If you start looking for publishers or agents, be aware there’s a mine field out there of unscrupulous publishers, editors and agents. They will tell you that your work is great and they want your manuscript. Then comes the catch. They want a reading fee, a processing fee, an office fee, they have endless labels for what the money’s for. The bottom line is they are scam artists and thieves.
Publish America has been one of the longest running scams. Their trick is to not charge a thing up front. But they control everything after with a very long contract which is almost impossible to break. They will also publish everything they get. In 2002, the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America decided to test the idea that Publish America took anything sent to it. This is what happened:
One rule you need to learn and emblazoned in your mind: money should never go from you to the any of them. They will sweet talk you, claim they will assist in promotion, get important people to read your work. They’re lying. The problem is, having someone tell you that your work is great and they really want to publish it is a huge ego boost. We’ve all been there. If it wasn’t for the fact that I was dead broke, I might have fallen for a pseudo publisher’s line that my book was incredible and Commonwealth Publications wanted it. Then he got into the details. He did what he called co-op publishing. Which meant I give him $5000 and he publishes my book. He actually called me and first tried to flatter me, then told me he was my only hope of being published. That getting published was next to impossible for newbies.
This was all before the Internet became what it is today. There were fewer places to find out information or even report on scams like this. Today though, no writer has an excuse. Before signing any contract, or handing over any money, check the business out. Often a simple Google of the business name will bring up reports of trouble. Check out any web sites the business has. Look for sales, then verify the books and who actually published them. You can find this out on Amazon. If the book isn’t listed on Amazon, run away. Any book with an ISBN can get on Amazon. (You’ll find the publisher listed after the book description and will list publisher, date of publication, and several other stats)
It doesn’t hurt to also look for the author’s web page, blog or Facebook page. Contact them and ask them about their experience.