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How To Get A Book Deal - Without Being Scammed

How to get a book deal without being scammed is a hurdle for any writers. Publishers Are Not Exempt From Questionable Practices.

Keep These Warning Signs in Mind

Charges a fee to read your manuscript.
You are providing the product for them to sell. Why should you have to pay to see if they are interested in your work?

Offers subsidy contracts
(you pay them to have your book published) when they promote themselves as commercial publishers. Are POD (publish-on-demand) publishers, such as authorshouse, IUniverse, and Xlibris, legitimate publishers? Yes as long as the author realizes the costs and the limitations of POD publishing. Publish On Demand books are rarely stocked in bookstores.

Bait and Switch

There are some publishers who hide behind the mask of respectability and call themselves ‘traditional’ when in fact they are a vanity press. How can you tell? Look at their websites, if the focus is on recruiting writers rather than promoting the books they publish, it’s a huge red flag.

Other publishers ‘will accept’ your manuscript and then come back a few weeks later and say that their list for the next season is full but they would dearly love to publish your book. You just need to share the risk with them by giving them some money.

A new twist is to tell the author that their project has merit but the author will have to find an investor to sponsor their title. The publisher isn’t asking the author directly for any funds but many authors shell out the necessary dollars rather than try and find an ‘investor.’


The publisher says that any fees you pay them will be completely refunded once your book reaches a certain sales level, usually in the thousands. Or that they will provide a comparable number of ‘free’ copies when the magic sales level has been reached.

A twist on rebates is that the publisher will match your monetary contribution in marketing efforts for your title. Publishers are supposed to market their own titles. The match most likely will not be in advertising dollars, review copies sent, or book tour expenses but the efforts of the in house staff. Efforts that probably won’t be focused specifically on your title.

How to get a book deal without getting scammed is possible for any author. Just keep these warning signs in mind.


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