READ what others have to say about this experience. 

Your first step, after checking the company's website, is to Google the company name with variables, such as: 
(That company name) + Scam 
(That company name) + Fraud
(That company name) + Rip-off
(That company name) + “Better Business Bureau” 
(That company name) + con 
(That company name) + complaints
(That company name) + lawsuits 

That suggestion came from Dan Poynter, and the information below has been gathered from various newsletters, including Dan Poynter's Publishing Poynters, Angela Hoy's Writers Weekly, and FreelanceWriter's Report.

CHECK OUT any publisher you're thinking of working with at:
Preditors and Editors:
Warnings for Writers: (covers more than poetry)
Whispers and Warnings:

             A new store in New York is promoting self-published books, but is charging $300 to stock paperback books and $340 for  hardcover books. To reserve shelf space, the author sends one book immediately with the payment and application. Additional books will be ordered as required, with authors earning 66% of the cost of the book. So if your soft-cover book retails for approximately $21, you will have to sell 25 books in order to pay the $300 stocking fee. If each of these books has cost you $7 to produce, your profit on each sale will only be $7, so you'll actually have to sell 50 books in order to just break even. Do you think that a single copy of your book, on the shelves of this store, is going to produce sales of more than 50 books? Meanwhile, the store uses authors' stocking fees to pay his overhead, and so every sale he makes is pure profit.

Some POD publishers charge the author for preparing the book, add "optional" fees for editing and promotion, and then charge you again to buy your own books, often at only a 50% discount. That "discount" covers a nice profit to them above the actual cost of printing, so there's no way the author will ever make any money from this.

Something new is the "hybrid" contract, where the "publisher" charges you for producing the book (like a POD publisher), but then holds the printed copies in inventory, paying you only 10% royalties on copies sold (like a trade publisher) and charges you to buy your own books at a discounted price (a trade publisher would give you a certain quantity of books to give family and friends and use for promotion, and also send many copies out for review). Often these contracts offer no editing and only very limited publicity and distribution.

Let's use a $20 cover price to keep it simple:

Trade publisher: 5000 books sold (a Canadian bestseller) @ 10% royalties = $10,000.

POD publisher: 500 books sold (a reasonable quantity considering that there's no major distribution or promotion) @ 10% royalties = $1000. (minus whatever your upfront costs were, the cost of books to give to relatives, friends, the media, etc.). Some authors with POD books never make a cent of profit. Unless you're good at promoting the book yourself, you can even lose money!

Self-publisher: 1000 books sold @ 100% less cost of production and printing = $12,000. That assumes the book costs $8 to produce, which is pretty high. My books have varied in cost from $7 (large launch party, professional photographer, additional production costs to include photos in the book, cover design, laminated covers, matching laminated bookmarks and greeting cards) to $4.50 (no photos, simple cover, Cerlux binding).


Stephen Vizinczey's best-seller, In Praise of Older Women, was self-published, but after he sold world rights to someone else, he didn't see a penny for two years. I was starving in Montreal, all the money went to New York. Seeing headlines in the paper about being a worldwide bestseller when you're having to borrow money to eat, that's a soul-destroying experience. The court case took seven years to settle.

BACK to list of links