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Publishing Scams

Let’s be honest, wanting to write a book differs greatly from publishing a book or getting a book published. The writing process, although it comes with its own challenges, is an extension of you. It is an artistic pursuit, and it often reflects some of your views or experiences. Unless there is something wrong, you are completely in charge of that process and that can be a great feeling.

So many people avoid publishing their book because of the post-book processes. I’m not sure the traditional culture help this in the west, but all the same, anyone who puts both the effort and research into creating a literary work should be given the opportunity to share it with people.

Traditional publishing.

Clearly, this is the route that has existed for hundreds of years and an opportunity like so many other things in the country I live in, England, that has been dictated by class. Until the twentieth century, most working-class people could not even read or write, let alone pursue some creative pastime. What has been encouraging though is that what we might regard as relatively everyday people like the Brontës, chose to write, whether others considered whether it was the right thing to do or not. The only route to getting your book to people was to find a publisher who agreed to publish the work and to get it into shops as well. Believe it or not, even in the 18th and 19th centuries, there was marketing. There was an attempt to get this to enthusiastic readers. I agree that the gatekeeping that goes with traditional publishing is important, and I understand the worry as we have reached a point where practically anyone can write and publish a book, that some people worry standards will fall.

However, the last hundred years has showed us that in the field of music, people from all backgrounds and classes hav ebeen able to produce the best work and they weren’t necessarily the famous ones either. So, it makes sense that anybody should be allowed write and...publish. And it’s worth remembering that you are still at the mercy of somebody’s opinion when a publisher yays or nays your script. I’ve worked in arts education all my life and this has always been a difficult area. Who is to say whether or not a book is worthwhile? And quite often they are looking for something they can make money on and little else.

Vanity publishing.

You may have heard this term. It may be unfair to suggest that all vanity publishing is a scam, but certainly there are many frauds and scams they’ve come out of that culture. The mantra you should adopt is that money should always flow towards the author, so if somebody is asking you for money to publish a book, there’s something wrong. I would advise you to try the traditional route instead, even if you must put up with several refusals.

Vanity publishing is where you end up paying a publisher for your book to be put out there with no real guarantees of how much marketing they will do or campaign for your success. I’ve known people to pay many thousands of pounds for this.

I think you would agree that for any job, if you’re paying somebody so that you work, there’s something wrong.

Hybrid publishing.

This is meant to be a compromise between the publisher putting up some funds and you putting up some funds, but this has also led to scams where, unwittingly, you end up paying the larger amount. Again, the golden rule must be if somebody is charging you money for publishing, then you need to think twice.

The Society of Authors constantly warns about some of these new trends. And certainly, if you are somebody who wants to self publish, give these ideas a wide berth.

The whole Idea of scams has been a real bugbear for Meet The Authors. Our aim is to create a community, and to support writers, particularly those who wish to self-publish. Trying to say this to people (whether it’s through social media or face-to-face) seems to always receive the proverbial raised eyebrow. Thanks to the many egregious behaviours of people who purport to work in the interests of writers (but don't), we can often end up negatively affected too.

Book covers

Let’s have a look at some services that you may choose access and pay for.

There’s nothing wrong with paying somebody to create a book cover for you. But be aware of what it is they are doing. I am a lifelong fine artist, but I have started to use AI where I think it’s appropriate or it can cut corners for me and me only. For me to use it to create a book cover for somebody and then charge them £200 to £300 would be immoral, unfair and a scam. If someone is spending many hours creating original work for you, then pay them what you think they deserve.


If you desperately need somebody to feedback on your ideas, it is worth asking someone you trust first without paying. And it’s often worth asking a few people, but they must be reliable. If there is anything about that other person who is by nature over critical, they can destroy you, and it’s the last thing you need when you’re at the start of your career. If you pay someone, make sure they are experienced, fair and understand what feedback feels like.

Is it possible to do proofreading, grammar, correction and editing yourself?

We always said at Meet The Authors that we would be genuine with people and help them learn from our mistakes. This is one mistake I made. Having been in teaching and lecturing, most of my life, my English is very good, but I just did not seem to be very good at detecting where there were genuine typos! So, when I first self-published, I got a bit of a kicking for this, but thanks to a professional and a friend, it’s all sorted now.

You can certainly employ modern technology like Grammarly or ProWritingAid that should more or less do the job for you, but if you have to self-publish, make sure you’re not getting into paying massive sums to have someone proofread and edit your work.

We are here to help

Genuinely, Meet The Authors was set up to help people just like us. If you are self-publishing, we are happy for you to ask us for advice and if you don’t want to use our services, we will try to find something that will help you that will not rip you off but fits the bill.

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