Dear Writer-Friends,

I've been self-publishing since 2011, and I've shared the knowledge I've gained in two books: the Indie Author Survival Guide, Second Edition, and For Love or Money. I'm not an indie rockstar or a breakout success: I'm one of thousands of solidly midlist indie authors making a living with their works. These books are my way of helping my fellow authors discover the freedom of indie publishing. Write on, writer-friends!

S.K. Quinn, Independent Author of Science Fiction

CLICK HERE TO GET YOUR QUICK START GUIDE TO SELF-PUBLISHING and to be notified when the 3rd Edition of the Indie Author Survival Guide releases!

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

How (Not) to Publish

Because being indie doesn't have to mean going it alone.

*nods to Ava Jae and her great (Not) series*

In the spirit of Indie Life, a blog hop where we share experiences about writing as an indie author, I want to point my author friends to an excellent roundup by David Gaughran of Vanity Publishers and The Author Exploitation Business.

As a new author, or even an old-hand author but new to the indie game, there are a lot of sharks in the water just waiting to make a meal out of you and your works. In a business where authors traditionally have had to accept lousy contracts (Please Don't Sign Bad Contracts) and low royalty rates just to be in the game, getting taken advantage of may seem the price of doing business.

It's not. (At least, not anymore.)

I've written about Simon&Schuster's Vanity Press and Penguin's Vanity Press when they hit the news, but it's hard to keep track of all the sharks. Which is why David's article is such a service - it rounds up all the latest in the Author Exploitation Business, so authors can steer clear of the scammy businesses who want to make money off you, rather than help you realize your dream of being published, selling books, and connecting with readers.

ETA: Here's a list of the Author Solutions companies that you should avoid: 
Author House, iUniverse, XLibris, Trafford, Palibrio, Publish in the USA, Abbott Press (Writers Digest), Balboa Press (Hay House), WestBow (Thomas Nelson/Harper Collins), Partridge (Penguin India), Archway (Simon & Schuster), Inspiring Voices (Guideposts Magazine), Legacy Keepers, FuseFrame (previously Author Solutions Films), Pitchfest (Authors pay to come pitch their stories for film adaptations), Author Learning Center (Online learning tool hoping you’ll forget to cancel your credit card after the free trial ends), WordClay (Abandoned ebook imprint), BookTango (New ebook imprint), AuthorHive

In a further plug for David (because he's a good guy, but more importantly, he's a WEALTH of information), here are two of his books:
I've read Let's Get Digital (fabulous) and he can't publish Let's Get Visible fast enough for me. I'm on the speed-dial list to be notified when it hits the virtual shelves.

Click through for more Indie Life Awesomeness


  1. Did you see Katie's (CQG) post today? What would you say to people who live check to check about putting out their first SP title?

    1. I hopped over and left her a long comment. :)

      I personally think you should save up for a cover (which really isn't much - you can get one for $80 that's great if you already have a good concept), but everything else is optional. There are things that are good investments (i.e. some paid ads will literally pay for themselves in book sales), and there are very few businesses you can get off the ground without at least outlaying a few thousand dollars. And that's how I encourage people to think of this - as a business. I'm not suggesting people mortgage their house to fund their self-pub business, but think hard about what you're willing to give up to make this happen. But I wouldn't let a lack of funds keep you from self-publishing. It's not NECESSARY - in the end, the work is the most important thing.

    2. I don't agree with the all else is optional part. I've read a few self published books that needed professional editing. Sure they had an amazing covers, but I'm not just looking at the covers. I want to read a well written story. Because of the lack of editing, I won't buy anymore of the authors' books. I don't need to. There are so many other authors waiting for me to try out their books.

    3. I probably wasn't clear that everything else is optional to SPEND MONEY on - editing is definitely not optional, and you don't have to spend money on a professional editor to get professional editing. You will, however, have to offer something in-kind swap - usually critiquing/editing, proofreader, etc.

  2. All writers need to do their research before any kind of publishing! Love David's posts.

  3. It's amazing how many people still get scammed by these types of services, even with all the information on the internet. Even a little research can help.

    1. I know! But I’ll keep trying to do my part to raise the SEO of article like this, so people can find them. :)

  4. Thanks for sharing this information, Susan. I did read an article the other day about how agents have now gotten into the business of 'helping' self-publishers, who still get the wrong end of the stick.

  5. I've seen some of these names, but I had no idea they were linked to Author Solutions. Thanks for the great post, Susan.

  6. Thanks for the great tips of what to look out for, Susan. If I ever self-publish I 'll be searching for all your great advice here.

  7. It seems there are a lot of sharks in the water, I didn't realise the big publishers were in on this too now. I have a friend whose first book was published by iUniverse years ago. He had to buy it back off them recently so he could publish it himself, but it's doing much better second time around.

    1. Sorry your friend got mired in that mess, but at least he got back out. I'm not at all surprised he's doing better the second time!

  8. There sure are a lot of sharks. And I'd love to figure out that visibility thing.

  9. Those books look like amazing resources. Hmm, I should probably sign up to find out when the second one comes out. The first one is a bit pricey, though. I might stare at it for an hour debating pros and cons then "accidentally" hit buy.

    I've heard about the scammyness of author solutions and things like it before. I thought about trying to submit at least one book to at least a semi-traditional route, but all the pitfalls just don't seem worth it. Sign one bad contract clause and you're up to your neck in messes and icky-ness.

    On the subject of self-publishing while broke, I make ten fifty an hour and manage it. Then again, I'm not the best example since I'm still young enough that I'm fine living in a crappy apartment, eating nothing but sandwiches, and staying on my parent's health insurance. Sure covers and edits can cost a good chunk of money, but it's only once per book, so I can manage to put away enough a month to pay for it as long as I budget well (My brother is an accountant. I have cash flow worksheets and EVERYTHING, it's crazy).

    1. Sounds like you're crazy AWESOME! Congrats on taking your self-pub biz seriously!!

  10. Mу partnеr and I stumbled ovег here from
    a different webѕite and thought I shoulԁ check
    things out. Ι like whаt Ι sеe ѕo
    now i am following yοu. Look forωard to loоking into your ωеb page for a second

    my web blog - iphone repair bangsar

  11. During chilly daуs, ωeaг a
    slоuchу blaсk sωeater ԁrеsѕ over
    decoratіve black οг gray tіghts and anklе boots.
    Thіs is the reаson why, you must plаn before you go οut to shop.
    Ѕince the United States joinеd the war іn Dеcеmber
    of 1941, that іs greatеr than 2 yrs
    afterwards the bаttle started, the travel condіtions bеtwеen Eurоpean countrіes аnd
    continentаl Amerіca reѕulted іn Amеricаn сrеative desіgnеrs wοuld certainly аcquігe much mοre ρarticular attеntion fгom the

    My blog :: Plus Size Prom Dress


  12. Thanks for the introduction to David and for the head-up on these services. I can't afford what all these might charge so never bothered looking and did/do it all myself. But those who couldn't do it all themselves might make sacrifices to utilise these services end up being ripped off. I have no idea how these scammers live with themselves?

    Great post Susan. X

  13. Thanks for the nod, Susan! And great point about scams and bad contracts--we certainly have to be careful regardless of the publishing route (traditional or indie) we choose.

  14. Thanks for the insight into the scams, always helpful to be wary!


Erudite comments from thoughtful readers