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Authors Beware: Scams and Publishing Companies to Avoid

Posted in: Understanding Publishing on March 1, 2018 138 Comments 💬

[Last updated 5/29/2019]

Becoming a published author is a fantasy shared by almost all writers. And as with almost any widely-shared ambition, there are also folks out there looking to make a quick buck by exploiting those dreams — whether they involve securing a book deal or going the indie publishing route.

The publishing world has its fair share of scammers and disreputable companies. At Reedsy, we regularly hear from authors who, despite being well-informed and educated people, have fallen prey to these scammers. In this post, we’ll take a closer look at common writers scams and show you how to identify the publishing companies to avoid on your journey to publication.

If you are wondering about the legitimacy of a certain company, leave us a comment below or drop us a line at service@reedsy.com. We'll get back to you right away.

Vanity Presses

“Oh, my! There’s a publisher who wants to release my book!”

Not all publishers are created equal. For every Random House, there is some guy in a random house, convincing authors that they hold the key to publishing success. But before you sign on the dotted line, stop for a second and ask yourself and look at what they’re offering.

Most reputable publishers share the same business model: the publisher acquires the rights to publish and distribute the book by paying the author an advance. The publisher will then cover the costs of editorial, design, and marketing. Once the book is published, the author will receive a royalty of every copy sold (after the author’s total royalties have covered the advance).

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Notice how, at no point in this process, the author hands any money to the publisher? Vanity presses, on the other hand, will not only not offer an advance, but they will also play on the vanity of authors in order to make them bear some (or all) of the costs of publishing.

What to expect from vanity presses

Here’s the ugly truth: Vanity presses don’t rely on book sales to pay the bills. Their end customer is the author who’s willing to pay for services like editing and design.  Think of them as the equivalent of Bialystock & Bloom from Mel Brooks’ The Producers — they can make as much money from a flop as they can from a hit.

Gene Wilder and Zero Mostel in The Producers (image: MGM)

As a result of the vanity publisher's business model:

  • Their editorial standards tend to be lower. They will happily work on titles they believe won’t sell.
  • Editorial and design work will likely be outsourced to one of the lowest bidders.
  • Their book marketing efforts tend to range from meager to non-existent.

Vanity presses will often infer that they can sell your book to major chains. Usually, this means that they'll list your book with a wholesaler, like Ingram — which means that booksellers can order it. That’s not the same as it being actively sold into stores.

How else do vanity presses exploit authors?

Getting authors to pay upfront for production costs is just one way that a vanity publisher can get money out of an author. They might also:

  • 'Upsell’ the author where possible. Once the author’s paid for their editorial and design services, they may realize that the publisher’s agreement said nothing about marketing, publicity, or the fact that you need an author website. Don’t worry, though: your 'publisher' can do all of that — or fake doing all of that — for an added fee.
  • Entice the author into entering paid contests. "Congratulations, your book has been selected as a finalist in [enter name of bullshit book award/contest]. You have a great chance to win it! First, you need to enter your book for the final, which only costs [enter insane amount of money]."
  • Withhold royalties until they ‘break even.’ This might sound reasonable, but their side of the production costs can be any number they pick. They might pay an editor $500 to copy-edit your book, and then claim it was actually $1,500 including their 'admin costs.'
  • Require the author to buy a certain number of copies. They’ll tell you that you need to have at least 50 or 100 copies to sell at book signings. But because they’re the publisher, they choose the cost-per-copy, which will tend to be quite high once they’ve added their — you guessed it — ‘admin costs.’
  • Include a minimum sales guarantee in their contract. This is a sneaky variation where the author pays a smaller fee upfront. But if a book doesn’t hit a particular sales target within a specified period, a clause kicks in that requires the author to either make up the difference or pay back the production costs.

Infographic: Traditional Publishers vs. Vanity Presses

To help you visualize what you'd be getting into with a vanity press, let's see how they stack up next to publishers adhering to the traditional model.

This is not to say that traditional publishers are perfect. But with the traditional business model, publishers are incentivized to release quality books and foster long, healthy relationships with authors.

Learn how to write a query letter that gets results

Sign up for this free 10-part course! Enter your email below and select 'Publishing - How to Write a Query Letter' in the drop-down menu.

Important note: There are many companies out there calling themselves "assisted self-publishing companies". They operate in a similar model as the one we described above for vanity publishers (i.e. you pay for all the production and marketing services). However, some of them are actually reputable and known for providing quality services at reasonable fees and offering solid advice and handholding through the process. We recommend you do extensive research when you encounter such an organization and watch for any signs that could indicate a vanity publisher in disguise.

Hybrid Publishers

"So it's either I pay for everything upfront and I keep all royalties, or I try to get a publisher who'll give me an advance but then take almost all my rights?" Well, no, not anymore. The publishing landscape is ever evolving and there is now a third kind of 'publisher': hybrid publishers.

The idea is simple: authors participate in the costs of production, but in exchange, get a greater split of the royalties. Most hybrid publishers will advertise a 50% split on both costs and royalties. For a first time author, this might seem like a great idea — so long as the company has the intention of creating quality books.

