How To Spot A Publishing Scam Or Scammer

The publishing world, like any other industry, suffers from its share of sharks. Cruising predators waiting to separate the hopeful writer from their cash. However, there are nowhere near as many as some would have you believe and a few sensible precautions should see you safe.

Firstly, some myths. “The Flow of Money should always go from publisher to writer.” That hoary old chestnut has been around for fifty years and at one time probably had some validity. However we are in a different economic world now and that overly simplistic nonsense belongs in the book of dead quotes along with “Global Warming is just a myth” and “You’ll never lose money by investing in bricks and mortar.”

The flow of money in every business on the planet is a two way process and there is no reason why publishing a book should be any different.

Writing a book is a business these days and a book is just a product like any other, and like a tin of baked beans it is worthless if it just sits on the shelf. If you have produced the perfect tin of beans and nobody has knocked on your door to buy it, then you have two choices. You leave it on the shelf forever or decide that perhaps it’s time to adopt a more proactive approach and take it into the market yourself. After all, a small investment will certainly result in better returns than leaving it on the shelf.

Unfortunately this is where it is possible to fall foul of the scammers if one is not vigilant. The vast majority of self or partnership publishers are perfectly reputable and provide good value for money but you need to understand what their business model is before embarking on a project with them.

In overly simplistic terms, there are two types of publisher out there. One whose business model is selling books to the general public. The other whose business model is selling services to authors.

That’s it! It really is that simple!

The difficulty is trying to tell the difference, especially when some of the more unscrupulous vendors of author services try to disguise what they are doing as selling books.

There is however an incredibly easy way to spot the difference and see through the flim-flam. Check out their books on Amazon and see if it looks as if they really are trying to sell books or just listing them to keep their authors happy.

Choose a paperback book with around 250—300 pages and ensure it is a current title.
What is the RRP? If it is over £10 or $15 then it is not going to sell.
Are there cover images displayed or just a place holder?
Is there a description of the book with attractive blurb?
Is there a Kindle version?
Is ‘Look Inside’ available?
Are there any reviews?
Is it available or is there a long delay? (Very new titles will legitimately show a delay)

For example, try searching on Amazon for Iuniverse and you will see a list of 55,000 titles. How many of those have images? Details? Look Inside? Kindle? Or actually seem priced to sell? You don’t need an MBA to see what their business model is. Nor do you need to spend months scouring the Rumour Mills and Writer’s Whinge-Forums on the internet when ten minutes work will give you all the answers.

That’s it! It really is that easy to spot a business model.

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