Another Publishing Scam…they just keep coming, don’t they?

First there was the PublishAmerica scam, now comes another vanity press masquerading as a publisher. I got this email from a reader here:

Hi All, I was just ready to submit my novel (which took about 8
years to write) to PA. Boy, glad I did some reasearch first, Whew!

Any ideas/comments about before I submit?

So I checked the site out. The company is called American Book Publishing. They proudly proclaim:

We don’t abide by today’s conventional book publishers’ wisdom. We don’t conduct
business as usual, at least not in book publishing.

They certainly don’t.  In their author submission guidelines, they say:

We provide our authors all the professional services of editors, book designers, and book publicists to ensure their success.

In other words, you ARE A CUSTOMER.

We may issue publishing contracts with offers of financial advances to authors who have been published and have already established their popularity.

Conventional publishers don’t work that way. When they say "we may issue publishing contracts with offers of financial advances," it means that their standard practice is that  they don’t. But they will kindly make an exception if they can trade on your  good name.  How thoughtful of them.

We may issue publishing contracts to professional writers who have become accomplished in their writing career and the contract may neither offer an advance or request a deposit.

A deposit??? This should be your big, fat tip-off that this is a vanity press eager to take advantage of your desperation to be published.  But just in case you missed that subtle clue, they go on to say…

We may issue publishing contracts to talented writers who have not been published before or become accomplished in their writing career, and this contract may request a one-time deposit of $780 that is returned to the author the first quarter after the book has been formally released.

Publishers pay you, you don’t pay them. Don’t let your desperation to be published blind you into throwing your money away on a vanity press trying to  pass itself off as something else. Open your eyes!

If you want to be self-published, at least go to a company like iUniverse that doesn’t pretend to be something it isn’t.

29 thoughts on “Another Publishing Scam…they just keep coming, don’t they?”

  1. American Book Publishing? Whoo whee! Utah, right? That’s C. (for Cheryl) Lee Nunn’s outfit.
    Among other interesting features of their contract, they include a $10,000 fine if the author says anything bad about the publisher.
    They have their own permanent thread at the rumormill (look under “Caveat Scrivener”), and let me tell you, that ain’t a good sign.

  2. I agree that you certainly don’t want to go with a company that is trying to convince you that they are something that they are not.
    If you write nonfiction, you should certainly consider self-publishing. As it happens I’m in the midst of finishing a book that I will self-publish. This in the same week that I have learned I will be co-authoring a book for Ten Speed Press. And it’s my third traditionally published book.
    However, my goal is to have something to sell in the back of the room for all these conferences, talks, workshops and whatevers that I do. The profit margin is quite good given printing is about $2 per book.

  3. I’m not knocking self-publishing, except for people who think it’s going to get them into “brick and mortar” bookstores, reviewed in tne New York Times, and onto the bestseller lists. When my book UNSOLD TELEVISION PILOTS went out-of-print after ten years, I reprinted it for free through the Authors Guild’s “Back in Print” iUniverse program (in a cheaper, two-volume set) and have been very happy with the results. I get a few hundred dollars in royalties every year… it doesn’t sound like much, but it’s more than I’d get if the book remained out-of-print. My experience with iUniverse has been terrific. I have no complaints at all about the service, the quality of the books, or the timely payment of royalties. Then again, iUniverse doesn’t pretend to be anything it isn’t.

  4. Specialized non-fiction is one of the places where self-publication makes a lot of sense. Poetry is another. Books (of whatever nature) that a speaker plans to sell at the back of the hall are a third. Niche fiction for a defined audience is a fourth.
    Self-publication makes little sense (and has little success) with general fiction.
    Vanity publication, where the author is the primary market and a good part of the profit (if any) goes to support the publisher, makes little sense for anyone.

  5. I’m more inclined to go with Lee’s use of the vanity press than all of these other “niches.” Outside of poetry of course. Otherwise , a niche here, a niche there and the next thing you know there are 11,000 happy authors published only in the minds of their friends.

