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My self-publishing company experience…nightmare or not?

I have a story on SP companies. Get ready.

When I started writing my book, “Alzheimer’s Through My Mother’s Eyes”, I had no idea, none—of who to contact, who edits, financial costs, where to look, who to call, etc. You will love this one….. I didn’t even know there were such people as “BETA” readers. I just typed my heart out everyday and figured it would somehow flow together. My concern for the moment, was writing my book, baring my soul.

I basically just looked on internet for publishing companies. BIG mistake. A couple of them looked OK, they were connected with bigger named book companies and it appeared they had branched out – to the self-publishing community. Apparently a lot of people write books and the self-publishing companies want to accommodate new and rising authors. I found a couple of them and checked out their internet sites. It looked exciting, so I figured I would contact them. It was a start, right? I filled out the online questionnaire in order to have someone contact me. That only took a day or so. Now, mind you, I know nothing about anything or anyone concerning publishing anything.

AND I am an older client and I tend to be trusting. You could use the word naïve. I intently listened to their packages offered, and the whole time the only thing running thru my brain was HOW was I going to afford this company? It was thousands of dollars for just editing. Of course, to no surprise, they could work out a payment plan…..DUH I should have known that. Or I could use my credit card !

I tried to get a direct answer on exactly how much would they receive financially versus how much I would receive – now I knew these were called royalties. They evaded that question and continued to tell me about a “gold standard” club, how good my book sounded, how much people need to read it, and on and on. They couldn’t wait to read my book. Caregiver books are awesome, so many people would buy it….WOW I felt like the best writer in the whole world !

I even told my husband I had found a publishing company ! We were so excited. I had them FAX me copies of their contracts, that were 7-8 pages long. (They obviously didn’t WANT to fax this information to me, but they legally had to). The editing part didn’t look very substantial, and I had a very uneasy feeling about these self-publishing entities. ALWAYS trust your gut.

Then by fate, a friend recommended I contact a local author, and ask him about these companies, editing, publishing, steps I need to take, etc. I did call him and thank goodness I did. He emphatically told me NO – do NOT use these companies. Look them up on internet, but this time he said – type in: company name, scams and fraud. Hum, I thought, surely he is wrong. How can they advertise editing and book services, but rip people off? But he knew what he was talking about. So, I did as he instructed…….and….there were pages upon pages of unhappy clients. Lousy editing job complaints. Where was the book they published? It wasn’t online – had these companies changed the name of their books and secretly published them? Where were their royalties, MONEY? Much discussion and dissention on financial paybacks, total un-satisfaction with the editing, grammar, punctuation, paragraph separation, and presentation of these SP authors products. WOW – at least I had not signed the contract, thank goodness. My intent anyhow, was to bring their contracts to a copyright attorney before I signed them anyhow. I let both companies know this tidbit of information. That “little voice” is getting louder now….I am paying attention to it.

OK, then I started to look up authors who had been published by these SP companies. I read the book samples, and my heart sank. They were such good stories, excellent storylines but the editing was horrible – did I say horrible? Oh no. Then, I had a brilliant idea. I contacted one of these SP companies and asked them if they would have one of their NEW AUTHORS contact ME? Could they give MY information to him/her – as I knew nor did I expect them to give me this personal information on one of their clients. The young CS lady at the SP company told me she would look into this feat. I pretended that I was very excited to speak with one of their new and published authors ! Maybe that person could give me some pointers.

I figured that this company–with all the bragging they did– would be more than happy to accommodate my request, and I figured correctly. A lovely young woman emailed me – and explained that she had just had her book published by “so and so” self-publishing company! You know what, I was very grateful that she did contact me. She was very nice, very young, and gave me the name of her book to look up, and check out. She had used this SP company with trust – and I sincerely thanked her for contacting me. She was so overjoyed to be a new author.

I cannot tell you how upset I was when I opened up her free sample online – PUBLISHED book. PUBLISHED by one of these “self-publishing” companies. Now, remember, the SP company are the ones that gave ME her information.

