It’s always a bit worse when it happens to kids, so hearing about teen author Lindsay Whiteway getting scammed by one of those vampiric fake publishers is extra distasteful. I’m sure I’m not the only one who thought the arrival of Lulu and Amazon’s self-publishing facility would see the end of these rotten parasites, but they seem to keep on coming, just like self-pitying rightwing grifters bawling about woke consipracies coming to destroy them when the culprit is actually their own obnoxious stupidity.
If you are an aspiring writer, please, please, for your own sake, for your bank balance, your self-respect and your sanity, do not fall for these scams. Yes, there are plenty of issues with traditional publishing. It is an awful lot harder to get any attention at all if you are Nobody from Nowhere, no matter how brilliant you think your book is; no matter how brilliant your book actually is. But the solution is never going to be handing over vast sums of money to someone who promises they can make you a bestseller.
If you go ahead and self-publish and no one buys your book, you may be disappointed and angry, but you are a lot less likely to be out your life savings or deep in debt. You can self-publish without spending much, if anything, should you have relevant skills (some graphic design chops, computer literacy and the self-discipline to wait a bit before proofreading your draft. If you have a little bit of money, the two areas to spend it are copy-editing (get recommendations, at the very least)and cover design. There are plenty of low-priced premade covers: though they are not necessarily the most exciting, they are all at least adequate. The main ‘cost’ you are looking at is your time.
Scammy ‘publishers’ are what used to be called vanity publishers. Even back in the 90s, people would warn each other about them; even then it was possible to pay a printer to do a run of books for you – at a much lower cost and free of the ridiculous false promises the vanity publishers peddled.
If you want to write a book, write it. If you want to have a go at finding a publisher, have a go. But at least check out a site like Writer Beware before handing over vast sums of money. If the deal sounds too good to be true, it probably is.