Caveat emptor

Many of us are familiar with the meaning of the title of this post. Let the buyer beware. Those two simple words couched in an ancient language have always been a part of our lexicon. For today’s writer who has already, or is considering following the self publishing route, they are words of wisdom.

Let the buyer beware.

What was once the final option for those unable to secure the interest of an editor, or agent, has now become a first choice. Every day the stigma associated with self publishing diminishes as more of the mainstream learns to accept the existence of self published material as a viable route.

Of course any industry that experiences the growth self publishing has seen over the past few years is bound to attract its share of those unscrupulous enough to prey on the dreams of others.

Their ads are everywhere.

If you have ever performed a search for self publishing you may have noticed that practically anywhere you go online there are an increasing number of ads calling for you to self publish today. While writing this post I checked and counted 11 sponsored ads all directed at those thinking about self publishing.

Most of the ads you see will take you to a form to fill out so the company can get more information to you. Personally I've always felt that if they can't be upfront about their pricing structure, they're hiding something.

Some companies will charge the aspiring author thousands of dollars for an end product that has little chance of selling. These companies are in business for one reason, and one reason only, to sell a dream. You too can be a bestselling author, they shout out while presenting examples of bestselling authors you have probably never even heard of.

Other companies are small start ups that were born with the dream of creating opportunity for writers, usually opened on a shoe string budget that leave little room for mistakes. While most end up failing, there are some that make it through their first trials to emerge with a better grasp of the business.

These are the companies you want to search out. Sadly I don't have a list as I'm a do it yourselfer, the only outsourcing I do is editing to an English teacher I've known for over twenty years who is herself a well regarded writer of speculative fiction. She understands my particular style of writing and works to help me improve those areas that need the most help.

If you know of any of these companies let me know in the comments and I'd be glad to feature their services in a future post.

Buyer beware. If you're new to self publishing take your time and research each company you approach. Find their recently published titles on Amazon and Barnes & Nobles websites.

Ask yourself the following questions.

1. Do the covers look professional?
1A. Do they look like the end result of cookie cutter templates?

2. Is the pricing in line with similar books of the same page count?

3. Open several samples and read a portion of the book.

Are there editorial problems such as misspelled words, clunky grammar, bad punctuation?

Any mistakes should be minimal. I'm a perfectionist but even I understand no one is absolutely perfect

Are they any layout problems such as indents changing from paragraph to paragraph?

And remember. Take your time. This is a marathon, not a sprint. Get it done right the first time so you can move on to other projects without the last one hanging over your head.

Don't be afraid the cut your losses and run.

And when you do find that perfect match. Take care of them and they will take care of you in return.


  1. This was a great post! Also - welcome to the Horror Blogger Alliance (I know my welcome is late!)
    Stop by sometime.

    1. Thanks for stopping by Brooklyn, glad to meet you, checked out your site and it looks awesome.