Happy Valentine’s Day from Writer Beware!

For the most up-to-date version of this list, visit the Writer Beware website. We’ve left this post in place, despite its age, because of the very long comments thread.

Well, here it is, the Valentine’s “gift” we’ve been promising our faithful readers for what seems like a long time now: the companion piece to our “thumbs down” list of agents–Writer Beware’s “Two Thumbs Down” publishers list!

Keep in mind that this list is far from all-inclusive. And remember, when in doubt, you can write to Writer Beware and ASK us if a publisher or agent is okay BEFORE you sign on that dotted line. The service is free. The email address is beware@sfwa.org

So…read and enjoy, while you nibble your Godiva truffles. Oh–and if you want to disseminate the list, please link to this post rather than copying and pasting.


Writer Beware’s “Two Thumbs Down” Publishers List

Below, in alphabetical order, is a list of the currently active publishers about which Writer Beware has received the largest number of complaints over the years, or which, based on documentation we’ve collected, we consider to pose the most significant hazards for writers. All have two or more of the following abusive practices:

1. Fee-charging–whether for the actual printing/production of the book, or for some other item related to the publishing process, such as editing or publicity. Some publishers require authors to buy bulk quantities of their own books. Fees range from a few hundred dollars to more than $25,000. A nominal “advance” in the face of other fee-charging practices does nothing to legitimize them.

2. Author-unfriendly contracts–including rights grabs, taking copyright, restrictive option clauses, sub-standard royalty provisions (including reverse-accounted royalties), inadequate reversion clauses, draconian “defamation clauses,” and a host of other inappropriate and abusive contract terms.

3. Deliberately misleading advertising--including directly soliciting authors, misrepresenting services to authors in an effort to masquerade as commercial publishers, hiding the fact that they are vanity operations, and making false claims about distribution and bookstore presence.

4. Conflicts of interest–some of these publishers are the vanity “arm” of (or otherwise under common control with) a fee-charging literary agency, which directs clients to the publisher under the guise of having made a “sale”–often without revealing the financial and personnel links between the two businesses.

5. Lack of editorial gatekeeping–as befits vanity operations, many of these publishers have few, if any, standards for the books they acquire. Some don’t even bother to read the books they accept for publication.

6. Poor or inadequate editing. Some of these publishers don’t even pretend to provide editing. Others do little more than run the text through a spell and grammar checking program, or employ unqualified, inexperienced staff.

7. Repeated breach of contractual obligations–such as nonpayment of royalties, refusal to provide royalty statements, incorrect accounting, publication delays, ARCs not sent for review as promised, failure to ship books or fulfill orders, failure to make author changes in proofs, and failure to respond properly to author queries and communications. Some of these publishers have been the focus of successful litigation and other legal actions by authors.

Writer Beware gives two big “thumbs down” to:

  • American Book Publishing (Salt Lake City, UT)
  • Archebooks Publishing (Las Vegas, NV)
  • Helm Publishing (Rockford, IL)
  • Hilliard and Harris (Boonsboro, MD)
  • Oak Tree Press (Taylorville, IL)
  • Park East Press (Dallas TX) (formerly Durban House, formerly Oakley Press)
  • PublishAmerica (Frederick, MD)
  • Royal Fireworks Press/Silk Label Books (Unionville, NY)
  • SterlingHouse Publisher (Pittsburgh, PA–imprints include, among others, Pemberton Mysteries, 8th Crow Books, Cambrian House Books, Blue Imp Books, Caroline House Books, Dove House Books, and PAJA Books)
  • SBPRA/Strategic Book Publishing/Eloquent Books (Boca Raton, FL–formerly known as The Literary Agency Group and AEG Publishing Group)
  • Tate Publishing (Mustang, OK)
  • Whitmore Publishing Company (Pittsburgh, PA)

[Edited 12/31/11 to reflect closures and name changes]


    1. Dog Ear is under investigation with the BBB for not paying royalties and a poor support department and has now been suspended. Yet they are still trying to take on new authors.

    2. Thanks Victoria Strauss. I appreciate you doing the research and backing up some of my concerns. I was particularly concerned with the line you addressed and emboldened. Thanks for all the information you provided.

