Writers Beware: Publishing Scam

Image Courtesy of WriterFly

Image Courtesy of WriterFly.com

What is the purpose of writing? Authors write their books in order to communicate their thoughts to the world, because they believe there is still more to be explained, discovered, and learned. Authors write in order to share their perspectives with people who may need it. These are the intentions which publishers should respect — as it is their job to issue such works– but what happens when writers choose a publisher that has no respect for their work at all? What happens when the publisher’s main priority is money?

One of the largest publishing scandals happened in 1970 when The Famous Writers School was exposed for scamming naïve writers into spending hundreds of dollars simply to see if they could be successful in the world of literature. The original story, written by Jessica Mitford, outlined the scheme in great detail to show just how many companies were involved and how many people were tricked. The scheme was so large and undetected that ads for The Famous Writers School appeared in respected magazines and television programs.

Similar scams are still being conducted, yet it seems that people are still falling into the traps. Many do not realize that they have fallen into these “traps” until it is too late and their books have been published with numerous errors and pricing issues. Publishing companies such as America Star Books and American Book Publishing have been known to rope in their clients with extravagant possibilities, then produce less than adequate results. Thankfully, there are websites like http://www.sfwa.org/other-resources/for-authors/writer-beware/alerts/ that fully inform and warn aspiring writers about which companies not to trust.

While it is possible for writers to fall prey to publishers that provide bankruptcy instead of success, it is also possible to avoid them. The first way to avoid scams like these, is to become informed about what kinds of red flags to look for when speaking with any company that offers to buy your work. Large “setup” fees, agreements to buy multiple copies of your own book, and “interminable agency clauses” are some of the many warning signs to keep an eye out for.

You may also choose to self publish your works as ebooks with platforms like Amazon, or Kindle Direct Publishing. Self publishing ebooks is one of the most popular ways that authors get their works to their readers now, even if it means that the books may never be in print. Like anything in life, however, there are dangers; unknowingly signing over rights to the book, authorizing changes in price, or even deletion of a book are possible if you do not read to the terms and conditions carefully.

Of course, the way an author chooses to publish his or her books is based entirely upon preference. Whether you decide to do everything yourself of work with a company, the results should be the same: effectively share your thoughts with others knowing the your best was put into the world. Aspiring writers, please take precautions and do thorough research to prevent these unfortunate realities from becoming your own.

By Daisy Garcia