The problem is: many vanity publishers have decided to surf on the "hybrid" wave and disguise themselves as such. They'll take on any submissions they get, ask you for a bunch of money upfront for editing and design (all the while assuring you it's only really 50% of the costs), and make a profit off of that. Which means they don't really care afterward how the book sells.

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How to identify a reputable hybrid publisher

Every time you encounter a hybrid publisher, you should be asking the following questions:

  • How much do they charge authors in general for their 50% share of the editing and design costs? Compare this to market rates and make sure they're not fooling you.
  • Do they have a track record of producing well-reviewed, successful books? Buy a few of the books that the company has published and gauge not only their editorial standards but the quality of their print items.
  • Are there any hidden costs lying in wait? Talk to authors who were published by the company in the past and ask them for their experience.

To learn more about what constitutes a reputable hybrid publisher, check out these criteria set out by the Independent Book Publishers Association.

The potential danger with hybrid publishers

At Reedsy, we've always believed in the idea of hybrid publishers. It seems logical, and fair, to have a business model at the intersection of self-publishing and traditional publishing. However, in practice, we've seen too many authors get burned by hybrid publishers who looked reputable at first glance.

Here's the main problem with this business model: publishing is a hit-based business, and you don't have a hit every year, let alone every month. So let's imagine that a reputable hybrid publisher goes through a rough spell, and is suddenly getting short on cash. What is the first thing they'll be tempted to do? Raise their fixed income, i.e. the income they receive from authors participating in the production costs. The impact on cash flow will be immediate and certain, and it's a much easier thing to do than to try to sell more books. Many authors won't question whether what they're paying upfront is 50%, 80%, or 120% of the actual production costs — they'll just be happy they're getting a 'publishing deal'.

Agent Scams

Just a quick note: reputable agents work on commission. If you’re dealing with an agent that requires querying authors to pay a ‘reading fee’ or suggests that you pay for editorial services (provided by them, or an affiliated company), then your spidey-sense should be tingling pretty hard.

Research your agents before you query them: see which authors are on their list and if former clients have something to say. If an agent contacts you unsolicited, don’t let flattery get the best of you — find out what they really want. Or, even better, check if they’re a member of the Association of Author Representatives (AAR), a professional organization that maintains some of the industry’s highest ethical standards.

Self-Publishing Companies to Avoid

Self-publishing, by definition, means that you’re doing it yourself. But there are companies out there who can give you a hand… or reach into your pocket if you don’t have your wits about you. Here are a few things to look out for:

Companies who will “publish you with Amazon”

The great thing about publishing with major retailers is that it’s almost always free! And unless you’re 100% technophobic, you shouldn’t have much of a problem uploading your book to Amazon or Kobo or Apple Books within a few quick minutes.

There is often value in working with a professional to optimize your blurb and your metadata or perfecting your author bio, but getting your book listed on Amazon is not something you need to pay for.

Services that will get your book an ISBN

Getting an International Standard Book Number (or ISBN) is not like joining the Illuminati: you don’t need some special introduction. Any author can buy one for $125 through Bowker in the USA or Nielson in the UK: agencies that issue ISBNs and cannot profit from their sale.

To be honest, most online retailers use their own identification codes these days. If you decide not to get an ISBN, you’ll probably be fine. But if you simply must have one, don’t pay more than you need to.

How to copyright a book - Header

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How to copyright a book - Header

Did you know that if you don’t register the copyright of your book, literally anybody could claim it as their work and profit from it?

Now, that’s entirely false, but you’d be surprised how many people believe it. Authors own the copyright to their works before and after they publish them. In the US, registering that copyright simply provides a few statutory rights when it comes to claiming damages — and it should only cost you $35 to apply for it online (as of March 2018). For more details on how to register your copyright, you can check out this comprehensive guide.

Publicity and PR Companies

Marketing a book is something that most authors struggle with. (For a primer on the topic, check out this guide.) So it’s no surprise that there are people who will offer to solve your publicity and PR problems for a low, low fee. Some of these companies might be able to place guest posts and reviews on blogs that nobody visits (and only exist to host content for swindled authors). Other companies won’t even be that subtle: they’ll just take the money and run.

When you’re searching for a marketer or a book publicist, make sure you can see their online profile and verify their previous experience.

However, it’s not just authors with a book to publish who are targeted by scammers. Some people have found a way to get money out of writers at the very start of their writing careers.

Writing Contests and Awards

Writing contests are a great way to reach an audience, solidify your writing credentials, and even make a little money in the form of prizes. There are, however, competitions that are little more than money-spinning enterprises. And you can usually sniff them out by the fact that their prizes are not really prizes.

Some contests will publish winning entries in a magazine or an anthology — which is great. But sometimes, ‘winning’ authors will be obliged to pay an ‘editing fee’ for that privilege — which is not great.

Do you feel like a winner now?

There are also some competitions in which the prize might be a trophy. The catch here is that the author will be expected to pay for the cost of the physical prize. This isn’t necessarily bad — unless you mind paying $80 for a slab of acrylic that dozens more have also ‘won’ that month.

