A few weeks ago I read about a local "publisher" who had scammed dozens of people out of their hard-earned money. This is not difficult to do, especially since there are many people who want to "publish a book" or who desire, more than anything else, to see their names in print. For some reason, there are many people who still consider a book to be their ticket to the promised land and the majority of people regard a book as a great money-maker. (None of this is true, by the way, and I have the royalty statements from twenty books and hundreds of articles to prove it!)
There are indeed many scam artists and so-called "publishers" out there who would love to bilk a few unsuspecting people of their cash. Don't be taken in by these CheatOs.
As a rule of thumb, here's how you can tell a real "publisher" from a fraud.
First, remember: legitimate publishers (as a general rule) are going to PAY YOU! You are the writer. You have produced a commodity: a book. Farmers produce corn and soybeans. Writers produce commodities called essays, articles, and books! Legit publishers will offer you a contract to purchase your book and PAY YOU royalties, just like a grain elevator pays a farmer for his grain.
Scam artists posing as publishers will not do this. Rather, they will ask for YOU TO PAY THEM for the honor of printing your book. (But you could print a book on your own!) If you are asked to pay to have your book "published" . . . measure twice, cut once.
Through the years I've been approached plenty by these so-called "publishers" who want me to give them some cash to print one of my books. They usually promise the moon. They make the publishing venture sound exciting, even lucrative. But the fact is, writing is just hard work. There are no short-cuts.
Legitimate publishers will be looking for writers who are good, writers who can BE PAID for their work, writers who command (and to varying degrees and amounts) compensation for their commodities! I've reached the stage in my writing life where, although I can't command huge sums of money, I can command SOME money for my work. I ask to be paid for my expertise. That's only fair. I'm not going to PAY SOMEONE to "publish" my book!
In short, I don't want to pay to see my work in print. (This has typically been called "Vanity publishing.") No, I want the publisher to PAY ME! And even if a publisher gives me $2.60 (as Amazon.com did last month), at least I've earned something from my writing. I haven't paid money. I've made money! Not much, but I've been paid.
So . . . don't be taken in. Don't pay! Work harder at your writing. WORK HARDER AT WRITING. WORK HARDER. HARDER! Submit to editors. And in time, your work will be accepted and you will get paid (even if it's just in contributor's copies)!
If you just have to see your name in print as a medal of honor or a badge of courage, walk down to Kinkos and print your own book and give it to friends. You'll save yourself a lot of heartaches and a lot of cash.