Publishers Who Prey, Part One: Don’t Be a Victim

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When I began writing for publication, in the mid-1980s, serious authors (myself included) frowned upon self-publishing. Ah, but times have changed! In today’s literary world, many traditional authors have also self (indie)-published. Writers’ magazines sponsor indie contests, awards are given for indie books, and so on. No longer is it frowned upon, at least not like it was in the old typewriter days.

I applaud indie publishing. It’s opened numerous doors for authors such as me, and it’s great for those who’ve learned how to write and produce quality books. These authors take the time and effort required to study and learn the craft, and they work hard to make their books the best they can be.

However, self-publishing has a downside. What is it? Scams. Thanks to modern technology, they inundate the internet. Nowadays, most anyone can write and publish a book. Scam artists touting themselves as publishers and/or agents prey on eager, inexperienced authors who’ve longed to see their books in print. In short, these authors become victims.

Many wannabe writers think all they have to do is put words and sentences together. They don’t revise, because they haven’t studied the craft to know what to look for. They don’t edit and proofread, because they don’t know how, nor do they hire those who know how to do it. They just want a book out there. The quality of their writing is of no concern. They pay these scam artist publishers lots of money—in the thousands of dollars—and often endure emotional pain in the aftermath of publication. We’ll go into more detail on this in next week’s post.

For now, let’s learn the basic difference between vanity publishing and self-publishing.

Vanity Publishers

  1. Vanity publishers publish books in a manner similar to traditional publishers, yet unlike traditional publishers, they accept most every manuscript that crosses their desks regardless of its literary quality.
  2. Vanity publishers make money from the exorbitant fees they charge authors. Traditional publishers take a percentage of authors’ royalties, which they specify in their contracts. Traditional publishers do not charge fees.

Self-Publishers, aka Indie Publishers

  • From cover design, interior format and back copy to finished book, self-publishers have total control of their book, even in regards to pricing.
  • Self-publishers do spend money for their book’s production, but they hire qualified people to do this work. Traditional publishers have their own people they pay to do similar things: proofreading, cover design, formatting, etc. So, in a sense, a self-publisher is his/her own traditional publisher.

Are There Legitimate Self-Publishing Companies?

Yes. We’ll discuss these in another post. For now, be sure to research a potential publisher before signing a contract. Many a “wannabe author” has had his/her potential career ruined by these scam artists.

NEXT WEEK: Red Flags of a Scammer. What to look for.

4 thoughts on “Publishers Who Prey, Part One: Don’t Be a Victim

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