    3. Anonymous 8/25/20,

      I wasn't familiar with WildBlue Press before your question, but looking at the "interested authors" section of its website, all my spidey-sense were tingling. Though they don't mention fees, and loudly proclaim that authors pay nothing "out-of-pocket", the sales pitch they make to authors strongly suggests that authors will have to surrender money at some point of the process. And sure enough, reading down through their list of qualities that supposedly separate WildBlue from "traditional, indie, and self-publishing avenues", I find this (my bolding):

      If your profits are in the black within 6 months of being published then you'll be paid your due royalties at that point instead of waiting to be paid typically two years after the date of publication which is typical for a traditional publisher.

      This tells me two things. First, you will only be paid royalties if "your profits are in the black"–i.e., when the publisher's costs have been recouped (which could take quite a bit longer than 6 months, depending on sales). This is a vanity publisher ploy I've seen before. It allows the publisher to claim that authors pay nothing upfront–but since the publisher pays no royalties at all until it has broken even on publishing you, it is keeping money that otherwise would be paid to you (by those bad old traditional publishers). In effect, this is a fee.

      Second, WildBlue wants to bamboozle you. Trad pubs don't hold your royalties for two years. They pay from the first sale, starting with the first royalty period (whether or not they've broken even)–or, if you've gotten an advance, once the advance has earned out (which might indeed take two years, but that's not the same as "waiting to be paid").

      Bottom line: WildBlue looks to me very much like a vanity publisher in disguise. Writer Beware does not endorse vanity publishing.

    4. Based on reports, what does WB think of WildBlue Press? I found their bio impressive, and I like some of the aggressive tactics they employ to market, but I am a naive nobody who knows nothing about the business. I would enjoy any word-of-mouth testimonials anyone has to a basic rundown of their business if anyone has that kind of information that I could not find in my research.

      Thanks, in advance, for any information anyone can find,

    5. Never mind my previous comment: I found the up-to-date list. The link on the SFWA website's sidebar works. It's just the link under "Whom Not to Query" that still goes here.

    6. Err… the header refers to the website for the latest version, but the link on the website goes back to this blog.

    7. Please add ENAZ Publishing to your list if you haven't already. They have a website and everything but once they got my book, they released it with NO editing whatsoever a crappy cover and they never gave me ONCE CENT. A friend of mine purchased my book through their website but they reported to me that I didn't make one single sale. Two years of nothing!!

    8. Cindy Kennedy,

      I'm not aware that Book Venture Publishing, Outskirts Press, and Mill City Press are co-owned or affiliated with one another.

      Doing a websearch on Book Venture, I see that there are a number of complaints against them and they have an "F" rating with the BBB. I'm guessing you didn't have a good experience. Please email me (in confidence) to tell me more: beware [at] sfwa.org . Thanks.

    9. I am trying to find out who own's Book Venture Publishing and it's affiliates Out Skirts Press and Mill City Press if any one can help me with this information it would be appreciated. cndy_knndy@yahoo.com Author of – With Your hand on My Shoulder – cindamaecolvin.com Thanks

    10. Beloomar: You can always go to iuniverse if you want a printed job and you do not want to pay too much. If you design the book cover and do all the work, it is cheaper. Always a self-publishing firm like iuniverse is much cheaper but they are not the only ones. I published a children's book with them (The Master Cookie-Maker — but it is about God and how we are all cookies with different colored frosting, not about cookies you eat. Stella

    11. I simply would like to get a memoir into some kind of book form strictly for my family – about 250 pages with some photographs. It would not be for sale. Where in the world can you get something like this done?

    12. Anonymous 9/28,

      I'd consider Novum Publishing a vanity publisher. They do disclose the fact that authors have to pay, but the disclosure is pretty well buried in the website and easy to miss; they also don't specify what the financial arrangements are. I'll bet they get a lot of submissions from authors who don't realize they aren't "traditional."

