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ALLi Watchdog Report: Motivational Press

ALLi Watchdog Report: Motivational Press

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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.

 

MPLogo

Motivational Press has been in business since 2007

Background

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.

Instabook

Photo credit: Dreamstime.com

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.

Conclusion

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.

John Doppler

From the sunny California beaches where he washed ashore in 2008, John Doppler scrawls tales of science fiction, urban fantasy, and horror -- and investigates self-publishing services as the Alliance of Independent Authors's Watchdog. John relishes helping authors turn new opportunities into their bread and butter and offers terrific resources for indie authors at Words on Words. He shares his lifelong passion for all things weird and wonderful on The John Doppler Effect.

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This Post Has 42 Comments
  1. I engaged Motivational Press in summer, 2017. After a year working with Justin Sachs I learned (1) he doesn’t do anything. He really doesn’t do anything. (2) He makes promises to take your money, then doesn’t do anything (3) If he gets your credit card he will falsely charge your credit card. If you complain he refuses to return the money. You have to involve the credit card company and accuse him of filing fake charges to get them removed. (4) he advice is either non-existent, or of no value – he really has no idea how to help anyone be successful. (5) Justin Sachs is a fraud. And so is Motivational Press. It cost me $15,000 to learn this – don’t be the sucker I was

    1. ADAM TONY ISNT SORRY FOR ANYTHING ! he is only interested in covering for conman friend Justin ..btw …warning ! just because they have a new owner ..who is helping conman justin hide and wont remove ..my old book from thier site and amazon after he agreed about justin sachs and motivation mess dont ever buy my relentless life …bad copy edited wrong misspelled stolen work and book , stolen money bad promotion too, and they also sent me the bs excel generic spread sheet iwant to see ingrams global sale and amazon info…look out for shill new owner tony ferraro…watch out for janet carson and mark stephenson ,scam scam scamers ! andre alexsen and my new book i am getting paid it for myself now usarelentless.com “usa relentless” by andre alexsen ..remove me from all your sites and cease and dissist from selling my book and passing on right to new conmen tony ferraro and motivational mess ! I HAVE ASKED LIAR TONY FERRARO TO REMOVE ALL MY IN FROM AMAZON AND MOTIVATION MESS …THEY REFUSE WHY SO THEY CAN KEEP STEALING MONEY AND GETTING GOOGLE FOOT TRAFFIC …THEY WILL GO UNDER SOON…GOD WRATH WILL CATCH UP WITH THESE CONMEN CRIMINALS….AND ALEXSEN AUTHRO OF NEW BOOK USA RELENTLESS ! WE ALL NEED TO GET TOGETHER SUE THEM AND PUT THEM UNDER !

  2. I attended Lisa Nichol’s conference in 2015 and signed up with Motivational Press. I was promised among other things, an editor and help with marketing. I paid $6,000.

    My first problem was the editor. They did a terrible job. I had to pay for Grammarly and there are still so many errors in my book.

    Second, the only marketing assistance I received was contact information for a few obscure radio shows and podcasts.

    Finally, my book was released in February and I do not have a paycheck yet. According to Amazon I’ve sold a measly 73 but I still expect to be paid!

    Lisa’s message is to empower women. All her company did for me was leave me with massive credit card debt.

  3. Yes, I too received a note from Justin Sachs. He seemed to know exactly what to say to get me on-board. My book is a self-help book for motorcycle road racers, a sport that draws 10x the attention overseas. When I received his call, he said that he knew this and would get my book out in these other countries in other languages where it would fair much better… a promise he never kept. And despite talk about the purchase of my book by many on social media, I never received any royalty checks! Same as other predatory publishers! My book sells well at racing events, so I recently called on MP for another order. Justin’s first email said I could purchase my books at a price of $7.80 (a ripoff at best). Then a week later, when I was ready to place the order, he told me my price was 50% off retail of $19.95!!! That’s $8.98 plus $1 per book shipping!!! This is the second publisher I’ve had… neither of which did what they promised. As many other authors have told me, you’re better off self-publishing, because publishers never keep their promises. And frankly, Justin Sachs is flat out dishonest!

