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This is a scheduled post and I will answer any comments tomorrow.

Recently I read a blog from a self-published author who was thrilled to bits to gain a publishing deal. She had signed the rights to her book over to the publisher, and of course now looked forward to the royalties from many future sales.

However, I’ve been on a steep learning curve over the past 8 years regarding the integrity of small publishers. In order to satisfy my own curiosity I went on to Google and typed in ‘Writer Beware‘ and the name of the lady’s publisher. As I suspected, there were many complaints about this particular publisher regarding the amount of ‘set up fees’ needed and the lack of any royalties.

I’m sure most of us have been taken in by small publishers at one time or another at the beginning of our writing careers. I know I have, and now unless the day comes when I am taken on by one of the big five then I shall stay self-published. I might have a long wait, but I’m in no rush…

Along with unscrupulous small publishers comes unscrupulous writing competitions. Yes, I’ve been taken in by those as well. Some of them are just money-making schemes by marketing companies to fleece the unsuspecting author.

I’m not going to name these publishers and marketing companies here, but you can find quite a few of them on the Writer Beware site kindly kept up to date by founder Victoria Strauss and her associates. These days I always check Writer Beware and also Google any company if I am ever offered publishing deals or if I see a writing competition I’d like to enter. I’ve saved myself a lot of grief, although not in the first years of my career. I spent unnecessary money on a vanity publisher back in 2009 that pursued me for years afterwards, and I lost the rights to a couple of my translated books through a small publisher which changed its name. I entered pointless writing competitions, and the names of some of these ‘competitions’ I later found on Writer Beware.

So these days I am forewarned and forearmed. Unfortunately I am now instantly suspicious if I am offered a publishing deal by any independent publisher, and I receive at least 2 of these ‘wonderful’ deals every year. To be quite honest, guys and gals, it’s better to stay self-published.

Should I have warned that author who was so upbeat and joyful about gaining a publishing deal? As far as I could tell, she had already signed on the dotted line and so I fear it was too late. But hey, this blog is here to warn everybody else. You can even email Victoria Strauss with any particular concerns. I have emailed her several times over the past few years, and she always answers within a day or two.

Don’t sign anything unless you check the companies out first!