      Often when vanity publishers promise to reimburse a fee, the reimbursement threshold is carefully chosen to ensure that in most cases, it won't ever be reached. And the withholding of royalties for the first 500 sales ensures that even if an author does reach the payback threshold, the publisher's overhead and profit will be covered. It doesn't look to me as if Novum supports or promotes its books in any meaningful way. My guess is that for a large number of the books they publish, Novum never has to pay out a penny in author compensation.

      I also note the stilted and imperfect English on Novum's website. Not the best sign, for an English-language publisher. If they can't present fluent, grammatical English on their own website, what are the odds they'll do a decent job of copy editing your book?

    13. Does anyone have information Novum Publishing? They seem very real and helpful, but do have a small fee which they claim to repay in full after 750 books have been sold from their online store, and I would receive 25% royalties for books sold after the 500th. OPINIONS PLEASE??

    14. RS,

      Do you mean this company? http://www.renaissancehouse.net/ If so, it's primarily a book packager that offers "co-publishing" services through Laredo Publishing. No prices appear on the website, but reports I've received indicate that costs are in the four-figure range (around $3,000). The fee is presented as a "shared" cost, but contrary to their claims, companies that provide this kind of publishing service rarely end up contributing financially; in most cases, your fee covers the whole cost of producing your book plus the publisher's profit and overhead.

      Many (though not all) of Renaissance/Laredo's products look reasonably professional, but as far as distribution and marketing, what they offer doesn't seem any better than what you might get through CreateSpace. Also, a spot check of Laredo titles on Amazon reveals uncompetitive list prices and terrible sales rankings. In some cases the books have no sales rankings at all, which means that no one has ever bought a copy.

    15. I just submitted my manuscript to a company called "Axis Mundi". I actually got their name off a book I was reading, thinking they must be legit. Filling out the proposal was time consuming and of course I advanced to the next level. They go through a process of having readers read your work and suggest a level of contract 1 – 8. I was given a contract for level 3 which required I pay over 3000$ and i would only get 10% on the sale of the first 1000 copies. People will lesser contracts pay more and get even less! I can't find anywhere online saying its a scam. The company is under John Hunt Publishing though.

      They do everything through upload so you can't contact them directly too. Here is what they sent me for my Level 3 contract:

      Contract details for THE GUEST made between John Hunt Publishing Ltd and S Peterson, incorporating the terms and conditions in the following LINK.

      This contract will cost the author(s) $3630/£2290 based on the estimated word count of 170000.

      If you have any questions about this contract offer, please post them in the "Contract Queries" section of the Editorial & Production Forum before taking any further action here.

    16. As far as I know in the music industry, you either are an "independent " ( which I am ) and pay as you go and invest I yourself ( which u have done) only to realize I've spend over $3,000+ to amount to 2 iTunes songs and no real product to "show for" at a professional level (iTunes were simple demos)
      I actually am debating in a Tate contract… I can either continue spinning my wheels; get picked up by a big label ( not seeming to happen in my own) or pay Tate a minimal amount to create my product. Independtenly I have spent and would spend in mixing and mastering up to $400 + studio hours for one song. 10 of my songs would = $4,000+ to mix to industry standard not to mention each Itunes fee for each song. Etc. Point is…. Either way, without a big name record deal; I am investing on what I believe is my talent & dream. Therefore, if my dream, talent, and career in music is to flourish… I must invest somehow. That's my take. I think a lot of people are expecting them
      To be a miracle worker. Truth is they are getting paid a fee to work for us to create a product which will either catapult our future or be a chance to live out our dream… And have a souvenir … Either way they aren't going to make us a mega star … We have to let our star shine and go from there. We have to start with something…
      What do you all think … Should I sign!?

    17. Okay,
      I wrote my EX publisher Michael Kiser of In Search Of The Universal truth Publisher and asked him "How much to get my rights to my books back?"
      His response was to update and change the 1st letter from August 10th, cancelling my books…to a new letter (that says *This letter overrides the last letter*, the same way he does with his contracts every 2 minutes)…and then he answered that I have to buy 900 copies- 300 each- at $8.95 plus $350 per set of 300 books for S&H, to get 3 ISBN's back. Okay, my question is, he is POD. He is on social security and makes $1000 a month. He pays his motel bill and then pays for publishing (not editing of course). How did he print up 900 books? WHY would he print up 900 books when he cancelled the contracts?
      When I replied that I couldn't read his new letter because it needed edited…he replied: "The price is right there in Black and white and Red for each of the dam titles pay the price or forfeit the books and you can take your dam editing to hell the letter does not need to be edited.

