I don’t mean REAL legitimate publishing houses such as Tor, Angry Robot, or Orbit, but instead these fly-by-night vanity publishing houses that promise huge fame, riches, and other nonsense at the cost of removing the authors rights and providing little to no actual service.
The first general rule of thumb is this: if you have to pay someone to publish your book, it’s a scam. (See below for details)
The second rule of thumb: whatever the name of the company asking for your book, please, please, please for all that’s good and pure, google the name and see what other authors say about the press.
Having a hardcover or paperback printed from a company such as CreateSpace is fine, and you should expect to pay for the service since you as an author are paying them to print your book. This is normal.
If you have an agent or an editor; basically, if you have creative representation, the printing or publishing house will pay for this. However, if you self pub your book on kindle or smash words, which I’ll get into soon enough, (I’ll write another article about this if anyone wants me to get into details…just let me know,) any work done to your manuscript will come out of your own pocket. This includes editing and cover art. This is also normal since you are self-publishing your craft and not having a publisher or editor do the work for you, meaning more profits for you, but also having more costs upfront.
A company claiming they can do it all for you is false. Run away like you ate 12 pounds of chocolate laxatives on a burrito and can’t find an available potty. Delete the email so fast the message doesn’t have time to even stay in the “Deleted Items” folder. Treat it as you would a virus. Nuke it from space, or send it to your favorite arch-nemesis.
Looking for a possible agent? The two places I recommend is:
Please (for the love of Dog,) read the instructions for each agent, since they all have specific criteria for what they will accept and what format they are currently accepting. Simple and effective direct messages will make lasting impressions with excellent cordial communication. (From friends who are agents, this step is considered the “first impression” at a bar, and some people don’t bother saying “Hello” before jumping into asking for favors.)
I know this is mashed together in a hurry, however, today I received a dozen spam emails from bullshit publishing houses pretending to offer the world for my manuscript without reading a single word. That’s a huge red flag and a great way for me to send them catfacts.com to their support email address. As well as signing them up for free trial memberships to adult friend finder. At least I feel vindicated.
Which bring me to rule number three: any time something seems too good to be true or throws a red flag while you read it, question the hell out of it ten times. Trust me, you’ll thank yourself later. You worked hard on your art, don’t get screwed out of letting the world read it.
If you happen to get one of these form messages, check their name on google or here:
Even self-publishing on smash words and kindle and retaining your rights to your work is better than paying someone to take your work away from you. Hell, in my opinion, giving it away for free is a better option than paying to screw yourself.
Be safe, be smart, and protect your art.