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PAPERBACK WRITE-OFF; Authors left out of pocket by vanity publishers.

Byline: Penman ; Sommerlad

HOPING to find a publisher for his novel, David Thompson was tempted by the deal offered by "publishing consultants" Pink Cloud Limited.

It would charge him PS27.50 a month, which was refundable after a year if it failed to get a publisher for The Cipher.

David agreed on the condition that he would not accept an offer from a vanity publisher that demanded extra money.

After what he calls "encouraging noises followed by long silences", the 12 months were almost up when he got an offer from Pearl Press, which wanted PS4,000 to print his book.

It just so happens that the director of Pearl Press Jis Julia Rhiain Phillips, who has shared the same address as the director of Pink Cloud, John Anthony Phillips.

disgust "It's clear how the scam worked," said furious David, of Stokenchurch, Bucks.

"Collect the monthly consultancy fee, wait 12 months, then produce out of the hat an offer of publishing which could have been made on day one.

"Either the victim will fall for it and shell out more money, or they will cut their losses in disgust, thus contributing PS330 by default."

After three months of "acrimonious wrangling", David got his money back, but Brenda Wade, of Redditch, Worcs, was not so lucky.

She too paid Pink Cloud PS27.50 a month to find a publisher for her crime comedy "The Case, The Cash, The Crooks - and Henry" and at the end of the year was also referred to Pearl Press.

She paid another PS4,000 and managed to sell a few copies before being told that Pearl Press would cease trading. "All I have for my efforts and outlay is a small box of books," said Brenda. John Owen, of Bexhill, East Sussex, paid Pearl PS4,000 to publish his crime thriller Australian Connection and has received royalties of just 5p.

And fellow author Dr Marta Elian paid half her PS4,000 publishing fee but says she refused to hand over any more because her book on bringing up twins was full of mistakes. We asked Julia Phillips, 33, to comment, but she accused us of "the worst kind of journalism" and shut the door at her home in Low Etherley, County Durham.

So we asked 63-year-old John Phillips from Pink Cloud if his company only ever referred authors to Julia Phillips's outfit.

Yet despite being the sole director of Pink Cloud, he said he did not have this information because it was "a semi-dormant company in which I had no day-to-day involvement".

He has now moved into ebooks, with Pink Cloud trading as KDP Books through the website

"Do you want to know how you can publish your book so that it is available to more than 10 million readers worldwide - and make a handsome profit into the bargain?" tempts the site, which offers to publish your book for PS970.

This venture, says Mr Phillips, has "an unblemished reputation with a 98% satisfaction rate among its authors".

And we couldn't help noticing that his site boasts: "We are real people, not an anonymous company or fraudsters hiding behind a website."

Then why does he use the name John Anthony on the site? A cynic might suggest this is so that someone coming across it might not discover that it's being run by the same John Phillips who we exposed a decade ago after his vanity publishing firm Pentland Press crashed, shattering the dreams of hopeful authors and leaving 1,000 creditors in its wake. "A cynic might use that interpretation," said Mr Phillips, who added: "Actually, most authors with whom I now deal interpret it as being two forenames used in an informal way."

Just so you know, his KDP Books outfit is not connected to Kindle Direct Publishing, the official site owned by Amazon which can be found at https://

10 All I have to show for my efforts and PS4,000 outlay is a small box of books


FORM Our Pentland Press expose

PRESSURE Press's Julia Phillips gets all riled

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Title Annotation:Business
Publication:The Mirror (London, England)
Date:Nov 8, 2012
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