      Pay the price by the date starting on october 3 or forfeit the books.

    18. Can we add "In Search Of The Universal truth Publisher/Michael Kiser?"
      Breach of contracts and threatening emails.

    19. I really wish I would have known this list… I just recived a voice mail from Tate Publishing stating they wanted to sign a contract with me then asked for a 3990 publicity retainer? Im so disappointed and confused, their website didnt state anything like that. I thought the publishers were sopposed to pay YOU for YOUR book? What happened to THAT??

    20. Quartofknees–

      I've gotten several questions about All Classic Books, but no complaints or other information. I'll be glad to take a look at the contract for you and give you non-legal (I'm not a lawyer) feedback…contact me via email: beware [at] sfwa.org.

    21. Hello all,

      Thank you for this great post. Mt question is regarding the company All Classic Books. I was offered a contract, there is no mention of fees, but I am suspicious. I was testing the waters with a first draft and they offered me contract. Of course, i would like to believe they loved the idea so much they wanted even before it was polished, but I honestly what are the chances of that.

      They want most of the rights and offer a nominal advance ($100).

      I have a lawyer friend suggesting I walk away, but he has no knowledge of the industry. I am really hoping someone knows something about this company, or better an author who has signed with them.

      Any advice or reccommendations wre really appreciated.

      Thank you,

    22. I am currently going with Tate for my book. I was unaware of any of the bad press that they are getting, and up to this point, I have not experienced any of the comments that has been described in this blog. I was not charged $4,000, though I paid a lesser amount of money up front. So far the process has gone smoothly, and my book is in illustration right now. I look forward to my book coming out in June of this year, and hopefully with no hitches. By the way, I had 2 legal experts look over my contract before signing, including one man who deals with contracts on a daily basis, and they felt that the contract was fair, and legitimate and my rights were protected. I guess time will tell, but so far so good. I will post again in the future, after my book is finnished, and on the shelves, for follow-up, whether positive or negative, but so far I give two thumbs up for Tate!

    23. Noble Romance Publishing is one of the worst. Dishonest, will not answer emails from their authors, the original owner, Jill Noble, just quit and left it in the hands of someone else who will not answer or release authors from their contracts.

    24. EVERGREEN PRESS is a very bad one. Worse yet, they make these promises as a "Christian" Publisher.

      They broke all THREE contracts I signed with them and lied left and right. So many errors and enormous amounts of ignorance. And of course, they suddenly would never answer the phone. If I got someone on the line, they would lie about calling me back.

    25. I went with Tate Publishing for my novel, "The Warren". The novel is currently bring offered for sale in 36 nations. If anyone reading this doubts that, simply Google search: 9781617773450 and count.
      It is true that I am doing a great deal of self promoting the novel myself; however if any new and unknown writer believes that they are simply going to achieve success without any personal hard work to promote their own novel , they are fooling themselves.
      I am very happy with Tate Publishing; and no, I am not related to the owners of Tate Publishing, we simply share the same last name.
      Fred L. Tate
      Author, The Warren

    26. I’m having troublesome experience with Infinity Publishing, they never lived up to any of their promises, and messed up my book to boot. When I received the final proof, it looked just fine, exciting and I was encouraged. But when I ordered the book (30 of them as I had planned a book signing)they looked nothing like the proof. I took the proof and one of the sale books to a professional print shop, after examining both, they concluded that the sold book was clearly printed with the setting on color while the interior is in B&W, thus the print looked light to dark brownish, and the all most important photo inserts were so dark and smudged almost like the brownish antiqued photos and almost unrecognizable (40 pages). Irate as I was, I kept my calm and requested re-prints and corrections for what they did. Although they recognized their big error at first, time lingered and no action was taken, I called them many times and they kept brushing me off and looping me around their office phone system (gosh I hate that), then they got around not answering my number somehow, so I would have to resort to calling from a payphone , then when some one answers, they again start the merry-go-round and how they had referred the matter to their VP and so on, its been few months and I have yet to hear from anyone, frustrated is an understatement. what can I do? I have even threatened a legal action, and even opted to forget the whole thing had they refunded my money so I may go somewhere else, to no avail.

