Author SolutionsWriter and self publishing guru David Gaughran has long been a scourge of Author Solutions and other players in the assisted self-publishing space whose terms, he insists, amount to little more than an updated version of vanity press.

Scourge hardly does justice to his relentless pursuit of the platform. And he just Tweeted a fascinating record of an exchange, relayed by marketing savant Emily Suess, between an anonymous author and an Author Solutions staffer, one Eric Emlinger, Publishing Consultant, who dismissed its critics as “websites that are being sued for racketeering.”

Emlinger originally contacted the author through iUniverse, another Author Solutions brand. When challenged on the connection, he said the company’s critics were “essentially hiring people to write bad reviews about big companies. I don’t expect you to believe me, all I can tell you is the facts.”

Well of course Emily might be making it up. She doesn’t look like my idea of a racketeer, but then again, who knows? Then again again, unless she’s an Illuminati fronter, she also doesn’t look deep-pocketed enough to pay people to write bad things about big companies. (Boy, I wish someone would pay me to do that…)

But the one truly awful, inescapable, undeniable fact is the one at the end of Emlinger’s email:Author Solutions

“Author Solutions, the parent company of iUniverse, is a Penguin Random House Company.”

Yes, the world’s new number one publishing conglomerate owns such an outfit, that is capable of addressing its critics in such terms. That might be the one take-away you really need to know about Big Publishing.