Publishing as an Indie Author: Scams

Publishing, and the marketing that goes with it, is hard. Very hard. It isn’t easy to draw attention to your books. Indie authors will use pay services like Bookbub, Reedsy,, even Goodreads, to gain an edge.

I recently read a post by another indie author about her experiences with an indie press. She and several other authors paid hundreds of dollars to have their short stories put into a collection. This money went to pay publishing costs, and luckily for the press and the authors, the collection had a successful launch and became a bestseller.

Awesome, right? I cringed when I read it, though. My first thought was “predatory”. My second, “Scam.”

For the press, having authors pay the costs of publishing is a great deal. Whether the book fails or succeeds is irrelevant, they still get paid. If the book goes bust, they can put out another call for more desperate authors and their money because someone will bite. It won’t matter if they could not produce results, as long as they provide “a chance”. And if the authors receive no benefit for their time, money and effort? That’s the way it goes, better luck next time.

Predatory publishing is pretty common. Predatory journal publishers flourish in academia. Journals with a too-broad focus contact desperate people who need publications to get a job, and demand they pay money to have their papers appear in said journal. It’s a scam, and it doesn’t give the boost that academics need in their resumes, because the journals have no standing.

Predatory book publishers are right there with them, scamming authors out of money and making promises they usually can’t fulfill. And then they ask for more money.

Don’t assume, because it’s a small indie press, because its rep contacted you, because the rep “loves” your work, it has a vested interest in your success. It might have a vested interest in your money, but that probably won’t translate into a successfully published book. Reedsy has a great article about what to look for in scammy publishers–and the number one thing is the publisher wants you to pay them for the privilege of publishing your story.


Reedsy points out that there are a few legit hybrid publishers who have authors help pay costs, but you have to be very careful who to trust. This isn’t just a problem for indie authors, either. One of my husband’s undergrad students was contacted by a predatory academic journal. She was initially interested because they told her they had read her paper with an REU group and was interested in publishing it, and only after they demanded money, did she ask him about it. (BTW, it was already published so she wouldn’t have been able to publish with the predatory journal anyway–not that that would have stopped them from taking her money)

DON’T PUBLISH IN PREDATORY JOURNALS. It’s a waste of your money and your work, because you won’t be able to publish that particular paper in a legit journal afterwards.

The publishing industry is harsh. Don’t let it take a huge chunk out of your pocketbook with empty promises. Do your research into publishers. It will save you time and money in the long run.

Shiobe Rising: The Wellspring Dragons Book 1 and Trouble in Tindrel: The Wellspring Dragons Book 2 are available in Kindle format. Lapis of Nicodem, a serialized dark fantasy, is available for free at World Anvil. Follow me, Kwyn Marie, on Facebook and Instagram. Check out my author website, and the Wellspring Dragons book site as well as the Lapis of Nicodem book site. And if you like what you see, buy me a KoFi!

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