  4. To anyone considering this “publisher” DO NOT SIGN WITH THEM! Lost money and wasted time thinking they would do what they promised. To my questions they said a lot of words but NEVER answered my questions. No information about sales. No information about anything. STAY AWAY from this “publisher” No matter how badly you want to get your manuscript published, DO NOT sign with them.

    They may have an a+ rating with BBB, but do your homework with this company before signing, otherwise YOU WILL REGRET IT.

  5. Hi guys, was doing some research on motivational press and just an FYI, now they have a BBB account and they have an A+ rating. They’re also marketing as a traditional publisher.

  6. Thank you, John Doppler, you’re doing a great job! I am a self-publishing poet. 3 years ago I published my first poetry book with Archway Publishing company for $2000…big money for me. Not a very good experience – I’m a poet, but not a salesman. Now I’m looking for a publishing company – I have manuscript for the second poetry book. But I don’t have money for it. And today I’ve got email from MP. My first feeling was joy, but then I started looking for reviews about this company. I already got the same experience with Austin Macauley Editors USA. Thank you again! Have a nice day!

  7. Every once in awhile I get an email from Justin Sachs, or whoever actually is working for him, with the same BS line. First, it’s unsolicited, second, it feels like a con job. He’s tried it again today.

  8. I am a first time author with MP, and the only thing I will say about this article is that it did not go far enough. Everything about this experience has been awful. The communication is also awful. I have to email and call an average of 10 times before getting a response about anything, and then the owner makes up excuses as to why he cannot give answers. His favorite stock answer, “I’ll look into it and get back to you.”
    I have spoken with several authors who are also with this company and we are all baffled at how they are still in business after how much they lie ti the authors and mislead them. Not a shred of marketing or promotion has been done in the 90 days that were promised. Absolutely NO EFFORT has been made on their part to give publicity to me as an author or my book. I am still not listed in their catalog 3 quarters later. I am still waiting nearly 3 months later for the e book to be published. The person who edited my book was so bad, they actually created MORE errors that were not originally there. The grammar was atrocious. I ended up hiring my own editor for $3k because they would not finish the job they promised they would do unless I paid them an additional fee. It took months for them to complete the book cover because they simply forgot to follow up with me. Then they created MORE ERRORS in the formatting of the book and they published it this way! They didn’t care to check all the words that had random “-” in the middle of syllables— this is even listed on the back cover and on all the distribution sites.
    Three quarters later, I never got a print out as to the number of books that were sold. Finally they got back to me after I made a lot of noise, but then they kept making excuses why they can’t pay me, and no matter how much I ask, they will not provide evidence or documents to back up why I am constantly earning less than the minimum amount. (the emails say I have to earn $50 but the contract says $30… again, they refuse to address this.) Another friend of mine who is an author told me they have yet to see a royalty check more than 2 years later.
    Working with MP is one of the worst decisions I have ever made. I see them for what they are now— a scam. And I know for a fact that I am not the only one who feels this way.

    1. Hello Anonymous, I had virtually an identical experience with Motivational Press. Can only suggest that NO ONE ever deal with them.

      The unprofessional, callous and just petty way that I was treated has left a very bad taste and I can only hope I can stop another author from entrusting their manuscript with this “publisher.”

      I can honestly say it would be better not to be published than allow, “publishers” like Motivational Press to prey on hard working authors.

  9. Thanks so much for this report, although I wish I’d read it before I signed with True-North, the fiction arm of Motivational Press. I did not pay for Justin to publish my work, and the contract seemed ok. Now I know better. I worked as hard as I could with zero help from TN and managed to sell some books (I think here in Australia it’s as tough as anywhere else), but no royalties have ever come my way. Although it’s sci-fy, my book was listed as a crime thriller on Amazon, and on Booktopia it’s priced at well over recommended retail. All I want is my book back. Despite an Australian lawyer having declared the contract rescinded, Mr Sachs will not return the rights to me and has now asked for money if I want it back. Isn’t that extortion – or something? I feel like such a fool, and where to now? His contemptuous response to legal letters is disheartening to say the least!

