ALLi Watchdog Report: Motivational Press

Headshot of John Doppler

ALLi Watchdog and indie author John Doppler

In recent months, many authors have received email solicitations from Motivational Press inviting them to submit a manuscript for publication. Does the company live up to its own hype? Our Watchdog reporter John Doppler has been investigating and shares his findings here.



Motivational Press has been in business since 2007


Founded in 2007, Motivational Press is an assisted publisher targeting authors of business, motivational, religious, and self-help books. Promotional materials present the company as “one of the world’s leading mid-tier publishers.” The CEO and prime mover of Motivational Press is entrepreneur Justin Sachs.

The Hard Sell

The Motivational Press website declares that self-publishing is “a prescription for no sales, no credibility, and no success,” and that without a “high-end publisher to market and distribute your book, you are no longer considered to be a credible author.”

Professional authors currently enjoying success as independents would take exception to that dubious advice. And as we’ll see later in this report, MP’s interpretation of “credible” and “high-end” are slippery, at best.


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Sachs sums up the company’s offerings in a 2014 interview: “Packaged, published, distributed, marketed, promoted; all the core components they will need are all taken care of for them.” MP will even write your book for you, according to Sachs’ LinkedIn profile.

The company doesn’t provide a list of services they will offer, and does not disclose pricing or terms online. Features they have advertised elsewhere include:

  • cutting edge publishing and distribution services
  • international distribution in print, electronic, and audio formats
  • massive industry promotions to independent bookstores, libraries, book reviewers, and awards
  • immediate placement in 50 brick-and-mortar stores throughout the world
  • corporate sales opportunities
  • cover design
  • an in-house PR firm
  • expert interviews
  • promotional and marketing support and guidance
  • billing and accounts payable support

Note how some of these features closely parallel Amazon’s Expanded Distribution options. It’s not uncommon for assisted publishers to repackage KDP or Createspace services (sometimes with a tremendous markup). In a response to a complaint filed with the Better Business Bureau, the company explains that “Motivational Press distributes our titles through [redacted], the largest distributor in the world.” (Although the distributor’s name has been redacted by the consumer watchdog charity that published the complaint, it most likely rhymes with “ham is on”.)

The same complaint alleges that MP charged $1,802.00 for a “Publishing and Distribution Package” that included “promotional opportunities” that never materialized. The complainant also accuses MP of not paying royalties due, despite seven requests for a formal accounting and the company’s eventual admission that payment was due. Motivational Press denied that their marketing opportunities were inadequate, but did not refute the accounting issues.

Redefining “Best Sellers”

Many of the books promoted by MP are identified as best sellers. This, presumably, is part of the credibility they speak of in their sales pitch.

But not all best seller lists are equal. There’s a huge difference in the effort needed to reach the top of Amazon’s Top 100 Paid rankings as opposed to briefly topping a niche category. As Sachs said in his 2014 interview: “There’s no such thing as an overnight true best seller. I’m not talking about an Amazon best seller campaign, because we know you can do that and in 24 hours be a best seller. I’m talking about a real best seller that’s selling millions of copies. It doesn’t happen overnight.”

So which kind of best seller does Motivational Press specialize in?

One author inadvertently answered that question in her blog. “Our goal was to have our title be a best-seller in its category by the end of the day,” she wrote. “And guess what? It climbed the charts and we reached our goal by end of day! How cool is that?”

It seems Motivational Press titles are “best sellers” only in niche categories on Amazon. I could find no evidence of the company’s books securing a slot on any major best seller list.

Even within the Amazon ecosystem, Motivational Press books seem to fare poorly. Of their 200 most recent titles, few hold Amazon sales rankings better than 1,000,000. The CEO’s own books published through MP fall primarily into the 1,000,000–2,000,000 range on Kindle sales rank and under the 6,000,000th rank in print sales.

Only one of Sachs’ books published through Motivational Press had gathered more than ten reviews. Most had zero. That’s not a glowing endorsement of the company’s marketing abilities.

In counterpoint, MP customers often praise Sachs by name in their books’ acknowledgments, citing Sachs’ moral support and the ease of working with MP’s staff. That’s encouraging, but only tells part of the story. These acknowledgments were written before the book was published and before the cost-effectiveness of MP’s services could be determined.

