As we continue to watch publishing services companies (“self publishing” firms and “print on demand publishers”) go out of business, we are offering this article in the hopes of preventing more disasters in the industry. And, we decided to have some snarky fun with it, too!
The examples below are taken from real stories we’ve heard and read from authors and employees of publishing services firms.
25 Ways to Ensure Your Publishing Business Will Ultimately FAIL
1. Tell yourself, “If so-and-so did it, I can, too!”
Just because someone else created a publishing company doesn’t mean that you can easily and affordably do so, too, nor that you can succeed at it. And, because there is so much competition in the industry now, your chances of success are nil.
Start-up costs can be quite steep! Rent, utilities, furniture and equipment, employees, contractors, printers, distributors, IT support, lawyers, accountants, etc. And, building a list of published titles that can support your fixed monthly expenses in the future, through good times and bad, takes time – often years. Operating a publishing business requires not only book publishing knowledge, but human resources, legal assistance, accounting expertise, marketing help, a sophisticated website, expensive technical support, a merchant account (which requires excellent credit), and so much more!
2. Don’t have a business plan. Just do everything on a whim. Leave tasks half-done. Make promises you can’t afford to keep later. Bite off WAY more than you can financially or realistically chew in any way whatsoever.
3. Get WAAAAY more office space than you need. And, buy WAAAAY more furniture, equipment, and supplies than you can afford. While you’re at it, get that big, custom granite conference table that you can pound your fist on during company meetings.
4. Hire WAAAAAY too many employees because you have a big ego. Having all those people calling you “sir” makes you feel AWESOME every single day! You have to apply for loans to pay all their salaries but, hey, at least you feel IMPORTANT!
5. Further feed your ego by hosting lavish corporate events where employees hover by your elbow, waiting to grab you another glass of wine. You know they’re all praying they’ll get a raise for the butt-kissing. But, of course, you have no intention of giving them one.
6. Max out those credit cards! Go ahead and spend like there’s no tomorrow! Keep on hoping that your non-existent business plan will save you in the end! Oh, and don’t forget to borrow money from your friends and relatives. Hey! Offer them worthless stock options in your burgeoning sham business! That’ll keep you rolling in dough for awhile.
7. Only offer an exclusive contract to your authors, which will guarantee future anger and resentment, as well as online complaints, when they realize you have financially forced them to keep their book with you, even if they land a traditional contract in the future. Oh, and also take ALL rights to the illustrations and cover designs your authors paid YOU to create, as well as all of their production files! That’ll sure make ’em happy!
8. Hire overseas workers with limited English skills to perform your marketing and customer service duties. But, don’t stop there! Hire English-challenged folks to edit your English-language manuscripts for authors, too! If an author complains, just roll your eyes, and stare at the obnoxious gold nugget ring you just bought with their money.
9. Have all of your emails and phone calls go to a “call center” where the “next available operator” assists your authors. Nobody emailing or calling will know who they will be talking to next about their book and, of course, the person answering that email or phone call will know nothing about that author’s book. But, that’s okay because it’s CHEAP LABOR!
10. After authors pay their initial fees to you, ignore them. That’s right. Delete their emails. Don’t answer their phone calls. Refuse receipt of their certified letters. You already got your paws on their money, right? Leave them high and dry after that.
11. Come up with a couple hundred garbage services to scam your authors with. Teach your employees to lie through their teeth during those strong-armed marketing phone calls! Promise bonuses to the ones who almost bankrupt the most authors! Tell them that retired authors usually have spare cash. Your salespeople will put those authors at the top of their list!
12. Spend your authors’ royalty money on gambling and other extravagances. Spend, spend, spend, and then spend some more while you try to reel in and rip off as many new authors as you can to pay your past debts. It doesn’t matter that those services won’t sell any copies of your authors’ books. They should have known better, right? It’s not YOUR fault they fell for your ridiculous marketing schemes!
13. Teach your employees to use begging, guilt, and even verbal abuse when authors don’t buy your scam marketing services.
