Book Publishers To Avoid And Nasty New Author Scams

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Author Scams

New authors, beware of vanity publishers and experts making you offers that are too good to be true

Have you received an email or social media message from an agent or publisher offering to publish your book?

If you are an author, you may have received a lot of them. On average, I get at least one per week.

Indie authors are active on social media. So it is easy for a predatory publisher to get your contact details. Then come the offers for their publishing services.

Watch out for publishing businesses that make you an offer that includes the word free. It is a signal that you should be very suspicious.

Free manuscript appraisal, a free handbook, free book marketing or free editing are common. These are inducement offers for an author to buy an expensive publishing package.

It is a classic approach of vanity presses that try to lure you into expensive contracts promising to produce quality books.

Sadly, in today’s publishing world many new authors fall prey. I get a lot of messages from authors who have been published by a vanity publisher and have regrets.

Some of these publishing houses call themselves self-publishers. This description is just not correct.

Self-publishing is a free service available to all authors. You can use Amazon KDP, Apple, Nook, Smashwords and Draft2Digital to name just a few of the many reputable self-publishing services. With all of these services, you can publish a book with minimal investment.

But unfortunately, new authors continue to fall for the same old traps.


Writers beware! Author Solutions has a reputation

By far the most commonly mentioned vanity publisher is Author Solutions.

It trades under a long list of names. These include AuthorHouse, AuthorHouse UK, AuthorHive, iUniverse, Palibrio, Partridge Publishing, Trafford Publishing and Xlibris. All of these names should raise red flags for authors.

These two short quotes from a page on The Alliance of Independent Authors explains the vanity business model very well. And also Author Solutions’ defence in a class action lawsuit.

“Author Solutions operates more like a telemarketing company whose customer base is the authors themselves. In other words, unlike a traditional publisher, Author Solutions makes money from its Authors, not for them. It does so by selling books back to its authors, not to a general readership, and by selling its authors expensive publishing, editing, and marketing services that are effectively worthless.”

“Author Solutions preys upon the dreams of authors by selling them expensive services that sound exciting but do not actually sell any books. Their defense: They aren’t being deceptive because they aren’t trying to sell books. Of course, for nearly 200,000 authors who have paid thousands (if not tens of thousands) of dollars to buy expensive services that promised to promote their books, Author Solutions’s (sic) indifference to book sales comes as more than a bit of a surprise.”

You can read the article in full here.

There are many more vanity book publishers and publishing businesses that operate in a similar manner. They usually offer to publish trade books and be a one-stop-shop for publishing. But they never mention anything about selling your books to readers.

A lot has been written about possible Page Publishing scams. Is it a legit company or not? Judging by the complaints to the BBB, it is one company that could cause you concern.

These are book publishers to avoid.

If your dream is to be a published author, there are better and far more cost-efficient ways to do so.

Vanity presses only want to sell books to authors, not to readers.


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


The latest book scam. The Editor in Thief

It takes a long time to write a book.

But new Kindle Unlimited charlatans have found a shortcut. They pose as an editor. But once you send your manuscript, they publish your months of years of hard work for themselves.

So not only do you lose your money, but you also lose your book.

I was only made aware of this awful scam by an author who fell for the trap.

After sending the Word document for editing, it took only two days for the book to appear on Amazon Kindle Unlimited. The scammers didn’t even change the title, only the author name.

Authors need editors, so how can you avoid this new trap?

First, check if the editor has a website. It should list price estimations for a variety of editing services. You can ask the editor if they have a website, or you can do a Google search.

Next check the email address. If it uses the site name, for example, and [email protected] you can proceed with reasonable assurance.

Be careful if there is no website, and the email address is Gmail, Yahoo or Hotmail with a non-descript name.

Scammers hide behind these types of email accounts with addresses that often consist of a jumble of letters and numbers. For example, [email protected]

Hiring any service online should be approached with caution. Make sure you do your research, ask for referrals and proceeded slowly.


The self-publishing services scam

Anyone can publish a paperback or an ebook for free using self-publishing companies such as Amazon and Apple. So why would anyone pay someone to do it for them?

Some authors are not confident enough in their computer skills needed for the publishing process. Also, they may not be knowledgeable about all the options available to them.

So naturally, they look for help. If fortunate, they will find a friend or relative who can help them do everything for free.

But these authors often become victims when they place their trust in someone online that they don’t know.

The cost can range from hundreds to thousands of dollars. Most of these assisted self-publishing services deliver on their promises, although it is outrageously expensive.

