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  • Writer's pictureSteven Nickodemski

Writers Beware: Navigating the Scams in the Publishing World.

Protect Your Hard Work and Your Wallet from Deceptive Practices.

Writers, both new and experienced, are constantly seeking opportunities to get their work published and recognized. However, the publishing world is vast and, unfortunately, not all opportunities are legitimate. In fact, there are many scams and shady business practices that specifically target writers. In this blog post, we'll explore some of the most common writer-targeted scams, and provide tips to help you avoid falling victim to these deceptive practices.

Vanity Publishers

Vanity publishers are companies that prey on writers by offering to publish their work for a hefty fee. While it's true that self-publishing can involve costs, legitimate self-publishing platforms like Amazon KDP and Smashwords don't charge exorbitant fees. With vanity publishers, the writer often ends up paying for an inferior product, without the marketing and distribution support that they might expect from a genuine publisher.

How to protect yourself:

Research the publisher thoroughly and look for reviews or testimonials from other writers.

Compare the publisher's fees and services with those of established self-publishing platforms.

Be ecautious of unsolicited offers to publish your work, as this is a red flag for vanity publishers.

Writing Contests with Hidden Fees

Writing contests can be an excellent way to gain recognition, but not all contests are created equal. Some unscrupulous contest organizers charge high entry fees without offering any real value in return. These contests may be poorly promoted or lack reputable judges, diminishing the value of winning.

How to protect yourself:

Research the contest and its organizers, looking for evidence of past winners and their experiences.

Check the entry fees against industry standards and be wary of contests that charge significantly more.

Look for contests sponsored by established literary organizations, as these are more likely to be legitimate.

Literary Agents Who Demand Upfront Payments

A legitimate literary agent will only earn a commission when they successfully sell your work to a publisher. However, scam agents will demand upfront fees for services such as editing or representation. In most cases, these agents provide little to no value and may never actually submit your work to publishers.

How to protect yourself:

Look for agents who are members of reputable organizations like the Association of Authors' Representatives (AAR).

Avoid agents who demand fees for reading, editing, or representing your work.

Research potential agents and look for a track record of successful sales to reputable publishers.

Predatory Editing Services

Professional editing can be a valuable investment for writers, but some scam artists pose as editors in order to take advantage of authors' desire for a polished manuscript. These scammers may charge inflated prices for poor-quality work, or fail to deliver on their promises altogether.

How to protect yourself:

Seek recommendations from other writers or industry professionals.

Request a sample edit to assess the quality of the editor's work before committing.

Compare prices and services with established editing professionals to ensure you're getting a fair deal.

Copyright Registration Scams

While it's essential to protect your intellectual property, some scam artists will use the allure of copyright registration to trick writers into paying for unnecessary services. In most cases, your work is protected under copyright law as soon as it's created, and formal registration is not required.

How to protect yourself:

Understand your rights under copyright law, and only seek registration when necessary.

Be wary of unsolicited offers to register your work for a fee.

If you choose to register your copyright, use the official U.S. Copyright Office or the relevant authority in your country.


While it can be disheartening to learn about the scams and deceptive practices targeting writers, being aware of these shady practices will hopefully save you a lot of heartache and help you hang on to your hard-earned money.

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