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Book Publishing Companies to Avoid at All Costs

5 minute read

Choosing the right publishing company is crucial for authors seeking to bring their books to the market. However, not all publishers have your best interests at heart.

Do you know that over 6,400 fraud reports were submitted, and $1.8 million was lost in the sphere of magazines and books in 2022? These are pretty big numbers.

In this blog post, we will explore seven red flags that should make you think twice before engaging with a particular publishing company. Let’s start.

1. Too promising advertising

Be careful if a publisher’s advertisements make grandiose claims of guaranteed success. Selling millions of copies at once or making yourself famous within a short timeframe is practically impossible for aspiring authors. Moreover, not every bestselling writer can get it.

Even reputable publishing companies working with famous authors cannot guarantee such outcomes. Be cautious of publishers focusing more on flashy promises than on delivering genuine value.

2. Offer to buy ISBN for you

If you need an ISBN (International Standard Book Number), you can easily purchase it online without additional assistance. Just visit My Identifiers and buy as many numbers as you need. You can get one for $125 or ten at once for $295.

Hiring someone to obtain an ISBN on your behalf is unnecessary and can result in additional fees or complications. People who provide such services just want to make money on you.

3. Registration of book copyright

Do you often hear that somebody can steal your work without copyright registration? Forget it; it’s not true. You automatically receive the copyright to your literary work as soon as you complete it.

However, you can copyright your book just to be safe. For example, you should contact the United States Copyright Office if you are a US citizen. Online registration costs between $45 and $65, while paper registration costs $125.  

Publishers manipulating the concept of copyright, telling horror stories, and demanding money for registration services are fraudsters.

4. Literary agents who insist on their services

You don’t necessarily need a literary agent as an indie author. However, if you decide to hire one, it’s best to look for a candidate from the Association of American Literary Agents. This is a proven resource where you will definitely not run into a scammer.

If a literary agent has found you independently and insists on offering their services, be cautious. This is especially suspicious if you’re an aspiring author and the agent promises you mountains of gold.

5. Payment upfront

Many platforms allow you to upload your books for free, earning a percentage of sales instead. Therefore, you usually do not need to risk anything in advance. The exception is that you should get a professional book cover design and marketing materials to attract your target audience.

If a publishing company insists on upfront payment, it should raise concerns. Reputable publishers typically operate on a revenue-sharing model or deduct costs from future sales. Beware of companies demanding payment before any tangible results are achieved.

6. No reviews or examples of their work

If you’ve found a publishing company that offers services at competitive prices, but you’ve never heard of it, don’t rush. First, you should research, find out more about the company’s reputation, and read the reviews of previous clients. You can directly request this information from the company.

If a company categorically refuses to provide customer reviews or show examples of their work, it’s best to run away. Such an attitude is an indicator of unreliability and a lack of trust.

7. Vanity publishers

At first glance, vanity publishers help authors release their books, but they charge a lot of money. They don’t really care about the quality and final result. That’s why you can publish your book, but it might be hard to get other people to read it or buy it.

Always check companies at the Alliance of Independent Authors to avoid working with vanity publishers. Use the services of trusted and recommended organizations.

Just in case, here is a list of several unreliable companies, but there are many more:

  • Abbot Press
  • AlphaScript
  • Archway Publishing
  • Author Solutions
  • Balboa Press
  • Dog Ear Publishing
  • LifeRich Publishing
  • Xlibris
  • Pagoda Publishing
  • Palibrio
  • Pegasus Elliot Mackenzie Publishers
  • Raider Publishing
  • Tate Publishing
  • Trafford Publishing 
  • VDM Publishing 
  • WestBow Press

Summing up

As an author, you deserve a trustworthy publisher to help you reach your target audience. By avoiding companies with red flags, you can protect your investment, maintain control over your intellectual property, and increase the chances of a successful publishing journey. 

Conduct thorough research, seek recommendations, and consult reliable resources when making your publishing decisions.

Have you ever encountered scammers among publishers? Share your experience in the comments.

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Vasylysa In her spare time, Vasylysa likes reading books, writing fiction, gardening, and walking. She hopes to publish her own book and become a famous author one day.
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