New Authors Beware of Scam Agents and Publishing Sharks

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Scam Agents and Publishing Sharks

Beware of the scam agents and sharks in self-publishing

Publishing a book today is easy with self-publishing services that are generally offered for free online, or if not free, they are very cheap.

This low-cost simplicity, however, has made it a goldmine for shady scam agents and scam publishers to deceive new authors who are trying to get their book published.

I received an unsolicited email today from a long time publishing scammer, which reminded me that the publishing seas are still infested with these untrustworthy sharks.

In general terms, these scammers prey on either an author’s dream of becoming published, or on the fact that an author may not know how to self-publish and has given up on traditional publishing, but still yearns.

Don’t fall into their expensive traps.


Don’t be fooled by scam agents. Here are some warning signals.

Unsolicited invitations to submit your manuscript

Reputable literary agents and publishers all have huge slush piles, so none would be asking to make them even higher. If you are asked to submit your manuscript by someone you don’t know, especially by unsolicited email, DO NOT reply.

It’s 99.9999% sure to be a scam.

If you are approached out of the blue by a publisher you don’t know who wants to publish your book, be careful. It is a telltale sign of self-publishing companies to avoid.


beware of publishing agents and publishersOffers to help you get published

Social media is full of helpful people, but there are also many who charge a lot of money for their helpfulness and may forget to tell you this upfront.

The term there are editors and predators is now a common expression in self-publishing circles.

Self-publishing is basically free, so DO NOT pay for what you can do, or can quickly learn to do yourself.


Marketeers and racketeers

Advertising and marketing a book is time-consuming and there are costs involved in paying for reputable services such as Facebook advertising, Google Adwords, paid blog posts or perhaps even an advertorial in a local newspaper.

These are all normal expenses, and they are relatively cheap and beneficial. Offers to market a book for a package price by someone you do not know, and guarantees success is a sure sign of a scam.

DO NOT pay for book marketing services packages. Arrange and pay advertisers for your book advertising directly with reputable and well-known advertising service providers.


I’m a publisher

While there are many legitimate publishers and small press, especially in niche markets, always check the reputation of a publisher before doing anything.

You can check a comprehensive list of publishers and service providers that have been vetted by ALLi (The Alliance of Independent Authors).

DO NOT enter into an agreement with a publisher without checking their background, history, reputation and ethics first.


Writer, reader, editor, copy editor, proofreader, publisher, cover designer, book marketer, self-publishing consultant

No one person can supply all these services. Beware of failed writers trying to make a buck on the side by offering services that they are not qualified to provide.

DO NOT pay for amateurs. If you have to pay for a service, pay for professional services offered by reputable providers.


avoid scam agents in self publishingMake informed choices

There are no easy ways to become successful in book publishing, so the best way to avoid scammers and the possibility of being ripped off is to understand from the outset that publishing a book will be a tough job.

For those authors and writers who are trying to publish for the first time, there are three established and safe avenues to getting a book published.


Traditional Publishing

This means approaching literary agents with the hope of being contracted and having your book published and then promoted by one of the large publishing houses.

This, of course, is the most difficult and time-consuming method and it will involve sending submissions to a number of agents and then waiting and hoping.

The rejection rate is so high these days that a new author will need a lot of luck. It is not impossible of course, but for new writers, it is not very easy at all.


Pros: No publishing costs to an author and an advance is often paid.

Cons: Difficult to get published and royalties can be quite low. An author also must sign away rights to a book.



As the name implies, self-publishing means that an author will have to do everything that is necessary to get a book published, and then to market it and hopefully sell enough copies online to get a return on the time invested in writing and self-publishing a book.

For those authors who are totally new to electronic self-publishing, it will be a learning curve to begin with and it is necessary to have a sound knowledge of basic word processing, computer and Internet skills.

These basic skills include uploading and downloading files, formatting Word documents styles, converting Word files to pdf and epub files, image resizing, as well as having a good understanding of file management.

Although self-publishing is generally free, there will be some costs in preparing a book for publication. These could include expenses for a book cover, editing and proofreading.

If you find self-publishing technology beyond your ability and need to use an assisted self-publishing service, always make sure you retain all rights to your book, and that all royalties are paid to you directly by the online retailer.


Pros: Quick to publish in e-book or paperback. Free or at least very cheap depending on preparation costs. Authors own all their book rights.

Cons: Some computer skills to learn. All facets of publishing, marketing and selling are the responsibility of the author.


