I don't suspect my writing will ever improve. Ironically, part of my job is to help students learn how to write despite the fact that I am not an English professor but instead, a humanities professor of all things. However, is LAP Academic Publishing the sneaky underhanded book mill that so many claim? No, it is not. LAP is the over confident we're in the business of making money for ourselves and don't give a scat if you ever see a dime book mill that is upfront about it from the start. Should companies compensate authors properly? Can I Get A Hell Yeah!Throughout  history I'm sure authors such as Jane Austen felt the same way. 

Brendan Behan
Apparently many universities are actually discouraging students from publishing their dissertations with Lambert Academic Publishing. This is despite the fact that in some countries, getting published by a recognized publishing house is apparently a university requirement for graduates. Thus, LAP serves a purpose despite the fact that Stromberg himself hints that it will most likely not improve your academic standing amongst your colleagues. Which brings us to the question, why bother? I can equally ask why not?! As it stands, until I received Mr. Ghimisli's email, I hadn't even given my academic dissertation much thought over the years. Though, I had had two chapters published in two separate editions of the itb journal, which, subsequently you can read for free! (And no, I made no money from that too!) As the Amazon vs Hachette dispute illustrates, the world of publishing is changing. With it comes new opportunities as well as, admittedly, dangers for budding authors. As Brendan Behan once said "There is no such thing as bad publicity except your own obituary." In the world of academic publishing, truer words may have never been spoken.

Update - Two Years Later!


It has been two years since I decided to publish my thesis with LAP Lambert Academic Publishing. In that time I have received approximately ZERO (0) royalties for my work. The latter should not be surprising to anyone and confirms what many people have stated about this publishing company. In fairness, it isn't because the book itself is not widely available. On the contrary, copies of my book can be purchased on all manners of websites now including eBay! I am not disappointed as I trust that I have made my reasons for publishing my work with this company abundantly clear (see above). In the end, however, I do enjoy the fact that I have a PDF copy of my book which I have taken the liberty of making it available here for your perusal.



Should you have any questions regarding this publication or any other of my publications, do not hesitate to contact me at your earliest convenience. In the meantime, think of my published thesis as that proverbial door stop that is keeping the cyber door from completely closing on future opportunities where publishing can be, amongst many things, profitable(ish) - as in, you might be able to buy your wife and children a hot dog or two on a bright sunny day, preferrably within walking distance from home; after all, petrol is expensive.

1 comment:

  1. Mario r. j. Corbin,
    Miracles are happening again this Christmas.
    Get 1 FREE copy for every purchased book!

    Here's the link to your book on our shop:
    https://www.morebooks.de/gb/p_9783659545368

    All you have to do is to redeem this voucher code at Checkout: xmas-2016

    Don't miss it! Our offer ends on the 31st December 2016!

    You got questions? Your editor Irina Rusu () will be glad to assist you.

    We wish you a happy festive season!

    Lambert Academic Publishing

    ReplyDelete