Beware of Predatory Publishers

Have you thought about self-publishing a book? Maybe you've searched the web for help and discovered companies offering to help you self-publish. When I looked into this, I found a breed of publishing parasites that will eat your life savings.

These companies will tell you that you're self-publishing and that you have a publisher. "We're a hybrid publisher." Then they'll rob you blind, con you into signing a contract, and then sell your book at a price nobody will pay. They call themselves "self-publishers" and "hybrid publishers." In writer circles we call them "vanity publishers." They'll take your manuscript and your money and get your 40 page book illustrated by a sub-par artist who charges top dollar; they'll "edit" your manuscript and not fix a single grammatical error; they'll get your book selling on Amazon for $28.99.

All this for the low, low, price of $3,400.

Oh, and you only get 15% royalties.

Don't fall for these terrible deals. Here are four signs that you're about to get fleeced by a vanity publisher.

1. The company is on naughty lists.

Google "vanity press" and read through the lists of articles warning you about specific companies. Does your "publisher" show up on the naughty lists?

Then, search for the company by name and see what people are saying. If they're a predatory publisher, you'll find ample stories from the people they ripped off. Believe those stories.

2. Their publishing "packages" are insanely expensive.

Their packages start as low as $600. For $600 you get all the free stuff you can do on your own if you have the patience, or which you could hire someone to do for a few hundred dollars at most. They'll make it sound wonderful though: Your book will be on paperback and ebook on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and in the world's largest book catalog. None of that is anything special. Find a nerd and save yourself several hundred dollars and all those royalties.

Their "Most Popular" publishing packages usually cost between $2,000 and $4,000. The prices go up from there. These services include copy-editing and some other things. I've witnessed glaring edit errors and formatting problems in books that cost the author $4000 to publish. You get much better service by going online and searching for a writer or editor who hires themselves out for these kinds of projects.

3. You'll Have To Sign A Contract

Are you really self-published if you're signing over your book's publishing rights? At this point, they want to charge you thousands of dollars, and they want the exclusive right to print your book. When you self-publish, you maintain your publishing rights, and you never share royalties with anyone.

4. Their Marketing Plan Costs Thousands More

They will want you to pay another few thousand dollars for a marketing package. Think of the implications of that—They want the exclusive right to publish your book, but they won't help you sell your book if you don't pay them more money. There are ample book marketing services that cost so much less, and which will not ask you to sign a publishing contract.

If you pay for services up front, you should owe nothing afterward—All sales proceeds should be 100% yours. Or, if you're lucky enough to land a traditional contract, you should pay nothing up front, and the publisher does marketing for free (and you share the proceeds with the publisher). Any so-called publisher who wants you to pay up front and receive a portion of your royalties for the services you already paid for is most likely a scam.

Beware of predatory publishers.

Do your research on anyone claiming they'll be your publisher for a price. Believe the horror stories you find. Predatory publishers will take your beloved book, make a mockery of it, and empty your bank accounts.

Author: James Elliott Mitchell

Extra Reading...

Xlibris publishing packages

Authorhouse publishing packages

Science Fiction Writers Association Vanity/Subsidy Publishers

Writers And Artists. Self-publishing vs. Vanity Publishing. Confused?