Several years ago, I wrote and published Sabotage: How to Deal with the Pit Bulls, Skunks, Snakes, Scorpions & Slugs in the Health Care Workplace. It was all about the bad boys and girls who created what I referred to as the toxic workplace of bad behaviors—the problem, the cause, the effect and the solutions. Bad behavior that resulted in billions of dollars in reduced productivity, increased turnover, and patient safety. It was hugely successful along with its sister book, Zapping Conflict in the Health Care Workplace. These two books took me to all 50 states, resulting in hundreds of thousands in actual physical book sales.
And … here’s where the publishing Gods are leading me to write next:
How Authors Can Avoid the Snakes, Vultures & Wolves Circling Your Book
Christian publisher Tate Publishing formally closed its doors in January of 2017. There are millions of dollars in lawsuits including one from Lightning Source (that’s Ingram) for over $1.8 million and Xerox for another $2 million. In February, a default judgment was entered against Tate when its owners did a no-show in court on behalf of Lightning Source. I can’t even imagine the number of authors and books who have been damaged and the mega moneys that have been sucked away via credit cards.
As the Publishing Predator World Turns
Why another column on what I call the Publishing Predators? Simply this: self-publishing is ripe for cons and scams and perfect for picking.
- The self-publishing/indie publishing avenues now publish far more books than the traditional publishing stream from New York.
- Whenever there is growth, it creates opportunity … for both the good guys and the bad guys.
- Opportunity encourages darker forces to surface. The floodgates opened for self-publishing went into high drive when Amazon introduced BookSurge, the predecessor of CreateSpace in 2007. Scammers paid attention. The breeding started.
- Alas, scammers, publishing cons, and publishing predators have duped authors out of millions of dollars.
Last month, a phone call came in from one of my Blog followers on a Sunday AM. I was in my offices and picked up the phone. My panic caller shared her information and needed some hand-holding. Rats … within seconds, I knew where the call was going … the giant sucking sound of author pain had started. The publishing predators had zapped one. I don’t like these calls or the news that spelled forth with it.
She had engaged Tate Publishing to create and publish her book. All was lost. And she didn’t have a book. Double rats.
And she had accepted that her money was lost. Hmmm, maybe not. Probing on my side, I came up with a plan to attempt to get some moneys back. “Breathe,” I said, “and let’s try this: I want you to contact the credit card company you used to pay for Tate … and tell them you’ve been scammed. If you want me to be on the phone when you do, I’ll text over things to say.” It turned out that she used PayPal.
“OK—go to PayPal and file and Grievance.”
I gave her keywords/phrases to use. And I referred her to The Book Designer site to get the templates for book interiors so she could get back into selling books pronto; how to acquire her own ISBNs; how to deal with Amazon in setting up a new account; getting help to transfer information over via Author Central; and then get ready for a party to launch her new book and new publishing company.
Oh, my … she agreed to call. The following week, she came to the monthly AuthorYou Circles brainstorming I do one Saturday a month in my home in Colorado—join in, info and details here: AuthorYOU.
And WOOT … she has $1,800 is back in her account within one week. She bought the templates and is already laying out her book, tickled with their ease. And she has reached out to other authors who get caught in the loop that she knew to encourage them to take action.
Tate was a “paid-to-publish” operation … luring in authors-to-be with its massive ads … as a Self-Publishing company … Here’s one image:
Oh yes … what wouldn’t “wannabe” author ponder a bit with this image and then a sidebar of sorts giving a laundry list of benefits and a button to click over? What author-to-be wouldn’t want his or her dreams to come true? Authors respond to these lures by the thousands. The lure was tossed out; the author is hooked and oh my; a glorious email is received that is peppered with written strokes declaring that your book has been selected for publishing. It may share that hundreds, maybe thousands are submitted each year … but lucky you … you have been chosen “to be published.”
Sigh. Now here’s the bottom line truth: if you have a credit card or a checkbook to cover the “fees” … you are in. Companies that proclaim something like this: We get over _____ (add a number 500, 1000, etc.) of submissions yearly. Yours has been selected or publishing.
That’s the way they work. As late as November of 2016, Tate’s executives were proclaiming on the local NBC affiliate that everything was fine.
In reality, it was not fine, nothing was fine—massive complaints and lawsuits were swirling in the air. Over 150 complaints had been filed with the Oklahoma Attorney General. Just about everyone was owed moneys—authors, vendors and I suspect, most employees.
Check the Red Flags – Prevention Counts
Before you get into bed with ANY company that proclaims that it is a Self-Publishing company or expert or whatever, start probing before you pull out your credit card and sign on the dotted line. Please, please do your homework. News about Tate was posted online long before it went belly-up. And, it’s resurfaced, contacting many of its “authors” as Lux Creative Concepts and Lux Publishing. And, who knows what other names the most recent snake in the publishing grass is using.
