How to Avoid Self-Publishing Scams

self-publishing scams alert

Self-publishing Scams to Avoid

Self-Publishing Scams

by Deborah S. Nelson

So you are thinking of publishing a book! Fabulous. And you want to know how to avoid self-publishing scams that dot the landscape of digital publishing. Good idea. This article will help arm you with knowledge, BEFORE you publish a book.


As a self-publishing coach, I am often asked: Which are the self-publishing companies to avoid? Although this sounds like an easy question to answer, it is not. In the changing landscape of digital publishing, companies are coming and going daily. Self-publishing is an emerging industry. The music and photography industries have already made their transition to the digital age. We enjoy downloadable songs and sheet music, digital cameras, online photographic services, online magazines to name a few. Book publishing is still working through the twists and turns of its transition to online digital publishing.

Therefore, to name self-publishing companies to avoid would be a tricky full-time job. Although this is not the easy answer, education is your best defense against self-publishing scams.

Basic Self-Publishing Terminology

Before you decide which company to hire, learn the basic terminology of self-publishing. Two great tools for this are the Dictionary of Self-Publishing Terms  and WIKIPEDIA, the definition of Self-Publishing. Once you understand self-publishing is you handling your own project, which self-publishing company to hire is solved. It is nearly impossible to hand over your self-publishing project to someone else. When you do, you create an unnecessary middleman. As SELF-PUBLISHER, you are responsible for all aspects since everything passes through you (or should). Inviting a third party could complicate and slow down the project.

Self-Publishing Companies to Avoid

Avoid self-publishing scams by choosing not to hire a so-called “self-publishing company.” By definition, only you, the author, can be the self-publisher. Shift your focus to hiring  a good print on demand printing company for book printing. The two most experienced print on demand companies are CreateSpace and LuLu. Educate  yourself about the book publishing process. Hire your own freelancers for book covers, interior design, promotional copy, editing, and proofreading. For further details read: Self-Publishing Companies: How to Shop Them. For further education, download our free self-publishing toolkit below.

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Is Self-Publishing a Book Profitable?

Publishing a Book Digitally 

By Deborah S. Nelson

Tablet computer color splashNow that digital publishing has entered the playing field of the World Wide Web, a new question arises over the horizon of online book publishing. Is it possible to make money when publishing a book? In this article we address the question for those considering entering the ring of digital book publishing.


Book Publishing reaches back into history; and traditionally was an expensive venture to enter. The printing press was a pricey piece of equipment in the first place, as was the set-up involved in printing just one book. This required an up-front investment for printing at least 10,000 books to make one book affordable. See the video below which explains in more

detail the difference between digital publishing and traditional publishing.

Now that digital publishing allows any of us to print just one book affordably, that makes self-publishing doable for a one person enterprise.

Money Required for Publishing a Book

Before we can talk about making money in publishing a book, we need to talk about the costs involved to get started.  Since expensive printing equipment or set-ups are not required, that means anyone with a simple computer and an idea for a book can enter the playing field of book publishing. With no large investment required, the potential profit margin obviously skyrockets.

However, expect to put in a great deal of sweat equity, or pay for labor costs involved in preparing the digital file for publication. To find out more details about the exact costs involved in  publishing a book, here’s an article entitled Real Self-Publishing Costs to Publish a Book to get a detailed analysis of initial costs involved.

The Millions Made by Publishing a Book with Digital Publishing

Digital publishing equipment has made a new self publisher era possible. No longer considered ‘vanity publishing,” many successful traditionally published authors are getting excited about the size of their royalties made by publishing a book themselves. Take Barbara Freethy, for instances, Author of 34 novels including the Wish series and first author on Kindle and Nook to sell one million books. She has been writing for 20 years, and was published through four different publishing houses. Freethly is now self-publishing. “Once I saw how well my self-publishing books were doing and how much more attention and focus I could put on my own books, it was a pretty easy decision [to continue self-publishing] because those books have been doing so much better,” Freethy comments.

Amanda Hocking has made millions with her romance series with on e-book platforms as well. Considering now that the self-publishing industry is estimated as a 52 million dollar industry in 2012, there is certainly big money to be made in publishing a book. This is true now, more than ever, especially when self-publishing figures appear to be eclipsing traditional book publishing numbers many times over.

