6 Tips to Avoid Being Scammed by a Publisher

Guest post by N.R. Tupper

In this day and age where self-publishing is as easy as a click of a button, a new wave of scamublishers have popped up. That’s not a real word, I’m just using it because I can.

Did you know ANYONE can start a ‘publishing’ company? It’s not difficult at ALL. But how do you tell if a publisher is legitimate or if they’re just some person in their living room trying to cash in on your hard work?

Here are a couple of ways to research a publisher before you sign on the dotted line!


If their website is focused ENTIRELY on you, the author, it’s probably a scam. Legitimate publishers focus their websites on SELLING BOOKS, not drawing in authors. Just visit one of the Big 5 websites and you’ll see that trying to figure out HOW to submit your manuscript is a challenge unto itself because, and rightly so, their websites are focused entirely on readers, not writers.


If they are asking YOU to PAY them to publish your novel AND asking for 40% royalties on TOP OF THAT, they’re not worth your time. Move on. You should NEVER pay a publisher. Pay an editor, pay a cover designer if you’re going it alone but NEVER pay a publisher. It’s a bad deal. Period.


Go through their catalogue of released books, if they even HAVE any released books and if they don’t run away! What do their covers look like? Does it look like someone just learning Paint threw the cover together or does it genuinely look like a cover you’d find on a bookshelf in a bookstore? If the covers don’t look professional, chances are the publisher isn’t professional either.


If their website, adverts or emails are riddled with spelling and grammatical mistakes, run the other way. If they don’t take proper care with their OWN product, why would they be careful with yours?


Run their name through Writer’s Beware. Heck, just run their name in google with the word writer’s beware after it. If there are absolutely no hits, that’s good. If there ARE hits, read every single complaint carefully. If you see a common theme in those complaints, it’s probably true.


Legitimate publishers will only VERY RARELY come to YOU. If you’re getting PMs from a company that hasn’t read your work or if you have a self published novel out that has sold less than 10K copies, be suspicious of ANY publisher that contacts you without you initiating that contact. 9 times out of 10 they’re just trying to scam you for that royalty so they can get something for nothing.

None of the above on their own will absolutely weed out bad publishers, BUT if a publisher passes all of the above tests they’re probably okay. Whatever you do, whoever you sign with, be CAREFUL. Remember that just because it bears the name PUBLISHING in the title, doesn’t mean it’s professional.

In this day and age where we authors have the power to take things into our own hands we need to ask: What can this publisher offer me that I can’t do myself?

If they aren’t offering you extensive exposure, if they aren’t offering you editing, cover design and professional help, they aren’t worth it.

Good luck!

Happy Writing!

About N.R. Tupper: You know what I hate more than stories that don’t involve dragons, explosions, ridiculousness, humor, romance and/or aliens? Biographies.

I was born.

I learned how to write.

I write.

The end.

Find her website here.

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