Contrary to what some writer’s sites may have one believe, the vast majority of publishers are perfectly reputable and honest.However there are a very small minority who make life difficult for the author and bring a bad name to the industry. Mirador Publishing are part of a group of publishers who are committed to helping expose the publishing scams by listing them on our websites
In the early days of the internet scams were relatively primitive and generally involved a Nigerian Prince with a suitcase full of money. However the internet has matured and so have the scammers.
There is no section of the internet that is immune from these potential criminals and con artists and the publishing industry is certainly not alone. This is why we at Mirador Publishing present a list here of some of the more common or pernicious attempts used by thieves and con artists to separate the unwary from their money. This list is by no means definitive as the scammers evolve constantly to keep ahead of the watchdogs.
High Initial Fee
This is the oldest and still one of the most common scams. The publishing company charges massive fees to publish a book, often several thousands of pounds. They will also add lots of extras such as insisting you buy a large number of books at a hugely inflated price. They have no intent on retailing the books. This, fortunately, is relatively easy to spot. Just search on Amazon to see if their books are actually in the retail system.
High RRP Scam.
This is run by some very big players who spend vast amounts of money on internet advertising, those small adverts that appear within searches under a variety of names.
On the face of it they appear to be a traditional publisher who make no charges. However, somewhere in the contract is your agreement to take a huge number of books at an extremely high price. The books will never sell through retail lines as the RRP is much too high often £20 or more for a paperback book. A good way of checking for this scam is to look on Amazon to see at what price their books retail.
The eBook only Scam.
A fairly new con but becoming more pernicious. The company appear to be a Traditional Publisher and are happy to take your book. However either upfront, or more often further down the line, they say your book needs to ‘Prove Itself’ as an eBook before they will launch as a paperback. You have now given up the paperback rights but it will never be published. The scammers have made no investment in your book, will pay very low royalty rates, yet if they sell only one copy they make a profit. This scam work for the scam publisher because of the very high volumes of manuscripts they deal with. Easy to check, Look to see if their books are actually available as paperbacks.
The Hidden Extras Scam
Most often with Self Publishers and some big well known names are involved here. What appears to be a very low cost or even free Self Publishing deal turns out to have lots of hidden charges for things one should expect to be standard. The classic example of this is the ‘Restricted Distribution’ variation. You sign up to the self publisher and all appears well until you realise that your book is actually only available through their own single outlet. When you question this the fees start to appear. Extra fees for retail chain supply, for various geographical territories, to have your book listed in the international book data catalogues etcetera. A very difficult one to spot and one needs to read the detail carefully.
The Manuscript Display Scam.
Not actually a publishing scam but still a scheme designed to separate authors from their money. You are invited to display you manuscript on a website which you are assured is visited daily by top publishers and film scouts. This often starts out free but then you are up-sold to have a priority listing. Needless to say publishers are not visiting these sites.
The Cruising Editor Shark.
These are tricky people, They are editors, generally of questionable quality, who spend their time cruising the writer’s forums looking for victims. Their method is blatant but still catches the unwary. They spend all their time hunting the internet for reputable editors then openly rubbishing them on public forums. Within their own tagline or avatar is a clue that they are themselves an editor. This scam again relies on the massive size of some of these forums, they know the large numbers will eventually turn in enough victims. The resultant ‘Editing’ is usually little more than a standard Spelling/Grammar checker.
The Bad Review Blackmail Scam.
This one is very nasty and becoming more of a problem daily. A published author is approached usually via a social media site or anonymous email with a blatant threat; send money or we will leave a string of one-star reviews on your book. Even a very high quality book can be destroyed by a handful of one-star reviews.
The Publish Me Or Else Scam.
This is a scam affecting publishers and is a variant of the massive problems facing the Hospitality Industry through sites like Tripadvisor where hotel guest blackmail hoteliers in return for not leaving bad reviews. Increasingly publishers are receiving threats that if an author is not accepted they will post derogatory reviews in writer’s forums websites. We ourselves have been threatened in this way many times. Mirador, like most good publishers has always refused but one only has to look at some of the vitriol spouted on many of the forums to see the results of these blackmail attempts.
The Stolen Manuscript.
Some misguided authors send huge numbers of copies of their manuscripts to lists of publishers simultaneously . Whilst most of those on the list will be reputable there are scam publishing companies around who take the manuscripts, do a simple ‘Search and Replace’ on the character’s names, change the title then put it out as an eBook.
Copyright Registration Con.
This is a very common con and relies on author’s ignorance of the laws of copyright. There are a variety of these companies around, many of whom do their best to make their websites appear to be official government sites rather than profit focused companies. The ploy is you are charged large sums of money to register the copyright of your book to prevent theft. Firstly, in most countries of the world, those subscribed to the Berne Convention, copyright is created automatically on the day you create the work, There is no need to register. And with those countries not subscribed to the Berne Convention then the only place to register is with the government itself, not with a private company.
Writer’s Competitions Con.
Whilst there are many fine and legitimate competitions out there for writers there are also many more that are really just Pay To Be Published On Our Website cons. The author pays an entry fee and the winner’s manuscripts are displayed on the website, supposedly with the idea cruising publishers will want to snap up these award winning authors. Publishers do not cruise for manuscripts, they have more than enough already. The competition adds nothing to an author’s reputation yet the fees amount to a tidy windfall for the website.
Book Doctors Disguised As Agents.
These days it takes little skill to set up as a Literary Agent. There are no qualifications needed, licences or mandatory professional bodies. All that is needed is a convincing website and when the manuscripts come in an enthusiastic reply to the author promises great things but first, the manuscript needs some editing. Fortunately the ‘Agent’ has an editor to hand who for a thousand or two will turn the manuscript into the next best seller.
How To Spot A Publishing Scam.
The first thing to understand is what is the business of the company at which you are looking? Sometimes authors will see publishing scams where none exist just because the business model they are seeing is unfamiliar. The publishing industry divides roughly into three sectors:
Traditional Publishing. The publisher takes all the risk and therefore most of the profit. The author puts up no money but these publishers are extremely choosy about what they publish and will turn down probably 99.9% of all submissions.
Self Publishing. Examples are Createspace and Lulu. The author pays all the costs of publishing and printing. No selection of manuscripts these companies simply print for a fee. Sometimes it’s an upfront payment or other times, as in the case of Createspace, it’s a charge levied against each book printed.
Partnership Publishing. Where the author and publisher share the costs and the profits. The best of the partnership publishers are still very fuss about which manuscripts they will take but the financial support of the author generally means they will take more chances than do Traditional Publishers.