A New Self-Publishing Scam

A friend of mine, responding to my earlier post on vanity presses, says there’s a new con some companies are using to confuse aspiring authors into thinking they’re "reputable publishers" instead of self-publishing scams.

Many vanity publishers claim to charge no publisher’s fee to accept
the book.  Instead what they do is require the author to pay an editor, from a list the publisher supplies, to get
the manuscript into shape.  In reality, the editor is an employee of
the publisher and kicks back all the author’s money to the boss. 

It’s just another way of taking advantage of an author’s desperation to be published. Remember — publishers pay you, not the other way around. Beware of any publisher who asks you for a check.

19 thoughts on “A New Self-Publishing Scam”

  1. Vanity and ignorance aside, it’s little wonder that publishing scams can succeed to the extent that the do, when they are actually promoted by such organizations as Poets & Writers Magazine. See “Circle of Poets” in the pw.org “Resources”:
    The following is my “poem” (which explains the circumstances) and their come on:
    Circle for Poets™
    Publication of your poem
    Dear Jim Johnson,
    We have chosen to publish your poem in the 2005 edition of Poetry vibes. Your poem was selected out of 7245 entries. Your work below was appreciated for the images and mood evocated throughout [my “poem” follows]:
    This is not a poem. This form seems to be the only method available for contacting you. I went through your rather lengthy registration process yesterday, and never received a confirmation email. I nonetheless attempted to login, and a blank page opened. What is the matter? J Johnson [end of “poem”]
    As a contest finalist and for a limited time, enjoy the manuscript for only $49 (regular price is $69). This offer expires on Jun-25-2005 (or until stocks expire) and the next print date will only be November 2005.
    Click here to take advantage of this great offer now as we are finalizing orders.
    Paying members who order the 2005 manuscript also qualify for the $5000 grand prize as a thank you for helping us to craft and print the manuscripts and to support our team. They will also receive an invitation to the global poetry conference.
    Our own manuscripts are 9 1/2″ X 11 and are made of high quality, bounded paper. Manuscripts have over 250 pages of leading poems and professional illustrations as well as several sections of poetry techniques (composition, figures of speech, verses, poetic structures, rhyming forms, poetic genres) written by leading experts. They make terrific coffee table books and great gifts to friends and family! Of course, your work will be published in this manuscript along with your name.
    Orders are only available until Jun-25-2005 ((or until stocks expire). The next print date will be November 2005. To receive a copy (copies) before reserves run out, please click here now
    Note, to order, you can also cut and paste this link in your browser:
    If you do not have a credit card, please mail your check or money order as soon as possible to:
    Circle of poets
    Ross 3982-8#
    Verdun , QC ,

  2. I have recently been in touch with a publishing company called Swanstone Wynot based in Texas USA how do I find out if they are still open for business?

  3. You could try calling them.
    General Enquiries: admin@swanstonewynot.com
    Telephone contacts (all departments): Fax: USA: 1 408-413-4367
    UK: 44 (0)8715 227 663
    Voice: USA: 1 866-482-9265 (toll free)
    UK: 44 (0)870 011 8807
    I found this out in 1 second on google. Why couldn’t you? They are self-publishers.

  4. Today’s Woman Writing Community has received, and continues to receive, numerous complaints regarding Circle of Photographs. The people of Circle of Photographers are also known as Circle of Poets. Poets with complaints about Circle of poets are urge to contact Today’s Woman Writing Community staff through our feedback form.

  5. I too have been ripped by Swanstone-wynot, the phone # they give for London is bogus. Names attached to emails are bogus. I have the Atty Gen and Consumer Proctection agency of TX looking into tis, but they say there is little they can or will do. I spoke to a ‘friend’ of Shelly Hand in Spring, TX, who says the company is goint through probate in London, England. Good luck to us all. Ken Lawrence

  6. I have contacted the FBI fraud dept and was told Swanstone has indeed committed a crime, and they are investigating. You can contact them at http://www.ic3.gov. the more people they hear from, the more and quicker they are likely to act. I lost $1600, and am going to try all i can to get it back.

  7. My husband and I were taken for $841 for the “publishing” of our book in November of 2005. All I can tell they did was to add a couple of pictures, create the cover and dump the book into a PDF file. We got our one free copy and they dropped us. You can go onto the amazon.com website and order the book, but I am very upset that we cannot get the author’s price we were promised. There was no press release or any of the other marketing support we were supposed to get. We can’t even get the m to answer phone calls or emails, and, no, the London office has ceased to exit (if it was ever there.) We found that the editor we were supposed to be dealing with “Adam” was really “Den” and he is supposed to have died in April of 2006. I am sorry if he truly did die, but I am really upset that we have a book out there that we can’t even afford to buy and we have no control over it. Lightning Source, who was contracted to do the print on demand, has said they will only deal with the publisher. So where do we go from here? There should be some legal channel we can go through because this is definitely a criminal act. We were supposed to receive royalties in March and September of 2006. We have seen nothing and I have since found our book for sale all over the internet. Anyone have any advice?