However, there are some who ask for payment up front and then take the money and run.

Once again, like checking an editor, look at the website and email address and definitely ask for referrals from clients.


Taking the traditional route

By far the best way to get your book published is to find a literary agent to represent you.

It is not easy, but if you can, an agent will work for you to have your book published. Usually with a traditional publishing house such as Random House, HarperCollins Macmillan and Simon & Schuster. Or one of the many subsidiaries of these publishers.

By taking this route, you may be fortunate enough to receive an advance. But they are not as generous as in years gone by.

Traditional publishers incur all the costs involved in book publishing. This includes editing, cover designers, book marketing and print production.

They will publish and distribute your book to bricks and mortar bookstores as well as online retailers.

Signing with a publisher who produces, distributes and markets your book allows you to concentrate on being an author.

A lot of authors nowadays skip this opportunity believing that it is impossible. But publishers always need fresh new talent, so the door is certainly not closed at all.

But you will need to knock very loudly. It’s a tough road, but certainly worth a try before rushing into self-publishing.

You never know your luck.


Self-publishing definitely means do it all yourself

If you decide to self-publish, you are the boss. For many authors, it has been an enjoyable and profitable choice.

You will need to do everything, and pay for what you can’t do. You will probably need to pay for a book cover, an editor, negligible print book costs and book promotion.

However, your royalties will be much higher than if you were traditionally published. You can get up to 70% for every book sold if you use Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP).

You can also use other publishing platforms and book distributors, These are often called aggregators, such as Smashwords and Draft2Digital. In this way, you can sell your books on many different book retailers.

With both, you can make your ebooks available on Apple, Barnes & Noble and Kobo along with many other outlets including libraries. Their royalty rate is around 60% on average for ebook distribution.

With basic computer skills, you can have a book online and for sale within 24 hours in many cases. The publishing services of Amazon and aggregators are totally free. It is, of course, the main attraction.

But, it must be said that book sales can be difficult to attract if you are a new author.

Self-publishing is not easy street. But it is a safe way to publish if you stay with the three services I mentioned above.


Assisted self-publishing

Another alternative is to use an assisted self-publish service. One of the most reputable companies is Blurb. 

If you are not confident you can do everything to self-publish your book, it is a good option. With Blurb, you can publish in high-quality trade paperback in a choice of book sizes. You can also publish an ebook version.

Blurb also distributes to Amazon and many other book retailers.


Related reading: The Four Essential Elements You Need To Sell Books On Amazon



In today’s publishing industry there are two ways to publish and be sure you will not be scammed.

Take the traditional route, or self-publish and do everything yourself.

Avoid becoming tempted by offers from people and publishers that you don’t know. It might seem like a wonderful opportunity, but it is rarely the case.

It is very hard work to publish a book and a gamble. It’s a fact that very few books sell well.

Handing over a huge amount of money to someone you don’t know will never make it any easier or guarantee success.

Don’t let sharks and publishing scams take advantage of your dream.



Best and Worst Self-Publishing Services Reviewed & Rated by the Alliance of Independent Authors (Alli)

Check Alli’s vetted list for publishers with a history of problems that are clearly marked in red. You will find alerts for companies such as AuthorHouse, Dog Ear Publishing, Dorrance Publishing and Page Publishing, just to name a few.

Thumbs Down Publishers List by SFWA.


Further reading: Vanity Publishing And Self-Publishing Are Not The Same


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Derek Haines

Derek Haines is an Australian author, living in Switzerland.

15 thoughts on “Book Publishers To Avoid And Nasty New Author Scams

  • April 23, 2019 at 1:27 pm

    Well I have written a book that was bless by God to write cause he knew I had a testament to share with others, I tried to correct my errows but something would not let me, I assume it was the spirit to assure me to let it stay as is, why I don’t know, but I looking for a publisher to re- read my book and let me know if I have chance, I had a neighbor to read it and she said it brought tears to her eyes, I use to start off writting a book pand never finished it, but the spirit alarm me that once you start this book you are going to finish it to the very end and that’s what I did, I hoping for a miracle cause I have kids and grandkids I want to bless by this book along with others, and you are right about trusting other people, I don’t want my book in the wrong hands cause it’s my pride and joy and it’s a blessing from God to write this book. I hope you can guide me to the right publisher that can be a blessing, I am disabled but I do have dreams to be fulfilled.

