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. It 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 to be published.

It is easy to fall prey and land 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 of them would be asking you to make their pile even higher.

If you are asked to submit your manuscript by someone you don’t know, especially by unsolicited email, DO NOT reply.

Your red flags should be flying because 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 common ploy and a clear telltale sign of vanity publishing companies to avoid.

 

Offers 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 about this up front.

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

Watch out for uninvited offers to give you feedback on your manuscript for a small reading fee. The fee may not be that small.

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. There are costs involved for reputable services such as Facebook advertising, Google Adwords, paid blog posts or advertorial in a local newspaper.

These are all normal expenses. Most of them are relatively cheap and beneficial.

Offers to market a book for a package price by someone you do not know, and who guarantees success is a sure sign of a scam.

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

 

I’m a publisher

There are many legitimate publishers, hybrid publishers and small press, especially in niche markets. But you should 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 immediately into an agreement with a publisher. Make sure you check its 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 in the publishing process.

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 in the publishing world.

If you have to pay for a service, pay for professional services offered by reputable providers.

 

Make informed choices

There are no easy ways to become a published author and be successful in book publishing.

The best way to avoid scammers and the possibility of being ripped off is to understand 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.

It is the most difficult and time-consuming method. It will involve sending submissions to a lot 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.

 

Self-Publishing

As the name implies, self-publishing means that an author will have to do everything that is necessary to get a book published.

Then you need 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 authors who are new to electronic self-publishing, it will be a learning curve. You will need to have a good knowledge of basic word processing, computer and Internet skills.

The basic skills include uploading files, formatting Word styles and converting to mobi and epub files.

You also need to do image resizing, as well as have a good understanding of file management.

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

If you think self-publishing technology is beyond your ability, you could consider an assisted self-publishing service.

But 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

Vanity publishing has been frowned upon for a long time. But there are still a quite few large vanity publishing houses around.

Some traditional publishers used the services of one vanity publisher. It was a means to offer expensive self-publishing packages to new authors. But it was really vanity publishing in a new form.

Thankfully, most have closed down these expensive pseudo-self-publishing services now.

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.

It doesn’t 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. This 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.

What’s the key warning sign that you are dealing with a vanity press? It 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 words scam and publishing sharks should spring to your 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. Search the Internet for customer feedback on any company you might be considering. Do it before you commit yourself 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. 

 

Conclusion

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. 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.

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
Smashwords
Draft2Digital
Lulu

 

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Derek Haines

Derek Haines is an Australian author, living in Switzerland.

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

  • April 30, 2019 at 10:02 pm
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    I promised to inform everyone of my conversation with Mr. Givens at Global Summit House. After I repeated pretty much what I said in my email, I waited to hear what he had to say. He did say that he understands my concern and that he’d be happy to read my book if I sent him a copy. Well that’s not going to happen. If he can’t afford to spend a couple bucks on me, then why should I spend hundreds with his company? In the end, he didn’t respond to any of my questions or concerns. He quickly finished the conversation by saying, “let’s not waste anymore of each other’s time”. And then hung up. That was my experience but I put a little presser on Global Summit House. I’d be willing to bet that I will continue to receive calls from Global Summit House in the future.

    Reply
  • April 30, 2019 at 9:32 pm
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    FYI, throughout May and April I’ve received 13 calls from Global Summit House. A Frank Givens somehow also got my email address and told me about a book fair coming up at the end of May in New York City. Instead of ignoring him, I decided to reply to his email. In short I told him that I get at least one or two calls a month from publishing companies he’s wanting to either publish or republish my book. I also told him that I doubt that anybody at his company has even read my book. I did not say anything derogatory, only that they offer the same services at every other company does and I have to pay for it. I went on to tell him that at Book Fairs, my book will be sitting under a tent, just like dozens, maybe hundreds of other publishers promoting their clients books. I am not interested in this type of publicity. I looked at their website and it was only registered in May of 2018, yet they claim to be a well-known company. I also noticed that they have literary agents. In short I told him that these were true literary agents they would not charge me any fee because I believe in my book, and only take a percentage of my book sales. To my surprise I got a callback today from Mr Givens. All he said is he got my email and responded to it and then went on to say that they are very interested in representing me it’s a Book Expo in New York. I plan on calling Mr. Givens back just to hear what he has to say. If they can offer me promotion without me giving up my book rights, then maybe we can work out something. But I doubt that will be the case. To all my fellow authors out there, don’t let your ego get in your way when it comes to your book. These days there are dozens of companies playing off of people’s desire to be a well-known author, while at the same time taking their money. In the end you may sell a few extra books but that’s it. Eventually, you could wind up spending thousands and thousands of dollars and only sell a few books. Don’t make that mistake. Anything these companies offer, with a little research you can do them yourself. You can hire editors, design graphics people for your cover, and even Ghost writers. After I talk to Mr. Givens, if he had anything useful to share I will post it here. Good luck to everyone.

