Recently, I've been asked to assist three authors escape from the clutches of publishers who really weren't publishers. These author/publishers wanting to sell more of their own books by falsely enticing other writers to join their ranks. Unfortunately, the author/publishers had no publishing training, no skills in marketing or promotion, and had no relationships with any retail outlets other than Amazon.com . They knew zero about the business of publishing. What they did have were websites that made them appear to be honest-to-goodness publishers. Their authors' books were on Amazon. So far so good. But, when I looked inside their published books, right away I spotted tons of writing mechanic errors, crowded pages, small margins, amateur covers. All issues of self-published books, which these were.
Here's the problem. When the three writers in question realized they'd been snookered, they couldn't get away from the author/publisher. Why not? They'd signed a contract giving away all rights to the author/publisher . . . like, forever. Yikes. So be warned. It's understandable. If you pitch to a "publisher" at a writers' conference, and they offer you a contract, you'll feel excited and flattered. But . . . before you sign on the dotted line, perform due diligence. Check out the publisher, contact their authors, look inside the books (and thank you Amazon for that). Most importantly, hire an agent or literary attorney to look at the contract. Believe me, it's cheaper to determine if a publisher is legit before you sign over your book (and youngest child), than to retain an attorney to help you regain the rights to the book you've created.
BTW: just because you meet an author/publisher at a writers' conference, this doesn't mean they've been vetted, unless the conference is sponsored by a national and well-regarded group like Writer's Digest (for example). State and local writers' organizations with limited budgets are so happy to host "publishers" at their events, they don't check them out thoroughly, or at all.
If you’d like to re-post any of my blogs, help yourself. Please reference the source as: Molli Nickell. THE Publishing Wizard at www.getpublishednow.biz