  8. To add to the Swanstone Wynot Dilemma…
    I have started the publishing of a document with this company in july 2005. I have since been unable to make contact with them through any of their contact details. I have been cheated out of $1500. (no services have been delivered)
    I have filled out a complaints form with both the FBI IC3 and the Texas Attorney. Is their anywhere else I can complain?
    Leon van Jaarsveldt

  9. Lee,
    I am one of many that Swanstone has cheated out of our hard-earned money and dreams of publishing our books. They have not even published most of the books promised, no press releases, etc, and no book count or royalties. They have cut all links to their webpages, will not respond to phone calls to the US number and the UK number does not exist. We have turned this matter over to the FBI internet fraud division. I encourage all authors with similiar experience to do the same. The link for the FBI complaint page is http://www.ic3.gov.
    Carol McKinney

  10. I was one of the first authors with Swanstone, and worked frequently during the editing process with “Adam.” He was a real person, albeit using a pseudonym for personal reasons, and a respected author under his real name. His editorial work was outstanding (I’m a much-published pro writer) and I had no problems until he died of a sudden brain incident. However, whomever his partners/heirs to the company were, I was never contacted, notified of his death, or otherwise advised of what would happen next. I did actually get a book from Lightning Source (LS), plus a 100 copies, for which I paid. However, I can’t get any more copies, even tho I established an account with LS as a publisher, bought a bank of ISBNs, etc. because I can’t convert a hard copy of the book to .pdf, which LS demands. I’ve lost some $3,000 dollars.

  11. I noticed that so many authors have been beat out of money. My heart goes out to you all. But, to say an author should NEVER pay for publishing is incorrect. Let’s be honest here: only about 20%, if that, of writers are accepted and given contracts with nice advances. There are times when subsidy is not the worst idea. There are reputable publishers that charge for publication. There is a new wave, cooperative publishing, and it is catching on quickly. It minimizes the risk of publishers going out of business, and it stops authors from paying thousands of dollars to subsidy publish.
    It’s a known fact that almost all the major, respected publishers either own or have stock in subsidy presses. And they can get you off to a great start if you do your research and pick one that’s established, offers marketing at no extra charge, and is affiliated with a traditional publishing program.

  12. Rick wrote above: “There are reputable publishers that charge for publication. There is a new wave, cooperative publishing, and it is catching on quickly.”
    That simply isn’t true. There are no reputable publishers who charge for publication. “Cooperative” publishing has been around for ages and is a well-known way to swindle aspiring authors.
    Rick wrote above: “It’s a known fact that almost all the major, respected publishers either own or have stock in subsidy presses. And they can get you off to a great start if you do your research and pick one that’s established, offers marketing at no extra charge, and is affiliated with a traditional publishing program.”
    That’s also not true. Random House owns a piece of a self-publishing company, but the two enterprises are entirely separate. There are no benefits of affiliation for the writer who uses their print on demand services. They can’t say they are “published by Random House” nor would anyone be fooled. A vanity press is never going to get you off to a great start, it’s only going to take your money. These are the lies the vanity presses use to con the gullible and it’s sad that you are falling for it. I did and I paid the price but I didn’t have the benefit then of blogs like this one and writer beware. I trusted writers digest. Big mistake. Like Lee Goldberg says, a novelist should never pay to be published by a vanity press. You get ripped off financially, your work will have no professional credibility, you won’t get reviewed by respected publications, and stores won’t sell it so what’s the point? Real publishers pay you.

  13. Rick, if you’re going to pull figures out of your ass, at least pull some out that make more sense than 20%.
    I’d guess it’s less than 1%. And most of them don’t get advances anyone would call “nice.”
    Subsidy presses are still vanity presses, and all the same old caveats apply.

  14. Charging money for publishing is not the true definition of a vanity publisher. Traditional publishers use their editors and run a tab on editing, layout, cover, marketing, etc. all to be paid back by sales of books. All monies recouped before the author sees a penny. Traditional publishers basically loan the author the upfront money for production and marketing…where vanity publishers require the money upfront to get the work done. The true difference between a real publisher and a vanity publisher is…vanity publishers will publish anyone who will pay for services, a traditional publisher is very selective who they loan their money too…therefore have a more selective process.


Leave a Comment