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Publishing Scams – A Must Read for New Authors

Some General Rules for Spotting a Scam Publishers claim can be verified.

  • The publisher’s books are rarely in any bookstores, particularly the large chain stores that carry books from just about all reputable commercial publishers.
  • The publisher’s books have never been seen on a bestseller list published by a reputable source such as the New York Times, especially when said publisher claims to be large.
  • The publisher’s books rarely sell more than 5,000 books to readers in individual purchases and more often fail to reach that number with most of their books in the double-digits or low triple digits in sales.
  • The publisher refuses to release even approximate sales figures for its own bestsellers.
  • When confronted with very low or non-existent sales, the publisher refuses to release the book from contract.
  • Books it claims to have published were actually published by another publisher, now defunct, that used the same business name.
  • Its contracts contain provisions that prohibit complaints by its authors about its service and product.
  • Postings in online forums never seem to include anyone who was rejected.
  • Online forum criticism is frequently immediately responded to by a defender of that publisher.
  • Acceptances usually take place in less than a month. Even less than a week is not unusual.
  • Acceptance letters tend to be identical when compared with what other authors received.
  • Contract provisions are specific as to how termination can be invoked, but the publisher disdains using anything other than some other method of communication.
  • Communications from the publisher are frequently unsigned by any individual using a department address so that no one can be pinned down as responsible for any comments made to the author.
  • The publisher never gives a direct answer to any direct questions. Instead, the publisher points to others who are satisfied with policy, procedures, contract, or sales as proof that everything is fine.
  • The publisher has a no return policy on its products.
  • The publisher regularly offers special discounts to its authors so they can self-purchase their own books in bulk quantities to resell but fails to offer regular discounts to the buying public.
  • The publisher threatens to blacklist its authors within the industry should they mention leaving.
  • The publisher points out to authors that it’s a member of its local BBB. (The BBB is for consumers. Authors are considered businesses.)
  • The publisher doesn’t offer its own editing services.
  • The publisher states the author doesn’t have to buy books and sell them, but with their business model it’s more profitable for the author to do so.
  • The publisher places its writers’ books on self-publishing sites though the publisher claimed it offered a “traditional” contract.
  • The publishers claims to be a traditional publisher but your ISBN won’t be registered until you’ve sold some quantity of books.
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