Significantly, few authors have gone on to publish a second book through Motivational Press.


There are predictable hallmarks of a predatory publisher. Money flows the wrong way, from the author to the publisher. Services offered are vague, or prices are not disclosed up front. High-pressure sales tactics are employed. Accountability and transparency are lacking. Promises are not fulfilled to the client’s satisfaction.

In this Watchdog’s opinion, the allegations made in the BBB complaint warrant caution. If true, they meet nearly all the criteria of a predatory publisher. However, even if those accusations are proven false, the lackluster performance and near-invisibility of MP’s promoted titles suggest marketing services that are ineffective at best, and which ultimately funnel money away from the author.

If the sales rank and visibility of Motivational Press titles are indicative of the “sales, credibility, and success” the company offers, authors are better off self-publishing.

Have you worked with Motivational Press? Please share your experiences in the comments below.

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8 Responses to ALLi Watchdog Report: Motivational Press

  1. P. J. Booker April 25, 2016 at 8:43 pm #

    I received an unsolicited e-mail from MP, saying that as an “emerging thought-leader” that they want to consider me for a publishing deal. I was invited to join a 10-week Write Your Book course that was limited to only 25 people.

    As flattered as I am to be considered a thought-leader (tongue firmly planted in cheek!), I am not an author and not currently looking to write a book. I am a newly minted coach, and that was the hook. Their pitch was that a book could help grow my coaching business.

    I admit to being interested in writing a book at some point; however something about this e-mail didn’t feel quite right, so I decided to do some research which led me to John’s post. I’m glad that I did.

    Thank you, John for the insight.

  2. Leslie A. Paramore April 7, 2016 at 4:52 pm #

    John…. Hi I came across your article while doing research on Motivational Press. I am a motivational author, meditation recording artist, teacher./speaker, among other things. I have been a motivational author for over 25 years, never have had an agent and have never paid any publisher to publish my works. I have over 70 children’s book published in Korea for their educational system, over 150 motivational greeting cards published, various works in anthologies, a middle grade novel and an inspirational book for women. I stumbled across motivational press, seeking a publisher for my new self-help book, “A DREAM-MAKER’S JOURNAL From Dreams To Reality.” They contacted me after I submitted an online form. I had a telephone interview with Justin which went well and he said he would get back to me after looking at my manuscript. Less than 24 hours later he contacted me and said that they would like to move forward with my book at the fee of $3000! However tempting this may seem to have my book brought forth into publication, I felt uneasy about it. Again I have NEVER PAID to have my work published. For someone looking to self publish, it could be an option. I am holding out for the RIGHT publisher. Keep your fingers crossed. Please feel free to contact me.

  3. Bibi Shane March 3, 2016 at 8:36 pm #

    Thank you, John Doppler, for keeping a clear approach to the ‘creative agents’ fishing for naïve – perhaps also innocent – minds not only of writers aiming to become authors.

    I admit that my personal experience as a would be self-publisher has veered me from trust to scepticism. Having lost 3 years – forget about the money – to promises, I now intend to begin again by trusting myself.

    So, yes, John Doppler, all credit to you for keeping our minds concentrated on not, without research m accepting offers of service from what could appear credible publishers of indie authors.

  4. Gloria Antypowich March 3, 2016 at 6:04 pm #

    Another group that I would like Alli’s Watchdog check out is ParaDon Book publishing and their associate Indie Writer Support (IWS)

    • John Doppler March 3, 2016 at 8:36 pm #

      They’re on our radar, Gloria, and an expose is in the works! ParaDon’s founder is the same individual behind, and he operates under a number of aliases and phony identities.

      He currently has two warrants out for his arrest.

  5. Jon Faust March 3, 2016 at 5:25 pm #

    Most of the boutique presses are a scam and this is just another scam. But will they go to jail or be beheaded, no they will be left to scam the unfortunate!

  6. Raymond Cook March 3, 2016 at 5:09 pm #

    Independent authors will always be targeted by the unscrupulous because they know we want to see us be successful.



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