OH my word. The grammar, sentence structure, capitalizations, commas, periods, paragraph separations, and anything else that would fall under the category of “EDITING” was ATROCIOUS. It just got worse as I continued to read. The sentence that started with…….”I had went…..” on around page 2 – had my once slack Jaw, on the carpet. I said this can’t be right. I closed the link, and put in the name of her book again on the search bar. Well, it was right. The same book cover displayed, same title found. This was beyond embarrassing and now I had to figure out how or what to say to this young lady who was waiting for my response to the new book she had just published. What am I going to say to her? That the editing SUCKED?

OK after I calmed down, I realized in earnest, that this new young author had paid a substantial amount of money to this SP company. I asked her nicely if she had had her booked edited (by this SP company) ? Was that one of the services that she had paid for? If she had, what exactly, did they edit? There were spelling errors that a six year old could have found. I didn’t want to make her feel badly about her book. I didn’t want to put her down, it wasn’t her fault. She had trusted this company with her private story. She was young and inexperienced. OMG it was heartbreaking. She told me she had also received financial help from family members and if I remember correctly – don’t quote me – she had paid them over $3,000.00. I asked her exactly WHAT did they guarantee for that huge amount of money?

I couldn’t resist and emailed the once eager and happy customer service girl that had my file and had given me the name of this new young author. I asked her if (young lady’s) book had been edited? Is that what they called editing? Was that part of the contract she sent me? What did editing entail? What exactly DID they edit? There were errors from the first sentence, I couldn’t even finish the free sample. I asked her to please answer me – because if this is what they thought I was going to accept – as “EDITING” they were sorely wrong.

No surprise, I never heard from her again. My second email to her honestly asked her how does the CEO for this company sleep at night? How can they take advantage of new and upcoming authors? The sad thing is – SHE is the one that gave me the information to contact this new author to begin with. I pointed that out to her as well. Heck, she should have at least sent me – a new prospective client – someone whose book was less riddled with editing errors. !

That was it. I have told countless individuals to NOT use these two (SP) companies. I told them my story, non of it made up – all factual.

I then started looking at blogs, professional blogs, magazine authors, etc. I ran across a blog that had the 5 signs to look for – TO NOT use a company….the SP company fell under 4 of those signs.

I found – a professional and upstanding organization. A blogger led me to this site. Whew……thank goodness.

My story has a very happy ending, and I am forever grateful to the “American Society of Journalists and Authors” for referring me to: I wasn’t feeling too trusting anymore – but I now realize there are honest companies with integrity out there to help us new Indie authors that have no idea what they are doing.

Through this site, the CEO helped me set it up – since I am not a techno genius. It is a bidding site – and I placed chapters of my book, the subject of caregiving, Alzheimer’s and explained my story. I cannot tell you how much I appreciate Ms. Sattar’s help. She renewed my faith in “mankind” (woman kind). Through her site, I was fortunate to have a bid from Author Options.

I accepted the bid from Author Options, and the rest is history. I will be forever grateful to both of them.

Lesson learned…..DO YOUR RESEARCH. Be very wary of self-publishing companies and their fancy talk and promotional conversations.

Hope this helps !

Suzette Brown

8 responses »

  1. Pingback: My self-publishing company experience…nightmare or not? | "Alzheimer's: Through My Mothers Eyes"

  2. We would love to feature your book on our blog.

    What’s the best way to get in touch?

  3. The usual term for these people is vanity publishers. They fulfil the same function as vultures in the food chain. You only go to them if you have a lot of money to spend, no publisher will touch your book, and you can’t be bothered to do the formatting yourself. Glad to hear you got out of it before you signed the contract.

    • OM goodness, so am I. It was $6000 to $7000 dollars for an ill conceived “edit”, I had to ask the author again IF the SP company had edited her book. After being offered the book to read by this sweet innocent girl – “vultures” are a perfect description. I would not have used them if I had the $$$. My integrity and “sixth sense” would not have allowed me to.
      Thank you for the very wise words….so true.


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