Like many authors, even though I own a publishing company, I still get solicitations to republish my books from companies that haven’t done their homework.
Unfortunately, as much as I am a champion for hybrid publishing and the benefits it has to offer the right authors, there are bad actors out there looking to take advantage of those who are unsuspecting. And they often start by telling you how wonderful they think you and your book are. After all, isn’t that music to our ears?
Do Your Homework
Whenever any business reaches out to you offering any service that you’ve never heard of before, it’s worthwhile to do some research before considering them seriously. This means Googling their names, especially in combination with “complaint,” “scam” and “reviews.”
It also means checking to see if they’ve been highlighted or reviewed on Writer Beware and the ALLi websites as one of the known predators that target authors.
Common Red Flags from Publishing Predators
Here’s a list of common “red flags” from predators offering publishing services, taken directly from the email that was sent to me.
- Many times, the sender starts with something that induces a bit of guilt. “I tried calling you, but you didn’t answer” is just one of many ploys used to get you to continue reading because you “owe them” something.
- They will refer to “your book” or “your books” without ever giving a title. This way, they can keep the email generic, and they won’t miss the opportunity to hook you on other titles you have that they weren’t aware of yet.
- The “recommendations” they’ve received are always from unnamed parties (“affiliated partners and accredited internet-based enterprises: Amazon and Barnes and Noble”), so there’s no one you can track down to confirm things with. Believe me, if Amazon saw a book they thought had good potential, they’d pursue publishing it themselves; not suggest it to someone else.
- The sender uses flattering terms to make it sound like the offer is something only a few are rewarded with, such as you “have been endorsed for sponsorship with a long-term partnership.”
- To gain your trust, they’ll link to a Better Bureau Business listing and to testimonials. But if you actually look them up on the BBB website, you’ll find that often what they indicate in the email is not the truth. In this particular email, the sender indicated they had an A+ rating with the BBB, when in fact their rating was lower. They also indicated that they were a member of the Independent Book Publishers Association (IBPA), but I have confirmed with IBPA that this publisher is in fact not a member.
- The emails will often read as if English is a second language. For example, in this particular email, we have the tortuous: “If you are one of the authors that we are looking for and hoping to prevision our plans…”
- The key areas of improvement the sender recommends are generic and would apply to 90% or more of books currently on the market (high list price, low exposure, no publicity or consistency, no online traffic…).
- What the sender offers to do for you is often a repeat of the work you’ve already done. In other words, they are only interested in charging you to republish your manuscript. There’s no mention of how they’ll fix any of the issues highlighted in the key areas they identified for improvement, especially in regard to getting your book more exposure.
- The sender frequently uses language that makes the decision to work with them sound like a no-brainer and leaves you questioning any decision not to work with them. “Why Must You Choose to Republish Your Books with Us?”
Another Red Flag
It’s also important to note that very few ethical publishers reach out to authors blindly to ask them to republish a book. So the very fact that there’s cold outreach involved should be the biggest red flag of all.
Reputable hybrid publishers have a submission process that books are vetted through. We don’t go looking for books to solicit. This is just one of many criteria ethical hybrid publishers adhere to. You can read about the others on the IBPA’s website in their Hybrid Publisher Criteria.
And if you’re reading this article too late and have already been sucked in by one of these re-publishing scammers, here’s an article for you from Writer Beware on possible next steps.
To sum it up, it is important to be cautious when considering who you want to work with on your books, as there are unfortunately bad actors who may try to take advantage of unsuspecting authors. But there are ways to spot the predators if you take your time and do the research. So don’t let this stop you from achieving your publishing dreams. Just be wary and wise, and you’ll be fine.