An entire industry exists to scam wannabe authors, taking advantage of their passion, naivete and eagerness to get published.
Many of the scams are presented by legitimate companies, who are simply trying to milk writers of as much money as possible. They charge outrageous fees for worthless marketing and promotional materials, even know they won’t help the author. One of the most glaring scams is the ubiquitous promise to craft a “press release” for the book, which no one in the press will ever read or publish (and most writers could craft in a few minutes.)
It’s not just “bald-faced liars” that writers need to watch out for, Victoria Strauss, author and co-founder of Writer Beware, recently said in an interview with Forbes. “Lack of skill and competence is just as big a threat,” Strauss said. “Anyone these days can call themselves an agent or editor or publicist or publisher, whether or not they have any relevant professional background or the remotest idea of how to run a business.”
“Ripoff promotional services that sell junk marketing,” including expensive press releases or email blasts; “pay-to-play publishers” merely posing as small presses; and awards events “that only exist to earn a profit due to their high entry fees,” are among the popular scams, Forbes contributor Adam Rowe notes.
Writers always must be skeptical that they are getting real value for their money. The list of “modern-day scams” includes organizations who charge a fee to for filing a copyright registration and publishing “experts” promising to “divulge the secret, no-fail path to bestsellerdom for a hefty fee,” Rowe wrote.
There is also a “fast fast-growing cabal of predatory self-publishing or marketing companies operating from the Philippines” targeting existing authors with high-priced re-publishing or marketing packages, Strauss says.
The focus of Rowe’s article is that scam are “evolving.” Once reading fees, vanity publishers and editing referral scams were among the common dangers facing writers. Now there is a whole new set of dangers.
“Reading fees may have lost their potency as a scam sometime in the mid-2000s, but publishing scams will continue evolving to fit the times,” Rowe writes.