  6. One of my first jobs was at a low-end video production house. One of the important lessons I learned there was that all the word “professional” means is that the person doing the job is getting paid. Give a gal $50 and she’s a “professional videographer.” I still get a chuckle as the “Professional Ambulance Company” drives by.

  7. I am looking into a publishing company called Author House. I would like your honest opinion on this publishing company. Is it a vanity press as well?
    So many companies offering their services and I do not know which of the companies are scams. I am doing my homework before I say yes to any company about publishing. How will know a publishing company is vanity press?
    Please help me….
    Saby R.

  8. Author House is a vanity press…and they don’t pretend to be anything else. Did you even visit their site? They clearly state who they are and what they do in the very first line:

    Since 1997, AuthorHouse, the leading self-publishing company in the world, has helped authors achieve their book publishing goals with over 23,000 books in print. Choosing a reputable book publisher, among the many book publishing companies and book publishers available, is a very critical step towards the self-publishing process.

    No mystery there, Saby.

  9. i’ve looked into both author house, and iUniverse, knowing that i’d be self published.
    what i liked about these two companies is that they offer their services as well when it comes to marketing your book….however, that may be another one of their tricks.
    i’ve read the testomonial about iUniverse, but has anyone had any experience with Author House?

  10. Beyond simply listing your book with online booksellers and making it available for special order in traditional bookstores, iUniverse also offers services to market your book, for a fee, just as they offer editorial services for a fee. The key word here is “fee,” which means you are paying them to help you with your book.
    If you want those services, and are willing to pay for them, by all means do so. But go in knowing what you are doing. A lot of self-publishers lack the skills in editing, proofreading, etc. that are vital to producing a good book, and so these services may have value to them.
    I’m with Lee on this one, despite whatever differences we may have on other issues. iUniverse is reputable because they offer particular services, are clear on what those services are, and do what they say they will. They’ve treated me amazingly well.
    As to Author House, I know one author who used them, and he seems happy with their service; his booksigning went well and is doing pretty well with promotion.

  11. I dispute the assertion that any vanity press author is doing well. That’s the lowest form of relativism I’ve ever heard of. The bar is lying on the ground. Moreover the sales pitch tools sold will not work.

  12. As I can’t afford the US$10K fine for rubbishing them

    I don’t understand what this means. Was there something your contract with them that forbids you from discussing your experience?

  13. I came on here (this site)looking for info about Authorhouse. I’m not a writer, but in PR and they popped up in a job search. They did, in fact, have a job posted on the site for public relations. Turns out their “application” only asks for contact info and a social security number. This is a classic sign of fishing for leads. Might not mean much to someone wanting to use their service, but I thought you should know.

  14. Hi,
    The information in this blog is invaluable. I posted a comment back in Jan 2005 just before submitting to Thankfully, your comments Lee made me reconsider.
    I completed a post apocalyptic adventure a manuscript in 2004 which had taken me over eight years to write.
    As an aspiring yet unpublished writer, I continue campaigning to find an agent that fits my needs. Still the process is daunting and can leave even a self professed optimistic feeling frustrated.
    I have weathered the countless rejections from both agents and publishers (those dwindling resources still accepting cold submissions). I know it only takes one positive response to move along the process, but my endeavors have still fallen short. Fortunately I have a Day job to support my lifestyle.
    Countless rewrites (about 16) and a slew of query letter/synopsis upgrades have yet to bear fruit.
    Still, I’m not going to give up, at least not yet despite a current low. I may take me until I am an old man before any of my tomes are published, but I will keep trying.
    Any words of encouragement are always welcomed.
    – Jack V.

