How to Avoid Publishing Scams: Really Useful Links by Lucy O’Callaghan | Resources | Essential Guides | Links for Writers
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Lucy O'Callaghan

‘Becoming a published author is a dream shared by almost every writer.’ (Reedsy) However, it’s important not to be blinded by scams in the process. Don’t get carried away by offers from seemingly legitimate publishing companies. If they approach you, they probably aren’t legit. That’s not the way publishing works. If a deal feels too good to be true, it probably isn’t. Whether you are looking to publish or to market your book it’s important to be aware of the scammers. I have put together some articles and YouTube videos that share tips on how to avoid scams.

  1. Self-Publishing Companies to Avoid and How to Spot Them (

It can be challenging to navigate the world of book publishing. Publishers with shady business practices often blend right in with the honest ones. From unnecessary fees to unfair contracts, these ‘services’ take advantage of authors and prioritise their own bottom line over your book’s success. Luckily, you can recognize publishing scams by looking out for specific red flags. This article shares some simple tips on how to identify legitimate publishing companies.

Unethical publishers often charge unnecessary costs. Watch out for reading fees, required purchases of your own book, traditional publisher fees, and book contact fees. Reputable book publishers won’t try to mislead you with tactics like a bestseller guarantee, direct solicitations, and hidden conflicts of interest. Make sure to always read publisher contracts, terms and carefully to ensnared by a minimum sales guarantee, restrictive copyrights, and predatory royalties. This article goes on to share a few tips to find the most up-to-date information on publishing scams.

  1. Book Publishers to Avoid: How to Dodge Shady Author Scams (

Becoming a published author is a dream shared by almost every writer. Unfortunately, there are plenty of unreliable companies out there looking to make a quick buck by exploiting those dreams. Reedy lists publishing services to avoid and explains each one. These include vanity presses pretending to be traditional publishers, literary agents promising book deals, grossly overpriced self-publishing services, marketing packages that sound essential, and writing contests and awards no one has heard of. The article moves on to discuss how to avoid publishing scams, telling you to be wary of anyone who contacts you first, and tread lightly with any publisher who wants you to pay, google them. Look at their books on Amazon, ask questions, see if they turn up the pressure, and finally, if in doubt, walk away.

  1. ​​Avoiding Publishing Scams – The Authors Guild

Common types of scammer outreach include offers to get your book published by a well-known publisher, including a large advance—but then you find out that you must first pay a fee; you pay, and then you never hear from them again. Others make false promises to actively market your book and generate huge sales in exchange for an exorbitant fee.

This article from The Author’s Guild shares common publishing scams and rules to keep in mind when evaluating a potential offer. The first rule of thumb is that if someone solicits you out of the blue with an offer that seems too good to be true, it probably is. Basic principles for recognising publishing scams that authors should keep in mind include: legitimate publishers and agents do not charge a fee to review your manuscript. Traditional publishers will not ask you to pay upfront with the exception of hybrid publishers which do split costs. Credible book publicists and marketers generally are for service providers, meaning they shouldn’t charge you until after they have performed the work. Whether by phone, email, or postal mail, traditional publishers rarely approach authors out of the blue with incredible opportunities. Look carefully at the sender’s email address. Some scammers create certain domain names that resemble those of legitimate publishers.

  1. Vanity Press: How to Dodge Scams & 5 Safe Publishing Routes (

If you’re an aspiring author looking to self-publish your book, you have more options than ever. With a quick Google search, you’ll come across dozens of self-publishing companies offering publishing services for authors. But you must quickly evaluate if the company is legitimate, or if it’s a vanity press scam. This comprehensive article covers vanity presses, and common signs to spot one, five safe book publishing options, taking down the scammers, a red flag list of self-publishing companies to avoid, and resources to avoid publishing scams.

  1. Guest Post: The Book Marketing Scam That Went the Extra Mile – Writer Beware

In the crowded world of publishing authors must fight for readership and exposure. That makes marketing and promotion a top concern – which makes for a fertile ground for scammers PR scams are among the most common 5 scams that target writers. Often appearing to be reasonably priced, they promise services like social media posts, reader reviews, blog posts and interviews, and similar low-cost-to-provide, low-effort methods that sound impressive, but in reality, are next to useless for book promotion – even if the services are delivered, which often is not the case. This article shares a personal experience with scammers.


All authors need to know how to protect their work, and this includes knowing how to spot a publishing scam or scam agent. Scam publishers or agents prey on authors and their work, and this can have a long-term effect on authors by costing them financially or damaging the success and future publication options for their work. Luckily some tell-tale signs can help you spot scam agents or publishers who might be trying to take advantage of you and your work, and by knowing them you can keep your work safe.

If you’re venturing into the world of publication, it’s always good to be wary of scams and know how to protect your work. Here’s what to look for to make sure you’re keeping your work safe when working with a press, agent, or publishing company.

If you’re thinking of self-publishing a book, then it’s important to watch out for these five self-publishing scams.

Trusting your gut is important when making decisions about publishing your novel and marketing it. If in doubt, do your research, and ask the writing community. You won’t be the first to be approached by a scam, and other writers will be able to advise you. Look out for the tell-tale signs that these links have informed you about. I hope you’ve found this week’s column helpful. As always, if there are any topics you would like me to cover, please get in touch.

(c) Lucy O’Callaghan

Instagram: lucy.ocallaghan.31.

Facebook: @LucyCOCallaghan

Twitter: @LucyCOCallaghan

About the author

Writing since she was a child, Lucy penned her first story with her father called Arthur’s Arm, at the ripe old age of eight. She has been writing ever since. Inspired by her father’s love of the written word and her mother’s encouragement through a constant supply of wonderful stationary, she wrote short stories for her young children, which they subsequently illustrated.
A self-confessed people watcher, stories that happen to real people have always fascinated her and this motivated her move to writing contemporary women’s fiction. Her writing has been described as pacy, human, moving and very real.
Lucy has been part of a local writing group for over ten years and has taken creative writing classes with Paul McVeigh, Jamie O’Connell and Curtis Brown Creative. She truly found her tribe when she joined Writer’s Ink in May 2020. Experienced in beta reading and critiquing, her debut novel, The Lies Beneath is out now, published by Poolbeg.
Follow her on Instagram: lucy.ocallaghan.31. Facebook and Twitter: @LucyCOCallaghan

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