Advice Needed: How to Tell Someone They’ve Been Hit With A Publishing Scam

dI keep my eye out for other small publishers like myself.  When I see presentations on small, self, or digital publishing, I get interested… both as a publisher, and as an author.  Obviously they were respected enough to be invited or accepted to present this kind of programming.

Then, because this is the 21st century, I go look the presenters up on the internet.

And then my blood pressure starts to rise.

Their "basic" plan is two grand up front?   (150 books, a thousand bookmarks, a banner… maybe a grand worth of expenses…)

And they go up in increments of two grand each from there?

I’m kind of hard-pressed to see how that fits Yog’s Law1.

One of the reasons I started publishing is spelled out on my website:

Publishing services – whether with me or someone else – means that a specific service is delivered for a specific fee. I do what you pay me for, and not any more or less. (For example, I don’t correct grammar or spelling during eBook conversion.) Someone providing publishing services gets paid by the author.
A publisher instead takes a percentage – usually a majority one – but handles much, if not all, of the business aspects without involving (or bothering) the author. The publisher would hire both copy and line editor, cover artist, etc without payment from the author. The author is paid an advance against royalties (most of the time) and royalties are paid out to the author through the sale of the book to the general public. The publisher makes money from sales of the book to the public.

You might remember that I’ve actually confronted scammers in public before, and recommended that authors use ITW’s publisher checklist to evaluate their own publishers.

So here’s my problem: As I’ve already mentioned, this … vanity press (at best) … has managed to be accepted as a legitimate presenter at a respectable local venue.  (I am NOT talking about CONTEXT here, it’s something in Dayton.)  I’ve already figured out that I can copy some of the presentation techniques they’re using2.  I’ll be writing up some bits to level the information inequality these people take advantage of. 

But should I bother letting the venue know?  And if so, how should I go about doing it?

1 Even the modified Yog’s Law of "Value flows toward the author."
2 For example, touting the conference appearances and presentations I’ve made outside of my CV. Or even offering some.

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  1. rennata
    September 19, 2012

    The problem is this question falls into the how do you tell someone their spouse is having an affair type question.
    How receptive is the venue going to be to the information? Do they care more about the quality of presentation for maintaining a long term healthy bottom line or they out for the quick buck? Are they going to listen and care or are they going to write off your concerns as sour grapes? As heartless as it sounds, which will benefit your personal reputation with the vendor? I know that you care about those who want to be authors and want to do the best for them, but in this case that is best served by doing what is best for your long term reputation with the venue. I hope that helps.

  2. September 20, 2012

    Nah, I don't think that's heartless (and you said almost the same thing that Sarah said on G+, or my g/f said IRL).

    It looks like out competing is probably the best option. Now how to do that… ::twirls mustache::

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