While I'm no longer self-published, I began my career that way and am a big fan of indie publishing because it gives anyone the opportunity to fulfill his or her dream of becoming an author. However, authors must watch out for the unscrupulous types who prey on unsuspecting writers who are so eager to see their work in print that they get, for lack of a more gentle term, ripped off.
Here are three types of predatory behavior to watch out for when selecting vendors. Run for the hills if you encounter any of the following:
1. Promises of success: Any self-publishing company that guarantees it will make your book a best seller is lying. Would you work with a bookie who guaranteed a horse was going to win a race? Or a stock broker who guaranteed a certain stock was going to skyrocket? I certainly hope not. No one can predict the future.
2. Purchase requirements: Many indie authors end up working with self-publishing companies that require them to buy thousands of copies of their own work. The vast majority of the books end up collecting dust in a garage, and the duped author is out thousands of dollars. In today's print-on-demand world, buying large quantities of your book upfront shouldn't be a requirement.
3. Exclusivity: Before choosing a company to help you publish your book, make sure that if someone were to call you tomorrow and offer you another publishing opportunity, you have the option to accept it and walk away cleanly. If you don't sign away your rights, you'll be in the position to weigh your options carefully and make the decision that's best for you and your book.
Quick tip: before committing to a vendor, type the company name into a search engine and see what others around the web are saying. When reaching out to vendors for more information, be sure to ask about each of the above points so you have a clear understanding of their business practices, which ultimately will help you make a more educated decision on a publishing partner.
Maria Murnane is the best-selling author of the romantic comedies Perfect on Paper, It's a Waverly Life, and Honey on Your Mind. She also provides consulting services on book publishing and marketing. Learn more at www.mariamurnane.com.
This blog post originally appeared on CreateSpace.com. Reprinted with permission. © 2013 CreateSpace, a DBA of On-Demand Publishing, LLC. All rights reserved.