Tips On How To Prevent Scams When Getting A Book Deal

By Victor Hood

For any writer, how to get a book deal without being scammed is a hurdle. When it comes to publishers, they are not exempt from questionable practices.

Keep in Mind These Warning Signs

Does the publisher charge a fee to read your manuscript? You are providing the product for them to sell. It makes no sense that you have to pay them anything just to see if they are interested in your work.

Were subsidy contracts offered? Just so you can have your book published, you have to them when they promote themselves as commercial publishers. There are publish-on-demand, or POD, publishers such as Xlibris, authorshouse, and IUniverse but are they all legitimate publishers? They are, just as long as the author is aware of the limitations and costs of POD publishing. These POD books are rarely seen stocked in bookstores.

What about bait and switch? There are some publishers who hide behind the mask of respectability and call themselves 'traditional' when in fact they are a vanity press. How can you unmask them? Look at their websites, if the focus is on recruiting writers rather than promoting the books they publish, it's a huge red flag.

There are publishers who will accept your manuscript and then a few weeks later, they will come back and tell you that they would really like to publish your book but they say that their list for the next season is full. The only thing you have to do is give them some money and share the risk with them.

A new twist is to tell the author that their project has merit but the author will have to find an investor to sponsor their title. The publisher doesn't directly asks the author for any funds however, rather than try to find an investor, many authors would shell out the necessary dollars.

What about rebates? The publisher says that any fees you pay them will be completely refunded once your book reaches a certain sales level, usually in the thousands. Or that they will provide a comparable number of 'free' copies when the magic sales level has been reached.

There is a twist on rebates and this involves the publisher matching your monetary contribution in marketing efforts for your title. Marketing their own titles is what publishers are supposed to do. The match most likely will not be in advertising dollars, review copies sent, or book tour expenses but the efforts of the in house staff. It's also likely that these efforts won't be focused specifically on your title.

It is possible for any author to get a book deal and avoid getting scammed as well. All they need to do is remember these warning signs.

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