Yes, there are “self-publishing” companies and experts that are nothing more that sharks behind the slick logos, free webinars/trainings,
Please honor your ”self” and your book-to-be. Before you pay anyone or company moneys, do your homework. Start searching online before doing business with any self-publishing publishers, a pay-to-publish, self-publish operation or any other person or company that wants your money to publish your book. Start with the Internet and create a Google search for:
(Company or Individual name) + Scam
(Company or Individual name) + Problem
(Company or Individual name) + Complaint
(Company or Individual name) + Lawsuit
(Company or Individual name) + Fraud
(Company or Individual name) + Rip-off
(Company or Individual name) + Con
I have removed the Better Business Bureau as a resource:
(Company or Individual name) + “Better Business Bureau”
from my “To Do” check list. Why? When it comes to Tate, there multiple complaints about the company posted with the BBB, yet it carried an “A” rating. Hmmm, I wonder if having one of its owners on the local board in OK … could/would that have had an influencing factor? Hmmm.
Don’t stop on the first page of your search like 90% of most Google visitors do … dig down and deeply. Scammers and cons know how to bury bad news–page four may have the info you are looking for. Read the reports and be advised. And here’s a caution. When I look at the Better Business Bureau’s reports on Tate related enterprises mentioned above, over 100 had been lodged in the past three years—yet the Oklahoma BBB gave it the coveted “A” rating.
Here’s my latest search on Google when I put in “Tate Publishing complaints” this past week:
Taking the well know line: If it walks like a duck, quacks like a duck, acts like a duck … it is a duck, we can morph that for publishing:
Author Beware Mantra
If it walks like a predator, talks like a predator and acts like a predator … RUN …
you are in the midst of a PUBLISHING PREDATOR!
Don’t do business with the company or the person. Period. If you are in business with one, terminate it, don’t be seduced to stay—you may need legal advice to exit. Cancel the credit card it has on file and contact the credit card (or PayPal if you used it and file a grievance). And please, shout it out: forewarn others.
Unfortunately, most walk away woven with the shame that they got sucked in the first place and/or so ticked that they got taken, they just want to take the shower and get as far away as possible. All of us who try to assist authors understand how you feel. The woman who called me on that Sunday was already licking her wounds and upset with how she got taken. She never thought she would get her moneys back. And she did—but she had to ask the right person … is her case, PayPal. I was enthusiastically delighted to assist.
And, discover and subscribe to warning sites such as Writer Beware
My final advice:
- DO Your online research on any if these “self-published” companies. Best advice is to avoid and ALL like the plague.
- Always pay with a credit card or use PayPal. Do not write a check, send a money order or pay cash.
- If you have been duped, misrepresented, scammed, immediately contact your credit card provider you used. Report that you have been scammed or they misrepresented their product/services and they are defective; what you are disputing; and that you want your money back.
- Don’t tuck your head in shame. SHOUT IT OUT to everyone—tell everyone you know that a company is a scammer and/or con. Post on your social media. Use hashtags #con #scam #ripoff
Share this column with every author and writer you know. You may be doing them the biggest publishing favor they will ever receive.
Judith Briles is a book publishing expert and coach. She empowers authors and is the Founder of AuthorU.org, 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 35 books including Author YOU: Creating and Building Your Author and Book Platforms (Foreword IndieFab Book of the Year), Snappy Sassy Salty: Wise Words for Authors and Writers and a speaker at publishing conferences. Book #35 was published in 2016: How to Avoid 101 Book Publishing Blunders, Bloopers & Boo-Boos. Get your copy now.
Each summer, she holds Judith Briles Book Publishing Unplugged, a three-day intensive limited to a small group of authors who want to be seriously successful. In 2017, the dates are June 22-24th. 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 “AuthorU-Your Guide to Book Publishing” on the Toginet Network at bit.ly/PublishingShow.
Follow @AuthorU and @MyBookShepherd on Twitter and do a “Like” at AuthorU, and join the Facebook group Book Publishing with The Book Shepherd. If you want to create a book that has no regrets, contact Judith at Judith@Briles.com.
Author U is a non-profit membership organization dedicated to the author who wants to be seriously successful. Monthly education programs delivered face-to-face and online, The Author Resource ezine, BookCamps, and the annual Author U Extravaganza are tools designed for authors pre-, during and post-publishing of their books. Join AuthorU.org today.
If you are looking for FREE author and book coaching … call in to Judith’s Author Monday Mornings at NOON Eastern each Monday if you are an AuthorU.org GOLD member.