In short, read the fine print. To find contests that have been vetted, you can look through this directory of the best writing competitions.

What’s the best way for an author to stay safe?

Research is the answer. With the internet, you can find out if 99% of companies or services are reputable within a few minutes. Here are some specifics to help you spot which publishing companies to avoid:

Google it. A quick search will at least show you the company’s website and examples of the previous work. If you’re unable to find anything, or if something smells fishy, then you might want to stay away.

Check with fellow authors. Author forums are a great place to find critique partners, tips on cover designers, and to vent about anything and everything. They’re also where you want to go if you have any questions about a service. Head to a forum that’s large enough and at least one author will have encountered the company in question.

Be wary of unsolicited offers. If a company or service contacts you out of the blue by email or phone, the chances are that they bought your number. Reputable companies with a track record and positive word-of-mouth don’t tend to cold-call.

Ask questions. As we’ve mentioned, some reputable companies will require authors to pay money up-front for services. But before you commit to anything, make sure you know exactly what you’ll be getting for your money, what isn’t included, and what their provable track record looks like.

Yes, there are a lot of predators working in the publishing field, but they’re nothing to lose sleep over. So long as you’re careful and approach opportunities with a critical eye, you will find no problem navigating around the sharks in this business.

And of course, if you have any questions about reputable companies or publishing scams, drop us a note in the comments below.

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Bryan Fagan

Excellent information. This is something every writer needs. All of us have to keep our eyes wide open. There will always be snakes in the grass. We need to watch our step. Thank you for this. It will be bookmarked and studied.


I'm glad you liked it, Bryan 🙂


good post reedsy

james stokes

What is your opinion of Book Baby's services? My intention is to have my LLC as the publisher
and not a hire hand to assist with design and formatting.


From what I gather, Book Baby is pretty good. They tend to cater to 'hands-off' self-publishing authors, so you may find that there are more affordable options you can find with a quick Google search (wink, wink, nudge, nudge, Reedsy). Then there are a bunch of things that you should be able to do yourself — on the marketing side at least. What type of book are you publishing? If it's graphically complex, then you may want to consider hiring a formatter — otherwise you can, if you want, use a free tool to format the book yourself. Let me… Read more »

james stokes

Is Book Baby reputable?


See answer below 🙂 BookBaby is reputable, but there are probably more cost/value-efficient alternatives out there. If you're looking to distribute your book, we have a good post comparing the different ebook distributors out there: https://blog.reedsy.com/ebook-distribution/

Alicia Delgaudio

Is Author Academy Elite, with Kary Oberbrunner, reputable? I would very much like to work with them.


I haven't been able to find anything that would indicate they are a scam. From the research I've done, it's one of the many courses started by semi-successful authors who're looking to monetize their knowledge of publishing.
I believe that with a bit of research and motivation, you could learn everything he's teaching on your own. That said, if you prefer the handholding that goes with this type of program, then it might be a good option for you.
I don't know the price of his program, though. I read somewhere it is valued at $5,000, which seems totally excessive.

Kary Oberbrunner

Thanks for weighing in Reedsy. If you or others would like the real facts feel free to listen to our author clients. Thanks in advance. https://authoracademyelite.com/ourauthors

Priscilla King

HURRAH! Obnoxious pop-up moved to inoffensive sidebar. I love it!...But then the comment space slid up out from under my fingers and a pop-up jiggled at me. Different people react to pop-ups and jiggling in different ways. Some people have seizures when something on a screen jiggles. One supporting member of my web site gets vertigo, and sometimes nausea. I'm lucky, I guess...I have astigmatism, so when something on a site jiggles I just see a blur, like the blur of a computer or TV screen shown live on another computer or TV screen. But I still find the blur… Read more »


I have bought a self publishing package with Balboa press. Are they reputable? I don't know why but I don't like their sales team.


Balboa Press was set up in 2013 by Hay House, as its "self-publishing arm". Unfortunately, like many other big traditional publishing houses, they chose to partner up with Author Solutions, which has been operating that imprint ever since.
To put it in mild terms, I would warn any author to stay away from any Author Solutions operated company. You can read more about why here (the comments are particularly illuminating): http://www.victoriastrauss.com/2013/08/30/more-warnings-spectacular-productions-balboa-pressauthor-solutions/

Tracey McGlenchy

i have been getting harassing calls from their sales people, and despite me saying they are doing a sales a pitch they continually deny it. I have now told them to back off and I will not go with them. Anyone who calls that often despite telling them to stop clearly is trying to sell sell sell!


Cencel your credit card immediately

Jill Bauer

Have you heard anything about Aelurus Publishing? I am trying to research them and cannot find any reviews. They posted a fun-looking writing contest, but I don't know if they are legit


Looks like they are a member of the IPG and partner member of ALLi, which vouches for them. From that I'd say they're definitely legit, but as always make sure that you reach contracts very carefully (if you get to that stage) and consult with an experienced IP lawyer.

