Help Me Develop A Litmus Test To Vaccinate Authors Against Scammers

I hate scams.  A lot.  Whether it’s publishers acting as scammers (even imprints of the big ones), or writing contests and even more writing contests, SEO scammers, and especially especially groups acting like they are helping out writers when they’re really untrustworthy.

Remember when I came up with a quick litmus test to see if someone was a real publisher?

  1. The do not require payments from the author.
  2. The author is paid in something more than author copies.
  3. Editorial oversight/control from someone separate than the author.
  4. They do not publish their own work as their main imprint.

The more of those you fail, the more worrisome the “publisher” is.  And I think we might be able to come up with similar litmus tests for other things that take advantage of authors.

Right now, most of the warning signs for me are almost subconscious – I almost just “sense” there’s something wrong – so it’s going to take some unpacking on my end.

And it’s a little more complicated than it used to be.  Remember that not only do you have Yog’s Law, but you also have Cthugha’s Correlary (the tl;dr – value flows toward the author).  Sometimes fees are appropriate – but how do you determine when those are worthwhile or not before you shell out cold hard cash?

Are there any warning signs that tell you that someone’s trying to rip you off instead of help you?


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