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Topic: How can you tell it's not a self-publishing scam?

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Subject: How can you tell it's not a self-publishing scam?
Date Posted: 7/20/2009 11:53 AM ET
Member Since: 5/16/2008
Posts: 2,168
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If you have a book you'd like to see about getting published, how on earth do you wade through the hoardes of self-publishing scam web sites (and even the legit self-publishing houses) out there? Seems like so many of the web sites are set up looking like they're going to point you to a traditional publishing house, but then have packages starting at $375 where you can PAY to get your book published. That's great for some people who want to do that, but that's not what I'm looking for. This is a little collection of cat poems/illustrations. I have *no* idea where to begin and thank you in advance for any direction! Again: not interested in self-publishing or paying whatsoever to get this printed.

Date Posted: 7/20/2009 12:59 PM ET
Member Since: 10/13/2007
Posts: 36,445
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Writers Market, either online or get the book from the library.   They list agents and publishers and what each will represent (genre).

http://www.anotherealm.com/prededitors/peba.htm  Has a great list that helps people avoid the bad ones :)
Date Posted: 7/20/2009 10:25 PM ET
Member Since: 4/19/2007
Posts: 50
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xengab linked to the site I would also recommend.  I think the first and biggest clue is the fees.  Agents, editors, and publishers who are looking to make money off of your book, will make it after they sell it, not before.  If you come across a site that charges reading fees or is pushing a package, they are looking to get some money before they even see the book--and chances are, you won't see much (if any) of that money again.  There are some good self-publishers out there who are not looking to scam people, but I still think the underlying message is that you pay to print up the books and then you need to do the marketing and selling yourself. This process works well for some people (I am not bashing self-publishing as I know it is perfect for some people), and I have never published either way . . . but I am generalizing a little to offer some info.

 

Anyway--since you are wanting to find someone to publish, you might try looking at a site like this to learn some more.

http://www.sfwa.org/beware/index.html

 

And you might try joining some writing communities or organizations as well as reading some publishing blogs from agents and editors--there is so much info out there--it is hard to know what to trust.  Good luck in your journey!

Date Posted: 7/21/2009 11:57 AM ET
Member Since: 5/16/2008
Posts: 2,168
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Wow, both links provided are wonderful. I have bookmarked this thread. I am just overwhelmed by it all. I am not bashing self-publishing either, when I said I didn't want to do it, so I hope no one took it that way! I don't see why I would spend thousands of dollars just to get something of mine published (b/c it seems like I'm buying it). I want to GET paid, ha ha! But wow, all those "bad publisher" stories... totally scary! I am so sorry if it's happened to anyone here. It seems like good, honest people get caught up in these webs and their work held hostage.

Date Posted: 7/30/2009 3:35 PM ET
Member Since: 3/30/2008
Posts: 349
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I published my book (more like a manual than fiction) at Lulu.com and they charged me only about $7.00 for my copy.  That was all that is required.  However, you have to do your own pdf file with your material and your own marketing.  They charge $35.00 to get you an ISBN so you can sell your books at Amazon.  I did my own book cover and when I received my copy I was impressed.  It looked so beautiful printed.

Date Posted: 8/1/2009 11:00 AM ET
Member Since: 1/16/2009
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Last Edited on: 3/6/11 9:32 PM ET - Total times edited: 1
Date Posted: 8/1/2009 6:13 PM ET
Member Since: 1/30/2009
Posts: 5,696
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This is called a poor man's copyright and will stand in a court of law if anyone were to try to 'steal' your book.  Just DO NOT open the package when it comes back to you, or it will be null and void!

Sorry, but this is an urban legend.  You must register your book with the US Copyright Office in order to be able to sue for damages in court. 

Date Posted: 8/1/2009 8:25 PM ET
Member Since: 1/16/2009
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Last Edited on: 3/6/11 9:32 PM ET - Total times edited: 1
Date Posted: 8/1/2009 8:39 PM ET
Member Since: 1/30/2009
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You own the copyright just by creating it, but you can only sue in court if you register it.  Please, please check with a CR/TM attorney.  This is really widespread misinformation. 

For example, let's say you write a short story that you post on your personal web site.  You can do this because you own the copyright as you generated the intellectual property yourself.  Now, let's say Warner Brothers reads this story.  They like it and turn it into a film.  Because of their firepower, the odds of winning a case agaist them are slim - BUT if you have not registered the copyright with the copyright office, you will not have a leg to stand on whether you mail the property to yourself or not.  This is what is says on the US Copyright Office site.  Believe them. Unless you plan to sue a publisher in the UK, this will not stand up in court.  I went through all this with my lawyer, as we were trying to protect my property as well as possible.  http://www.snopes.com/legal/postmark.asp

Date Posted: 8/2/2009 2:11 PM ET
Member Since: 10/13/2007
Posts: 36,445
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Poor man's copyright USED to be something people could use but now days it is not valid. Remember postal workers are NOT copywrite expers and probably know just as much about it as you do. 

