How to Avoid Publishing Scams and Unscrupulous Literary Agents

How to Avoid Publishing Scams and Unscrupulous Literary Agents

How to Avoid Publishing Scams and Unscrupulous Literary Agents

Posted on 01/24/2017 Evan Swensen
How to Avoid Publishing Scams and Unscrupulous Literary Agents

Everything new authors need to know about avoiding costly and devious predators in publishing

You’ve written a piece you are proud of and now you’re ready to publish and promote. Congratulations! Unfortunately, there are a number of scams that will be out to get you now that you have pages to introduce to the world. All too often, novice writers will fall victim to wasting valuable time and money on fraudulent services in hopes of improving their chances of success.

Here, we’ll explore three common publishing scams and how to avoid them.

Scam #1: Vanity Publishers

The scam: A vanity publisher demands money from you up front. They usually promise you editorial and marketing services, and tell you that you’ll earn back the money you invest in no time. In a best case scenario, you walk away breaking even. In the worst case scenario, they just take money and your work never even gets published.

How to avoid it: A reputable publisher gives you options or will not charge to publish your work. Be sure to do extensive research on any publisher that approaches you, or that you approach. A good test of a publisher’s integrity is to do a Google search typing in the name of the publisher followed by the words, scam and/or legal. Follow sage-old advice: if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.

Scam #2: Fake agents

The scam: You find someone (or someone finds you) who offers their services as a literary agent. They charge you manuscript evaluation and/or editing fees upfront, and may even offer you editorial advice that can be harmful to your manuscript.

How to avoid it:  Real agents will never charge you fees for manuscript evaluation or editing, or even offer editorial services to begin with. A legitimate agent will expect payment after the books have been sold–not upfront. Keep in mind that anyone can be a literary agent. You read that correctly. Literary agents don’t require special licenses or qualifications. So, do your research. Look for reviews on Google, their LinkedIn, and review their website before moving forward.

Scam #3: Fake Contests

The scam: Vanity publishers and fake agents are often behind this scam–they post “contests” and promise that winners will receive publications and editorial services in exchange for a steep entry fee. These “contests” are easy to win, and add little to your reputation. Another type of fake contest scam is the “contest mill” scam. Contest mills will incessantly post contests and charge a large reading fee.

How to avoid it: While legitimate contests do often charge reading fees, they are appropriately priced– anywhere between $5 and $25 to enter. Be wary of any contest asking for an entrance fee above $40 or of contests that are posted too often. In addition, research the reputation of contests before submitting your work.

18 thoughts on “How to Avoid Publishing Scams and Unscrupulous Literary Agents”
  • I like your website. Why didn’t I find you sooner. I am presently bring scammed by Truman Publishing in Claremont, CA. They took my $899 and ran. They contacted me; I did not search for them. The sales pitch is well rehearsed and they make you feel your book will become the Academy Award motion picture of the year. Stupid me. When I received the contract to sign, I had questions because it was all one-sided in their favor and it read like they could take your money anytime they wanted. . I wanted to propose changes but I did not hear from them. Because of this I called John Taylor at Truman and asked for a refund. He said it would come in 20 days. It took less than 30 seconds to take my money but I would have to wait 20 days to get a refund. Yeah, right! Well, you guessed it; 20 days passed and no refund. They do not answer my phone calls, I don’t have their mailing address, no email address, I have no way to contact them. It’s a scam and I only have myself to blame.

    • I feel your pain—your experience happens way too often.

      Printers and publishers may make mistakes—but a scam is a scam—as the old saying goes, “if it walks like a duck, swims like a duck, quacks like a duck; it’s a duck.

      I’m interested in learning how you found this blog.

  • I have been negotiating with global summit without having parted with any money. My research suggests doubts about their services. Would appreciate advice about them to my email address

  • I feel so SCAMMED by Author Solutions companies (such as iUniverse, Xlibris, AuthorHouse, and Trafford)? I wish I had known.
    Well, I used Xlibris and apparently, the service with Xlibris isn’t that good as I thought, but I do not know where to complain about my dissatisfaction with Xlibris.
    So far, I’ve in good faith spent over 142.000 British Pounds with Xlibris in the hope and in good faith that I would get the service they gladly and proudly told they provided. Well, apparently their service isn’t that good as I thought and too late, I found out after they’ve sucked the last penny out of me within a very short time, while I was emotionally vulnerable at that time and told them I was in a process of writing a book about mentally abuse I had experienced few years before. They really got at me and used my vulnerability knowing about my real-life story and so they used it to suck over 142.000 GBP out of me. They promised me the moon, but they nearly ruined everything for me after the had edited my first book. I tell you, it was horrible, so the forced me to pay for reediting and re-publishing my book. Another penny out of my pocket.

