Five Red Flags for a “Self” or “Indie” Publisher and Author

How to Avoid the Love, Prey, Eat Author Syndrome

Let’s face it … there are publishing predators in the author’s mist. They come in all types of shapes and forms. Some are ruthless in their pursuit of you, your book, and gulp, your credit card. Others are subtle, but seek the same. And yet others seem like your best friend. Caution is in order.

red flags

Lesson #1 for all authors-to-be … Don’t rush to publish. Lesson #2 for all authors-to-be … Don’t rush to publish. Lesson #3 for all authors-to-be … Don’t rush to publish.

Do your homework. Authors must watch out for the unscrupulous types who prey on unsuspecting authors in the making who are so eager to see their work out there that they get trapped by the publishing predators.

Fact: If you are not the publisher, meaning that it’s not your publishing company’s name as the imprint, you have not self-published. Self means “self”. “Indie” means independent.

Fact: If you have to purchase your own books from a “self-publishing” company, you have not self or indie published. Publishers purchase books from a printing company, whether it’s POD or offset.

Fact: If you receive a “royalty” from a “self-publishing” company, you have not self or indie published. If you self/indie published,  revenues from book sales would flow to you, not a small percentage that is split from proceeds after distribution/publisher takes a share.

Fact: POD is a printing process—print on demand. It is not a method of publishing.



Here are some of the types of predatory behavior to watch out for when selecting a company to work with. Head for the hills in warp speed if you encounter these flags:

1. The Free/Cheap Door to “Publish”: OK, the hook is in, you’ve followed the link—that special, low price deal to “publish” your book is now in domino mode. “Deals” upon more deals a la packages are opening up to seduce you. Sounds good on paper …is it/are they? You need to know what’s behind the door.

Get your calculator out and really determine what all this is going to cost you, include the a la carte menu. Then, it’s time to talk to someone like me—actually, you should have done it in the first place.

2. Guarantees of Success and Promises: Any “publishing” company that guarantees it will make your book a bestseller is lying. There are no guarantees. Period.

3. Minimal Books Must Be Purchased: Commonly used with the “pay to publish” or “subsidy” crowd, it simple means that you have to buy “X” amount of books—wither all at once as part of the buy-in deal or over a period of time. Pay to Publish means that … you the author … pay the company to publish your book. Understand this … it is not really a publisher—the financial risk/commitment is basically zilch. What it is, is a “packager” for doing the cover, layout, setting up print options, possibly getting you on Amazon (which it controls the listing)—that’s the business. If any books find their way to a book store, moneys come to them on your behalf, eventually to you.

Many that require you to buy books will often print them via Lightning Source (LSI) and add a surcharge on top of it. They make more money. The reality is, is that you can go direct to LSI or Amazon’s CreateSpace—get help and do it direct.

4. Exclusivity: Don’t. Before going with any company to help you publish your book, make sure you know what your escape clause is. You need to know how, and when, you can walk away. Don’t sign anything that says that it has to “mutually be agreed upon.” When it’s time for a divorce, it’s time. Don’t sign away your rights, especially your electronic rights.

5. Determine Predator Status: Before committing to anything, BEFORE PAYING ONE DIME, go to Google, type the company or person’s name—after it, add “complaint”,  “problem”, “scam”, “con”, “rip off”, “lawsuit” and see what others around the web are saying. You can usually tell if they have a good reputation or are out to suck you, your bank account and credit card dry.

Hmmm … you should make this #1.

never work with anyone or a company



2014_JBriles-1Judith Briles is known as The Book Shepherd a book publishing expert and coach. She is the Founder of Author U, a membership organization created for the serious author who wants to be seriously successful. She’s been writing about and conducting workshops on publishing since the 80s. Judith is the author of 31 books including Author YOU: Creating and Building Your Author and Book Platforms (ForeWord Indie/Fab Book of the Year), Snappy Sassy Salty: Wise Words for Authors and Writers and a speaker at publishing conferences.

Become part of her inner circle by joining the Author’s Ark and exclusive monthly webinar and coaching event. Each summer, she holds Judith Briles Unplugged, a two and 1/2 day intensive limited to a small group of authors who want to be seriously successful. In 2015, the dates are August 27-29th.  Her audio and workbook series, Creating Your Book and Author Platform is now available. Join Judith live on Thursdays at 6 p.m. EST for Author U – Your Guide to Book Publishing on the Toginet Network at . Follow @AuthorU and @MyBookShepherd on Twitter and do a “Like” at AuthorU and Judith Briles – TheBookShepherd on Facebook. If you want to create a book that has no regrets, contact Judith at