  • March 30, 2019 at 9:47 am

    Hello everyone and thankyou for your excellent page…i just wanted to say that i payed balboa 1500 dol( i live in the uk..but was speaking to the us the whole time??.) december, but then received the written offer, read the fine lines and didn t sign the agreement.. and cancelled it over the phone and via email, thankfully.. HOWEVER it s been 3 months ,i haven ‘t yet gotten my money back after 3 emails where i was told i would , and now my last email was not answered, i am not sure what to do, if anyone has any ideas ,i am listening :) i feel like balboa being linked to hay house is a fabulous smoke screen …and an unfair one, i think i will write to hay house ? Best Laure

  • March 29, 2019 at 8:26 am

    New scam company on the alert – (I think this was the old author solutions) because that company had my details (yep was scammed) and now I just received a new email after many years! They must be trying to change names.

    Senior Author Adviser – Publishing & Marketing
    Author Reputation Press, LLC

    • March 29, 2019 at 8:17 pm

      Thanks very much, does this also apply to Book Guild Publishing? Their contract was much fairer than Austin Macualey (25% royalties) Book Guild (45% royalties.)
      Both are asking for £1900 contribution to a partnership. I have ruled out Austin Macauley (they offered me a second contract today for another book I sent in.)
      Any advice very much appreciated.

  • March 26, 2019 at 12:38 pm

    I have been offered partnership publishing for my first book by: Novum, Austin Macaualey and the Book Guild.
    Do you have any thoughts on the reliability of these companies re marketing and actually getting books onto book shop shelves?


  • March 22, 2019 at 9:57 pm

    I self published my book, Cape Comedy, with First Edition Design Publishing. For the first few years I received my royalties upon book sales. However, about 2 1/2 years ago, without any notice from them, they set a royalty threshold where unless my sales exceeded that threshold, they would hold my royalties until they did. Well, to this day I haven’t received my royalties. I confronted them 12 months ago about it, and I received an email stating they would release my royalties to me the next quarter. That would have been 8 months ago.It’s now 12 months since I confronted them, and I still haven’t received my royalties. I’m writing you simply to warn anyone embarking on a self-publishing career and seeking publishers, that First Edition Design Publishing is a company to stay away from. They have proven to be dishonest and untruthful with me, and I regret the day I entered into a relationship with them.

  • March 5, 2019 at 3:31 am

    I was(key word-was)recently with a publisher, who on another website was accused of being an author mill. There were some disagreements to that, I for one will vouch for the person saying they were leaning more on the side of the author mill. I know other authors that that had left the same publisher for their own reasons, one of which was not being paid the proper amount for number of books sold. I suspect this as well as does another close author friend of mine. The reason I left them was the day of my book release, they misspelled part of the title wrong. When I emailed and told them, they did not completely fix the issue. Two more mistakes were found a couple of days later and by then I was livid. I emailed back and said basically “fix or give me back my contracts!” Both emails from them(one person specifically) was very unapologetic. There are so many things that could be said why not to go with Solstice Publishing(they had to change their names a few years back!), I caution every author to check all other options before choosing them!

  • January 9, 2019 at 4:12 pm

    Thank you so much for the valuable info.that I’m vastly becoming to realize how easy it is to get scammed.By there’s so call vanity presses.I just had a bad experience with universe pulling company.So I pulled canceled the publishing package,I was involved.Due to the facts that a so called publishing consultant,literally told me no one at universe or any where else.Will edit my manuscript because it’s satuated with Ebonics and slang.I felt she was be ing biased/discriminatory towards me and my manuscript.So,I cancelled the publishing package I had with the company.I let a few of her superiors know what she said to me.Plus she wanted me to pay more money for editing.So now I’m even more careful,once again thank you so much for the informative articles.

    Stay blessed,

    Terence Banks

  • December 18, 2018 at 1:24 pm

    Thanks soo much for your very interesting artcle, i almost commited to Balboa yesterday, i payed …but luckily i haven signed the agreement so i will gwt my money back…phew… ..i have just been reading horendous reviews on how they can really make u pay and pay … so mamy thanks for helping me take another route :) Best , laura

  • September 26, 2018 at 6:36 pm

    Wise words but I must say that I used Matador for book 3 because of the time factor. They come highly recommended by Writer’s Workshop and others. I found them to be excellent – professional, savvy marketers as well as knowing their business. They aren’t vanity publishers at all.

  • August 31, 2018 at 9:33 pm

    I have been repeating this to fellow ‘self published’ authors since the inception of time. Unfortunately some fall for these scams regardless of the countless warnings. Thank you for re-iterating the importance of research before jumping onto the paper mache’ flotilla of scam artists out there!


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