New Authors Beware of Scam Agents and Publishing Sharks

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Scam Agents and Publishing Sharks

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 predatory 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.


Beware of the scam agents and sharks in self-publishing

It is easy to fall prey to these dubious publishing experts and land into their expensive traps.

Writers beware. Don’t be fooled by scam agents. Here are some warning signals for new Indie authors.


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.

However, many charge a lot of money for their helpfulness. But they may forget to tell you about this upfront.


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.


I can do everything

Writer, reader, editor, copy editor, proofreader, publisher, cover designer, book marketer, and 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

After you write a book, 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

It is the old fashioned business model of publishing. It 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 sometimes pay an advance.

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 necessary to get a book published.

Then you need to market it and hopefully sell enough copies online to get a return on your 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. If your book sells, you receive a high royalty rate of usually 60-70% per copy.

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.


Vanity Publishing

Vanity publishing has been frowned upon for a long time. But there are still quite a 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 only 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 deciding on a book publisher.

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

This cost does not typically include marketing a book other than that it will possibly be available on the vanity publisher’s website. There is rarely a mention of what book sales you can expect to get.

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 the publisher finally asks you to pay a considerable amount of money up front to publish your book.

It is the moment when the words scam and publishing sharks should spring to your mind very quickly.


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 an excellent 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. 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.


Helpful links for new authors

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


Derek Haines

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Derek Haines

A Cambridge qualified CELTA English teacher and author of 18 books with a life long passion for publishing in all forms. I started my working life as a lithographer and spent over 30 years in the printing and publishing business. Originally from Australia, I moved to Switzerland 20 years ago. My days are spent teaching English, writing and wrestling with technology while enjoying my glorious view of Lake Geneva and the Alps.

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

  • August 9, 2019 at 10:45 pm

    New Reader Magazine reached out to me about my self-published book. She gave her name and contact number (which was a ‘917’ area code), but did not say the name of the company she worked for. When I pressed for the information, she told me, but seemed reluctant to do so. I sensed a language barrier between us, and when I asked where she was located, she said Hong Kong. I requested to speak to someone on shore in The States, but she said she was not able to transfer me, because they are a 3rd party vendor. I said I don’t like dealing with outsourced call centers and wanted to speak to someone from their office in New York, but she had no way to transfer me. Throughout our conversation, she kept telling me about their desire to have a partnership with me, which would be an investment on my part. But each time I asked for specifics (costs, fees, etc.) she would repeat those same talking points. I was getting increasingly annoyed, and I pressed further for details regarding upfront costs and fees. She hung up on me twice, and both times when I called back, I got her voicemail. Finally, I called the toll-free number listed on Google (their own website does not contain any contact info) and got another person in Hong Kong! Do NOT do business with these people. They are a scam!

    • September 11, 2019 at 12:51 am

      Thank you! They just contacted me as well about my self published book. I will avoid like the plague :-)

  • July 10, 2019 at 3:27 am

    Have anyone received a call from Christian Smith stating that he is their agent?

  • July 5, 2019 at 6:56 pm

    Legitimate agents don’t ask for payment up front. They get paid by the publisher when the publisher accepts your book.

  • June 30, 2019 at 1:17 am

    I recently was contacted by Dream Books Distribution for a screen play based on my recently published book. They ask for a fee to register my book with Hollywood Data base & other marketing services. Please let me know if you have had any experience with them. Much appreciated.

  • June 30, 2019 at 1:10 am

    I was also contacted by the New Reader Magazine. They said they are a New York LLC but NY department of taxes told me no such LLC existed. I decided NOT to go with them. If any consolation, they asked me for $10,000.

  • 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.

      • July 11, 2019 at 4:39 am

        “Before we launching it.”


      • July 19, 2019 at 3:22 pm

        I had the same experience. Has anybody had a good outcome from New Reader Magazine?

        • July 29, 2019 at 12:38 pm

          I was confronted by Dorrance publishers and paid $ 6,800 to publish my bk ” The Gospel of Truth for REPENTANCE for the church of God called SAINTS ” after accepting it and said it is to be their Title and never received a dime.
          I see the bk is still on market with Amazon

  • 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?

      • July 15, 2019 at 10:42 pm

        I was just contacted by New Reader. I have a book published and they said an “editor read it and gave it an A+” I couldn’t talk at the time, so decided to look up the company. I’m glad I did.

    • July 11, 2019 at 4:44 am

      I was contacted by “Viktoria Price” on my cell phone, who later called on my home phone, just like you. She said she worked for New Reader Magazine, but that the magazine was just one part of an international marketing and PR firm. They were interested in one of my books (I have 16, with two publishers, 90% ebook sales) and wanted to get it into bookstores. I asked about money. Viktoria said, “Well yes, it is a partnership, there would be an investment on your part…” I said, “Thanks, goodbye.”


    • August 7, 2019 at 3:07 am

      Hey Shawn….I received a call from New Reader Magazine today. Since I never answer calls from unknown numbers, I let the person leave a voicemail. The woman caller identified herself as Reese Elton and said, quote: “We are interested to invest and partner with you on your book. Let me discuss the details. Please call me back.” She didn’t divulge the name of the company she was calling from. A few minutes later I received a text message with the same information. I texted back and said my book was self-published in January 2018 and that it was currently being sold through the printer’s online bookstore, Amazon and eBay. I also stated that I would need the name of the company before considering “partnering” with anyone. She then gave me the name of the company – New Reader Magazine – and told me to look at their website and download their latest issue of the magazine. I thanked her and said I would do further research and speak with my financial advisor prior to making any decisions. I then looked at their website and then did an internet serach for reviews of the company and up popped the “Just Publishing Advice” page with all of these comments. I figured New Reader Magazine was a scam and didn’t plan to contact them back, but it’s always wise for anyone receiving an unsolicited call to do their research before getting involved with a place like that, no matter how “professional” they sound!

  • 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.

    • June 22, 2019 at 6:53 am

      Hey I’m currently being published by Cranthorpe Millner. So far I have to pay $3000 to get published but I’d pay half that for self publishing anyway and this way I have a team behind me. I’m not yet convinced it’s the right route but I’ll let you know how the process goes once I’ve been through it.

    • July 27, 2019 at 7:30 pm

      I was approached by a firm in America
      who found a book of mine wanted permission to put it into The Book Excellence Awards said it had potential
      Phoned over a few nights cost was 549 dollars
      I went through with it promises of possible film and tv and interviews asked for more money later
      I previously cancelled payment then got email protesting he was a legitimate co so I went ahead with it
      But all promises and money given was
      never came to fruition paid out for the extra that was free competition was only charge
      Have written several times asking for a refund no return
      Has anyone had dealings with Matchstick Literary Atlanta if not don’t
      Definite Scam


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