I discovered this blog (and subscribed to it) following a tweet by Victoria Strauss. Some of the names were familiar enough to make me wonder how widespread scams and general misbehavior is on the part of small press publishers. Phoenix Fire is charging their authors to publish their works in a back end vanity manner.

Money should flow to the writer, not from them. It’s an old industry proverb.

The authors could self-publish for far less than they are being charged here. If you do an ebook, it is very easy to master the forms in which you upload them to the distributor. The Smashwords format works fine for kindle also. Making it double easy to just do a single format and publish to both.  The only change you need to make between them is that Smashwords wants the copyright page to feature the words “Smashwords Edition” so you just take it out of the version you send to kindle.

Publishers gamble on their authors earning back the costs of cover and editing.  They do not make the authors pay for them. And they should never promise more than they can afford to give their authors (blog tours, promotional objects, etc.)  or can reasonably handle.

Another aspect of this that is mentioned in the Suess’s blog post is that the “blog tours” turned out to be just three blogs operated by the same individual under different names. I had a personal experience of this several years ago. I hired a publicist for my company, Daverana Enterprises, and discovered that this was the only thing she did. I was appalled at the subterfuge and felt that it was both dishonest and cheating.  Since then, I have witnessed a fair number of “PR” firms holding to this practice.

Back when I was doing PR in the bad old days before the internet, I bought a $500 book each year that had the contact information for every newspaper, local TV and radio across the country, as well as the MAJOR places and shows, including Oprah and Regis Philbin.  You sent out press releases and made phone calls. When you landed an interview for your clients, it was real and not fake.

The internet has allowed for a huge percentage of fakery and all of us should take offers and brags with a grain of salt. Always google a company or individual before trusting them. And while you are at it, confirm that any testimonials are real. It has become a commonplace for some places to use alts to promote themselves. Others like the Albee Agency are attributing testimonials to real people who have no idea they even exist.

Read Writer Beware blog and make it a bible for avoiding scams.

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