  10. I received an unsolicited email from MP offering to publish my book. I write paranormal and erotic romance. Obviously someone didn’t do their homework when looking for authors to scam. I also read through the comments from the “happy” MP clients above and chose one to research who claims to have been on the Oprah show. I found zero evidence of that being true and despite a couple of them claiming to have published traditionally first, I couldn’t find evidence of that either. I suspect MP chooses a few authors to baby and or straight out pay to give them good PR. Overall, this is definitely a publisher I would steer clear from. I’ve had three different small presses close while I was contracted with them, and I know some of the obvious signs to look out for now.

  11. Thank you for posting this article. In 2015 I was hired by Motivational Press as an editor, and was absolutely horrified by the inside workings of this company. I was just starting out in the publishing industry, and admittedly I was fooled by their claims of prestige and success and did not do nearly enough research on the company as I should have before accepting my position. Their advertising is extremely misleading. I was assigned to edit one book that had already been published and was being advertised as a best seller. The quality of the book was atrocious, no where close to publishing standards, with dozens of mistakes on every page and writing that one would find in a middle school classroom (if that). It was obvious that the book had not truly been edited the first time around before publication, and the “5-star reviews” it had on Amazon were clearly all written by friends and family of the author. Furthermore, and what led me to quit very soon after starting, was the fact that they were only willing to pay me a fixed price of fifty dollars per book, no matter what the word count was or how extensive the editing it required. I was appalled when the owner sent me a five hundred page manuscript that was a complete mess and unworthy of publication no matter how much it was edited. This company is a disgrace to the publishing industry and the reason why both writers and editors need to be wary when looking for quality publishers. I learned my lesson.

  12. I got an email from them and responded. Then they sent me a sample agreement because I was skeptical. The agreement said they’d publish the book publicize it, etc. at no cost to me. I was still skeptical so they scheduled a call with the CEO you name in your post. We had a nice talk. We discussed topics and he asked me to provide an outline. I did and sent it a couple weeks ago. No response. After reading your post I’m even more skeptical. Thoughts?

  13. I just received an email from Motivational Press inviting me to join a course they were running for only 25 people, as they considered me a ‘thought leader’ and wished to publish my book… LOL! I write YA, not life coaching!

    Interestingly, the course runs for 10 weeks, and started on July 12th, and they sent the email to me today, September 30th 2016… a tad late, perhaps? Not only this, but considering they believe me such a leader in the field, they didn’t seem to know my name… there was no name on the email.

    I think I’ve just been spammed. And if you get an email like this and take them up on it, then you’ve been conned. I’d advise everyone to steer well clear.

  14. Hello John,

    Thanks for writing this article. It does help that writers are educated in the SCAMS conducted by scrupulous and relentless predatory publishers. My only concern about your article is that it doesn’t go far enough to identify the good publishers out there.

    Now perhaps you might say that you’re not in to giving endorsements but by your article you just did. You endorsed (meaning supported and recommended), that MP is a snow-job. Well where’s the sunshine? Who can we trust?

    1. Hello John,

      Here’s an interesting fact check I just conducted. I reviewed the MP website and discovered that they use the BBB logo and claim to be an Accredited A+ business.

      Well not according to the BBB. Not only is MP not an accredited business of the BBB, they NEVER have been.

      So to all writers on this thread and those that will read this in the future, if a business would hold themselves out as trustworthy by using a logo without permission that is supposed to signify trustworthiness, then it is clear that they will not be upfront with you about your project and that trust is not something that they’re big on EARNING.

      Don’t worry John, after calling the BBB which will be contacting MP soon I’m sure, they may remove the logo and might even declare that they never used such a logo when confronted in the future, but I’ve saved a screenshot for you Mark Stevenson (the VP that sent me an unsolicited email).

      They also claim to be members of the Forbes Coaches Council. I’m sure that’s a farce as well.

      Write on!

  15. John,

    Thanks so much for this blog post. I was very surprised when I received an email from Motivational Press over the weekend, and then when I read that they wanted to publish one of my books, I thought, But how do they even know I’m trying to publish a book? I had not submitted any type of book proposal to them and yet they were inviting me to publish with them.

