There Are Book Publishers To Avoid And Nasty New Author Scams

Author Scams

New authors, beware of vanity publishers and experts making you offers that are too good to be true. They really are book publishers to avoid.

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.

The warning signs of a scam publisher

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 simply not correct.

Self-publishing is a free service available to all authors.

You can use Amazon KDP, Apple, Nook, Smashwords, and Draft2Digital, to name a few of the many reputable self-publishing services.

You can publish a book with these companies with only a minimal investment in preparing your book.

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

If your goal is to become a published author, beware of publishers selling dreams. They can so quickly turn into nightmares.

 

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 AuthorSolutions’ defense 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.”

Other book publishers to avoid

There are a lot of 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 legitimate company or not? Judging by this advisory on 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.

 

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’s 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 has the site name, for example, www.firstclassediting.com 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?

Perhaps some new authors are not all that confident in the computer skills they need for the publishing process. Also, they may not know 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 upfront 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 to succeed, but 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.

When you sign a book contract with a publisher who produces, distributes, and markets your book, it 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 yourself 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.

But 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-publishing 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.

 

Summary

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 book publishers that you don’t know. It might seem like a wonderful opportunity, but it is rarely the case.

It is hard work to publish a book, and it’s 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.

 

References: 

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. These are definitely book publishers to avoid.

You will find alerts for book publishers to avoid, such as AuthorHouse, Dog Ear Publishing, Dorrance Publishing, and Page Publishing, just to name a few.

Thumbs Down Publishers List by SFWA.

Derek Haines

A Cambridge CELTA English teacher and author with a passion for writing and all forms of publishing. My days are spent writing and blogging, as well as testing and taming new technology.

Avatar for Derek Haines

104 thoughts on “There Are Book Publishers To Avoid And Nasty New Author Scams

  • Avatar for Rich Osborn
    June 24, 2021 at 6:53 pm
    Permalink

    Truman Publishing Claremont, CA took my $899 and ran. I asked for a refund because of their one-sided contract and John Taylor of Truman Pub said I would receive it in 20 days. Less than 30 seconds to take my money but 20 days to get it back. The 20 days passed; no refund. I cannot contact them. They only take phone messages and John never has called back. Don’t use them. It’s a scam. I only have me to blame.

    Reply
  • Avatar for Joseph
    June 17, 2021 at 10:27 pm
    Permalink

    I’d like to add ganpimedia for a company to WATCH out.
    I paid 5000 dollars but no result.

    Reply
  • Avatar for Amy
    March 27, 2021 at 6:52 pm
    Permalink

    I am not one to leave bad reviews unless it’s really warranted. And Tablo was so terrible that I need to write this, in the hopes that it was save others from experiencing the grief that I did. The communication was like pulling teeth and there were more frustrations than I can even list – but this is a nutshell….

    Nov 24, ‘ 20 – Before signing on, I spoke with Georgia and asked if they had printers in Canada, as I didn’t want to pay duties/taxes. She assured me that they did. After asking her to double check, she discovered that the closest printer was in Seattle.

    Nov 25, ’20 – Georgia tells me that they’ve never experienced a delay on freight to Canada and there are never extra duty or custom fees (remember this for later).

    Nov 30, ’20 – I contacted Tablo saying I have my book ready to submit. I asked if they require bleed (a print term) and if I would be able to see a digital proof. Damien replied the same day saying that they don’t need bleed and I would get a digital proof before publishing.

    Dec 2, ’20 – I am told by Damien that they reviewed my PDF and there were no issues. They asked me to sign up for a plan. I chose the ‘hardcover’ plan as there was a promo on. I asked if the hardcovers take longer to produce, and I was told by Ash that it is 5 days for paperback and 7 for hardcover. At this point I paid $399 USD for an annual subscription. I also asked again if I would be getting a digital proof and Ash said yes.

    Dec 7, ’20 – I haven’t heard anything so I check in for an update. Ash then tells me that he has gone ahead and approved the files for publishing. However, I haven’t received my digital proof. Ash then sends it to me and I see major issues. Alignments, spacing and timelines are all off. This is because I didn’t submit a file with bleed (as per earlier instructions). I spent a long time revising my file after this. I removed the patterns from each page because I didn’t trust the alignment, and changed it from reader spreads to singles (again, mixed instructions).

    At this point I also asked Ash for pricing for author copies. He gave me the breakdown and said shipping is a flat $29. I realize a few hours later that this doesn’t account for me being in Canada. Ash suggests that we actually print in the UK and ship from there, saying that printing would be 10% cheaper and printing/shipping time would be the same. I confirm that this won’t create a delay and Ash tells me that shipping would actually be FASTER.