Jill Bauer


Roy Schwartz

Aelurus is my publisher. My first MG novel just came out on Tuesday through them. I'm very happy with them. They're a "boutique" house (everything outside the Big Five is, really) and I enjoyed a lot of support and personal attention from the EIC and the Publisher. They do offer a self-publishing track, where they provide all the usual publishing services for a fee instead of buying the book, but they're a legit publisher.

Mukund Gnanadesikan

What is your opinion of inkitt.com as a publishing option? Their pitch of "we can get you on the NY Times top 100 bestseller list" sounds a bit too good to be true.


We know Inkitt pretty well. I personally tend to think that they can be a really good option for authors and the digital marketing they do on behalf of their authors is pretty on point. However, the main problem is that they are (or at least used to be) quite aggressive in their marketing to attract authors (direct tweets and emails to random authors), and hyperbolic in their marketing language (as you point out above). You can read more about the cons of Inkitt's marketing here: https://accrispin.blogspot.com/2016/04/spam-spam-spam-spam-inkitt-and-grand.html But honestly, I wouldn't dismiss them as a publishing option because of that.… Read more »

Harmony Bentosino

I was called by July Summers at Author's Press who want to market my self published book & send me to 2 book fairs where my book will be displayed , & I will have author interviews etc. All this for a charge of $800 plus my travel expenses. Is this legit or a scam? Their website sounds good, but I can't find any independent reviews. HELP!


As we mentioned in the post: ***Be wary of unsolicited offers.*** If someone calls you to offer to "market your book," in 99% of the cases it means they're either dodgy or are outright trying to scam you. There are countless scams out there offering "book fair display" services. The thing is, book fairs are not for authors. They are industry events where booksellers, publishers, agents and libraries negotiate on rights and distribution. Having your book displayed in a random stand there is not going to sell a single copy, because readers don't go to book fairs. If you're going… Read more »

Harmony Bentosino

Thank you for saving me my money & my sanity!

Nataliya Medvedovskaya

Thank you so much for this information, it's so helpful! Earlier today I approached Ugly Duckling Presse about publishing my father's bilingual poetry book. They said they will start open readings period in December which means they're selective and it's good, right? They are non-profit organization, and a lot of donors and foundations are listed on their website including National Endowement for the Arts and New York State Council on the Arts. He didn't mention any costs that might be involved as well as nothing says about it on their website. Even though I have a ready InDesign file of… Read more »


Ugly Ducking Presse are definitely a legitimate non-profit publisher. I wouldn't be able to recommend similar publishers to you as we don't keep a list on Reedsy, however I'd suggest you take a look at Poets & Writers and Authors Publish as resources.

Nataliya Medvedovskaya

Great, Poets & Writers has a huge list of different small press, and i'm thinking which one to choose. Some of them have open reading period just for a limited period of time when some others are available to read your poetry for all year-round. Some of them don't accept unsolicitied materials, some of them do. What kind of small press is legit at this point? Thank you

Johnny Remick

Does anybody know or has anyone heard of "Author's House" (@Authors_tweets) I got an e-mail from them promising reviews for my book with three various packages from $100, $200 and $400 (30 reviews) to go on goodreads, Amazon and YouTube. . . I went to their tweet account and not alot of activity. There is an "authorhouse" which is totally dif. Are they scammers? https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/745f905065faff4281ca4b5da6262bf6bd5b21369f166868d38656d08de68adb.jpg


Companies who send unsolicited emails about their services (especially review services) and who don't have a website are most probably scams, yes. That said, I'd be grateful if you could forward that email to us: service[at]reedsy[dot]com so we can take a look.

Nataliya Medvedovskaya

Johny, I recently was a victim of author house's rip-off. I initially bought a package with them a while ago. Just a few days ago I got a phone call from their marketing advisor who offered me to pay $5000(!) to get featured in New York Times. I didn't even submit my materials to them yet but they said that the book was "chosen" to be featured. He pushed me for one hour to make a huge deposit payment at the same day. He said that tomorrow will be late. Thanks God I didn't pay anything.They are big scammers. Don't… Read more »


Author House is a renowned scam, yes, but Johnny above was referencing a different company, Author's House, which both chose its name pretty poorly and also seems like another scam (focused on reviews).
Thank you for sharing your experience about Author House, though, it corroborates the experience of many other writers we've heard of.


I was lulled in by AuthorHouse and fell victim to their scams. Please all stay away from this company! I have lodged a complaint with the BBB of central Indiana and attempted to dispute some of the charges via VISA. I lost a considerable amount of money and prior to severing my association with them realized just under $40.00 in royalties. The company retains a A+ Better Business Bureau rating. How that remains possible is astounding and frustrating to me!


I published my book with Author House. It was expensive and a huge mistake. They have people that are just sales people and not professional. After the book was published they kept calling me to spend more money on advertising at book fairs which I know is a total scam. Stay away from these people , there are better ones out there.


I went through them and they were AWFUL! Stay miles away from this company. They took all of my profit from my book and I made next to nothing while they walked away with the lion's share. Additionally, they bloat the cost of your book and make it so expensive that it can't possibly align with industry standards.