    Ever since Xlibris no longer could press more money out of me, the team, and apparently those people working in the Philippines simply has put me on a dusty shelf for me to rotten and I no longer get any answers or the promised help I am supposed to get from Xlibris. Several of my campaigns are not finished, several are late and where not complied at the time they should have been, and I don’t know if they ever will.
    I’m very disappointed that suddenly none of their departments do not comply nor answer my e-mails I’ve with questions. I thought Xlibris provided me with a trustworthy publisher consultant to take care of me. Well, they never answer anymore, nor do their marketing manager, even he promised. In the beginning the publisher consultant and the marketing people were very slick as an eel, but now it seems to none of them and all the other departments as marketing disappeared into the marginal sea of the Western Pacific Ocean.
    I still have several issues not solved in several of their departments and I still have 2 more book packages, including Copyright package and Google search engine and more. Example: nothing happens with the Copyright packages of which I’ve bought for my 4 books, which 2 of the books Xlibris already have published. And so, I can continue with several issues at Xlibris.
    I truly wonder whether this is a normal procedure for Xlibris to put their authors into cold storage, freezing while Xlibris staff pretends I never existed when the author no longer buys anymore campaigns with Xlibris? That despite I already have purchased almost everything Xlibris can provide and so far, as written above: I have spent over 142.000 Pounds in their leech sucking company. The remaining packages for my next 2 books, they will not refund. I must say I am very frustrated having spent so much money and they have only sold max 15 books out of both of my books. I don’t understand it as the books get so much fantastic feedback and has several great professional reviews.
    Thank you for listening.

  • Publish America (since renamed); Xlibris; Lettra Press — to name a few.
    I found too late that these hybrid publishers charge more, and I was initially surprised that they charged for services at all. Their services (beyond elemental publishing) do not add up to the exorbitant fees I was charged. Finally, after six novels (five fiction), living and learning, and following web site literary scam cop web services. It has been a dreary road of disappointment.
    I have one nonfiction book that I published myself using Amazon publishing services. Obviously, although the base process was easy and uneventful, and free of charge, the follow-up marketing, merchandising, and distribution was much more than I could manage to do.
    My vow: I will go strictly traditional for the new manuscript I am working on, and all subsequent literary endeavors.
    – James A. Landry

  • I’ve had two books published by xlibris, the reason I haven’t been scammed is because of money. I’m disabled and receiving 1000.00 a month, so no matter how enticing the proposal is, I just can’t afford their prices. I would love to see my book picked up by a traditional publishing company but I don’t know anything about how to submit my published book. I wrote this books on a whim just to leave something for my kids, now I would really like to make some money off of them.

  • What a complete rip-off Trafford publisher’s were. They were Based out of the Philippines and every time they called there was a fifteen second pause between each word we spoke. They couldn’t understand half of what I was saying. My book is a fantastic read and it needs to be on NETFLIX as a Series. I sure hope that the Right person gets to read it. Everyone is requesting my book.

    • I sure wish you had read this blog before you went to Talford. If we can assist you with publishing your works please contact me.

      • Hello
        I love your post. Please I’d like to know if you could help with reliable publishers for Christian books.
        I live in Nigeria but getting my previous two books in the hands of people has been hard.
        I’m working on one now and I’d like it to go farther that the others have.

  • Do you no if Global Summit House literary agents reaaly get authors book deals in six figures?

    • I self-published a paperback book through Xlibris in 2008. The cost was enormous, and included payments in $ thousands for enrollng in book conventions at Los Angeles and Miami, among others. As it turned out, the publisher’s marketing effort was less than promised, and the few sales I got were mostly from Amazon. Please tell me in confidence if Summit House is capable of boosting book sales at their asking cost of $1500.

    • I suggest you do the following.

      A good test of a company’s integrity is to do a Google search typing in the name of the company followed by the words, scam and/or legal.

      I trust that if you had done this simple search before publishing with Xlibris you would have saved yourself a lot of time and money.

      If Global Summit House literary Agents charge you any money for their service I’d avoid them. Legitimate agents only expect payment from your royalties.

      • I wish I knew this I to have books published with Xlibris. Lots of money spent very little sales. How does one try to get books published by legitimate companies?

  • Thanks for this. Very useful. Already dealt with Universe – Author Solutions not too impressed, but they served my purpose at the time. Going traditional from now on, even if my work gets rejected. Starcrossed and The Rose Tattoo… Current fiction projects. YA/NA.

    • Doing this simple search exercise has saved authors a ton of money.

      A good test of a publisher’s integrity is to do a Google search typing in the name of the publisher followed by the words, scam and/or legal.

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