Amanda Hocking and Barbara Freethy are just two of the most well-known millionaire authors; and this article barely scratches the surface. Huffington Post Live has a comprehensive video interview which interviews the some of today’s most successful self-published authors. With the publishing playing field leveled they interview Hugh Howey, Darcy Chan, Bella Andre, Jasinda Wilder, all New York Times Best Selling authors, and all approaching 1 million or more in book sales. With royalties what they are in self-publishing, you can bet those sales numbers has brought each of these authors millionaire status.

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Alert: Avoid Wrong Turns in Self-Publishing

Self-Publishing Companies to Avoid

Self-Publishing Companies to Avoid

As a self-publishing coach, I am often asked what are the self-publishing companies to avoid. What are the worst “self-publishing” companies? How can I make money in self-publishing without overspending or getting caught up with scam self-publishing companies?

If you have landed here, you are probably asking the same question. A quick easy answer is to say that self-publishing companies to avoid are ones which will not fit the needs of your self-publishing project. This article will help you select the best self-publishing companies for your book publishing projects and how to be aware of particular self-publishing companies to avoid.


If you are preparing to self-publish a book, this article we will help you to properly prepare for success in self-publishing. I have worked on the inside of traditional publishing and offset printing for decades. For the past five years,  I have worked extensively in the self-publishing industry and have a good grasp on the landscape of services available in the book publishing industry. In this article we will tackle the questions of which self publishing companies to avoid. But first, let’s consider the following:

  • So-called “self-publishing” companies are really just print on demand companies. Many offer extra services, but they are secondary. To get a more clear understanding of what self-publishing or print on demand really is and what other publishing terms mean, see the Dictionary of Publishing Terms.
  • Selecting a print on demand company or printer is only one step in the self-publishing process. If you have decided to publish a book yourself, understand that it is the equivalent of being your own general contractor for building your home. Selecting a printer to publish your book would be like selecting someone to pour the foundation, put on a roof, or frame up the house. It is but one piece of the entire picture.
  • Selecting the best printing company to print your book depends entirely on the type of book you are going to publish. So the “worst self publishing company” will be one who least likely matches the requirements of your book project. If publishing a four-color hardback illustrated children’s book, you will want to select a different printing company (“self-publishing company”) than if you are printing a black and white paperback. To learn more about the basic steps of how to publish a book, read the other articles on this site.

The Best Way to Avoid the Worst Self-Publishing Companies

To avoid the worst self-publishing companies, the best approach is to do an analysis of the requirements of your book publishing project. Ask yourself the following questions:

What is the purpose of my book project? Is it to sell lots of books, sell books online, sell books in person, enter the speaking circuit, give workshops using the books, or to leave a legacy for your family?

 Will you need a small, or large inventory of books?

 Is your budget tiny to small? If so, you will want to consider a print on demand method; books are printed as sold, with no inventory needed.

 How important is quality of printing and paper? If your book includes high quality four-color illustrations or photos you will need a different kind of printer, than if you are publishing a normal paperback book.

    • Make an Informed Decision

      The trick to finding the best printer for your book publishing project is research. Define the specifications of your printing job first. To put together the specifications of your printing project answer the following questions:

    • Will my book be paperback or hardback? (hardback is more expensive and complicated to do)
    • How many printed pages will my book be? (about double number of pages of a 12 point Word document manuscript)
    • Will I have illustrations inside the book?Will I need four-color inside the book?
    • What level of printing quality will my book project need?
    • What size will my book be? Will it be a custom-size or a standard book size?

Some of the Best Self-Publishing Companies

For paperbacks, I recommend starting your research with CreateSpace, LuLu, and Outskirts Press. These “players” have been around since the beginning of print on demand technology and they have their game down. Still, I get many comments about these self-publishing companies who sometimes are being seen as scam self-publishing companies. Keep in mind that although it is free to sign up for a print on demand account in most cases, extra services are often quite overpriced, and this is where the “scamming” comes in. People feel mislead when they discover the “extra costs” involved in self-publishing a book. I suggest reading my article on self-publishing services to learn more about this area. For small quantities (or even just one published book) of four-color books (lower quality),  I recommend starting your research with Blurb, and for larger quantities I recommend starting your research with Lightening Source. These are just some suggestions as there are many thousands of self-publishing companies available for printing your book. But the very first step is to clearly define the goals and needs of your book publishing project.  As for which self-publishing companies to avoid, I urge you to first do your research on your book project. Then you’ll understand which companies will be a better fit for your project. To learn more about the process of defining your book project, see the following articles:

  • How to Self-Publish a Book
  • Self-publishing Checklist: Publishing a book Yourself
  • Print on Demand- 12 Money Motives

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