Good luck to you!


i was given a cotract with trilogy publication house a subsidiary of tbn and am required to pay 5000usd. is this a genuine offer


Nope. Shady as hell. See the "Vanity Presses" part of our article (the first one).


thank you for saving me. i was about to deposit 5000usd but i stopped

Genesis Brooks

I am trying to find out if Self Publishing School would be a good fit for me? I have already talked to a representative and of course they want $5,000 and I told the man that I don't have that kind of money to spend right now. He even tried to give me a good deal by lowering the price to $3,000. When I told him that I didn't have that either, he wanted to get off the phone. The weird thing is that I have researched Self Publishing School online and I haven't seen any bad reviews. That puts… Read more »


Chandler Bolt's Self-Publishing School is one of the many "self-publishing courses" out there that basically teach you how to self-publish a book. It's not a scam, but it certainly is an *expensive* course… If you want to go the course route, I'd rather recommend Mark Dawson's "Self-Publishing 101" course (it only opens once a year, but you can get on the waitlist). It's much more reasonably priced and I can personally vouch for Mark… That said, you don't really need a course to self-publish. There is ample material everywhere (including on this blog) about every step of the way. If… Read more »

Genesis Brooks

Thanks Reedy for this information. I am glad that you emailed me back. I am definitely interested in finding out about Mark Dawson. I am going to research this information. Also, thanks for saving me from spending more than needed. I am glad I found this website.

Mike Nelson

I have a self-published book that's been up on Amazon for about 6 months. Reviews have been splendid, sales tepid. This week I was contacted by Atlantic Publishing Group and had a discussion with them. They sent me a contract to review, marketing promises etc., but to be honest the royalty structure seems absolutely predatory, 10%, and agreements to buy 100 copies, etc, upfront costs. The whole thing. Still I would like to sell some books. Anyone know these people?


Sounds like a vanity press to me. If they're soliciting you directly, asking for upfront payments (on top of taking a massive chunk of your royalties), and insisting that you print 100 copies with them... then they don't exactly pass the smell test.

If you want to do further research, look up the books listed on their website and see where they rank in their Amazon categories — I suspect most of them will not even be in the top 5,000 in their specific niches.

Nataliya Medvedovskaya

"Poets & Writers" has a huge list of different small press, and i'm thinking which one to choose. Some of them have open reading period just for a limited period of time when some others are available to read your poetry for all year-round. Some of them don't accept unsolicitied materials, some of them do. What kind of small press is legit at this point? Thank you


The small presses listed on Poets & Writers should generally be legit — though I always recommend doing a double check by googling them and making sure they don't appear on Writer Beware's "Thumbs Down Publishers List" or on David Gaughran's blog. As a rule of thumb, a small press can be considered legit if: - they don't ask you for *any* money upfront (especially not reading fees, publishing contribution fees) - they don't ask you to buy copies of your own manuscript at launch (watch for a clause like that in the contract) - they don't solicit you in… Read more »

Nataliya Medvedovskaya

Thank you!

Mary Hughes

Does anyone have any experience with Entrada Publishing. I entered one of their ongoing contests for a free Book Review, and ..... I won! The review, entirely favourable, was complete in 3 weeks. NO one has asked for money or made any kind of sales pitch. Just curious as to what their standing is, in the self-publishing community.


Hi Mary, we weren't familiar with them until now. They look like a self-publishing services company, with relatively low prices (especially for cover design) but a number of oddities:
- they don't offer any developmental (or structural) editing and copy-editing, only proofreading;
- they have a paid "beta reading" service, when beta readers are generally free;
- a lot of their "marketing" services, though not crazy expensive, seem quite useless.

Other than that, they don't raise any red flags. Congratulations on winning one of their contests and receiving a (positive) free review from them!


Is anyone familiar with Covenant Publishing? They only take 5% per sale and although they ask for a fee over a period of time, mathematically it seems a better deal than Amazon taking 30%. Curious to hear any feedback- thanks much


I'd be wary of any publisher who asks for a fee irrespective of sales. Also, I'm almost 100% certain that the 5% cut would be on top of anything the retailer takes, so you'd likely get less than if you were to distribute it on Amazon yourself.


great to hear that. thanks much-


What did they say? My dads thinking of publishing with covenant


one more thing! the cost is for me working with them and their team that would do the proofing, editing, layout, cover and marketing. Me the final say on any changes. Then a web page, short video and distribution to all the different book companies. Still a scam? It seems like it would cost me the same or more to do it all individually!- thanks much


The tendency with package deals (where you pay a fixed price for all the things you listed) is that the author has no idea who is doing all of that work. Many of those companies will outsource the work to low-priced freelancers or get their interns to do it. If you do it yourself, it might cost the same — or a little more — but you'll know who's working on the book. A look at their 'recent books' section will pretty much tell you what you need to know. Do their cover designs look like they were made by… Read more »


Sent in my children's book, WOW--TO A CHILD CHRIST RETURNED--to Covenant for review.
Was so disappointed the review was nothing more than "it's been
approved for publishing." That is NOT a review.


