The Darkside of Self-publishing: How to Navigate Past the Pitfalls 

JD Caron
August 29, 2023

Staying safe when stumbling down the self-publishing labyrinth...

Ever wondered about the dark underbelly of the self-publishing world if you are thinking of self-publishing a book? By the end of this article, you’ll have the insight to navigate this world safely. Let’s start with a statistic that might blow you away.

dark side of self-publishing

Predatory Publishing Companies

What are these, and what should you look out for?

A jaw-dropping 70% of emerging self-publishers encounter suspicious publishing deals. Hidden fees, dodgy contracts, it's a maze. The cost? Your rights, your money, and sometimes your confidence.

Let's dive deep into one of the murkiest realms of self-publishing: Predatory Publishing Companies. The question many authors ask is, 'Why do these book publishing companies even exist?'

The answer is chilling yet straightforward – to exploit those unaware of the pitfalls of the industry. Countless independent authors, brimming with passion and a dream of seeing their work celebrated, are often the primary targets. Usually, these take the form of a traditional publishing company, but recently dodgy publishing platforms emerged in the publishing industry, offering contracts to publish and market the ebook for independent authors.

I've personally witnessed many talented authors (this could happen if you're an aspiring indie author about to launch a book or already a self published author) entering partnerships with these predatory firms. The excitement of finally publishing their work blindsides them to the chains they're unknowingly placing upon themselves. These contracts, often filled with jargon and complexity, can make authors feel handcuffed.

The pathway to authentic, meaningful reviews? Amplify your book sales and truly engage with your readership. Authentic feedback is priceless, fostering trust and bolstering an author's standing. Always prioritize sincerity and

What's at stake?

They'll limit author input in the publishing process- from the book design to the book distribution and essentially produce an inferior product after the blood, sweat, and tears the author poured into writing and editing.

They find themselves with little to no control over their own work, struggling to make essential changes crucial for marketing and reaching broader audiences.

And the worst part? Many eventually succumb to disappointment and give up on their cherished projects.

Contrast this with legitimate self-publishing services that truly have the author's best interests at heart. These genuine entities provide tangible value, guidance, and support every step of the way. Predatory ones, however? They're notorious for hidden fees, manipulative contracts, and delivering a fraction of what was promised. It’s heartbreaking to see passionate authors, their dreams dampened, relinquishing control of their creative vision.

You're not alone...

If there's one takeaway from this, always, always scrutinize the fine print. If an offer dazzles you with its brilliance, take a moment. When something seems too good to be true, in the vast majority of cases, it is.

For those wondering, 'How can I differentiate the genuine from the predatory?' – there are lifelines out there.

Resources like Writer Beware and the Alliance of Independent Authors' watchdog service are not just informational platforms; they're beacons of hope. With their diligent alerts, databases, and advocacy, they've become the shield many authors desperately need, safeguarding them from the snares laid by predatory publishers.

Paid Reviews and Their Ethical Implications

Reviews, undeniably, are a book's compass. They can elevate a novel to stardom or push it into the shadows. It's alarming that nearly 45% of self-published authors have been enticed by offers to purchase these reviews. The temptation is undeniable: instant positive feedback, a sea of 5-stars, and the promise of more sales. But at what real price?

The authenticity of paid reviews is paper-thin. Readers, increasingly astute, can spot the difference between a genuine sentiment and a fabricated one. When these paid accolades come to light – and in today's interconnected world, they often do – the consequences are swift and brutal.

Beyond dwindling sales and a damaged reputation, there's an even more threatening consequence: platform bans. Powerhouses like Amazon KDP (Kindle Direct Publishing) enforce strict rules against inauthentic reviews, and breaches can result in the irrevocable suspension of an author's account. The once-bright dream of your self published book can be extinguished in a heartbeat.

Misleading Self-publishing Marketing Services

Every book deserves its rightful stage presence, and that’s precisely where marketing services come into play. However, proceed with eyes wide open.

A staggering 60% of self-published authors have been seduced by glamorous marketing pitches that only echo with disappointment. The raw reality? A bulk of these services are simply dabblers, masking their inexperience with grandiose claims.

Now, more than ever, authors must arm themselves with marketing know-how. Familiarize yourself with the essentials, discern the seasoned experts from the novices, and ensure you're not just another statistic in that 60%.

And here’s a game-changer for all your self publishing authors, regardless of your fiction genre: our pre-publishing and marketing checklist.

This isn't just another resource; it's a comprehensive guide crafted with precision and expertise to make your self-publishing journey easier and more effective.

The best part? It's FREE, and you can get it by clicking on the image below.

Self-publishing Book Awards Scams

Being recognized by peers and institutions can elevate an author’s status. But amongst the genuine awards are lurking scams designed purely to profit from entry fees, providing little value to the authors. It's estimated that dozens of these 'pay-to-win' awards pop up yearly.

But there's hope: Book Award Pro streamlines the process, helping you find legitimate awards fitting your genre and style. Their expertise can guide you towards accolades that matter.

You can apply for an award for a print book, ebook and even if you're book isn't published at all yet.

Plagiarism and Intellectual Property Theft

In the labyrinth of publishing challenges, one of the most personal and stinging betrayals an indie author can experience is discovering their work pirated. The digital age, while a boon in countless ways, has also birthed rampant piracy.

Some platforms report alarming figures with up to 25% of ebooks circulating as unauthorized copies. And let's face it, the bitter truth is that the more successful your book, the higher the chances of it being pirated.

So, what's an indie author to do? While there are myriad tools and services offering to guard against piracy, a simple yet effective measure is periodically searching for your book on Google. Yet, be warned, it's a never-ending chase.

Just when you think you've tackled one pirated version, another crops up. It's a relentless game of whack-a-mole, and dedicating too much time to it could very well turn into a full-time, soul-draining job.

But here’s a silver lining to this cloud. Instead of viewing each pirated copy as a lost sale, consider it a testament to your work's allure. It's oddly flattering: out of the countless books available, someone was so intrigued by yours that they sought it out, even through unofficial channels. It's a testament to your book's magnetic pull.

Read here what the author of The Martian, Andy Weir, had to say about this…

So, while it's wise to stay vigilant, remember to not lose sleep over piracy. Instead, channel that energy into crafting your next masterpiece."

These insights aren't meant to scare, but to empower. Knowledge is your shield and sword in the self-publishing world. As we transition to our wrap-up, don’t forget to engage below. Your stories, insights, and questions help build a community. Together, we're stronger.

Self-publication Safety: Conclusion

Before we wrap up, let's not forget: self-publishing is a realm of endless possibilities. With knowledge, you can dodge pitfalls and step into the spotlight.

For those dedicated to making their mark in the literary world, arm yourself with our FREE pre-publishing and marketing checklist. The link's right below. It’s designed to be your guiding light.

If you are interested in Amazon Kindle Direct Publishing, or any other self-publishing platform, where you'll be in charge of everything from the book cover to ebook sales and the design of your printed book, contact us, and let's talk about keeping you safe from scams.

About the author 

JD Caron

Denis was a coach long before he ever knew what that was. From his time in the military, to the decade he spent as a 911 ambulance dispatcher, he constantly found himself in leadership and teaching roles (he knows his way around an emergency). And after struggling to self-publish his first book, he knew he could help others do it better.

Currently, Denis is traveling around Europe, exploring WWII sites and sampling all the delightful cuisine the continent has to offer.

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