I received the following email last week:
I am the author of the book (removed). I used a company to self publish it. Now, they have disappeared. They set up everything for me, website, etc., and now I think they may still be selling my book from my website and taking all the proceeds. I don’t know what to do. I have contacted the police but they don’t seem hopeful they will catch these people.
I looked up the company he was using. Here was my response:
The first red flag should have been the marketing text on their website. The English is choppy and there is missing punctuation. They also claim to be one of the leading publishers in the U.S. The problem is they are NOT in the U.S.
There are several negative complaints about the company online. There are also positive comments but the company responded only to the positive comments, and used the exact same response to all of them. That makes me suspicious that the positive reviews may have been fake.
If you are a U.S. citizen, and if you money to someone in a foreign country, and if you are later wronged, your chances of getting any of your money or files back are nil to none.
As you have now experienced, paying a publisher to register and design your website is a bad idea because you have no control over it. The website URL is your exact name but you don’t own it, even though you paid for it.
I’m very sorry you’ve been scammed by that company. Unfortunately, when his happens, the only choice an author has is to republish his or her book with a reputable publisher.
Have you tried to order a copy of your book from your website? If so, did you get a copy of the book? Do you have any copies of your book right now? Is you see a barcode and text on the very last page, I might be able to determine which company is printing that book. I doubt that foreign company actually printed it.
Also, did they register a copyright for you? If not, you can register your copyright, and demand companies stop selling the version published by that firm.
Some of these smaller companies think it’s easy to run a publishing business. When they realize it’s not, they pack up, and run. Unfortunately, if your book is still selling, that firm is still getting paid for those sales. It is highly doubtful you will ever hear from them again.
I recommend republishing your book under a different title. Only use a firm located in the U.S., and make sure it’s well-established, and has been in business for many years. Using any new “publisher” is a huge risk these days.
Angela Hoy lives on a mountain in North Georgia. She is the publisher of WritersWeekly.com, the President and CEO of BookLocker.com and AbuzzPress, and the author of 24 books.
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HAVE A QUESTION ABOUT SELF-PUBLISHING A BOOK?
a self-publishing services company that has been in business since 1998. Ask her anything.
One of those idiots left a message on my phone a couple of weeks ago. For hilarity I listened tongue in cheek until he said republished, and hung up. He never called back.
Stupidity lives forever,
It never goes away.
It sleeps for a little while
And comes back another day.
— c Linda M. Gigliotti 22