    I run a book production services company and I have assisted nearly 100 authors with publishing-related tasks. We don’t dabble in marketing books and such because it can be such a slippery slope (kudos for addressing the top-sellers in a specific category, by the way!). But we do aim to publish the best books possible. We make the client aware of all fees upfront and don’t make any promises where “bestseller lists” are concerned, although we have had a few success stories. Our approach is to make each book as professional as possible (like any book you’d find in a bookstore), and then let the author or his or her representative handle the marketing and promotion (though we do offer some pointers).

    As someone who works in the industry, this is certainly an affront to the hard-working professionals who aim to assist authors, who are often extremely vulnerable to scams and empty promises. Your report highlights the ways in which Motivational Press errs on the side of “predatory publishers,” and I hope that your readers will think twice before publishing with them. I look forward to reading more of your posts soon!

    Thomas Hill
    Lampas Books

  16. Thanks for this, John. They have aent me an offer similar to Lealie’s and it sounded too good to be true. I realize now that there is a catch. I have published 5 books of fiction and poetry and have never had to pay anyone for the publishing. I would not like to do this now.
    Your facts and the follow-up comments have been an eye- opener.
    Thank you for your good work.

  17. Hi John –

    I’ve had two books published by Motivational Press in a purely traditional manner, and I have to say they have been terrific. They worked with me thru the editing process for months to get the manuscript just right and then they printed lovely books. I was never asked for a penny. I find some of these assertions here EXTREMELY dubious. If I have had one reservation about MP, its that they are lacking in the marketing end. For my first book, they set up literally dozens of radio and blogger interviews that had terrific impact on my book sales. My second book didn’t get the same kind of “hands on” attention as the first, but it was a novel and not a self-improvement genre book. I have had another novel published by another traditional publisher and I had a horrendous experience with them. By comparison, MP has been a breath of fresh air.

    1. Hi Peter,
      Thank you for your input! Contrasting opinions are always welcome.

      We have several accounts — including comments on this page — of authors being asked to pay substantial fees, so I’m curious about why your experience differs from theirs. May I ask when you contracted with Motivational Press?

      As for the marketing, that’s a central concern expressed throughout this report. There’s little evidence that MP’s marketing has been effective, especially not for the fees complainants state they were charged.

  18. I have been very pleased with Motivational Press’s service and have published four books with them and also debut another book in the Fall of this year.

    Motivational Press never charged me to print, design the cover and publish the book. However, they did offer in-house services for promotion of my book. Services an author would need to pay for elsewhere. I have paid for only two of their services that totaled about $2,000. But it was my choice to pay MP instead of somebody else.

    As an author who published his first four books with three different traditional publishers from 2002 to 2010, I also feel this article doesn’t honestly portray the publishing industry as a whole. A publisher’s job is to print the book not market it. If any publisher spent time marketing every book they publish, they’d go bankrupt and wouldn’t be able to service other authors.

    The main marketing responsibility falls mainly on the author and the publicist he/she hires. Not the publisher. And no publisher can offer any guarantee an author’s book will sell.

    The bigger question a person must ask is “Why am I publishing this book?”

    If it is for the money, you will make a grave mistake. If it is because you are passionate about your writing, then you increase your chances of earning some revenue from book sales and/or speaking engagements.

    In the end it is the author’s choice to decide which publisher is the best fit for him/her.

  19. I need to respectfully disagree with your article and perception of Motivational Press. MP is a traditional publisher. Period. Not a vanity publisher. Not a self-publishing scheme. They do not require any fee, whatsoever. They create incredible cover art, perfect formatting, fair royalties, and high quality books. They also set authors up with radio interviews and so many connections to other authors and markets all over the world. My book was readily available overseas even before its formal launch. They want to help authors succeed and create a platform for speaking engagements and the like. I would recommend MP to both new and veteran authors.

    1. Hi Rick, my name is Bineta and I really want to publish my book. I talk to Justin and want your insight about his business, is MP a good and fair publisher and can I make money with them?
      Thanks

  20. 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.

  21. 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.

    1. hi Leslie my name is Bineta Ngom and I’m looking to publish my book. Justin ask me to pay 5000 dollars in monthly payments and get my book published. I don’t mind paying but can an author be successful with their work?
      what do you think of MP?
      thanks
      my email is [email protected]

  22. 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.

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

      He currently has two warrants out for his arrest.

  23. 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!

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