In this episode, we are going to talk about publishing scams and how to avoid them!

This episode was inspired by the Author Media blog post by Caitlin Muir.


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What Makes Something a Scam

  • Over Promising, Under Delivering
  • Fraud
  • Unlawful
  • Unethical
  • Price Rarely Effects if Something is a Scam Or Not (Scribe Writing vs Xlibris)


Common Scams

  • Vanity Publishers (they make money whether you succeed or not.)
    • And they be well known names: Reader’s Digest for example
      • $8,500
      • .09 cents per word for editing … 90k = $8,100
  • Jim’s neighbor
  • Fake Agents (legit agents are members of the Association of Author Representatives)
    • There’s no way you’d get married without dating the person, and having an agent is a business marriage. So date first.
    • Sometimes agents don’t know they’re a scam …
    • Agents who charge for anything
  • “Marketing Services”
    • Blog Tours
    • Social Media Packages
    • PR Campaigns (Spending money to send a press release to 500 journalists is a waste of money)
    • We’ll get you into bookstores! TV shows! On every podcast ever created!
  • Pay to Enter Writing Contests
    • Not always …


General Rules of Thumb

  • Find a happy customer first.
  • Ask for the numbers! If they say you can’t measure the effectiveness of their work, be careful.
  • Ask for an average ROI
  • Ask Lots of Questions
    • Can you give me the names of some of the people on your sales team?
    • What is the name of your last book to hit a best seller list?
    • Where can I go and look at your work?
  • Read the Fine Print
    • Arbitration Clause (Who picks the arbitrator?)
    • The more fine print, the more likely they are to be hiding something.
    • Who owns your copyright after you sign?
    • How easy is it to cut ties? Are you locked in?
  • Look for financial incentive alignment. If you pay a lot of money up front, whether your book thrives or not, there is no financial incentive to see you succeed.


Warning Signs

  • Flattery about your writing.
  • No Money Back Guarantee
  • They’ve never failed
  • Reading Fee – Legitimate Publishing companies don’t charge to read your book.
  • Up Front Publishing Fees – Traditional Publishing Companies shouldn’t be charging you for anything. A legit self publishing company should charge you as you go.
  • If they are owned by Author Solutions, run.
  • Pushy Sales Tactics
  • Promising to Make You a Bestseller  
  • Listing on (Scammers prey on the tech unsavvy. They ask you to pay them to list your book on Amazon. Many authors don’t realize that it only takes a few clicks of the mouse to be able to sell your book on Amazon.


Publishing Services Thomas’ Recommends



Final Thoughts

When in doubt, ask in our Facebook Group.


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