Perils of Self-publishing


I belong to a number of writing groups, both local and online. I keep encountering complaints from writers about the perils of self-publish a book.

The complaints range from confusion about the process to getting ripped off by scammers. I’ve talked to a number of writers who have lost money to vanity press publishers and to “publicity” and “marketing” offers.

I decided to use my experience to describe some scams I’ve come across.

My motivation is the belief that the more authors understand the publishing and book marketing processes, the less likely they will be to fall prey to scammers.

Here are a few questionable “offers” I’ve come across.

How about a book contest in which the judges don’t read all the entires? So you spend close to a hundred dollars to enter the contest and there is good chance no one will read the book. I discovered this goodie by reading the fine print in the FAQS page for the contest website.

Another book contest warning. While looking at the list of previous winners in one contest site, I noticed that every book category had winners published by a vanity press with a shady and notorious reputation. So many vanity press winners screamed “collusion.”

I saw a promotion that promised to build a Facebook page for your book and get hundreds of likes for the page. All this for only a couple of hundred dollars. Well, you can make a Facebook page in a matter of minutes even if you aren’t very computer literate. It’s in Facebook interest to make it easy and to offer many help screens. As to the likes, they will be from people who have no interest in you or your book. These “likes” are not from potential customers. As such, the “likes” are completely useless.
I often see similar “offers” on Twitter.

There are a number of indie publishers who will go to great lengths to disguise the fact that they are vanity press houses. One sure tip off is advertising. If the publishing house is putting ads on web pages, it is an almost certainly a vanity press. One publisher I checked out looked quite good (no fees, quick turnaround, free cover and editing etc) until I go to the bottom of the page. There was a short notice that authors were expected to buy 1500 copies of the print book at book cost plus two dollars. That’s three grand you were expected to cough up to the company with a total bill of over ten thousand dollars if the book costs five bucks to produce. And guess how much room all those books will take up. At fifty books to a case, you will have to store thirty heavy cases of books. You’d have to put an extension on the house or move the car out of the garage.

The point I’m making is that self-publishing authors are the target for these scammers and they make a good living by ripping off unsuspecting authors.

One last piece of advice: Read ALL of the fine print on ALL the web site pages before you commit money.

Have you come across a scam? Please leave a comment and tell us about it.

Here is more information on self-publishing

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