    27. Dear DNICE,
      i've a personal experience with dorrance publishing, and you would be glad to know that they had charged me $10000 for publishing my book. i would certainly not recommend it.
      By madison

    28. Had you noticed that Tate's $3,995 marketing fee doesn't include conversion to Kindle? I can't find any Tate Kindle books. I can find Tate books on Amazon, and epubs of Tate books, but no Kindle books.

      Ebooks now make up 30% of the religious market (and I bet that more of those sales are through Amazon than all other sites combined).

    29. I'm so grateful this site exists. I applied for an entry-level editing job at Tate to attempt to break into the publishing field. Needless to say, the sheer number of bad things there are to say about the company (not least of all the recent firings, volatile CEO, etc.) have made think that having it on my resume would be more of a hindrance than a help in my career. Will keep looking…

      Thanks again 🙂

    30. Keep up the good work. You are the first one I turn to when I have to check out an agent or publisher.
      Mary Ann

    31. Anonymous 6/08–

      Writer Beware doesn't recommend specific publishers, agents, etc. One size doesn't fit all; the best agent/publisher/self-pub service for one author might be the worst for another. You know your own work best; it's best if you do the research yourself. We try to give authors the tools so to that.

      Whether to self-publish or seek a traditional publisher is one of the first decisions an author has to make, and if you're unsure how to choose, I suspect that you may need to step back a little and do some more research on the publication process. This is vital not just to your success as an author (since it will help you make a truly informed decision) but to your protection, as it'll keep you out of the hands of scammers and amateurs and shady operations. It will also give you a sense of where to focus your research, so you can identify agents and publishers that are right for you, or decide whether self-publishing might be a better option. And it will answer most of the questions you have now.

      Hold off on the publication search for a little while, and do some reading–and not on the Internet, where misinformation abounds. Go to a bookstore and spend some time in the section where the books on writing are shelved. Both the "Dummies" and "Idiots" lines have good basic introductions to the publishing process, and there are many others. Also have a look at my blog post, "Learning the Ropes", which gives more detailed advice and suggests many other resources. Please don't skip this step–it's tedious at the outset but will save you an enormous amount of time and grief in the long run.

    32. I am considering publishing very soon and have been approved by Tate Pub. Co., but I don't want to invest around $4,000.00 and be left feeling like some of these people here on this blog. Should I have my book edited & copied myself after securing an ISBN no. and then push to sell out of my own trunk?…Or, should I use a company to do it? Please provide feedback and a list of 'trustworthy' professionals that you suggest I work with at this point.


    33. Eetheart–Writer Beware doesn't have any information on Spore Press, either positive or negative. However, I see some warning signs at their website.

      – None of their staff seem to have had any previous professional writing or publishing experience.

      – They appear to have published just 2 books to date. With newer small publishers, it's a very good idea to wait until the publisher has been putting out books for at least a year, and has demonstrated some staying power.

      I don't suspect any scammery or malfeasance here–Spore just looks very new and not very expert.

    34. Mmm I have a question about a publisher. They're called "Spore Press" (website: http://sporepress.com/ )

      I have heard both bad and good things about them, but what's the real deal with them? (not that I have anything to do with them – another writer I know of has been contacted by SP)

