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, 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.



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.



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

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

  • Avatar for J scovit
    November 27, 2021 at 4:09 pm

    Sour grapes, sad stories. Stay with Amazon mostly. J

  • Avatar for Lorie N Davis
    August 19, 2021 at 8:49 pm

    A timely article! I was just contacted by Great Writer’s Media. Of course, they offered me services to “fix” and republish a book that got 5 Amazon stars in 2002, but whose publisher is defunct. They asked if they could have/buy the rights to the title of that book with an eye to republishing. But I thought I should check them out before replying. I cannot find any actual facts by anyone about them or their services, except what was on their own website. The only published author they quoted wrote a 38 page kids book.

  • Avatar for Thomas Doyle
    July 23, 2021 at 3:13 am

    Badgering a man constantly (to the point where it was apparent to people in the group who did not even know you) and then calling him out on social media because he’s not giving you the time you so obviously think you deserve is not a good look. I especially like the part where you think him not answering you due to his mom’s death was an ‘excuse.’ Perhaps sending him messages during a period of grief was not the best idea? Book publishers don’t owe you anything, especially without a contract. If you waited around for two years for an answer you weren’t getting, that’s on you for not pursuing other avenues. As you yourself said, Nick is a one man show (and perhaps he takes on more responsibility than he can handle at times) but he has always tried to do his best. He’s not Scribner, he’s a man with a love of the genre trying to do his part as best as he can. I’ll stop now before I get accused of mansplaining, but take comfort in the fact that I chose not to use capitals for emphasis. Wishing you all the best…

  • Avatar for Anna
    July 2, 2021 at 10:43 am

    To help aspiring Horror, Thriller, and Science Fiction authors, I want to spread the word about Nicholas Grabowsky. He is the publisher and owner of Black Bed Sheet Books.

    For the last 2 years, I belonged to 2 of Nicholas’ Facebook groups, which are Black Bed Sheet Books and Horror Nation. Horror Nation is strictly meant for Horror fans sharing Horror-related content whereas Black Bed Sheet Books is mostly for Horror authors and fans.

    Last year, I talked to Nicholas on his Black Bed Sheet Books group page and he misled me about my work. I submitted at least 2 different versions of my story.

    He briefly explained to me last year about contracts and told me that my story would be published sometime this year.

    Because Nicholas Grabowsky appears to be a 1-man show, I was willing to have some of my friends help him with book cover illustrations and whatnot. When I offered, he wouldn’t respond.

    Nicholas asked other authors within the last few months to vote for him to make recommendations lists for Black Bed Sheet Books and we did.

    Every time I asked him a simple question about my book, he kept saying “I’ll PM you real soon” and “I’ll PM you later” with a winking emoji.

    Every time Nicholas Grabowsky said that to me, I sat and waited. He could NEVER answer a simple yes or no question or give any answer to my questions at all.

    It was not until June 25, 2021 that Nicholas FINALLY gave me an answer and it was only because I confronted him on his Facebook group page.

    Last Friday, I was mostly asking him about what I should do to advertise my book.

    Suddenly a random book publisher, who does NOT work for Black Bed Sheet Books at all felt compelled to interlope in our conversation with snide remarks, mansplaining, and patronized me about not getting my work published by Black Bed Sheet Books simply because I asked Nicholas Grabowsky about WHEN he would respond to me.

    Nicholas finally confessed to me that he “decided” that he disliked my story and “set it in a pile of other stories.”

    Never once did he explain WHY he disliked my story and wanted to use his own mother’s sudden death as an excuse for not answering my questions, when he KNEW about my story, since last year or 2 ago.

    I let Nicholas Grabowsky know publicly that he misled me into believing that he was working on my story, when he disliked it the whole time.

    Had Nicholas had been HONEST with me, I would’ve understood and could’ve looked for another publisher. Instead, he avoided me like a coward and used me as well as other authors to vote for he and his company to make lists for Horror publishers to use.

    What Nicholas Grabowsky did was awful, cowardly, juvenile, and highly unprofessional as a book publisher in the eyes of many people.

    This comment may sound like I am posting this with malicious intent, but if he has done this to me, I can only imagine who else Nicholas did this to in the past and present.

    With that being said, it would be beneficial for other Horror, Thriller, and Science Fiction authors to AVOID Black Bed Sheet Books like it is The Plague and like Covid-19 combined.

    Nicholas Grabowsky is disingenuous to new authors, who are inexperienced with the book publishing industry.

    Please add Black Bed Sheet Books to the list of book publishers to avoid and help spread the word to new and aspiring authors.

    • Avatar for Nicholas Grabowsky
      July 23, 2021 at 1:02 am

      Why are you lying about me and my company? I never told her I was going to publish you, and I never had the time to look at your work. You kept implying in posts on Facebook that I agreed to anything, and I didn’t like that at all. We have a top notch reputation worldwide since 2008 and the horror industry and the publishing world greatly respects the achievements of my authors as well as myself and there’s nothing you can say to take that away from us. Just because I did not publish you doesn’t mean you have to be vindictive. I did not mislead you, I never said anything that wasn’t true, all I told you since last year was that I have yet to look at your stuff, and you’d write back telling me when you want your book to come out and I gave you a few ideas of my timeline “IF” I got around to reading and making a decision. And you are very cruel to mention my mom in this. I don’t see anyone ever publishing you at all, ever, and it takes a lot from me to say that to someone. While Black Bed Sheet keeps moving up in the world with our growing list of nearly 200 authors to date, I’m glad I don’t have to deal with you taking up any more of my time and always putting words in my mouth or, like now, outright lying about our conversations. No publisher ever wants to deal with that, but sometimes there are people like you that sadly exist :(

      • Avatar for proud ofyou
        July 23, 2021 at 10:23 pm

        Very well said Mr. Grabowsky!

    • Avatar for Mad ah
      July 23, 2021 at 4:58 am

      Wow! I find this post very disturbing not only for black bedsheet books, but also to you
      It seems to me as if you think you are the next great writer and you submitted a book that the publisher was not willing to invest his money into. A publisher gets a lot of submitions a day, and they have to decide what they want to invest in. You should be proud that this publisher even said okay I will look at it. To call him a coward, and said he ignored and used his mom’s death as an excuse not to talk to you…. Shame on you. I predict this future any publisher reading this and you submit your work to them, will not even give you a second look.


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