How to Tell the Good Guys from the Bad Guys

The number one reason why authors get burned when it comes to self-publication is the fact that they are usually woefully undereducated on the subject.   Just like buying a good used car, insurance, or a house, the lack of education and knowledge on the subject attracts all sorts of shady characters to the playing field.  Like anything else that you are thinking about doing for the first time, a good knowledge of the field will help you make the best decision for you.  The self-publishing business is no different.

Many companies will often try to sell you products or services that are ineffective, are drastically overpriced, or maybe even be something that you really don’t need.  Often they will charge you hundreds of dollars for services that you could have easily done yourself, have contracted out for a much smaller fee, or even gotten for free through creative marketing.

Here are a few things that you need to ask yourself when shopping for a self-publishing company.  By answering these questions honestly and doing some research, you will be better prepared to help weed out The Good Guys from The Bad Guys.

1:  Is this company charging me for something that I could easily get for free?  One thing that you have to keep in mind is that with today’s technology, the amount of free advertisement and ways to get your name out there are about as limited as your imagination.  That’s not to say that you should never spend a dime on advertisement.  Just keep in mind that if you can do the same thing on your own, for free, then your money is better spent on the type of advertisement that you cannot get for free.

2:  Is this company charging me for something that I can do for myself?  If you have extensive knowledge of document formatting and can format your own manuscript, then paying someone else to do it for you is a waste of money.

3:  Is this company charging me for something that I know I can get done for a much cheaper price elsewhere?  If you have your own tried-and-true editor that you know you can afford, spending money on one that you have never used before can spell disaster. 

4:  Is this company rushing me to make a decision?  Forcing an author to make a rash and uneducated decision is a ploy that some companies use to bully an author into spending a lot more money than they had planned on services and products that they may not have wanted or needed.  If their offer is good today, then it should still be there tomorrow or next week.  Sure, that 15% off offer might expire, but if the entire offer expires, then there is something fishy in the mist.  If they give you an unrealistic time frame to make a decision (Act now!  This offer good only for the next 4 hours!), then your best bet is to let the ‘offer’ get on by.  But keep in mind that companies cannot be expected to sit around and wait on you forever.  They should, however, be willing to give you a few days to think about it.  If not, you might want to try a different company.

5:  What, exactly, am I getting for my money?  If you are going to spend a lot of money, you need to know beforehand exactly what you are getting for that price.  How many books will I receive?  Exactly where are you going to submit my work?  Who all will be receiving the news release?  What type of guarantee is the company making in regards to the amount of success of their services?  How long will it take for them to deliver on their promises? 

6:  Read the fine print!  You will definitely want to read their disclaimer.  Most companies will allude to the idea that you will have instant success with their company.  Usually the disclaimer tells another story entirely.  Make sure you understand the difference between what they can guarantee, what they hope to achieve for you, and what you can realistically expect with their services. 

7:  GET SAMPLES!  What is my finished book going to look like?  The best way to gage the company’s quality of work is to order a few random books from the company’s site.  If you are going to use their editors or designers, make sure you request samples of their work first.  If they don’t have samples, then they are most likely a scam.

Finding a good quality self-publishing or POD company is easy when you keep these things in mind:

                *don’t pay for something you can easily get for free

                *don’t purchase a service if you can hire someone else to do the work for a lesser price

                *don’t pay for something you can do yourself or get done yourself for free

                *don’t get rushed into making a quick decision

                *don’t pay for ‘promises’ that they cannot deliver on

                *read the fine print

                *make sure you know what you are getting for your money

                *make sure you know what type of quality your work will have before purchasing anything


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