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5 Ways to Keep Your Publishing Dream From Turning into a Nightmare

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fearA year ago a new client mentioned she had been contacted by a publisher eager to publish her book.  Once she responded to the publisher the representative sent her the following email and called her every week. She asked me to give my opinion about this “opportunity.”

Here’s the email she received

Dear XXX,

Per the voicemail that I left for you earlier, below you will find a personalized link to our manuscript upload page. Please submit your manuscript and notify me as soon as the upload is complete. I will make sure your book is properly submitted and evaluated by our review board and I will keep you up to date as to their decision regarding whether we will pursue publishing it. I wish you the best of luck!

Click here to securely upload your manuscript to our review board:

To see some Page Publishing authors who had their books published in the last few weeks, please click below:

To learn about how we utilize the media and press releases to promote our authors and their books, please click below:

Our authors simply love us- take a look:


Mark Sussman
Literary Development Agent
Page Publishing, Inc.
1 Penn Plaza  Suite 6289
New York, NY 10119
646-503-4909 (Direct Dial)

Here’s how I responded to her

 Dear XXX,

I looked up Page Publishing on http://pred-ed.com/, one of the publishing industry watchdogs. They are listed as a vanity publisher, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but it means that they WILL  publish your book for a fee without regard for the quality.

That means that they are not likely going to edit it very carefully nor care about the contents since their goal is to get you to pay them to do things you could do for yourself at at lower costs or for free. Companies like this prey on  eager first-time authors who don’t want to face the work involved in self-publishing.

Some big red flags for me are

1. Mark is pursuing your business aggressively. Established publishers don’t pursue you.

2. They don’t mention their fees anywhere on their site.

3. They imply that your manuscript will go before a review board before being accepted, but vanity publishers will print any book whose author pays them. There is no review process.

4. They say they will provide you with a case of books to use, as if they are doing you a favor. After paying the hefty fee they likely charge, you are just getting what you paid for.

Vanity (also called subsidy publishers) are risky to deal with because once they publish your book under their ISBN number, they are the publisher of record. If you’re going to self-publish, you want to be your own company of record.

Vanity publishers appeal to authors who don’t have big budgets and know-how. They  promise you they are a one-stop publishing service and are extremely good at convincing you to spend lots more than you would have otherwise. If you want to later break the agreement you have with them, you may even have to pay them more to get out of the contract if you’re able to get out at all.

Case in point: one lady who attended the same workshop you attended told me she couldn’t afford the $149 for one-hour consultation to learn about what to do after finishing her book.  Months later she called me in great distress because she had forked over $4,000 to one of these vanity publishers who had printed up her books, delivered a case of them to her, but would no longer  take her calls. They promised to market her book, along with other services, but they didn’t.

Vanity publishers are often run by salesman, not literary agents. Their job is to get you to part with your money. They’ll promise you anything to get you to do that.


Update on the Same Publisher

Today as I was reading a post by Kathy Rowe on IndiesUnlimited, I recognized the name Page Publishing from my client’s encounter described above from last year.

Kathy got suspicious when she saw an advert from Page Publishing show up on the History Channel.  Since TV commercials are extremely expensive, especially for non-big 5 book publisher, she decided to do some research. Make time to read what she discovered at http://www.indiesunlimited.com/2015/07/07/is-page-publishing-a-vanity-press/#more-64237

You would be foolish to think you can’t be lured into one of these publishing scams.  It can happen to any of us.  These publishing shysters are every bit as persuasive as the real estate scam artists fraudently renting and selling property they don’t even own. They both are preying on your dreams and counting on your negligence to check them out.

I like to think that most publishers (vanity and otherwise) are honest. Since there’s no way to know for sure if a publisher is unscrupulous, take these  five steps to cut down your chances of becoming the next victim.

1. Don’t rush into anything

If you’re like most indie authors you have more time than money. So take your time. Resist the urge to sign up with the first sweet-talking representative who waves bestseller status in your face.

Even if this feels like the luckiest opportunity ever, check out other publishers. If a company is rushing you to sign up, take that as a big red flag.

Most publishers don’t beat the bushes for authors, and they certainly don’t rush. On the contrary, they are painfully slow in getting back to you, making decisions and in getting your book published.

2. Vet the publisher

  • Google the publisher’s name to see what’s being said about them
  • Check with one of the industry watchdog groups like Preditors and Editors
  • Don’t rely solely on the copy on the publisher’s website or the testimonials of so-called published authors on their site.
  • Ask lots of questions

3. Acquaint yourself with other published authors

Nobody has all the answers or the SECRET to your success. But there are many professional groups, bloggers, and established authors online and offline. Read their blogs and articles, follow them on social media, learn from their free training videos and websites. Invest in their programs that resonate with you.

Here are just a few to get you started:

Meet the Industry Leaders

Learn About the Publishing Industry

There are many groups on LinkedIn and Facebook.

I invite you to check out a group I currently manage:


4. Don’t try to go it alone

Build your discernment so you can choose people you can work with and count on in your publishing team.

Learn how to create your own publishing team here

5. Remember what your mama told you:
If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.


Article by Flora Brown


  1. It is unfortunate that there are so many companies out there willing to take advantage of people’s dreams in order to make money. Clearly the $149 consultation was a great deal, especially for someone like you who has already done the research, published books and stays on top of what is going on in the self-publishing arena. I hope this article helps inform more authors about the truth. Spread the word.

    • I agree with Linda.
      Flora thank you for sharing this information and for alerting new authors to those who would take advantage of a would-be author’s inexperience.

    • Hi Roz, You’re most welcome. I sometimes feel like a Negative Nelly for continuing to drive home warnings to authors, but I feel happy when one of them is spared the humiliation and loss.
      Thanks for your encouraging words.

    • Hi Linda, I don’t want to make writers paranoid, but it saddens me when they are taken because they were aware. The problem with the $149 consultation was it probably seemed too good to be true. That’s why we must learn to be discerning. Thanks for helping me spread the word.

  2. Kathy Rowe says

    Excellent article! And thanks for the pick up from Indies Unlimited. Our goal is to help Indie authors make informed decisions about their work and publishing it. I also wrote one on Black Rose Writing, which was my first exposure to a vanity press. Although it wasn’t a horrible experience, it wasn’t a great one.

    • Hi Kathy, I’m glad you liked the article. When I saw your post in Indies Unlimited and realized you were talking about the same publisher my client had encountered, I had to stop everything to write that post. Thank you for your work in keeping us informed. Our industry isn’t the only one hit by scammers, but those of us authors who are aware of this blight to our industry have a responsibility to help the unsuspecting. Thanks for stopping by to help underscore this effort.

  3. Nancy Sherman says

    My 89 year old mother recently sent her manuscript of the results of 35 years of research on ancient Demotic Egyptian. Now I am worried about her being scammed. What do I do now?

    • Hi Nancy,

      Although there are plenty scammers, investigate the company before you panic. Did your mom make initial contact with the company or vice versa? Did she sign a contract? Does she have an agent or someone helping her with the publishing process?

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