    Reply
  • April 30, 2019 at 3:41 pm
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    Attention everyone, my name is Manny Pelaez and I promise I will tell everyone the results of New Reader Magazine. I’m waiting for the production team to finish storyboard and 4 minute animated trailer for the movie agent to begin negotiations. This project is at it’s end in June it’s going on one full year. I will announce the results, furthermore, I have another project that the screenwriters are doing the screenplay, storyboard, and the animators work. I ask for work being done before giving out any payments, I would like to add that in June I’m going to be featured as a contributor on their magazine. I decided to take the full ride with them, I am also watching carefully everything they do, if success comes out I will announce to everyone the results, I will also give how much financially was involved. If anyone knows of any other company that does this type of work tell everyone don’t stay silent, authors, and the literary world to share valuable information for guidance to others, thank you.

    Reply
  • April 30, 2019 at 5:10 am
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    Hello Sara, did you hear yet from Manny about NRM?

    Reply
    • April 30, 2019 at 8:18 am
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      Hi, no. But i have decided against NRM. I think they are scammers and Manny prob works for them. The guy who contacted me got a ‘casting director’ to call me after 6 days of emails back and forth. And he still didnt answer one of my questions fully.
      He spoke exactly the same as the guy from NRM and asked me when i’d make a decision on the investment. I didnt get his name to check him out funnily enough. Why would a ‘casting director’ do that?
      I’m steering clear.

      Reply
  • April 23, 2019 at 3:35 pm
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    New Reader Magazine is currently working on two fully digital animated trailers each are from different projects. The first one will be 4 minutes with characters, sound etc. The storyboard is being done also, the script is also done, at any moment it will be done, negotiations begin with a movie agent representative to all the production companies that are interested, I will give everyone the results, In June I’m being featured as a contributor on the magazine full articles. The other project is a 40 minute fully digital animated trailer, the screenwriters are doing the script and storyboard also. This project will take time but I will also give the results, in detail financially also. I would like to add, give people information of companies that are good, myself I believe that giving other authors valuable information this world can become better and the companies that are bad tell everyone and report them to the authorities.

    Reply
    • April 30, 2019 at 5:12 am
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      Hello Manny, I too, have been approached by NRM . Do you have any updates? Thank you!

      Reply
  • April 12, 2019 at 8:27 pm
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    I have two projects ongoing with New Reader Magazine and I will give the results once available, and this will shut up everyone that has any doubts, I stopped dealing with book publishing companies especially XLibris, because that’s a scam, they charge you a fortune for marketing and the royalties are a joke, at least in the Hollywood industry there’s way more money, everyone be patient that I will give the results soon, thank you Manny Pelaez.

    Reply
    • April 23, 2019 at 12:15 am
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      Hello Manny, have you got any results yet? I am intrigued as i have recently been approached by NRM and i am,not sure if they are genuine.

      Reply
  • April 4, 2019 at 10:14 pm
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    Xlibris îs part of Author Solutions and has been flagged on AlLi’s list of publishers to avoid for a very long time. Author Solutions has a long history of problems and legal issues.

    https://selfpublishingadvice.org/allis-self-publishing-service-directory/self-publishing-service-reviews/#listing-X

    Read here about how to decide if a publisher is reliable.
    https://justpublishingadvice.com/the-best-publishing-companies-that-you-can-rely-upon/

    Reply
  • April 4, 2019 at 10:03 pm
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    Anyone know of an HONEST and RELIABLE Publishing house that is not out to take advantage of new and dumb authors who don’t know when they are being skinned alive? Xliberis sold me a package that they told me would include placement on Amazon Barnes and Noble etc. Yesterday they sold me another item for “Books a million” for $200 more. I am getting concerned that they are ripping me off.

    Reply
    • April 5, 2019 at 11:32 pm
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      Xlibris will probably keep asking you for more money so don’t give them anymore! Tell them that if they want more money you’ll have to see at least enough royalties to cover you costs so far, otherwise they’ll keep asking for more money!

      Reply
  • April 4, 2019 at 8:26 pm
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    In October, 2018, I was approached by Brian Mandoza who was with Carter Press. I had a children’s book and decided to publish it with them. I paid a deposit on October 26, 2018. Soon after, the company changed to BookVine. Soon after that, the phone number and email to Brian no longer worked. In December, I received contact from someone else and was told this man no longer worked there and now the company was Bookwhip. I sent an email and cancelled the contract and they gave me my money back in full. Today is April 4, 2019 and they are still advertising my book on their website, plus it’s at Amazon.com, Books-A-Million.com and many others. I know there have been sales on the book but I have not received any royalties over these past few months. I have called them and the manager has yet to return my call. DON’T USE THESE PEOPLE for your publisher!!!

    Reply
  • April 4, 2019 at 8:12 pm
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    I have just started to work with Xliberis and so far I am starting to get worried that they are just looking for $$$$ . It seems that all or part of conversations that I have had with anyone there sound like “Indians” the kind from India. When it comes to money they always show a number and the a 50 % discount. They talk about getting my work on Amazon etc. I have committed to pay them $2,000.00 for publishing nd MARKETING. Then yesterday they hit me up for another $200.00I am staring to feel like I am being led on. I am a SENIOR Citizen who like to write stories that are on the sexy, exotic side. They told me that they would be able to publish as long as the characters were of age of consent. Should I continue with XLiberis or cut my losses and run for the hills??

    Reply

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