I’ve come across some dodgy publishing deals in my time – heck, I’ve even been offered some of them! But yesterday I stumbled on one of the worst I think I’ve ever seen. The company (individual? it was hard to tell) in question offered a publishing, agenting and editing service to writers and was calling in particular for crime fiction and ‘true crime’.
I’m always looking for new possibilities for publishing, so when I saw the link I toddled along for a closer look. What a disappointment. The website was littered with red flags, not least the following;
– amateur, unattractive web design;
– poor grammar and/or editing;
– confusion over what services are being offered – there’s mention of publishing, editing, buying the company’s own books and getting them autographed… and that’s in the first paragraph or so;
– conflict of interest: the company offer to publish your book and represent you as an agent at the same time. (There’s so much wrong with that one I don’t know where to start);
– a 50/50 split in royalties (few bona fide publishers pay that much – when combined with the other warning signs it’s likely to be there purely to tempt gullible authors);
– a claim that every book he/they have ever published was a bestseller (unlikely in the extreme, also likely to be there as a tempter);
– a rant about vanity publishing and a claim to be something ‘different’;
– request for submissions in a variety of formats including mobi and pdf (in other words, the author is doing the publisher’s work for them, in advance);
– in spite of the claim not to be vanity, a demand for $2,500 to be sent up front with the submission paperwork, ie before an author even knows if their work has been accepted or not, in order to ‘cover costs’.
All of this is so shocking I decided to ‘go public’ and warn other authors away. Because the people behind scams like this are a bit trigger-happy when it comes to protecting their ‘good’ names, I’m not going to name the person/company involved on here. However, if anyone would like that information, please email me on tess dot makovesky at virginmedia dot com and I’ll send you the details.
And please, always read the small print and remember, if something looks too good to be true (those royalties…) it almost always is.