Note: This post was originally scheduled for early 2015. It didn’t post to MailChimp, so I’m posting it again now. I’ve revised the original post so it’s up to date.
This post first appeared in slightly different form as an article in the November 2014 issue of the Society of Southwestern Authors (SSA) newsletter, The Write Word.
I recently received an email from a place called Publish Wholesale. They were interested in “publishing my manuscript for less.” For just less than $1000, they offered all the same “features” offered by scammers who charge sometimes 4 or 5 times more.
But the specific name of the subsidy publisher doesn’t matter. A scam is a scam, and all subsidy publishers are scams. All of them. Period.
DON’T CONFUSE SUBSIDY PUBLISHING WITH SELF-PUBLISHING.
THEY’RE NOT THE SAME THING.
1. WHEN YOU USE A SUBSIDY PUBLISHER
- You pay an up-front fee, usually hundreds or thousands of dollars, to publish your work. Most of them then continue to up-sell you on other services or products or offer as premiums things that you could easily get free by yourself (a website or a Facebook or Twitter account, for example).
- The publishing company retains ownership of all files they create during the process (Read the Contract!) including the text and cover and the website if they create one for you. If you decide later you want to self-publish, you have to pay a stiff penalty to retrieve your own work, and often the company’s watermark will be imbedded on every page so you have to retype the whole thing anyway.
- The publishing company insists on receiving a split of your royalties. (Seriously? Are you kidding me? You paid them to publish your work. That should be their total cut.) In other words, they continue to charge you a fee for publishing your work. Again, read the contract.
2. WHEN YOU CHOOSE TO SELF-PUBLISH, you have two options: you either format your document for ebook and/or print yourself and design your own cover, or you pay someone to do those things for you. Whether you do it yourself or pay someone to prep the files for you
- YOU retain ownership of your copyright and all of your files, including the cover(s).
- YOU retain 100% of net royalties.
Formatting your Word document for epublication and/or POD publication is not difficult, but it is a tedious and exacting process. If you don’t want to take the time to learn to do this yourself, I recommend paying someone to do it for you. My recommendation is ArenaPublishing.org, a service provider, not a subsidy publisher.
The book cover is the first thing the potential reader sees. Creating an attractive, attention-grabbing cover is essential. Whatever you do, don’t just slap something together for a cover and declare it “good enough.” It isn’t, and it will cost you sales.
I’ve seen a LOT of amateur covers on what might be very well-written books. A bad cover will cost you a lot of sales. Don’t skimp in this area.
I recommend downloading the free version of Serif’s PagePlus desktop publishing software. It rivals Adobe’s program and even the full Serif PagePlus program is only a fraction of the cost of anything Adobe makes. I use Serif PageMaker (the full version) to create all my covers.
But again, if you don’t want to learn to do this yourself, let someone else do it for you. Again, I recommend ArenaPublishing.org. Even more strongly, I recommend Cover to Upload.
Copyediting too, is essential. I am a professional fiction writer as well as a copyeditor. For details, or just to learn what comprises a good copy edit, please visit Copyediting. It costs less than you think.
WE’RE LIVING IN A BRAVE NEW WORLD OF PUBLISHING. As an example, in the 16 days between October 27 and November 12 of 2014, I compiled and published five 5-story collections of short fiction, three 10-story collections of short fiction, and a novel. All of those were available as ebooks in over 90 nations worldwide and as print books within a week or so of publication.
UPDATE: Between April 15, 2014 and September 14, 2016 (so 2 years and 5 months) I’ve written and published over 1,500,000 words of new original fiction. That includes over 150 short stories, nineteen novels and a novella. I’m also 4,000 words into my twentieth novel. That’s what’s possible in this wonderful new world of publishing.
These publications didn’t cost me a dime out-of-pocket because I did the formatting and covers myself. I retain ownership of all my files, and I retain 100% of net royalties.
Even if I had paid say $200 to get each of these titles out there, that would be my total expenditure, period. It’s an investment. I’ll never spend another dime on them, and the passive income from them will continue for 70 years after my death.
Because they’re all self-published, there are no royalty splits, no returns, no torn-off covers, no remainders. There is no “shelf life” as there is with traditional publishing. And like I said above, these stories—individually, in collections, and the novel—will continue to bring in passive income until 70 years after my death. Again, that’s passive income. If I work, it comes in. If I stop working, it still comes in. And when I kick off, it will still come in for my children and grandchildren.
So don’t be confused over self-publishing vs. subsidy publishing. Self-publishing is a very good thing. Subsidy publishing is a scam, period. A subsidy publisher can’t do ANYthing for you that you can’t do for yourself at either no cost or low cost.
For a lot more on self-publishing, visit http://harveystanbrough.com/downloads. It’s free. You won’t be sorry.
Next up in this series of posts, some tips on Starting and Restarting your writing.
‘Til next time, happy writing!
Note: If you find something of value in these posts or on this website, consider dropping a tip into Harvey’s Tip Jar on your way out. If you’ve already contributed, Thanks!
I am a professional fiction writer as well as a copyeditor. For details, or just to learn what comprises a good copy edit, please visit Copyediting. It costs less than you think.
If you’d like to get writing tips several times each week, pop over to my Daily Journal and sign up. In the alternative, you can also click the Pro Writer’s Journal tab on the main website at HarveyStanbrough.com.
7 thoughts on “Scammers in Pretty Clothing”
“Beware the glad hand of a long-sleeved stranger.” ~ Author Unknown
But don’t I know it! Great post, Harvey! We can’t be reminded enough…
Yeah. 🙂 It amazed me how many people thought I was that “long-sleeved stranger” back when I tried to give them a low-cost or no-cost alternative to the scams. Incredible. Soooo glad I’m not providing writer services anymore!
Thanks for the continuing tips. Although I’m looking forward to those next steps once I have at least 5 stories in the series per one of your previous tips, at this time, I’m still somewhat filled with trepidation for venturing out into that wilderness of scam traps. Hopefully, by the time I have enough for a “collection”, I’ll have learned enough from you to not find myself in the land of regret referenced by Diedre.
Roger, all you have to do is remember not to pay anyone to publish your work. That’s it. You can pay someone to do what you don’t know how to do, like formatting, for example, or cover design, but you’re only paying for a service, and you still retain 100% of your rights and you still receive 100% of your net royalties. And if you ever have any questions about this stuff, please ask. I’ll even discuss companies by name in private. Basically, if they charge a fee to publish your work, it’s a scam, period.
I must second your recommendation of Arena Publishing. It’s quick, accurate, will fix errors without complaint, not expensive. Good natured service. Arena has helped me publish three, soon to be four, good-looking books I can be proud of.
This is an older re-post, so I forgot that was even in there. Arena does good work. These days I recommend (strongly) Cover to Upload. Less expensive and, to my eye, slightly better work.
Plus if you get an unsolicited email from anyone selling something, it should always be suspect. I get the Publish Wholesale ones, too. They just go into my spam folder.
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