    35. I published my novel with ABPG back in 2004 (though I signed the contract in 2001). The contract I signed was likely less restrictive than the next-generation variants. I had the pleasure of speaking directly with C. Lee Nunn on the phone.
      A case can be made that I used ABPG as much as they used me. Under the terms of the contract I signed, they could not coerce me to buy 500 copies of my book. I did not have any problem with what was at the time a $450 start-up fee. After all, we pay fees to banks, universities, and even our landlords (e.g., amenities fee). ABPG took my manuscript and turned it into a high-end product I can be proud of. My novel looked as good as any other in a bookstore. I’m not distressed the book is not distributed to bookstores; readers are just as content in the era of e-procurement to purchase it from Amazon.
      I was denied royalties (i.e., penalty for not purchasing copies of my book), but I did not publish my first novel with the goal of profit in mind. I was willing to make sacrifices in exchange for the experience of authorship, and I enjoyed them to the full (including some great sex). I spoke at libraries & universities. I designed a web site through which my ideas enjoyed intercourse with the world. I had the power to direct people to where they could buy my book. And in the end, I would come to own my book again 10 years later with a chance to correct all the mistakes I made as a fledgling author (and all the mistakes made by ABPG). I’m eager to tie the release of this re-mastered work with a new novel I had been working on the past 2-3 years.
      I never considered ABPG a vanity press. I have seen vanity presses. Authors pay upwards of $10,000 for what amounts to a box of books (printed on poor quality paper) with no means of selling them. The ABPG experience was nothing of the kind. It's a good business model for first time authors and for people who otherwise would frankly never find a publisher regardless of the intrinsic value of their work.
      I suspect in the end ABPG put a warning ON ME. My book was five times the size of the average novel and even though it has been described by those who read the mostly scripted dialogue as one of the more tense / thrilling novels and a work of major social import, I suspect there were not many people out there willing to pay $40 to read a 900-page novel. ABPG can also be faulted for not steering me in the right direction. My assigned editor was enhanced the clarity and impact of my prose, but she would not have been a reliable source of suggestions on content.
      Now I was recently informed that the rights to my book reverted back to me now that the book is out of print. I am eager to implement my plan to re-master the book by reducing it to 15% of its size for submission to a publisher with established relationships to a community of reviewers. This was one area in which ABPG was lacking. I was responsible for reaching out to reviewers, and I would have to pay out of pocket for a copy of the book I shipped them. Less than 10% of the ABPG contact information for reviewers was current.
      I don't regret my experience. I had perhaps one of the greatest stories to tell, a PhD that qualifies me to tell it, and something unique to teach people. What I didn't have is what someone needs to land a publisher. It's easier for an undrafted free agent to make a final NFL roster than it is for an unagented author, even with the greatest manuscript in hand, to land a publisher. In addition to being talented, you have to be some combination of lucky and connected. I was neither. Finding an acquisitions editor from a reputable label willing to even review my first chapter seemed out of reach. While you're laboring for 1-10 years to find a readable incarnation of your vision or story, the publishers are offering ghostwriters to seduce celebrities into publishing. I realized a ghostwritten biography of Spencer Pratt was more likely than seeing my name in print.

    36. I have used both PublishAmerica and Tate. PA is a scam, but Tate has been wonderful. I know several commenters have suggested that Tate is either posing as authors or paying authors to defend them, but neither are true of me. My book Asleep in Heaven's Nursery was published through Tate, and that can be verified by going to http://www.tommymannministries.com

    37. Hello, I am new to your blog and applaud your work!
      How do you recommend to writer's with manuscripts to submit to?

    38. so about Whitmore….

      how much royalties do they pay (and just to clarify, royalties is them paying you, right?)?
      I submitted something to them–an epic poem entitled "Nobunaga"– some weeks ago, and await a response. I'm just a teenaged guy trying to leave a mark on the liturature world, and I don't want to be a victim of fraud.

      P.S. what was your Civil War Book?

    39. Has anyone heard any negative regarding Divertir Publishing? I wish I would have know about this blog before I signed a contract with PA! They promise so much but never fullfill!

    40. Anonymous re: Raider–

      Just in the past couple of weeks, I've gotten a number of complaints from Raider authors about non-communication and long delays. Some paid Raider months ago and have yet to see their books. There are similar complaints online: do a websearch on "Raider Publishing."

    41. Anonymous re: Tate–

      I'd be interested in seeing the contract, if you wouldn't mind sharing it with me. Contact me at beware [at] sfwa.org.

      Even if Tate will publish for free, its distribution and marketing are not the equivalent of what you'd get from a non-fee-charging publisher.

