author C.C.Cole's blog

Monday, March 5, 2012

On Self-Publishing Hazards

"The Sting"

Yesterday I surfed the Internet about self-publishing companies for big names in the industry I used to see plastered everywhere when “Act of Redemption” was published in 2009 I don’t see anymore.  I changed publishers for “Children of Discord” and see that publisher often by my author colleagues, but now I wonder where did these big companies go?

It didn’t take long to answer my question.  The companies are still around, ready for business.  $10K and all of your dreams will come true; you will be the next J.K. Rowling.  Listings of some (not all) of these companies I found on cheerful sites like “Pissed customer” and “Scams.”  In cyberspace, anyone can type anything, it’s difficult to sort out truth, but in consistent networking, one can eventually sift the flour enough for the bad parts to remain in plain sight.

Some of the comments sounded like John Locke and myself when mentioning the price of “premium” marketing packages and costs of publishing paperbacks.  I’ve discussed this on an article about Ads and new authors.  When I look back at the money so casually asked for, they beat out the companies with the fake “extended vehicle warranties” that I fell for only once.  What was the cure for the bad vehicle warranties?  1) Don’t buy them; 2) buy a better car from a better dealer.  Similar can be said for self-publishing companies; some are better than others, and some are definitely cheaper than others.  Usually they do what they say, when all is said and done; you get a book of reasonable quality.  After paying thousands for edits, re-edits, covers, trailers, and who-knows-what they try to talk you into, especially purchasing your own books.  They know your books won’t sell from their site, so the only customer is the writer once publication has happened.

A few “Hey, stupid crybaby, get over yourself, find an agent and get published,” comments showed up also.  Hmm. Easy to write a book, easy to find an agent?  Maybe for some, but I read those books too and found that to be a dismal and unrewarding process.  Here we go, writers with self-inflicted carpal tunnel syndrome humbly, head down, hat in hand, sending that query letter complete with SASE (self-addressed stamped envelope) knowing that we’re not worthy, but hoping some agent will have pity in his/her heart and take us in.  Note back to those commenters:  I’m not a crybaby and I’m not an earthworm. 

Anger can be useful, but is better reserved for the privacy of our homes and cars, like my previous article on profanity.  If there’s a person that’s lived their entire life without spending any money poorly, I applaud them.  Instead of griping or calling lawyers, I like to think of it as a “teachable moment” because legal maneuvers have a low chance to get your money back.  When a self-publishing company gobbled up my wallet faster than PacMan, I did the same thing I did with my car warranty.  One burn doesn’t mean I shouldn’t publish as I like, and I like self-publishing at this point in my journey.  Be cautious, new authors, check around everywhere.  I did my homework and still got hung out to dry.  But it all came out in the wash.   I’m still writing and those companies are still out there.  I just hope other new authors are finding out about them before making the same mistakes I did.


  1. The same thing happened to my friend. He went through one of those "publishers" that cost several grand. In short, he has yet recoup a tenth of what he spend and he's pretty much given up. I chose to publish completely on my own (it's FREE to publish on Amazon/B&N/iTunes) and I only paid for freelancing services: editing/cover art/formatting. I have already recouped my investment :) It is a learning lesson and hopefully there are more indie authors that realize that they don't need to spend $$$$ for a company when they can do it on their own for "nothing"...

  2. Thank you Claudia! So true! Lots of options out there, new authors, check them all out before deciding.

  3. The best advice I can offer anyone considering the "self-publishing" companies-actually, vanity publishers- is to read Umberto Eco's Foucault's Pendulum. It has a great explanation f this knd of scam.