May 18, 2018 • By Dennis Beaver
If you’ve written a book and are dreaming of the day that you can see it in print, the next few minutes will help keep you from being ripped off. Like many others, you could lose thousands of dollars, and pay the same high emotional price that “Dr. G” did the day he phoned our office in a panic.
“Mr. Beaver, I need to see you about my book,” said Dr.G. His anger and frustration came right through the phone lines.
Ten minutes later, in walked 75 year old Dr.G and slapped book manuscripts on our conference table. He stammered, “In 2016 they told me I had a great book that would do very well in the medical community. A few days ago they just sent all this back with a letter saying that there was no market for it! But they kept my original manuscripts and medical slides! Years of work! I paid them $10,000! Look at this stuff! It’s all blank pages!” he said, trembling.
Letters from Dorrance Publishing confirmed what he said. So, how do you tell a guy that his book is a winner, take 10 grand from him and then tell him to drop dead. I phoned Dorrance, spoke with a woman who had just sent the go-fly-a-kite letter. She had no idea who Dr. G was and “Everyone is in a conference right now.”
They still were weeks later when we tried to speak with someone, anyone at Philadelphia-based, Dorrance Publishing. Every extension led to Sean Irwin’s voicemail, and apparently he has a real problem returning phone calls from syndicated newspaper columnists.
So, how does a highly intelligent physician wind up paying to have his book published instead of a publisher paying him?
Welcome to the world of vanity publishing, where you pay them, and that’s what Dorrance is. Had Dr. G just Googled their name, adding “complaints, scam, rip off, fraud,” you might not be reading this story.
Dr. G earns $33,000 a month – yes, a month – but paid a high price for not seeking legal advice before squandering $10,000.
“Naive and too eager to see their book in print”
“All authors want to see their book in print, and often, they are naive and too eager, opening themselves up to becoming victims of publishing scams,” Linda Radke tells You and the Law.
For over 30 years she has been in publishing and is CEO of Story Monsters LLC (formerly Five Star Publications, Inc.) based in Chandler, Arizona. We asked Radke to explain how someone gets hooked up with one of these publishers.
“Their ads on television, magazines, newspapers, the internet and radio ask, ‘Do you have a book that you want published? We are looking for authors. Imagine holding the first copy of your book that you poured your heart and soul into writing. Well, the day your words and thoughts will be seen in print is closer than you think.’
“So, you respond to the ad, and within hours get a phone call from someone who works for a publisher with a fancy name you’ve never heard of. They want your book, and know the market for it is huge. You are excited, thinking, “Wow, they want to take on my book!”
And legitimate publishers?
“A legitimate publisher will not take on anything sight unseen. They must see the manuscript first. A fee may be charged to provide the author with an evaluation of the book’s strengths and weaknesses and could run a few hundred dollars.
“But if told that your book has little market appeal, it could be one of the best investments you’ll ever make.” she points out.
If ever the words “Due Diligence” were important, they are to an author who can’t wait to hand out copies to family and friends. “That’s the appeal of vanity publishers,” Radke underscores, “especially to authors who have been rejected by a literary agent or agency. They sign contracts without seeing an attorney and next find themselves on the hook for thousands of dollars.”
She recommends these steps to reduce the chances of being taken for a ride:
(1) Are they rated? Google their name and the owner, adding complaints and scam after the name. If you are associated with a scam publisher, that reputation follows your book wherever it goes.
(2) Before signing, show the contract to an attorney who has experience in the publishing industry. You need to know what you are getting into.
Finally, Radke has these words of caution for all authors in search of a publisher:
“Desperate people are vulnerable. If you lack business savvy, find a publishing consultant.”
Dennis Beaver practices law in Bakersfield and enjoys hearing from his readers. Contact Dennis Beaver.