Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Don't Fall for a Scam

You’ve probably been hearing about the mortgage loan crisis, even if it doesn’t affect you. People getting trapped into ballooning mortgage payments. Sure sometimes they were greedy. Sometimes, though, they were scammed or flat out tricked. They thought they were signing for a flat low rate, only to find out they signed papers where their payments ballooned. Maybe they wanted that house so badly, they weren’t as vigilant as they should have been.

That can happen when you really want something and have dreamed about it and worked toward achieving that dream. And here I’m talking about writers wanting to get their book published. Nothing wrong with going with a small press or even going the route of self-publishing, if it fits your needs. You can even go with a vanity press – that means the writer pays someone else to publish the book – but you have to be very careful you’re not getting ripped off.

Most small presses are legitimate, but you have to check them out, just as you would check out your agent if you went the traditional route.

Self-publishing can be hazardous and a lot of hard work. You work with a cover artist and pay them for their work. You go to a binder to get the book bound. You hire a copy editor before it goes to press. You have to get your ISBN. There are a hundred steps that you do yourself. But you see these steps; you dole out the money to make the book a reality.

With a vanity press, you basically say, here’s my money (and that can be in the thousands), you do it for me and send me the finished project. If you’re going to turn over five, ten, thousand – even more – you better be sure you trust the person running the press. You better investigate their past publications and check with former clients. You better look for them in scam alert sites online.

If not, you may end up losing a lot of money and getting nothing in return. Read this cautionary tale, called “Literary Dreams End in Litigation” from the San Diego Union-Tribune.


  1. I recently went to publish a novel and was told that the publisher would read it to determine whether or not it would be accepted and would I please pay them $2000 for this evaluation. This got up my nose somewhat, but formed the basis of an idea; what if there was a platform for authors to publish their manuscripts quickly and easily, within having to embark on a steep learning curve and at minimal cost? Hence our new website at http://www.readauthorsbooksdirect.com which sets out to provide this platform. Any feedback on the site to authorsdirect@gmail.com would be very welcome. And, above all - don't give up! There ARE ways to get your book out there, with or without massive effort.

  2. Hi Len. Thanks for sharing your experience and your new website. To all my readers: never pay for an evaluation. If you want an edit and you choose an editor to do it, that's different. But no agent or publisher should expect you to pay them a fee. If they ask for one, that's a red flag. I don't know anything about Len's site. Anyone out there have an experience with the site they'd like to share?


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