One of the biggest mistakes an author can make is signing a contract with a less than trustworthy publishing house. For anyone who has ever experienced this it is a mistake trusting writers will only make once and its nearly impossible to correct after the contract has been signed. It is difficult to get noticed by a big traditional publisher so when given the offer of a publishing contract many people are eager to sign on the dotted line and it might seem great for a while but then the red flags appear. Here is a list of some warning signs that a publishing company might not be reputable and stay away from any place that takes part in these unethical practices that certainly wont benefit the author.
Fee-Charging: Charging fees for services related to the publishing process is a foolproof way to recognize a scam. No reputable company will charge an author for publicity, editing, reviews or to purchase large quantities of their own work. Scam publishing houses will offer a small advance but this is only to make the author more comfortable, but this does nothing to legitimize them. Run from any company that wants to charge a fee to its writers, even if it appears another company is getting paid. Many companies own sister businesses to help appear more trustworthy.
Unfair Author Contracts: Its important to understand and retain as much of your author writes as possible when signing a contract. Places can take advantage of unsuspecting trusting writers and anyone without a legal background should consult a lawyer before making a big life changing deal. Contracts have been known to grab all the rights and copyright to novels as well including sub-standard royalty payments and sometimes even reverse royalty payments. Be very careful with this because signing with any untrustworthy place will most likely result in never seeing a penny for your novel and that's for the lucky ones who aren't suckered into paying the publishing company money.
Conflicts of Interest: Many of these 'traditional' publishing companies are owned by a vanity publishing house and contracts are referred to the fee charging companies under the guise of having made a sale without authors being aware of the connection between the the two operations.
Lack of Editing: These companies don't care about the quality of the work they sign. Editing is non existent and usually the first red flag a company isn't reliable. They will suggest authors red a book on editing and have them edit their own work and after it has been submitted and formatted into a novel the company will charge to correct errors. Some places don't even seem to bother to read the work before agreeing to publish it and sting manuscripts have been accepted with just the same sentence written over and over again without being noticed.
Breach of Contract Obligations: Companies often fail to provide royalty statements and fill orders and many never respond to author queries and make changes. They often claim a hold over between royalties and avoid communication after the contract is signed and book released. They also try to charge authors to get out of contracts and change their name frequently. Some writers have been successful in legal actions but its a long and difficult process.
Be very careful on where you submit manuscripts and do research. A simple Google search of the publishing company can provide the answers most the time and frauds can be uncovered with a little time and patience. Don't rush into any contracts and if it seems to good to be true it probably is. You will not see any money from these operations.
Here is a list of places that writers should make note of:
America Star Book Publishing
Strategic Book Publishing
Whitmore Publishing Company
These places change name often and there are many more out there besides this list.