- Courtesy of do not publish with raider publishing international
- Adam Salviani
Brattleboro resident Adam Salviani is the founder and CEO of an international publishing house and a self-proclaimed best-selling novelist. Yet when Seven Days learned recently that he was running for the Vermont House of Representatives, our first response was, Who?
Admittedly, we don't know every wordsmith pounding a keyboard in the Green Mountain State. But ignorance of an author who claims on his website that his 2007 novel The Trials of Faith was considered for the Man Booker Prize and a Pulitzer Prize seemed a gross oversight. WTF?
The thing is, I couldn't find any independent reviews of Trials online, which seemed highly unusual for a Man Booker and Pulitzer contender. So I reached Salviani by phone last week to ask if he had one available to reference in our annual Winter Reading Issue.
"I would really have to look into it," he said. "You're talking about 11 years ago that those reviews would have come out."
Salviani talked a good game. The 32-year-old Suffern, N.Y., native and nationally ranked competitive fencer explained that his book was self-published via Raider Publishing International. He founded that firm in 2005 in response to writers' disenchantment with the mainstream publishing world.
RPI, which until recently claimed a headquarters in the Empire State Building, promises on its website that its "team of professionals" will publish and aggressively promote authors' books through press releases, radio and television ads, and even the company's own literary magazine. All are "guaranteed to reach at least a half a million potential buyers."
According to Salviani, in its 12 years in business, RPI has sold more than 1.3 million copies of self-published books in 117 different countries and has been a "great success." But perhaps not that great, as Salviani filed for bankruptcy in May 2014, the same year he and his wife relocated from New York to Brattleboro.
I found just one review of Salviani's own book online, written by a customer on the Amazon UK website. As Marilyn Tomlins, a Paris, France-based author, wrote in 2013 about The Trials of Faith: "This book is badly written and nonsense. I highly recommend that you do not buy it. You will have a much more enjoyable few moments eating a hamburger."
Tomlins' beef with Salviani may have something to do with her own experiences with RPI. In 2014, she was one of three authors interviewed on BBC Radio 4's consumer-protection show "You & Yours." All three accused RPI, and Salviani, of scamming them out of thousands of dollars, performing substandard editing and promotion of their books, and paying them little or nothing in royalties.
As Tomlins told the BBC, once she'd paid her fees to Raider — RPI's self-publishing offerings range from the Bronze Package ($899) to the Diamond Package ($4,499) — she never received a dime in royalties or got responses to any of her queries, despite repeated efforts.
"I know exactly who she is," Salviani told Seven Days, when asked about Tomlins' and the other authors' allegations. He called her one of "maybe six" disgruntled writers who've been using the internet to try to "bring down" his company.
"Every self-publisher eventually becomes a victim of its own success," he said. "You have authors who don't share in that success and lash out at the publisher. That's just the way it goes." In his 12 years of publishing, Salviani claimed, he's been sued only four times — and never lost a case.
However, a Google search for Salviani and RPI turns up more than a handful of complaints. Scambook, an online consumer watchdog site, reports 57 complaints against RPI since November 2013, citing "unresolved reported damages" totaling more than $2.2 million.
Similarly, the Better Business Bureau of New York gives RPI an F rating, citing 11 consumer complaints against it; the online Ripoff Report lists another 45 against the publisher since July 2011. Many call out Salviani by name.
RPI and Salviani appear to have burned enough bridges with aspiring authors to have spawned a Facebook page — dubbed Do Not Publish With Raider Publishing International, where his photo features prominently — and earned scathing critiques from writers who view themselves as industry watchdogs.
Author Victoria Strauss, who publishes the blog Writer Beware, singled out two of Salviani's ventures — RPI and Perimedes Publishing — for, among other alleged offenses, misleading advertising, excessive fees, poor or inadequate editing, and repeated breaches of contractual obligations.
Publishing consultant Mick Rooney, who puts out the Independent Publishing Magazine, seems to have made it his personal mission to chronicle Salviani's alleged shenanigans dating back to 2005. His site includes a "detailed forensic examination of RPI's fake video testimonials posted by mostly fictitious authors (and one fictitious staff member!)."
Salviani shrugged off those websites, calling them "hate sites" that target the entire self-publishing industry.
"This is extremely common with publishers, especially with smaller publishers," he explained. Why? "I think it's because of the nature of writers, and I'm a writer. Writers by nature sensationalize their own experiences."
So what's next for Salviani? Claiming that he's "fatigued" by the publishing world, he's trying to sell RPI for an undisclosed sum. As he put it, "I'm kind of putting that part of my life away."
As for his state rep bid, Salviani was soundly defeated last month by incumbent Rep. Mollie Burke (P/D-Brattleboro), garnering just 18 percent of the votes cast. Currently, he chairs the Brattleboro Town Arts Committee and serves on the board of directors of Brattleboro's community radio station, WVEW 107.7, where he also hosts a weekly program, "The Bearded Men."
Salviani's next literary project, he noted, is an as-yet-untitled novel due out next year.