Getting a proper copyright is the only way to stop people from trying to steal your work.

Point in case, I could send an empty padded envolope to myself, get it post marked and then at any time I could put something inside it.

 

Date Posted: 8/4/2009 8:55 PM ET
Member Since: 4/18/2006
Posts: 4,865
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I didn't read everything here, so forgive me if I'm re-stating.  Registering copyright isn't necessary if you're going with a traditional publisher.  They will do that for you when they publish.  In fact, a traditional publisher (I have 9 published books--none self-published) does most everything.  You just write the book, they publish, market, etc....and send you your share of the profits.  You never put a penny of your own money out to them.

Date Posted: 8/6/2009 12:17 AM ET
Member Since: 1/30/2009
Posts: 5,696
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I'm just really meticulous about it as I'm a playwright, and things can get a little messy.  I also have a lot of content on the web, so I wanted to protect myself as well as possible.  But from what I understand, traditional print media is as safe as houses.

Date Posted: 8/10/2009 3:54 PM ET
Member Since: 6/25/2007
Posts: 5,637
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Just an FYI regarding an above post: Tate is vanity / subsidy publishing- pretty much the opposite of what I think you are looking for, Heather. Tate books are not in bookstores, have no real distribution etc. Books published by Tate are often not considered real writing credits either (for membership in writing societies, for contests etc.) Quality control is also a huge issue. As you are paying to be published, they'll accept pretty much anything with no regard to how good or not it is. Money should always flow to the writer, not from the writer. A publisher should pay you, not the other way around.

Last Edited on: 8/10/09 3:56 PM ET - Total times edited: 3
Date Posted: 8/10/2009 4:41 PM ET
Member Since: 12/22/2007
Posts: 589
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A good website to check out regarding scams is Writers Beware http://www.sfwa.org/beware/. It has a list of publishers, agents and known scams to be on the look out for.

One of the best books I've read on writers learning how to protect themselves and what to know and be on aware of is The Street Smart Writer: Self Defense Against Sharks and Scams in the Writing World by Jenna Glatzer and Daniel Steven.

 

Date Posted: 12/8/2009 8:17 AM ET
Member Since: 12/1/2009
Posts: 5
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Gini mentioned lulu.com.  That's print-on-demand  (POD) publishing - books are printed ONLY when they're paid for.   I did that with my second book.  The advantage of lulu is that you can keep editing up to the last minute, upload the manuscript and have their site generate the PDF and you're book is done and ready to be ordered through lulu.   To sell outside of lulu, you have to buy an ISBN.      

Date Posted: 12/10/2009 12:48 AM ET
Member Since: 4/22/2006
Posts: 2,358
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I self-published my book (more of a biography/collection of stories than anything else, which is why I chose to self-publish in the first place) through Createspace.com. They are POD and charge me less than $3.50 per copy. All in all, I was very satisfied with the end result.

Date Posted: 12/14/2009 4:33 PM ET
Member Since: 5/16/2008
Posts: 2,168
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But self-publishing isn't "being paid to write." It's not getting paid for your work. In fact, you're paying to publish your "book." So, for example, a five-year old's mom could record her child's "baba-daddy-go-in-da-car-bing-bang," upload it to Lulu (or where ever), PAY TO PUBLISH IT, and then say, "Wow! My child wrote a book!" Now, if the main goal is to get words on paper and feel a sense of accomplishment (which is deserved, I mean, how many people even make it that far), then that's great. But when I started the topic, my point was, I've written XYZ, I want to *sell* XYZ, not pay someone who will produce (notice, I'm not using the word *publish*) anything anyone gives them.

I guess the difference is - self publishing = you pay for a bound copy of whatever effort you've made; the kind I was talking about was that people would pay YOU. (This makes me laugh thinking about modeling scams, where they tell people, if someone charges you money to have your pictures done and go on auditions, they're not a real modeling agency; the real companies will pay for all of that.)

Date Posted: 12/14/2009 7:54 PM ET
Member Since: 10/13/2007
Posts: 36,445
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You are right, if they charge you then they are not a traditional publisher.  Difference being a publisher will choose the best they can find or what they think will sell, where as lulu/createspace/Alibris will publish anyone.

I totally understand what you are saying and wishing to do. I want to be published too and not just being in print. I want someone out there that I do not know so PAY me to have my work from reading the first 3 chapters.
I will be looking for an agent first.
I also have sent things into magazines to get my feet wet, rejection comes with the teritory.

Date Posted: 12/16/2009 5:06 PM ET
Member Since: 8/29/2008
Posts: 8,672
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Last Edited on: 2/5/15 3:56 AM ET - Total times edited: 1
Subject: lulu.com
Date Posted: 1/12/2010 9:34 PM ET
Member Since: 5/16/2009
Posts: 4
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publishing with lulu is completely vanity publishing. If you want books for friends and family fine. Otherwise stay far away. Go to www.sfwa.org/for-authors/writer-beware/pod/ read the quote from the LULU CEO. To paraphrse 'we are looking for a million authors who can each sell ten books."

