How can writers identify genuine publishing companies?

Aliker P’Ocitti

A few weeks ago, I got a mail from a budding Writer who has followed my Facebook Poems for more than a year.

After asking for my number, he sounded like a winner. He had received a mail that seem too good to be true.

A publishing firm had asked for his manuscript and “reviewed it” hence replying with a Seven-page contract.

In the contract, they intimated to him that they were impressed with his work and would be happy to publish his work after tickling his writing curiosity with a lot of kind sweet words.

Now, as one who has twice published in New York, USA from Uganda, the Writer wanted to verify whether this was a genuine publishing company or a scam?

This is a dilemma many Writers find themselves in; how do you identify a genuine publishing company and a scam?

To begin with, if you have ever received an unsolicited offer from a publishing company or publishing service agency, you should be careful.

Over the years, I have come to believe there are no shortcuts in writing. You must work hard and pay allegiance to due diligence to be a reputable Writer.

While I could write about how to avoid a book publishing scam, it is always easy for scammers to keep thinking new ideas and tactics to take advantage of budding writers.

In essence, you will not complete the list of the tips to avoid.

However, a budding writer only needs to know how to identify a genuine publishing company so that they don’t fall prey to these scams.

Author forums, are a great way to find genuine book publishing companies. Five years ago, I met an Alumni Online. She had just published her memoir and I loved it. I asked where I could get published since my manuscript was ready; she introduced me to Xlibris Publishing Services

Now, I have seen a number of negative reviews on Xlibris and if I had I read the reviews without the recommendation of a Writer I knew, I would to this day not be published.

Since then, I am based in rural northern Uganda and pay for Xlibris Publishing Services. I am yet to find another publisher that offers me better satisfaction in the quality of my books and professional process of publishing my work like Xlibris.

I admit, they are not cheap but so is every good thing. The price of cheap processes is normally mediocre work.

Secondly, it’s unlikely that reputable publishing companies will send out calls for submissions. If they have to, they will look out for Book Agents, unless they are reaching out to celebrities.

In my friend’s case, he is no celebrity but with the potential to be one and they had sent out a call for submission.

The well written contract he received indicates, he is to buy more than 250 books of his own copy at a much lower price (Author’s Price) unlike Xlibris that despite offering a Author’s price offered me a hardcopy and 5 other copies for the Author.

There after my books are printed on demand which works at my convenience on a case by case basis.

In all these circumstances, I have never met anyone from Xlibris and don’t hope to soon. All I know is I am sure of what I want and how to get it from Xlibris.

This may not apply to calls for anthologies, as this may include a publishing element to it.

Finally, make Google your best friend. A simple search on the authenticity of a publishing company may give you a lead to verify if the company is legitimate or not.

Google them for reviews, check with their clients, check that they have a physical business address, check how long they have been in business and it could give you a lead into the type of company worth your investment or not.

Google may help you search for sites that keep track on the industry and report dubious practices. A sample of which could be https://www.sfwa.org/other-resources/for-authors/writer-beware/ and many others.

There are directories like Writer’s Market, the Writers and Artists Yearbook, and Duotrope online that lists legitimate publishers and put some degree of effort in verifying them.

This is exactly how I verified that my online friend is at risk of being defrauded. I know someone will ignore this writing and be ripped off

Alternatively, someone will survive like my friend because you read this piece and they listened to your guidance.

The Writer is the Author of Hidden Scars, a newly released Poetry compilation

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