    I then get a new digital proof and approve it for distribution.

    Dec 9, ’20 – I as Ash to revise the pricing for distribution and I order 100 paperback and 30 hardcover books. I ask if there are any fees on top of shipping and the cost of the books. I get a reply saying the pricing is being adjusted and no, there are no additional fees. Ash send me the price for my order. Fortunately I realize he had forgotten our conversation about printing in the UK and shipping to Canada and he revises the quote.

    I confirm again that there won’t be any additional shipping fees and Ash say no, this is the final fee.

    I catch that the retailers are still showing an old file for the preview of the book (before I made adjustments). This is because they approved it without showing me a proof. Ash says he will fix it.

    Dec 12, ’20 – I see that the retailer prices are all wrong. Barnes and Noble and Amazon had very different prices listed. On Amazon my hardcover was listed as $40 when I requested the pricing to be $19.99. Also, the book isn’t available via Amazon Prime which I rely on for sales.

    At this point I am frustrated. I ask Ash to cancel my plan and send me a refund. It has been less than a week since I signed up. I get a wish washy response about how these things take time and Prime will happen but not sure when and it takes times for prices to settle. I reply and say I’d still like to withdraw.

    Dec 14, ’20 – Ash tells me that they can’t give me a refund but they can mark it as ‘out of print’ and remove it from the distribution network. Ash says that this would prompt bookstores to de-list the book and would take 1-2 weeks to update and remove the listing. Ash also confirms that he did change the pricing and will look into it further. I realize that Amazon is STILL pulling the old file for the preview.

    Dec 19, ’20 – Pricing and preview of book are still wrong.

    Dec 30, ’20 – No reply and I have not received the books that I was expecting before Christmas. Ash tells me he’ll look into it.

    Ash then tells me that when TRIED to update the pricing before, it didn’t work and he neglected to let me know. He also tells me that the books were bring printed on the 15th and I should receive them shortly. All Ash can tell me is that he knows they have let me down.

    Jan 8, ’21 – The books that I was supposed to receive BEFORE Christmas finally arrive. I am charged customs/duty. Fortunately Tablo reimbursed this. BUT the hardcover books are missing. Damien says he’ll look into it.

    Feb 14, ’21 – STILL no hardcover books. I tell them that this is a scam and I want a refund.

    Feb 18, ’21 – I get a reply saying that my books are at the Richmond UPS warehouse and I should call them to follow up. I call and UPS tells me that books never made it to Canada. That Tablo cancelled the order before they got shipped out. Obviously furious, I again demand a refund.

    Feb 24, ’21 – Miracle: the hardcover books arrive (I have to pay duty/customs which did get reimbursed). Almost 3 months late.

    Now, on top of all this, before I cancelled my account some books did sell through distributors. I’m supposed to receive royalties for these sales. I’ve asked many times and no one can tell me where those royalties are. I will be very surprised if I ever see that money.

    Also, the Tablo books are STILL showing on retailers websites but as unavailable. I’ve asked to pull these listings down and they won’t. After some research, I see that many people have had the same issue and are actually looking to sue for their intellectual property. As a reminder, Ash said that it would take 1-2 weeks to be removed.

    I’ve since republished with KDP and the process has been like night and day. Long story short: stay away from Tablo!

    Reply
    • Avatar for Derek Haines
      March 27, 2021 at 9:58 pm
      Permalink

      I have to agree with your last sentence, Amy. I really sympathize with you and the problems you’ve had with your publisher. But in the end, you send a clear message to new authors. Self-publish and stay in control. It might take a short learning curve, but you can avoid so many problems by doing so.

      Reply
  • Avatar for nicla
    February 22, 2021 at 6:40 am
    Permalink

    I got contacted as well by silver ink literary, did you figure out if they are legit? It doesn’t feel like they are…

    Reply
  • Avatar for MARIA G. ONYEGBULE
    February 18, 2021 at 5:51 am
    Permalink

    I have also been contacted by Stef Harris of the Silver Ink literary agency. Does anyone know anything about them, are they genuine? or is this just another scam.

    M, G.

    Reply
    • Avatar for Laisa
      March 13, 2021 at 10:04 am
      Permalink

      How are you going with your book? Are you taking this offer from Silver Ink. Need to know please, my daughter has also been contacted. They seem legit

      Reply
      • Avatar for Chloe
        June 15, 2021 at 7:31 am
        Permalink

        They are not legit. Paid 20,000 with them.. Havent heard from them anymore. I got
        Scammed by them.

        Reply

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