Contacted Covenant Books to have my book reviewed free as they claimed. Sent in my children's book, WOW--TO A CHILD CHRIST RETURNED--for review.
Was so disappointed the review was nothing more than "it's been
approved for publishing." That is NOT a review.

Nikki Ty-Tomkins

I had an excellent experience with CreateSpace, Amazon’s publishing service. I wanted to self-publish a memoir to give to friends and sell in my shop. Realizing my topic ... my delightfully eccentric mother ... was a limited interest in terms of the commercial market, I just wanted a beautifully produced book. It cost me exactly $2.75 ... the charge for ONE proof copy. The result was a beautifully printed and formatted book, complete with illustrations and innovative layouts. How was this possible? Well I spent 6 months learning everything from scratch. From fonts to page layouts, cover design and ISBN… Read more »


I wish my friend had read this. He wanted to write a memoir, but he needed help. He decided to go the ghostwriter route with an author working with a relatively new and unproven publisher They contracted with him to ghostwrite the book for 10,000.00 up front in full. Apparently, he asked if he could break it into two equal payments, but they told him his manuscript would not be worked on until all the money was received. The author has talked up a book he wrote on his site. His claims don't seem to pan out. After a year… Read more »


has anyone heard anything about easton-books? http://easton-books.com/store


Never heard of them. Their submission page seems to indicate that authors pay no fees if the book is selected for publication, which is a good sign. That said, it all depends what their publishing process is like (do they involve professional editors to review your book, pay a cover designer, etc.), what their contracts look like, and how strong a sales team they have to actually get your book into book stores.


I just want to put it out there. Avoid Prodigy Gold books at any cost. They are a company who is questionable in its ethics. Two books were supposed to be published. I signed a contract, still no work has been done and I cannot republish as he owns the rights. What is one to do?


Sorry to hear that, Leanne 🙁 In cases like this, the best way forward is to issue a rights reversion letter: https://www.authorsalliance.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/04/20160920-Interactive-RR-Letter-Guide.pdf
And if you still don't hear back, hire an IP attorney to try to get the rights back.


just out of curiosity . How much would that cost ! To make matters worse , I was referred by the Editor in Chief of Prodigy Gold Books as an Evil Witch because I demanded to know what was going on . His sidekick Laura Freestone is just as bad .Vety unprofessional to say the least

Prodigy Gold Books

Leanne, it's unfortunate that you had a bad experience with our company. You have been informed by our publisher that you were free to publish your book when we initially decided to rescind our offer. To be clear, your book was assigned an ISBN, had a book cover designed, was available for pre-order, social media promotion, and developmental editing (which you didn't like, which caused the problem); hence, it is false to question our ethics, and to claim we did no work. We expect our authors to be kind and respectful, but as demonstrated above by you calling Laura (a… Read more »


So what am I to receive for my 800USD. I have not received anything and that is unacceptable . For your information , I have never seen the partially completed book or received a refund . You assured me of a refund . A sidekick is nothing disrespectful and no one has a problem with me ,here .You had 12 months to decide to publish my work but came at the 11th hour requesting that I rewrite my entire book . You should have rejected if straight away . Please sort it out and refund me accordingly as you promised… Read more »


Do you have any input on Mango Publishing?

NT Poe

I’ve seen several vanity publishers that were either rip offs or scammers who went out of business. However, to suggest that most vanity publishers aren’t adding value to clients is nonsense. I’ve used vanity publishers before and loved it. Why? Because THEY handle editing, THEY handle typesetting, THEY handle developmental editing, THEY handle cover design, and THEY handle distribution and online listings. Do you pay a little more sometimes for the convenience of your file preparation being consolidated to one place? Of course! That’s called business. For example, if you’re planning a wedding, you could do it yourself and buy… Read more »


In our opinion, Vanity Publishers are a bad choice in 99% of the cases *if you want your book to sell*. It may sound great that they'll do "everything for you", but in reality what that means is that you lose editorial control over your book: they decide who'll do the editing, they'll do the cover, and they decide all the metadata when distributing the book. And not only do they make you pay for that, but many also then take royalties on the sales afterwards, and rope you into year-long publishing contracts in which some go as far as… Read more »

Miranda Artz

This is very helpful, though I don't understand all of it.
Does anyone know where I could find a reputable (preferably Christian) publisher that has a lot of experience in comic books/graphic novels? I've looked everywhere but can't find one with the proper experience. I'm not a against a secular publisher but my series is a Christian one.

Alan Wilson

Thank you very much for the article. Do you have any updated information about TBN and their Trilogy publishing arm? I do have a very real 65,000 word manuscript that I thought TBN was good to publish, but I do not have $5,000. I do not know where to go with this since it seems there are so many scams. Would you have a place I could call/write about legitimate literary agents? Please advise.