What to expect to pay for reputable services:

Pre-made e-book cover. US$30-60

Custom made book cover. US$250-500

Proofreading and correction – basic. US$ 200-400 for approx 80,000 words.

Assisted self-publishing services. Preparation of manuscript files and publishing for you on Kindle Direct Publishing for ebook and paperback, and Smashwords or Draft2digital for ebook distribution. US$200-250.


More reading: How Much Does It Cost To Publish A Book Using Self-Publishing?


Vanity Publishing

Although vanity publishing has been frowned upon for a long time, there are still a few large vanity publishing houses around.

A few traditional publishers used the services of one vanity publisher as a means to offer this method of publishing to new authors, but thankfully, most have closed down these expensive pseudo-self-publishing sites.

Unfortunately, some vanity publishers have re-branded and re-named their services as self-publishing, which it definitely is not.

Never confuse self-publishing with vanity publishing.

No matter how well-known or established vanity publishing is, or if it goes by a new name, new authors need to be aware that it will be a very, very expensive way to publish a book.

Most of their websites make no mention of the prices they will charge, which should be a warning. You can read my take on Newman Springs Publishing as an example of what to look for when you are making a decision about a book publisher.

Vanity publishing means that the author pays for everything for a book to be published, which can often amount to thousands of dollars.

This cost does not normally include marketing a book other than that it will possibly be available on the vanity publisher’s website.

Vanity publishing is easy, but it is an awfully expensive way to fill your basement with 5,000 copies of a book, which you may or probably, may not ever sell.

The key warning signal that you are dealing with a vanity press is when you discover that you are being asked to pay a huge amount of money upfront to publish your book. This is when the word scam springs to mind very quickly.


More reading: Is This Publisher Legit? How You Can Make Your Decision


Vanity publishers are not interested in selling your book to readers. They only want to sell books to you, the author.


There have also been many complaints about the high-pressure business practices of certain vanity publishers.

Be careful, and search the Internet for customer feedback on any company you may consider before committing to a publishing contract and handing over your money.

Samita Sarkar wrote a very good article about how to spot publishing scams for the Huffington Post.

Her warning signals in the piece are very good advice. These four are classic for high-pressure selling vanity publishers.

“The publisher’s website contains little to no information to attract readers, and is almost entirely devoted to selling to authors.”

“The website contains slogans about helping authors, “tell their story” by “letting the experts guide them,” etc.”

“In exchange for your name, email, and phone number, you can download a free publishing guide.”

“Expect a call later on that same day, before even opening the guide.”

I can personally attest to this last point. I was once pestered with almost daily phone calls for over two months by one of the most well-known vanity publishers.


Pros: Trade publishing quality books with paid editing and cover design services.

Cons: Annoying high-pressure selling by some vanity publishers. Usually extremely expensive with no effective marketing support. 



As an author, if you receive an offer that is too good to be true, it surely will be. In publishing a book, there is only one way to succeed –the hard way, and no amount of money thrown at a publisher will make it any easier.

In my opinion, a new author has two sensible choices when it comes to getting a book published – either try to work with a literary agent and a reputable publishing house or self-publish and enjoy the learning curve and the journey.

Both are tough, but that’s the reality of book publishing today. There is no easy way.


Related reading: Reputable Publishing Companies That You Can Trust


Helpful links for new authors

Publishing Services Rated By ALLi (The Alliance of Independent Authors)
List of Literary Agents UK & US
Kindle Direct Publishing


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Derek Haines

Derek Haines is an Australian author, living in Switzerland.

90 thoughts on “New Authors Beware of Scam Agents and Publishing Sharks

  • May 16, 2019 at 12:03 am

    Do anyone know something at all about Urlink book Publishing from Wyoming
    is they a scam?

  • May 15, 2019 at 7:30 pm

    i have been scammed by new readers and I want the world to know! I hope this reach everyone who is wondering are they a scam. I let Jerry Bilson talk me out of $3000 for a book campaign that never happened. After waiting for a over a month for the project to be delivered I cancelled and ask for a refund and they never got back to me. They wont return my call or email. I even found out the address they use is not the real location. They are not at 100 church st.. I am currently working with the FTC for internet frauds, as well as filing a compliant with the Attorney generals office and the bbb.
    They take hopeful artist and sell them a dream as though we are not working hard enough for a break.
    It is so easy for them to scam because the “staff” are so professional, the website is flawless and they have impeccable customer service but they are a whole entire fraud!

