Writers and Authors Beware!

If you’re considering self-publishing, you’ve probably been doing some research about how to avoid the various scams and predatory “services” and vanity presses out there fighting for your attention and money. It’s a rough world… there are a lot of people and businesses who are eager to take advantage of authors. Before you give any money to anyone for any service, please check out the following links as appropriate:

Preditors and Editors

Writer Beware, and here’s the page on vanity presses and scam warning signs, along with an extensive list of other places to check out any publishing house you are considering

Hugh Howey – an indie author (with a previous book published by a small press) who has fantastic advice on indie publishing

TerribleMinds – written by Chuck Wendig, a hybrid author (he has both traditionally and indie-published books) with great advice. Be warned – the language is pretty vulgar. The advice is good though.

A Newbie’s Guide to Publishing – written by J. A. Konrath, a formerly traditionally published author who went indie (he may still have a few titles locked up in traditional publishing) and offers great advice on indie publishing.

David Gaughran – I linked directly to a post on the basics of self-publishing (what’s involved, how to get started, etc.)

The Independent Publishing Magazine

Dean Wesley Smith – another indie with good advice and cautions about scams

Linday Buroker – yet another indie with good advice

The Creative Penn – overall a great resource for indies

The Passive Voice – another great blog

Note how many indie authors are on this list… indie authors who are succeeding are the best resources on how to self-publish and how to succeed as an indie author. Traditional presses know their business but are dramatically behind the curve of a changing industry. Traditionally published authors may or may not “get it,” but even if they see the benefits of going indie, they may be locked into contracts with no compete clauses.

Don’t think that big name traditional publishers are your allies, either. Check out this warning (one of many sites with good info on this scam) about Author Solutions, a predatory vanity/scam publisher now owned by Penguin. Author Solutions also operates under the names iUniverse, Xlibris, AuthorHouse, Tate, Infiniti, Hay House, and a number of other names. Also be warned that a number of other big name publishers like Simon and Schuster, Harlequin, Thomas Nelson (owned by Harper Collins), and others have contracted with Author Solutions for their own money-making vanity press operations. PLEASE read this warning article by David Gaughran before you consider using any kind of self-publishing service. Lulu also signed a deal with Author Solutions. Publish America (apparently now known as America Star Books) is another known scammy vanity press.

AgentQuery.com – if you’re interested in searching for an agent

QueryShark – if you’re pursuing traditional publication

QueryTracker – for those pursuing traditional publication

I’m reluctant to even link to some of the other big websites… they have some good info, but several of them have profiled Author Solutions as if it was a legitimate company instead of a scam. Beware reading these… I don’t trust them, but they do have some good info if you’re willing to do your due diligence: GalleyCatPublishersWeekly, Writer’sDigest (overall decent for writing advice but they run their own vanity press too!).

Does indie publishing sound too scary? Don’t panic yet. There are a number of authors warning about the various scams online. You can check out various writing groups online (the Absolute Write Water Cooler Bewares forum is a good one, as is the Kindle Boards forum) and ask about any agent or publisher you’re considering. If you’re still not sure, ask! One of the things I love about the indie writing community is that it is a community. Most people really are willing to help you as much as they can, or at least point you in the right direction. No indie wants to see another indie get scammed.