Self-Publishing Predators and How to Avoid Them

The world is full of companies who are looking to take advantage of authors who don’t know anything about the industry. These are what we like to call self-publishing predators…and they catch authors every single year. It’s not always easy to spot them, but we’re going to provide you with a few tips so you can avoid issue.
 
The last thing you want is to fall prey to one of these predators.

The good news is that there are various ways to see if you’re being taken advantage of – and what you can do instead.

 These are some questions you need to ask, or be on the lookout for in the marketing schemes of various self-publishing companies.
 

Are you being charged to have your book read?

 
In the publishing world, there are hundreds of options. You can try to find an agent and publisher to print your book, turning you into a traditionally-published author. Or, you can go the route of an indie author and take the DIY approach.
 
If you decide to be an indie author, you get to publish on your own (with the help of a printing press, like Online Binding). This means that the publisher should simply print your book to your standards. You choose the paper, the binding, and the other details.
 
If you are being charged to have your book read before they “decide” to publish you, beware that you are probably falling into a scam. This is because they shouldn’t be charging you for this. It’s one thing if an agent wants to read your book first (but they shouldn’t charge, either). As a printing press, they are assisting with the publishing process, but it’s not their book – it’s yours.
 

Are you paying for print-ready files?

 
Print-ready files don’t mean anything if you’re not actually going to print with the company. Why? They are formatting, but the printer may need a different format. Further, if they are going to print the books for you, there should be no reason to have this kind of file.
 
Templates are often used for these, which means your book is going to look EXACTLY like so many other books out there. While formatting should be similar, there may be certain formatting that needs to be done specifically for your book based upon the genre and what you hope to accomplish. If this isn’t going to be done, you could be wasting your money.
 

Are you getting “free” copies of your book?

 
This is always a scam that manages to lure plenty of authors every year. When a publisher offers you “free” copies of your book, you cannot depend on this. They’re not free. In fact, you’re probably paying a pretty penny for them because they are included within the package that you are spending an arm and a leg for. They may charge you thousands of dollars just to format the book and in return, they are going to give you books.
 
This is one of the biggest cons out there and you don’t want to fall for it. Nothing comes for free in this world, especially not a box of your books, printed and hot off the press.
 

Are you “eligible” for a certain package?

Ahh, the word “eligible” is a scary one, indeed. When you read through certain publishers and learn that you are eligible for something, it most always means that you are eligible to spend more money. Considering you have already probably paid way too much for what you are getting, you want to keep your spending to a minimum.
 
The best thing to do is look at all that you’re getting for a package. Is it truly worth it? If you were to break everything down into individual costs, are you getting a deal or does it seem higher than normal?
 
When you are an indie author, you control what you pay for. If you already have a cover design that you love, use it. If you already have your book formatted and are happy with it, don’t pay for someone else to do it again.
 

Are you paying a large amount of money upfront without getting a product to sell?

 It’s scary, but there are some “vanity” publishing houses that want to charge $5,000 and up to provide you with a publishing package. Before you hand over ANY money, you have to look at what you’re getting. You are getting something upfront for all that money, right?
 
This is what predators do. They charge all the money upfront and then they will design the cover, handle the formatting, and send you the books. Maybe. While it may seem like a good deal because you don’t have to do anything throughout the process, it’s not really a deal at all.
 
You don’t have to spend a fortune for formatting, cover design, or printing. Many times, books cost between $2 and $7 each, depending on the size and the number of pages. You do the math, based upon how much the package is going to give you. If it doesn’t work out in your head, that’s because they’re charging you way too much.
 
The other thing is when they decide to set up the Amazon account for you for your e-book. It’s under their name, so you don’t have access to it. This means you can’t take advantage of Kindle Unlimited, ads, change pricing, descriptions, subgenres, or anything else. Kindle deposits royalties in your account monthly – though a publishing company may make you wait quarterly or even annually to see your royalties, and that’s if you see them at all.
Paying large amounts of money to a publishing house is known as a “vanity” press in many instances and it’s often a rip off. There are predators out there and you can avoid them by reading the fine print.
 

Don’t be afraid to ask questions, get things written down for you, and ask to speak to other authors they have worked with. Check out their reputation on social media, too.

 
 
Every year, more publishers make the list, which shows that there are more and more predators out there. You can protect yourself by doing the research before you give money to any company.

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