(TRUE STORY: An author recently sent me an email exchange she had with an employee at a very well known print on demand firm. The author had decided NOT to purchase a specific service after all. The employee told the author that she’d already told her supervisor that the service was being purchased…and that she was going to “get in trouble” if the author didn’t follow through.)
14. When business slows down, do NOT reduce your spending! How would that make you look to your hot new girlfriend? After all, you just used your authors’ royalties to buy her new fake boob implants and you DID promise her that trip to the Caribbean, right? Spend, baby! Spend!!
15. Tell authors if they buy 1,000 books today, they’ll get free books next year! And, next year, revert back to #10 above.
16. Collect money for publishing services and then just…don’t do the work! If the authors complain, again fall back to #10 above.
17. Collect money for actual copies of printed books and then just…don’t print the books! If the authors or book buyers complain, fall back to #10 above once again.
18. Refuse to respond to complaints posted about your firm online. That’s right. Take the “high road.” Don’t get into debates with those pesky customers because you just might miss your tee time!
19. Better yet (since your golf game got canceled due to rain), threaten to SUE anyone and everyone who posts negative yet true complaints about you online!
20. Fail to respond to lawsuit threats. Don’t accept delivery of certified letters, and watch your back ’cause the process server might be right behind you at any given moment when you’re out golfing, or shopping for more gold nugget jewelry.
21. Stop sending royalty reports to authors, or send falsified ones that can easily be proven incorrect by your authors. Who cares, right? Everybody is already mad at you. The attorney general hasn’t come calling yet so you’re all good, man! Pocket those payments from distributors and ebook retailers every month and spend, Spend, SPEND!!!
22. Stop paying your employees’ federal income, social security, and Medicare taxes to the I.R.S. Yep! That’s some easy cash right there!
23. Implement pay cuts across the board for your employees, and blame your cash woes on their poor performance.
24. Get increasingly enraged by the hole that you, alone, have dug for yourself, and take it out on your employees and authors. That’s right. Blame them. Blame your competitors. Blame the government. Heck, blame the entire world but do NOT place any blame on yourself. Channel that blame into screaming and yelling at employee meetings. Fire people on the spot. And, when your active and terminated employees post negative comments about you online, publicly blame them for your own failures.
25. Stop paying your rent, your utilities, and everything else. Keep what little money you have left and, once the heat gets too hot, and when you realize the gig is up, skip town. Don’t even bother telling your few remaining employees, who will show up to a locked office without electricity. Just (poof!) disappear.
Sadly, these types of scenarios continue to happen in the publishing industry. Are we advising authors to avoid self-publishing altogether? Heck no! Landing a traditional contract can take YEARS. And, if you self-publish, and prove your book is selling well, you have a MUCH greater chance of landing a traditional publishing contract!
To protect yourself, we advise authors to only sign on with a veteran publishing services firm that has been in business for many years, that has an excellent reputation, and that has thousands of very happy authors. It’s that easy! 🙂
HAVE YOU WORKED WITH A PUBLISHER WHO SCAMMED AUTHORS? PLEASE SHARE YOUR STORY IN THE COMMENTS BOX BELOW!
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Got questions about Print On Demand and Self-publishing? Ask Angela Hoy.
About The Author
Angela Hoy is the publisher of WritersWeekly.com, the author of 19 books, and the co-owner of BookLocker.com (one of the original POD publishers that still gets books to market in less than a month), PubPreppers.com (print and ebook design for authors who truly want to self-publish), and Abuzz Press (the publishing co-op that charges no setup fees).
Angela has lived and traveled across the U.S. with her kids in an RV, settled in a river-side home in Bradenton, FL, and lived on a 52 ft Irwin sailboat. Angela now resides on a mountaintop in Northwest Georgia, where she plans to spend the rest of her days bird watching, gardening, hiking, and taking in all of the amazing sunrises.
WritersWeekly.com - the free marketing ezine for writers, which features new paying markets and freelance job listings every Wednesday.
