Over the years, I have helped hundreds of writers and authors who have been wronged or downright scammed by an individual or business in the industry. It’s very frustrating when it’s so obvious that most of the victims could have avoided being victimized in the first place, or could have at least limited their losses, had they simply done a bit of research.
Here are a few examples based on actual complaints that have been sent in over the years.
#1: VICTIM OF EXTREME UPSELLING BY A POD PUBLISHER
This gentleman paid a large POD publisher more than $10K and then sold only a handful of books. He said he was considering filing a lawsuit against them. I told him, “Good luck.”
You see, nobody forced him to keep signing up for more and more services at that firm. He was the victim of extreme upselling. As soon as he bought one thing, they talked him into buying another, and another. Of course, that POD publisher knew it was very unlikely that he’d ever sell enough books to pay for those services…but they don’t care. Their revenue model revolves around seeing how much money they can get out of each author’s pocketbook. If they can get $10K or more out of an author, they’re going to concentrate on getting that money, not on making a buck or two selling a copy of his book to someone else.
At BookLocker.com, we don’t upsell authors on marketing products and services. We teach authors how to effectively promote their books for free. Too many authors have found us only after they’ve been the victims of extreme upselling by other POD publishers.
Had the author simply googled the name of that company, he’d have seen many stories posted online from people who were also the victims of extreme upselling. He’d have known what he was getting himself into and he would have been better prepared to simply refuse to send the POD publisher any more money for anything at all.
#2: VICTIM OF A FAILING POD PUBLISHER
Of course, all businesses deserve a chance but I, personally, would never send a thousand or more dollars to a brand new publisher with few to no books on the market. Most new businesses fail and I am not willing to bet my hard-earned thousand-or-more-dollars on a “start-up.” When POD publishers and other service providers fail, their authors are left completely out in the cold. They won’t get a refund and they’ll have to start all over elsewhere. We’ve received numerous complaints from authors who took a chance on a start-up POD publisher, and ended up with nothing at all (if it was an outright scam or if the POD publisher only lasted a few weeks or months), or unpaid royalties and an instantly-out-of-print book (when the POD publisher suddenly closed their virtual doors).
#3: VICTIM OF A POD PUBLISHER THAT FAILS TO PAY ROYALTIES
There are numerous reports online about a POD publisher who is not only behind on royalty payments, but that also isn’t responding to authors who inquire about this. Had the victims simply googled this publisher’s name before signing up, they’d have seen that this publisher’s royalty payments have been late or non-existent for a long, long time now.
#4: VICTIM OF A DEADBEAT MAGAZINE PUBLISHER/EDITOR
This is perhaps one of the most common complaints we see. A writer queries a magazine, doesn’t get a signed contract, submits the assigned piece, and never gets paid. It’s rare to be the first victim of this type of scam and, if the writer simply gets a signed contract AND investigates the publisher or editor online before doing any work (using the publisher’s or editor’s name, not just the name of the publication), they can usually find complaints from past victims.
#5: VICTIM OF AN “ON SPEC”, “TEST”, OR “EVALUATION” SCAM
There are many job postings online now that ask writers to send in a sample piece on a specific topic as an “evaluation” piece, “sample”, or a “test” of some sort. In this scam, the writer must produce a new, original piece on a specific topic. What some writers don’t realize is that, when they do as instructed, they are 1. writing an entire piece on spec without promise of payment and 2. very likely “donating” this piece to the publication. You see, many of these “test” or “evaluation” pieces will end up being owned by the publisher/editor. If writers bothered to read the fine print, they’d see this is the case. Some scammers don’t even include it in the fine print. They simply steal the pieces, rewrite them a bit, and then publish or sell them without paying the writer, and, of course, without telling them.
There are numerous articles and forum posts online warning writers about this type of scam.
I’ll discuss more types of victims next week.
Angela Hoy is the co-owner of WritersWeekly.com and BookLocker.com. WritersWeekly.com is the free marketing ezine for writers, which features new paying markets and freelance job listings every Wednesday. According to attorney Mark Levine, author of The Fine Print, BookLocker.com 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.”
Read a price comparison of the most popular POD publishers HERE.
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