    42. I have just recieived an offer from Raider international publishing and was considering them because their reach seemed to out-do other subsidy publishers, they have deals with a few good book store plus they have their own book store in NY and can apparently guarantee shelf space in quite a few major book selling outlets. There website is quite impressive and their packages are very thorough in what they offer which includes marketing at a high level. I haven't signed yet because I came across this site first and although they are not on the list I now want to know more about them before making the final decision. Does anyone have any good or bad experiences in dealing with raider? I would appreciate some feedback before going ahead

    43. I have just been offered a FREE contract from TATE with no costs to me..anyone else?? The contract did not appear to have any red-flags, but I have nor signed and returned it yet.

    44. Karen–

      A bad publisher is bad for everyone. But a good publisher is only good for some people–since publishers specialize, and have different focuses and cultures. The best publisher for a fantasy writer, for instance, might be totally inappropriate for a romance or mystery or general fiction writer–and vice versa.

      That's why Writer Beware doesn't provide "thumbs up" lists. We think it's better to give writers the tools they need to safely do the research on their own.

      Have a look at Writer Beware's Small Presses page, which offers tips on researching publishers, advice on warning signs, and links to helpful online resources. And if you run across a publisher you aren't sure about, you can always write to us: beware [at] sfwa.org.

    45. How about the list of "good guys" I tried to read the entire thread but I can't see any good list anywhere. It would be great for you to provide a list of positive along with the negative. Thank you!

    46. Marcia Frost–please contact me at beware [at] sfwa.org with more details of your experience with Mansion Grove. And please pass my contact information on to any other authors you know of who've had problems with this publisher–sounds like something Writer Beware should know about. Thanks.

    47. Sara E. James–this is an old post, but I keep it updated (see the "Edited" note at the bottom).

      Lulu is a self-publishing service–not a publisher. Anyone can use it; there's no editorial filtering. The praise you've encountered is for its service–not the quality of its content.

    48. Mansion Grove House Publishing should definitely be on this list. I published a book with them under contract in 2008. They never paid my final advance installment and have given me no reporting or royalties. They have ignored my inquiries and letters from my lawyer. I have found out that they have done the same worth at least three other authors.

      To make matters worse, most copies were printed overseas, with smudged and faded pages. I had to give up my author copies to bookstores who couldn't get a response from Mansion Grove House.

      Publisher Uday Kumar has no respect of the law and I hope word gets around enough that eritrea stop going there. It also would be nice to get the IRS to look into some of these illegal activities!

    49. I realize this is an old article, but I am curious if you have thoughts about Lulu.com. I have heard professionals say good things about it, but I just finished reading a truly awful book published by them. It was laughable. Grammatical errors, the author actually made up words (and this was not one of those fantasy novels with an invented language), and said things that just plain made no sense, like "My eyes growled at him." Say what? This made me think that Lulu must do no editing and is probably just a vanity publisher.

    50. iUniverse used to be a good print-on demand publisher, although any type of self-publishing is the kiss of death to a book nowadays, when reviewers won't even LOOK at your book. There has been too much real junk done with POD publishers. Anyway, iUniverse sold to another company, and it's very hard to get concerns addressed. The sales people sound like they speak another language and are not the friendly, helpful personal "coach" type person who used to be in place to take care of your book.

    51. Also – I've just posted, Re:fantasy Island Publishing.
      I don't want to get my freind into trouble, and though I know it's not identifable, but if you could just confirm or deny if the criteria I outlined are bad and not publish the comment itself, I'd really appreciate it. If the company is just going through a run of bad luck right now RE: preditors and editors, I don't want to add to thier problems.

    52. I was wondering what you know about Fantasy Island Book Publishing? I've got several freinds on my facebook page that are with them, but they're talking about needing to pay for proof copies, each writer is listed as another one's editor, and there's lots of warning bells ringing. They're also listed on P&E and the owner is nasty when people leave the company. When one of them signed up with them, she said he's taking a 50/50 split with on the book sales, IF they make certain goals. But it seems they're doing it by making the books free and agressively pushing it for that day, fulfilling the contract need and then letting the writer's book drop back into the doldrums.
      Would that be a thumbs down publisher?