BookLocker.com - According to attorney Mark Levine, author of The Fine Print, BookLocker is: "As close to perfection as you're going to find in the world of ebook and POD publishing. The ebook royalties are the highest I've ever seen, and the print royalties are better than average. BookLocker understands what new authors experience, and have put together a package that is the best in the business. You can't go wrong here. Plus, they're selective and won't publish any manuscript just because it's accompanied by a check. Also, the web site is well trafficked. If you can find a POD or epublisher with as much integrity and dedication to selling authors' books, but with lower POD publishing fees, please let me know."
Abuzz Press offers FAST and FREE book publication, but only accepts a small percentage of submissions, and only works with U.S. authors.
PubPreppers.com - "We Prep, You Publish!" Print and ebook design for authors who truly want to self-publish. Offers formatting and design services only, and then provides simple instructions for authors on where to sign up to have the print and ebook editions printed/listed/sold. Cut out the middle man. Keep 100% of what bookstores pay for your book!
Angela's POD Secrets Revealed Series can be found HERE.
Have a POD Book with another publisher? See if BookLocker can give you a better deal. (BookLocker offers "disgruntled author discounts" to those who want to move from other POD services.)
See BookLocker's publishing packages HERE.
ANGELA ON TWITTER https://twitter.com/AngelaHoy
BOOKLOCKER ON FACEBOOK - Provides links to free excerpts!
ANGELA ON FACEBOOK
ANGELA ON LINKEDIN
Angela is the creator of the Original 24-Hour Short Story Contest!
Read More Of Angela's Articles HERE
7.625 STRATEGIES IN EVERY BEST-SELLER - Revised and Expanded Edition
At this moment, thousands of would-be authors are slaving away on their keyboards, dreaming of literary success. But their efforts won’t count for much. Of all those manuscripts, trade book editors will sign up only a slim fraction.
And of those titles--ones that that editors paid thousands of dollars to contract, print and publicize--an unhealthy percentage never sell enough copies to earn back their advances. Two years later, most will be out of print!
Acquisition Editor Tam Mossman shares seven essentials every book needs to stay in print, and sell!
Read more here:
My very first – and only – POD publisher was from the very first moment, trustworthy, honest – and actually very polite and pleasant to work with. Over the years, they’ve produced a quality published book that I’ve been very happy with.
They are none other – drum roll please – Angela Hoy and Booklocker.com
Awe! We love you, too, Al!!!! 🙂
My first attempt at self-publishing was with AuthorHouse. After paying the upfront fee, I thought they would start on cover design and formatting. Instead, they started a ‘content review’, and offshore staff (Phillipines?) would email me saying that one section needed to be removed due to fears of libel or invastion of privacy. once I changed the content and resubmitted, they emailed me again saying that there more instances that needed to be change, BUT WOULD NOT TELL ME which sections in the book they had a concern about! When I asked for specifics, their reply was ‘You are the author, you should know!’. When I asked to talk to whoever was doing this review, I was told that I was not allowed to speak to the content review people, and that if my manuscript failed their review two more times, my project would be cancelled and I would not get my money back! Eventually I contacted a senior manager there and they refunded part of my money but not all. They never did ANY work other than ‘content review’ which was a joke! Just a terrible experience. I wasted $$ and two months on this entire process1
I’ve been thinking about starting a publishing company to fill in some of spare time. I really like your list of ideas, although a couple of them didn’t seem to work for me the first time I tried them. Maybe the second time will be better. I was wondering if you had thought about turning your list into a training course. I have some amazing training design credentials and I’ve been looking for some good content. I’d be happy to do it on the come, like get paid when we start selling the course. Just one more thing, I will need some upfront money to tide me over until my latest project starts paying off. Yeah, I went in partners with a guy who told me he found the original alchemist’s formula for turning lead into gold. Am I a lucky guy?First him letting me in on his great secret and now you offering how to start up a publishing company. Wow?
You are HILARIOUS, Bob! I always love hearing from you. 😉