    • May 17, 2019 at 7:55 am

      Hi Alithea,

      Thank you very much for sharing this information.

      We apologize about this experience you had. We know how you feel and if we were in your shoes, we would probably do the same thing. We’d like to point out that New Reader Media has always been doing it’s best in providing a good experience for every client we work with which is why we’d like to explain our side in this matter.

      The program we offered is good for a 6-month preparation in production before we launching it.

      You signed the contract last 13th of March. We gave you time to submit your requirements and time for us to complete the necessary partnership, platforms ans etc. We even continued to prepare even though the shared portfolio you submitted was incomplete.

      Alithea,we are still willing to work with you but in any case you feel unhappy about the service, the refund policy is open for executing.

      We will be waiting for your reply or we will have our finance team reach out to you asap.

      Thank you.

      • June 13, 2019 at 3:04 am

        My wife who at a certain time I will devoulge her name , we were just taken advantage of as well for $3000 . The initial cost was $6000 to giving false hope . The promise to make a trailer for an investor & ultimately a movie . It’s so easy for these so called publishing companies to sound good to people that aren’t strong in the book business. Actually there was a representative who was the driving force was a really sincere tone & promising to put here best effort moving forward. The last two emails from her were apologetic which shows that the effort fell empty once they used the $ for their lame effort to give my wife who has Alztimers. She wanted so much to help one person who was in their addiction. Getting to the point of my story New readers has really talk the talk but can’t walk the walk !!! Shame on them , this isn’t a slam to New readers magazine, just another disgruntled human being, disappointed & getting more frustrated on who do you trust anymore. There has been calls & emails that promise results with 3 easy payments, after this last loss to new readers , only good faith could make me think the owner might have a conconcious , we will see , ALIVE has been a true story about love , lies & addiction. Eileen

        • June 14, 2019 at 2:21 pm

          Hi Eileen,

          Thank you very much for sharing this information.

          We apologize about what has happened. As always, we’d like to point out that New Reader Media will continue providing a good experience for every client we work with. So receiving these kind of feedback is a great deal for us.

          Your screenplay service and teaser is ready for submission with our agent. If you still wish to terminate the project we will follow our refund policy protocol.

          We will wait for your response.

          Thank you.

  • May 15, 2019 at 4:57 pm

    I just realized that I had been taken by [email protected] She played a convincing part in pretending to manage marketing for my book with ALA and ACLR events in 2019. She even provided a contract and provided for a payment plan in which she took my money. She promised to keep me apprised of the markeing status and provide proof of my book listing in these events, but then she never followed up. I found out later that my book was never presented at the events as she claimed, and I had been taken for a fool. As I tried to trace her down, the websites and youtube sites for bookthoughtspublishing were abandoned and then taken down. As I imagine she is reworking her scam under another name, I would avoid any publishing company with “thoughts” in their name, just to be safe.

  • May 15, 2019 at 3:26 pm

    OK, I was just approached by New Reader International. They found a book of mine already out there, (self published) and I am in London and they called me from New York. I was running out the door so could not really speak to the guy who said “we scout talent and we think you have it, we would like to invest in your writing and offer you a book deal with a literary agent, etc.” and since I could not talk, was already late for an appointment they said they would call me back that evening…did not call back. Is this a SCAM? As usual, if it is too good to be true it usually is, eh? He left a message on my cell phone with all the numbers to get back to him, The original call I took was on my home phone. I cant imagine how he got both of these phone numbers! Anyone got any advice or same experience here? Thanks!

    • June 3, 2019 at 5:14 pm

      I’ve just had a message from the same company, my publisher said he’s never heard of them and to be cautious.
      They offered a movie deal ( sounds a bit out there) but I thought of ringing back and if they start asking for money just tell them I’m skint and hang up. Anyone know how much an international call to New York is?

  • May 11, 2019 at 11:03 am

    Hi, just wondering if anyone had heard of a new independent publishing house called “Cranthorpe Millner”? Was approached by them on LinkedIn. They have published the autobiography of The Chase judge Dark Destroyer. However, when I checked out their website they seem to offer this side business of ‘Appraisal’ where authors can submit the first 10,000 words for some honest even brutal review of their work according to the lead editor. Seems suspicious, like a paid reading fee of some kind like dodgy literary agents offer? Any help / info would be greatly appreciated. Thanks.


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