Start Writing a Book
The market share between self-published books and those published by the Big 5 continues to grow,
and unfortunately, this growth has also created a haven for scam artists to take advantage of aspiring
authors—authors who are anxious to get published and naive about the seamier side of the industry.

You must be an informed consumer when it comes to purchasing publishing services. Before you
engage in any service, do an Internet search for potential problems. Try these combinations of keywords:

  • "Company name" + scam
  • "Company name" + fraud
  • "Company name" + rip-off
  • "Company name" + “better business bureau"
  • "Company name" + complaints
  • "Company name" + lawsuits

here to become one of my website subscribers and receive a list of more than 100 helpful links for
writers, including ones related to publishing scams.

Here are some things to watch out for before you choose a service to help publish, promote and sell
your book.

Letʾs start with some definitions.

Self-publishing has been around for a long time, but until recently, most authors looked to traditional or mainstream publishers to get
their work published. Traditional publishers purchase the right to publish your manuscript and assume all costs associated with
creating, editing, formatting, promoting, printing, and distributing your book. Because they rely on book sales for revenue, they are highly
selective about who they represent. The author assumes no upfront costs and receives a modest royalty based on sales.

When an author decides to self-publish, he or she essentially becomes the publisher and is responsible for all aspects for publishing
the book, including cover design, formatting, editing, printing, promoting, marketing and distribution. Authors contract with companies or
individuals that offer self-publishing or assisted self-publishing services to handle what they cannot do for themselves. The finished
product then becomes the sole property of the author.

Vanity publishers are publishing houses where authors pay to have their book published. They generally do not offer any other services
besides taking the authorʾs ready-for-press manuscript and producing a printed book. They have no vested interest in book sales
because their revenue comes from the fees they charge for this service, and because of this, they are generally not concerned with the
bookʾs content.

Subsidy, joint venture, partner, or co-op publishers are similar to vanity publishers except they contribute a portion of the cost to design,
edit, promote, market, and distribute your book. Authors receive a royalty, and the book becomes property of the publisher.

Beware of the following:

  • Vanity, subsidy, joint venture, partner, and co-op publishers masquerading as a small or traditional publisher.
  • A publisher who claims to be a traditional publisher and asks for up-front money from you. Traditional publishers do not ask you
    for money.
  • Verbal promises not in writing.
  • Service providers who claim you keep 100% of the royalties.
  • Service providers who advertise, "We Want to Help New Writers."
  • Service providers who advertise, "Get Published For Free."
  • Contracts that state they will print so many books, and if they donʾt sell, you are obligated to buy them back.
  • Fast-talking, hard-selling, slick salesmen.
  • Promises to sell TV and film rights.
  • Service providers who make unrealistic promises or guaranty success.
  • Convoluted contract language.
  • Service providers who seek you out, tell you they are impressed with your work and recognize a success story when they see it.
  • Outrageous fees for design, editing, formatting and printing your book. Some general guidelines follow, but keep in mind, less or
    more expensive fees from service providers does not necessarily mean they are non-reputable.

  • Cover design – $200 - $1,200 is typical for a professional book cover design, but it can vary depending on how much
    detail is involved, whether you require custom illustrations, and how well you communicate your ideas to the illustrator.
  • Content editing –  $0.01 – 0.04 per word
  • Line editing - $0.015 – 0.030 per word
  • copy editing –  $0.01 – 0.02 per word
  • Proofreading –  $0.01 – 0.025 per word
  • Internal formatting – $125 – 400 for a 6X9, 300-page black and white interior book with no illustrations, with the lower end
    of the range being for standard templates and the higher end for customization
  • Printing –  $5.00 – 7.00 for a 300-page, 6X9, black & white interior, high-gloss exterior book

    Note: Editors who charge by the hour range from $40-80 per hour depending on the level of editing.


When I decided I wanted a website to promote myself and my books, I ran across a website created by another author that looked like
something I wanted to own. I asked her who created it for her, and she said, "I created it myself." Now I have just average computer skills
and didn't think I could ever create my own website, but she convinced me otherwise. And she was right.

I first used Yahooʾs Site Solution web hosting system. It is quite flexible, offers many options to make your website unique, and is user-
friendly. There was no set-up fee. I paid a $12/month service fee. They're not the only game in town--there are many other similar web
hosting sites.

After a few years, I revamped my website by using Yahoo's Site Builder system (what you're seeing here). This website builder offers
much more flexibility and is still pretty user-friendly, with the same monthly cost.

Beware of the following:

  • Service providers who charge exorbitant fees for developing an easy website. I had my initial five-page website up and running
    with about twenty hours invested in it. If I charged $50/hr for my time, that would be $1,000. I wouldn't pay more than that for a
    basic website.
  • Service providers who charge a fee to manage a website you can easily manage yourself.
  • High set-up and monthly web hosting fees.

Here is a great article on how to start/create your own website.


In a nutshell, a blog tour is a collection of authors who are given the opportunity to showcase their books on a predetermined number of
blogs in an effort to improve name/book recognition and gain exposure and reviews. Most tours run for two weeks. Some allow you to
participate in an interview, provide a guest blog, and offer giveaways. A tour host coordinates the process.

Beware of the following:

  • Large fees to participate in the tour.
  • Promises that the tour will result in increased sales.
  • Participation in blogs that have insignificant followings.
  • Participation in blogs that have followings that are not pertinent to your book.


Entering writing contests hosted by large writing organizations and writerʾs magazines are a great way to get recognition for your work.
Unfortunately, there are many unethical people out there who are making a living from scamming authors with phony contests.

Beware of the following:

  • Contest organizers who lure you in with the promise of a publishing contract.
  • Contests with high entry fees and very little payout.
  • Contests hosted by an unknown sponsor with little or no track record.


Social media is another great way to promote yourself and your books. Sites such as Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Google+, and
LinkedIn provide a platform for a potentially large audience. User accounts for each of these sites are free and extremely easy to create
and manage yourself, but there are people out there who will try to convince you that you need their services to get the most out of them.

Beware of the following:

  • Individuals who claim they can significantly increase your following and traffic on social media sites.
  • Large monthly fees to manage your social media sites.


If you choose to go the traditional publishing route to get your book published, youʾll likely need a literary agent. A good agent will act as
your business manager by finding the right publisher for your book, assisting you with contract negotiations, suggesting self-marketing
tools, and providing other relevant industry-related advice.

Beware of the following:

  • Agents who ask for a fee to read your manuscript.
  • Agents who ask for any up-front fee. (Reputable agents earn money by enjoying a percentage of your royalty.)

Here are some links to find reputable agents:
Beware of Scams

- Receive periodic notifications when additional subjects are added to
the writer’s advice sections (about one per quarter).
- Learn of my future book releases (about one per year).

- Let me know if you would like to see additional topics included on
this website, and if I use your suggestion, receive a complimentary
copy of one of my books (your choice).
Click here for an e-mail subscription:
Share this page
Twitter Facebook Google+ LinkedIn Email AddToAny
Web Analytics