One out of every eight people call themselves a acim, which means there are roughly 24 million people in the United States who carry that banner. Unfortunately there are charlatans and scam artists just waiting to ambush the unsuspecting author. How can a novice writer protect themselves against unscrupulous book publishers?
What to look out for:
The book publisher charges the author a fee up front, to have their book accepted, considered or read. These fees are sometimes called a reading fee, intake fee or administrative fee.
The book publisher directs authors toward specific editing services or gives authors’ names to these services, with the caveat that if the author hires the editing service, their book will be published. Every book needs editing. It is part of the publisher’s job to provide that editing at no cost.
The book publisher offers a contract where the author has to pay for part of the publishing costs. The acquisition editor will sometimes say that the publisher’s list is full for that season, but the author’s book has so much going for it, they would still like to publish it. However the publisher’s resources are fully committed and the author will have to share in the costs.
Some book publishers offer contracts that are unfair, such as they obtain rights that should remain with the author of the work. Some book publishers’ contracts contain a clause that if the author says anything negative about the book publisher, there is a monetary fine. There are also book publishers who hold the rights for a lengthy time period, regardless of whether the book is still in print or selling.
The book publisher doesn’t disclose they are a Publish on Demand (POD), or vanity/subsidy publisher, or actually denies they are a POD book publisher. There is nothing wrong with an author using a subsidy/vanity book publishing company as long as the author is well aware of the disadvantages.
Publish on Demand books are not, as a rule, stocked by bookstores. Some POD book publishers will insist that their books are available in book stores, as a way to get around this issue. Available is not the same thing as stocked. Available only means the book can be ordered through the bookstore. Since the majority of books sold, are stocked and sold by bookstores, this situation puts a damper on sales.
A book publisher’s website is targeted to its customers. If the website promotes the books they’ve published that’s a good sign. If the website is focused on recruiting writers, that’s a bad sign.