  15. I would like feedback in regards to Mystic Ridge Books and/or Mystic Ridge Productions. The address and phone number that they have listed in the 2008 Writer’s Market manual is wrong. I finally was able to get an address off of a gambling in-service that they have been soliciting funds for to be conducted by one of their authors. The address was in CT. I treid confirming the address. Comcast Information stated that there was no such address. So I researched the area and made contact with the coffee shop supposedly across the the street from their new address. They told me that there was no such business as Mystic Ridge Books?!
    I subsequently responded to their in-service email to a VP of Marketing. I got a reply and an address that was the same as the one that can NOT be confirmed in CT. I again emailed this person and stated that I wanted to submit my memoir, which is definitely adult reading, for their consideration. I got back a “I’m sorry…”email. They have a website, but the section on “Writer’s Guidelines” is “under construction.” They do not post a phone number or address on the web site. Something here just doesn’t gel.

  16. I’m also wondering about Mystic Ridge, whether there’s something fishy going on. I agree, it’s strange that the addresses were messed up, and there is DEFINITELY something up with the ‘Under Construction’ part. If anyone has any word about them, I’d be very interested in learning what’s going on…

  17. Are you people BLIND AND STUPID?Of course there is something fishy, why do you even have to ask!? All you have to do is look at their website to know they are bullshit amateur selfpubbed con artists. My nine year old son could design a more professional looking website. My God, what the hell is the matter with you people? Anyone who can’t see that Mystic Ridge is bullshit deserves to be held upside and down shaken for every red cent in their pockets. Why would you submit a memoir manuscript with them and then keep nagging them even after you have established they are fly-by-night? What the hell is the matter with you? Are you stupid? Are you desperate and brain dead? You’re like a person who sees a cliff ahead and drives off it anyway. I don’t know why Lee wastes his time with you people.

  18. Hi,
    I’m just wondering can you help me.
    I’m looking for a company that will publish my book, Poetry. IS there a good company to go with out there I’m having a hard time finding one that is right for me.
    I heard abou this site Urban publishers you don’t have to pay but there are differnt serivces you can purchase from them.
    Also how much is a author look to put down on their work when they are looking for a company? Which company is the best to go for poetry can you give answers to those of us who are wondering please!!!!!
    Thanks and have a nice day.

  19. Darlene,
    It’s a big mistake to self-publish your book…in most cases, you are simply throwing your money away.
    But if you are dead set on doing it anyway,
    read the book THE FINE PRINT OF SELF PUBLISHING by Mark Levine for a detailed overview of the pluses and minuses of the various self-publishing companies out there.
    (Probably the cheapest way to go is

  20. These comments are inaccurate. Vanity Press is NOT a publisher (or self-publisher). Vanity Press is a printing facility. Specifically, I saw someone noted AuthorHouse and iUniverse as vanity presses. They are self-publishers, not printers.

  21. If you have signed a contract how do you get out of it?
    How do you reclaim a copyright for a cancelled contract.

  22. I have tried them all and you’re not going to believe this…So haters get ready. My book Rovella Starr was published by PublishAmerica and they did an absolutely great job. If you read the reviews on and Barnes and Noble you will be shocked. Because of people like Preditors and Editors…I kind of lucked out on the strength of the complainst against the company and they actually released a beautiful book…Now, they did not edit the book (a drawback); but, my writing took it to word of mouth and I am actually earning a profit.
    I think I will self-publish my next book for full control.I have an editor working on the project. It’s expensive, but well worth it.
    Read Dan Poynter’s Para Publishing for a comprehensive guide to self publishing.
    Remember: Don’t believe the hype. Go with your gut feelings and use a company you can sue if something goes wrong.
    IUniverse does not tell you how many books they are actually selling; you never know and many of us don’t have time to track.
    Good Luck
    Carol Mitchell

  23. Hi there;
    I just finished writing a very provocative non fiction book and am looking for a credible publisher. Do you have any recommendations?
    Thanks Ron S

  24. Much good advice here. V. impressed with Lee’s responses. Gloing to find Levine’s book. Would not have known about it otherwise. Planning to self-publish/independent author route, my husband’s 275 page graphic novel on Philosophy & The Brain which has an extremely limited market. He simply wants a book to distribute like Johnny Appleseed did when walking across the country. I am under no illusions that there is a huge audience for his work but it does deserve a hearing. I’ve been checking out Bookbaby but Lulu is looking better. Rose DeShaw


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