For the last couple of weeks, I’ve posted about various types of publishing. But what scams are out there, waiting for unsuspecting writers to fall victim to their schemes? The truth is, there are too many out there to name one by one, so the best thing I can do is give you certain things to look for. Basically, I’m giving you some tips on whether or not the company you’re submitting to is legit or a scam.
The most important thing you can look for is, which way is the money flowing? In other words, does a publisher want money from you? What about an agent? One thing I’ve heard the big names in the publishing industry say over and over is that if an agency or a publisher wants money from you, it’s a scam 100% of the time. If a publisher claims to be a traditional press but offers “author services,” that’s a scam. If an agency wants money for representation, that’s a scam too.
I should also point out that this doesn’t include companies like CreateSpace or LightningSource. Those are legit companies that exist to help you publish. But if a company wants money claiming to be traditional, they’re lying and they’re what you call a vanity press. Avoid those companies like the plague.
There’s one company out there that claims to be a traditional publisher but is only interested in their bottom line. This is very common among vanity presses, but PublishAmerica is something else entirely. There’s literally too much bad PR to list it all here with this specific company, but I bring it up because you need to understand how bad these scams can be, and how sneaky they can be as well. PA also gives an advance to make it look like they’re traditional ($1 to be exact, which is laughable), but they lock you into a contract for seven years.
The point is, there’re a lot of scams out there and they don’t care about making you money. So all of this is something to look for, but there’s also a couple of useful websites that are available if you want to see if a company is a scam. One is Writer Beware, while the other is a forum called Absolute Write, or the “water cooler.” The second one is particularly useful when finding out if a company is a scam, because almost every publisher has its own thread dedicated to it.
This information is by no means complete, but it’s a start for those of you wishing to avoid scams on your way to publishing.
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