Any place that asks you for $5,000 to publish your book is going to be a scam. If you're going to spend $5k, hire a really good editor, a really good proofreader, a top cover designer, and publish the book yourself.
In terms of where and how to find literary agents, check this out: https://blog.reedsy.com/find-literary-agents/

Treesje Powers

Does anyone have any insight on 13th and Joan? My writing partner and I came across them but they were requesting between $1500-$4000 dollars in installments to publish. The lower amount was a “publishing only” arrangement with editing and printing and “listing on amazon”. The higher deal was more “author development” with branding input and focus group reviews and such. On BBB they didn’t have a rating though...


I haven't heard of them but they seem like an outright scam. It's free to publish and sell on Amazon both for the ebook and the print book — you should never pay a third-party company for that.
More about it here: https://blog.reedsy.com/how-to-self-publish-a-book-on-amazon/

Joseph Silva

This information really helped me. What does anyone know about Newman Springs Publishing or Dorrance Publishing? Also what about Xlibris? I googled BBB and Xlibris and saw an A+ rating but only one star and I didn't see Xlibris anywhere, but the name Authors House. Newman springs and Dorrance have both accepted my manuscript. But, one wants $3400 and the other almost $5000


These are all vanity publishers, with a really bad reputation. I'd advise you to run away.

Agathi Mitsinikos

I used x-libris cost me a few thousand and didnt sell much. The book came out great but it was made only in paperback and I couldn't set my own price and I don't have 100% royalty. So many self publishing companies email and call me often to republish with them but some are started this year and they do have 100% royalty and good stuff or so they say but with so many scam companies I avoid them all and don't talk or email them back. One was Gold Touch press and recently Lettra press. They say they invited… Read more »

Rosemary and Simon Nutsford

Does anyone know anything about Capstone Media Services?
We have spent a considerable amount of money for the printing (paperback US $5 - $7 per book) and distribution through Ingram of our book over the past couple of years with not a lot of return. We were never given an advance and were told it may take 2 or 3 years to get a return on our money.


We've heard a lot of very bad things about Capstone Media Services. They seem to be a copycat of Author Solutions (the most famous scam company in the publishing industry) based out of the Philippines. More info in this Twitter thread between David Gaughran and Victoria Strauss: https://twitter.com/davidgaughran/status/1031495833135591426?lang=en

Agathi Mitsinikos

Do you know anything about Gold Touch Press in NYC?


No, but after a brief look at their website they seem like one of the numerous Author Solutions copycats that have sprouted in the Philippines in recent years. The copy on the website is riddled with typos and uses the same language as most vanity press scams:
"Gold Touch Press provides premium publishing services at a good value. We remove all the hassles that delay the project and direct your manuscript at the hand of highly experienced team."

Agathi Mitsinikos

Ok thank you. I am definitely thinking the same. Know any good inexpensive and real self-publishing websites that also help with marketing for me to republish with? My book is selfpublished with x-libris but it's not 100% royalty.

Julie Ann Chenevert
Coraline Grace

So what is Author Academy? My book has been chosen as a finalist for book of the year. But so have a lot others. Is this a real site or exactly what?


There is a comment below about Author Academy, which I'd encourage you to read. Starting an "award" is a common marketing tactic to attract authors. There isn't a lot of info available on their website as to pricing, so I can't give a definite opinion.
Do keep in mind that if you have to pay to receive the award, or enter the final round, or anything like that, your money is probably best invested somewhere else.

Jan Shima

Do you have any info on Folio Avenue Publishing Services LLC 2031 Union St. #6 San Fransisco CA 94123 ? They cold-called me numerous times about marketing my book SAVING ME, and want $2500 up front. I didn't agreed to anything and had several red flags in our phone conversations.

Ricardo Fayet

This seems like an outright scam. There are new companies offering these kind of "marketing packages" popping up every day. Don't fall for it.

Kent Jamesss1

You can check a leaked website from these people


Sandi Wyszynski

Anyone ever heard of The Mulberry BooksPublishing House? I had received an email and phone call
about my book (which was priced too high by the publisher and is not selling!) and I googled them,
but cannot find a thing on the internet. The persons name is Derrick McIlroy..
Any thoughts would help. I believe this may be a scam artist.

Ricardo Fayet

I can't find anything about them either, which is generally a bad sign (a reputable publisher, even small, would have a website). In 90% of the cases, when you receive an unsolicited email or phone call, it's not going to be from a reputable publishing company.


I just realized that I had been taken by cindyhill@bookthoughtspublishing. She played a convincing part in pretending to manage marketing for my book with ALA and ACLR events in 2019. She even provided a contract and provided for a payment plan in which she took my money. She promised to keep me apprised of the markeing status and provide proof of my book listing in these events, but then she never followed up. I found out later that my book was never presented at the events as she claimed, and I had been taken for a fool. As I tried… Read more »


I just got a solicitation from New Reader Magazine... is this a scam company?

Cy Happy

I was also contacted by the New Reader Magazine & after many emails, they sent me their contract. Aside from grammar & sentencing mistakes, I found their contract totally one sided. I also check their LLC with the state of New York & found out such entity does not exist. On top of all of this, they asked for unconscionable amount to partner with me. I decided NOT to go with them because I could not partner with an entity that does not exist. Be very careful with them.