    53. Computers and I get along like the Israelis and the Palestinins. I didn't think my longer post with my wisecracks about sendint me $4000 went through so I redid it in short form. But please don't think I meant for any one writer to send $8000. $4000 will get me to Paris for two weeks and I can still publish your book. They say Paris is all alight during the holiday season, and I know the wine is pretty (At least the kind I drink.)

    54. After my last post, I had a wonderful idea: If you have $4000 and want to be published, here's the news: I'm going to think up a neat name for a publishing company and start it up.
      Okay everybody, just send $4000 to my PayPal account and I promise to poublish your book. I may even get a chance to read it…just as soon as I get back from my vacation in Paris.

    55. I feel that there is enough info out there, places like this one, for any hopeful author to educate him/herself.
      If an aware person has four thousand bucks or whatever to invest and wants to go that way, then I gues that's no worse than buying four thousand dollars worth of Mega Bucks tickets.
      My personal feeling has always been — and I mentioned this to several publishers who had "inaugurated programs of author participation" to help get more talented authors published — I love to write, I need to write, but I wouldn't consider myself an "author" unless and until some publisher had enough faith in my work to publish it at their expense. That was the validation I needed, but of course everyone's different.
      If I had four thousand bucks to spend and just wanted to be published, I'd form my own little company with a catchy name and publish my book myself. All this makes me think of my callow youth and Cloverine Salve. We used to get something like ten cans which we sold almost exclusively to family and friends at twenty-five cents a pop in order to get a "prize".
      At least you folks tell ít like is is. Come to think of it, if someone wants to send me $4000 I'll set up a publishing company and publish their book…right after I get back from two weeks in Paris.

    56. Are you familiar at all with Inknbeans? I have seen them often on the indie site that I belong to and I am just wondering.

    57. Bryan, I've gotten fee reports for both Schiller & Wells and Stay Thirsty Media–so I'd characterize them both as vanity publishers.

    58. Hi, thanks for posting the worst agencies/ "publishers?" Now, I know this is later in time, but I would like to avoid any missteps, so: WHat can you tell me about: Stay Thirsty Media? Which is only called a publisher by pred-ed.com? And its affiliate imprint: Schiller & Wells, Ltd.? Pred-ed.com calls the latter a vanity publisher…needless to say, I would like to make entirely sure before continuing any ventures with them if they aren't wise…

    59. I've been traditionally published (Tyndale House, etc.) and have self published as well. I've had very good experiences in both arenas, so that thankfully I don't have any horror stories to tell.

      Several have asked in these comments, "Who do you recommend for self publishing?" I agree with Victoria that, since each author is unique and each book is unique, that it's impossible to give a definitive recommendation that fits everyone.

      But I highly recommend narrowing down your choices in this way. Start by studying two of the most respected Print on Demand companies – Lightning Source (used by many of the top traditional publishers) and CreateSpace (subsidiary of Amazon, geared to authors rather than publishers).

      Unlike many companies, both of them are very upfront about their pricing and what they offer. In almost every case, after studying many other self publishing companies, I find that other companies are paying significantly smaller royalties, charge way more for author copies (or shipping), require books to sell at much too high a retail price, and report sales much less often.

      Many of the companies use shady, misleading language on their sites, such as "we pay authors 100% of their royalties." (Hey, royalties are by definition the author's portion!)

      I don't work for CS or Lightning Source. I've just had good experiences publishing through CS and the self-publishing listservs I follow tend to recommend both companies. Start with them and you'll be able to better evaluate other companies.

      My wife and I have published five books so far using CreateSpace and have been very satisfied with their quality, customer service, distribution and our royalties.

      Here are our books, if you want to check their quality and reviews:


      My book, Sell More Books! Book Marketing and Publishing for Low Profile and Debut Authors, discusses these issues (both traditional and nontraditional options) in much more depth.

    60. Since reading this letter I kept thinking about it.
      It sounds harsh to say it, but in my considered opinion, if any publisher or agent asks for any amount of money, even a few dollars, he/she looks on you as what those in the con business call a "mark". On the off chance that this person is fairly legit, it must mean that he/she is trying to start up a business without any shoestrings.
      In either case, they can't do anything for you.

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