Self-Publishing Companies to Avoid
Self-publishing has become an increasingly popular option for authors looking to get their work out into the world. While self-publishing offers more control and higher royalties, authors must be cautious of predatory companies looking to take advantage of them.
In this blog post, we will examine and talk about some self-publishing companies authors should avoid and we will provide you tips for spotting potential scams.
What is Self-Publishing?
Self-publishing is when an author publishes their book independently, handling all aspects of the process themselves including editing, design, printing, marketing, and distribution. This gives the author creative control and a larger share of royalties.
Authors choose to self-publish for many reasons. Some do it for creative freedom, to retain control over their work. Others self-publish to get their work out quickly or publish niche books that traditional publishers may reject. Higher royalties are also a major motivation.
The Pitfalls of Self-Publishing
While self-publishing offers many benefits, there are downsides. Predatory companies may charge excessive fees for publishing packages and services of questionable quality.
Authors must be prepared to handle all marketing and promotion themselves. Without a publisher’s distribution network, self-published books are harder to get into bookstores.
Self-Publishing Companies to Avoid
All self-publishing companies are not equal. Here are some to be wary of:
1. Author Solutions (formerly iUniverse)
Author Solutions owns several imprints like iUniverse, Xlibris, and Palibrio. They aggressively market overpriced publishing packages ranging from $999 to $14,999. However, complaints abound regarding poor editing, design, and marketing services.
Now owned by Author Solutions, Xlibris offers basic editing and design services starting at $999. However, customers report numerous hidden fees, subpar services, and difficulty getting royalties.
3. Page Publishing
This company charges over $3000 for publishing packages with lots of add-on fees. Page Publishing does not pay royalties reliably. They also mismatch ISBNs making books hard to find.
4. Archway Publishing
Owned by Simon & Schuster, Archway has a reputation for subpar editing and marketing services despite its prices. They also charge fees for basic services like assigning Library of Congress numbers.
5. Balboa Press
Balboa Press has a long history of complaints about misleading claims, poor-quality products, and terrible customer service. They also do not pay their author’s royalties owed in a timely manner.
6. Gatekeeper Press
Gatekeeper Press markets itself as a hybrid publisher, but some authors have complained about issues with editing quality, marketing support, and royalty payments. They require authors to purchase quantities of their own books. Overall, they do not seem to provide enough value to justify their fees.
This company has been known to have poor customer service and to not deliver on its promises.
AuthorHouse, now owned by Penguin Random House, has had issues with excessive fees, poor editing, and deceptive marketing practices. They lure in authors with a free publishing offer and then pressure them to buy expensive packages. AuthorHouse should be avoided.
Tips for Avoiding Self-Publishing Scams
Unfortunately, the self-publishing industry does contain some disreputable companies you should avoid. Here are some red flags to watch out for:
Beware of Companies Charging Reading Fees
One of the most telltale signs of a scam is any company asking you to pay a fee just for them to review or consider your manuscript. Traditional publishers do not charge for reading, and ethical self-publishing companies don’t either.
Charging reading fees is simply a way to generate revenue from authors with no intention of publishing their work.
Be Wary of Bestseller Guarantees
It’s a common marketing tactic for shady publishers to promise they can make your book a bestseller. However, no legitimate publisher will guarantee a book will end up on prestigious bestseller lists. These lists are determined by sales numbers that no single company controls.
Don’t trust ridiculous claims about getting your book on the New York Times or USA Today bestseller lists.
Avoid Mandatory Purchase Requirements
Unethical publishers will make authors purchase large quantities of their own books, sometimes hundreds of copies. Not only is this expensive, but it’s simply a way to inflate sales numbers and make the book seem more successful than it is. Never agree to compulsory purchases of your own book.
Do Your Research on the Company
Before agreeing to any self-publishing deal, research the company thoroughly online. Check sites like Writer Beware and Preditors & Editors, which warn about scams.
Search online for complaints, negative reviews, and feedback from past customers. A lack of presence online or many angry reviews are bad signs.
Get Everything in Writing
Carefully scrutinize any contract from a self-publishing company. Make sure all promised services, fees, and royalties are spelled out in clear language. Do not get pressured into signing anything right away. Insist on time to review the agreement with a lawyer if needed. Reputable companies will not hesitate to provide written documentation.
By staying vigilant and doing in-depth research, authors can find ethical self-publishing options and avoid getting caught up in scams just trying to take advantage of writers. Carefully vet any company before signing anything or paying fees.