Avoiding Self Publishing Scams

At least 2-3 times a week we talk to an author who has been a victim of a self-publishing scam or has engaged with a company that doesn’t follow best book publishing practices. It’s sad—and can be financially devastating.


The truth of the matter is, there are a lot of companies out there who will take advantage with little recourse for an author or publisher.

self publishing scams

Here are 8 simple tips for avoiding self publishing scams and these problem companies:


1. Ask for references.
Any quality company should have authors and publishers that back up their work. Don’t get fooled by online endorsements. Ask for references from real people who have published real books (in your category) that you can contact. Check out the book links on Amazon and online to make sure they’re valid and you’re being given real people as references. Contact them directly.


2. Ask for sample books.
If working with a self-publisher, you want to see the quality of the books they’ve produced. There are a ton of great publishers and self-publishers out there, but you want to be sure you’re working with the real deal. Ask for samples, check out the covers, and make sure they can deliver on their promises. Be sure that you’re getting a high quality product for your money.


3. If self-publishing, know what you are getting.
If you are paying for your book, the source files should be yours. If not, find out why and how much it will cost for you to recoup your files. If they are going to “own” the files, make sure they are providing services to increase sales and that you have a traditional publishing deal. But it is a huge red flag if you are paying for files that you can’t have.


4. Be wary of any self-publishing company that requires you to print XX number of books.
That’s where they are making their money. Print to demand, category and expected sales. Never print to a required number.


5. They aren’t a “publisher” if you are paying.
If you pay for any portion of editing, copyediting, proofreading or design, you are self-publishing. And that’s ok! And a great plan for a lot of indie authors. A company that offers a “publishing deal” and then requires you to pay the publishing costs is really just a self-publisher.


6. Find out who owns your ISBN.
If you are using the self-publishing company’s ISBN, find out why and what they are doing for you. It’s simple (and inexpensive) to get your own and publish under your own imprint.


7. Know your availability.
Too many “self publishing companies” don’t actually know how to properly publish a book. You want to maximize profits on Amazon and be available through Ingram. You want to be sure that you are publishing your book to maximize your exposure. Are you available at Ingram? Is your book returnable? Is your book being offered to brick and mortar retailers at a standard trade discount?


8. Be careful on pricing.
NEVER price a book to a number a self-publishing company gives you to “make a profit”. Do your research and price your book to sell. If a company requires you to price your book at a high price, be wary.


Research, research, research. Doing your up front due diligence can help with avoiding self publishing scams and save you a ton of heartache down the road.


Questions? We can help! Contact us for a free 30-minute consulting call so we can answer your questions and point you in the right direction!


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