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#TraditionalPublisher or #Self-publishing Scam?

Lately I’ve been getting lots of invites from “Traditional Publishers” offering to publish my books for me. I’m always leery of such ‘offers’ because many of these outfits are self-publishing scams dressed in traditional publisher clothing.

Some quick and easy ways of checking if the traditional publisher is legitimate (though they are getting smarter by the year):

* Is the publisher’s website geared to the reader (as it should be), or are they in the business of selling you, the writer, services or ‘packages?’

* Is it a digital-only publisher? Frankly, I don’t see how this is beneficial to the author. Instead of a one-time payment to your editor / book cover designer / ebook formatter, you’re now paying a lifetime of royalties. If you have also been asked to pay for these services (in addition to the royalties) definitely stay away. Self-publishing is so easy – create an account on Amazon, smashwords etc and upload your book. Why would you hand over your rights to someone else for this effort?

* Are they asking you to pay for publishing your book? Stay away.

* Typically, traditional publishers have provided the author access to in-store distribution, which was what authors wanted / needed. But things are in such a flux now that it is hard to know whom to trust.

I wish I could say only scummy self-publishing outfits are demanding payment for publishing a book, but I find that (in India, at least) traditional publishers – the big established-for-decades ones – are also selling services on the sly. I’ve heard of a few of them offering to publish a book and provide in-store distribution for these books, provided the author ponies up hundreds of thousands of rupees. Not only that, these established traditional publishers are then pressuring the author to buy up the entire print run so the publisher can declare the book a success. If this isn’t smarmy, I don’t know what is.

Jane Friedman also deal with this on her own blog. Click here for her take on it.

  1. May 19, 2015 at 7:48 am

    I feel like the “you pay them” thing is a dead giveaway. One of the main reasons to go with a traditional publisher is you write it, they edit and package it.

    • rasanaatreya
      May 19, 2015 at 10:56 am

      No, editing and packaging can be done independently. In fact, I read a book from Harper Collins recently that had 45 errors! Editing has become very shoddy. Two reasons to go with traditional publishers (for now) are access to in-store placement of your books, as well as access to major literary prizes.

  2. May 19, 2015 at 9:06 am

    I guess you’ll like a short story (written by me) on this theme:


    πŸ™‚ πŸ™‚

    • rasanaatreya
      May 19, 2015 at 10:54 am

      I’ll check it out! πŸ™‚

  3. May 19, 2015 at 1:34 pm

    So true Rasana about publishers asking the authors to buy the book and declare it as a success. And I too have come across many errors even in the books by traditional publishers.

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