Joan Landino

Have you heard anything positive or negative about Westwood Book Publishers in LA? They contacted me via email.


I think I got duped by a vanity press. To be fair, they pulled one on my agent too. The publisher kept stalling my historical fiction with “accuracy checks”, never mind that I has already done extensive research on it. We since pulled the book because our single contact (who seems to be the only person there) was starting to comb my voice out and replace it with hers. She is demanding payment for her time, though she was the one dragging her feet. I think it’ll mean reverting to my original MS, which is fine, but what if I… Read more »


I don't know what the discussion is, but I'm interested in URLINK print and media. They have contacted me to republish a novel we had previously published with Tate. Tate went belly up.
Who knows about URLINK? I am an experienced author with another good publishing company but they are not interested in this genre.

Kathey Darnell-Keen

I would like to know as well. They approached me about my book I published with Tate. I just saw a list of scammers and they were on it.

Sherry T Cason

Where did you find the list of scammers?

Merril Haeusler

Hi there and thankyou for the advice.
I am a debut novelist trying to get my head around all this.
Do you have a view on UNITED PC Publishing company, a subsidiary of NOVA?
I’d be grateful for a comment.


what is your view about "Author's Ink" . This is an Indian publishing house .

Miranda Duncan

Someone contacted my sisters and me about his appreciation for 1950s science fiction, and wanted to know if we would let him be the literary agent for my father's novels. The books have already been published and are now out of print. They weren't best sellers, definitely dated so they may be "period pieces." My father, David Duncan (not to be confused with Dave Duncan from Canada) wrote 13 novels, mysteries and science fiction books, as well as a couple of science fiction screen plays and lots of screen plays for television. What do you think? Should we contact the… Read more »


Have you heard anything about Authors4Authors Publishing?

Tania Heise

Just got accepted to Page Publishing? Are they legit, or am I being scammed? Thank you!

Cy Happy

I recently published my first book with Page Publishing. I must admit at the time I practically knew nothing about publishing. I did some research & drove a hard bargain. That is what you need to do with them because they strictly adhere to the contract. They met every clause in my contract & I am satisfied with their work. One issue though, they are not into promoting or marketing your book. They do a trailer and press release & radio interview the effectiveness of which I am yet to experience. They also direct you to participate in book shows… Read more »

Denise T.

Hi I am searching for a publisher/illustrator for a children's book. Is the company covenant house a reputable publishing company. This is my first time working towards publishing a children's book.

Oh my

Convenant publishing company is an hybrid company. You have to sign a contract with them and you will have to pay whatever the contract ask for if you sign. I didn't sign the contract. I feel if your book get accepted by a publisher, the company should pay you or get paid by royalties.

Tamara Belko

Any information on Eliezer Tristan Publishing?


I pulled out of my contract with them as they weren’t transparent about incurring costs. They became very dodgy and manipulative inferring I was ignorant about how independent presses work. I kept reiterating it wasn’t about there necessarily being shared costs, but rather that they were never upfront with me about sharing costs and none of that was delineated in the contract. FYI- I self published two books. I baled. Would not recommend.

Jennifer Lee Roberts

I'm in a vicious battle with them myself right now. I have received my book back though thank God but still out the 500 dollars!!! I'm taking the case to the attorney general.


Please RUN from this company!! They promote to the mentally ill, I'm sure as easy prey. I signed a contract and paid them 475 Nov 27,2018 a of July 1,2019 my book still had not been published despite the contract starting it would be published in no longer than 3 months. The continuously lost requested info from me including blurb, bio, and even book. I had to resend all of the info multiple times! Where I had finally had enough and requested to be refunded at first they were apologetic, then blamed me, by the end of the seven hour… Read more »


Hi, do you have any experience with Advantage Books? They are a Christian publishing house, and have accepted my Christian manuscript. Thank you for any advice!

Reverend Dr. Linda De Coff

Yes, Does anyone have any info on Go To Publish, a marketing company out of London and Atlanta, Georgia, Gotopublish.com I have been approached re: their services for marketing of one of my books. Thanks for any helpful feedback.


Paper raven books???

Sherry T Cason

Have you heard anything about Dream Books Distribution. They say they can send my story on to the Hollywood Data Base to possibly become a screenplay. There is a fee.

Cy Happy

I was also contacted by the Dream Books Distribution. They want to partner with me to prepare screen play & register with Hollywood Data Base for a fee. I could not find much info about HDB, but the fee is rather steep for just registration. However, if they do everything they say they will do, the fee is not that bad. I have not signed with them yet because I found some clauses with their contract which require changes. But remember, there is not much money, if any at all, to be made in the book publishing if you are… Read more »

Sherry T Cason

Thank you for the info on screen plays. That is my hope but there are so many scammers and by wanting that money up front, well, something about that guy has pretty much ended these hopes. He couldn't even get through my email to send me the contracts. I told him to use the U.S. mail. He has not, so far.

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