Do not buy the ISBN's. Amazon, Borders ecetra do not buy from independents. Once again the info is in the attached article.

Date Posted: 7/23/2010 1:48 PM ET
Member Since: 7/13/2010
Posts: 4
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I've heard of using sites like lulu to get a professional looking prototype of a book and using it to market yourself.... I've never done it myself though.

Also, sites like that would work well if the end goal was not to be published on a mass market, but rather to use it for another purpose (for example, writing manuals for games that are then sold online, compliling poetry/short fiction for gifts and having them look professionally printed, wedding favors, writing children's books specifically for a charity event or pre-school/school, etc.) It depends on what you are looking for...

Date Posted: 9/5/2010 1:09 AM ET
Member Since: 8/30/2010
Posts: 21
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LuLu is one that I have heard of and seen people use with no problems. I think amazon has its on print on demand as well. I do know one author who used them and said it was not to bad. This author was later picked up by Permuted Press. If you write zombie fiction they are the go to publishing house now. They are working with Pocket Books and getting a lot out there in the market.

Libary of the living Dead is another print on demand site and it has forums as well. They do publish a lot of short stories. They aslo hold contest to get your story in one of their books.

A lot of good advice here.

Date Posted: 2/23/2011 5:07 AM ET
Member Since: 4/10/2009
Posts: 892
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I have self-published my books for 2 years using Createspace and Amazon's free Kindle publishing program.

I make about $200/mo on the 5 books I've published, whether I promote them actively any more or not.  It's not a lot, but it's not vanity either, because to me it means that 100 new people are reading my books every month - strangers (I ran out of relatives 22 months ago - LOL).  I've watched a few authors crash and burn this way, and I've seen a few get picked up by regular publishers, and a few who left traditional publishers to make more money this way.

Now Heather, I wouldn't suggest this method for you because A). You aren't interested in doing it.  B). Your book has a lot of illustrations that might not convert easily to a Kindle or e-reader format (where most of my sales come from).  C). Poetry (in my experience) doesn't sell well this way (which is a shame because it is the truest art of the word).  -- Although I do know one author (whom I love) who writes from a cat's perspective in a really funny way that does Kindle... shrug.

SOooo... I'm going to reinforce the earlier suggestion that you invest in the Writer's Market.  The book is sectioned out with categories and honestly separates traditional publishers from agents from print-on-demand from well, whatever else is out there.  Get the current year's edition.  It's sectioned into categories for types of books accepted, I think.  At least it was 5 years ago when I was submitting that way.  It's trusted, detailed, and blunt.  I think Lulu is in there and Writer's Market notes what it costs to publish with them... and other PODs... and they are seriously meticulous about avoiding scams.  I submitted manuscripts using the information in the Writer's Market for 5 years (back when I was writing children's books).

BUT... I hear a lot of chatter about self-publishing and "vanity" publishing and I hate to see it get out of hand like this.  I've been doing it for two years and personally, I don't think I could handle a traditional publisher any more.  The scams?  Dang... Createspace is practically free and so is publishing to Kindle... I think anything that charges more is a scam.  Oh and any print-on-demand service that forces you to charge more than $10 to your customer just so that you can make a buck just isn't worth it.  Just my two cents.  (Now that last isn't to you Heather, since you seem to know exactly what you want, but I hope it helps others with some experienced perspective.)

AND... anyone who wants to do what I did and is willing to work their behinds off for pennies an hour... PM me and I'll tell you the secrets I know about self-publishing... free.... seriously, I won't sell you a thing.  Example: Look up Trish Lamoree on Amazon.com.  I write paranormal fiction, not self-help books, but I've offered my advice a dozen times and never had anyone follow through once they figured out how little money they'd make as a writer.  They call us starving artists for a reason. =)  It's hard to write a book.  It's harder to get published in any format.

Good luck Heather!

Oh yeah, and you're right.... Createspace will publish anyone... but a traditional publisher will accept manuscripts from anyone.... Createspace gets you listed on Amazon where they post your first three chapters to anyone who wants to read it.... a slush pile at a traditional publisher gets your first three chapters read by a professional editor... with Createspace, if a customer likes your first three chapters, they'll buy your book... if an editor at a traditional publisher likes your book AND thinks it fits their market, they'll buy your book... tomatoes, potatoes... shrug... I could go on.... and I'm not really saying that either way is better, just different.



Last Edited on: 2/23/11 5:25 AM ET - Total times edited: 3
Date Posted: 6/25/2011 10:52 PM ET
Member Since: 6/15/2009
Posts: 151
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I like this site for catching scams:

http://pred-ed.com/pubwarn.htm

"Preditors and Editors"

Date Posted: 8/7/2011 6:51 PM ET
Member Since: 2/7/2009
Posts: 10,656
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I read recently that The Help was rejected numerous times before a deal was struck with the author. 

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