With the growth of the self-publishing industry, numerous companies have emerged professing to assist authors with self-publishing their books. While some of these companies offer excellent support, others are making promises that they may not be able to keep. Before you hand over your hard-earned cash, be sure you know the red flags that signal questionable self-publishing practices.
Dangers To Watch For When Researching Self-Publishing Companies
1. Sales guarantee
If a self-publishing company makes any guarantee of book sales, think twice about moving forward. We all certainly hope your book will be a best seller, but it’s impossible to guarantee even a single sale—unless the self-publishing company in question intends to buy copies of your book (an unlikely scenario). Self-publishing won’t make you a New York Times best seller overnight, and companies that claim otherwise aren’t above board.
2. Request of rights
All rights to your work should remain with you. If the self-publishing company you are considering requests that you transfer any rights to them, you may want to reconsider. While some self-publishing companies provide support services for an author, such as creating an Amazon Author Central page, purchasing an ISBN, etc., none of those things require any transfer of rights.
3. Royalty percentage claim
Online retailers (e.g., Amazon) and print-on-demand services (e.g., CreateSpace) may claim a percentage of your royalties, but it is not a standard practice for self-publishing companies to do so. Since most self-publishing companies already charge for their services, claiming additional royalties is definitely a red flag. If a company asks you for a part of your profits from each book sale, be sure you know why.
4. Unclear or nonexistent agreement of services
Since self-publishing is essentially self-regulated, you need to be hypervigilant. Be sure to read any agreement before signing your name to it. Get everything in writing: If a company makes promises and doesn’t itemize the services provided in writing—you should be wary.
Pro Tip: Here’s one sign that signals a self-publishing company is on the up and up: A FAQ section on the self-publishing company’s website. This is a good sign, since transparency is key in this industry.
Here’s What You Really Need From A Self-Publishing Company:
When looking for a company to assist you with self-publishing your book, focus on companies that thoroughly explain their services in a clear, easy-to-understand way. Being upfront about services and charges is what sets most good self-publishing companies apart from the questionable ones. But most importantly, you want a company that’s going to treat you with respect and care—not a company that makes pie-in-the-sky promises to hook you, then doesn’t follow through. Self-publishing a book takes time, effort, and cooperative communication: Make sure the people you choose understand your project and are willing to go the extra mile to help make your dreams come true.
QUESTION: What other red flags do you think people should watch for when considering self-publishing?