Thursday, December 3, 2009

Scams amongst us!

I had not intended to post again, but I have this tendency to find things as I use the internet and work on my freelance work. Today, I was reminded once again why writers must be very careful.

Today's discovery was found via twitter. I follow a great many publishing companies because it is my business to know the business of publication. This is how I know the market, and know what to write for that market. (Hint: if you do not know the market, how can you write targeting the market?)

Allow me to introduce you to IFWG Publishing. This is a Print on Demand company. However, they require that your manuscript be passed through their quality monitors, just as a real publishing company does. (A real publisher, being individuals such as DAW, Tor | Forge or Baen.)

At the time of this post, here are the services that IFWG offer:

Basic Publishing Package: US$299.00
Action Publishing Package: US$499.00
Pro Package: US$799.00
Distribution Package: US$999.00

Each of these packages offer a variety of different things. The basic package includes a website page about you, ISBN, Distribution through Amazon, and a basic press release. The rest have more, ranging from e-book releases to Kindle compatibility.

So, what is the problem with this? There are a lot of them.

First, the publisher is taking the responsibility of your book from their shoulders. They are forcing you to pay for the basics that a true publishing house will handle for you. Ladies and Gentlemen, allow me to introduce you to what a legitimate publishing house does, and how this differs from what IFGW does. If you want to see a legitimate Print on Demand, please refer to LuLu. This site has the best reputation of Print on Demand markets at the moment of this blog writing.

1: Manuscript Sent to Publishing House for review. I will note here that unlike true print on demands, IFGW has a review process.
2: Publishing House Accepts or Rejects the manuscript. In the case of acceptance, it will be a request for the completed manuscript. This is by no means a guarantee that your book will be published. In the case of IFGW, an acceptance means you get to pay them. (Does anyone see what is wrong with this yet? Let me bold it for you.)
3: Publishing House reviews your completed manuscript. This is when they will decide if they want to make you an offer.

This is where the notable difference occurs. The publishing house will make *you* an offer. This means that they are paying you. (Here is that bold again, funny that.) You never, ever, ever, ever, ever pay your publishing house unless you are requesting a copy of an imprint book. Even then, they will often give copies away to their authors. And, it is often faster just to go purchase the book in your local bookstore. This is dependent on house, of course. A publishing house should be paying you, not the other way around. Every aspect, from ISBN to the printing of your book, is handled by them.

4: Once you have an offer and a contract, you negotiate the contract and you sign. This signs over the copyright of the novel to the publishing house. They own it now, with limitations as set in the contract! They'll work with you to make certain that your book is published and all edits are done if needed. The typesetting, etc, will occur after the contract is signed. IFWG does this, except you pay them instead of them paying you. As they do not have their contracts online, it is impossible to see if you sign your copyrights away. I assume you do, seeing as they require them to do the printing. Please note this is a guess / assumption and not a fact.

5: Your book is released to the public! Your publishing company works hard to ensure it is marketed properly so they do not lose money.

Granted, this is just a 'basics' on how it works. It does not cover every step of the phase. That is for a different post altogether. However, let us pursue what IFWG does.

The main problem is that IFWG is scrubbing for quality while attempting to be a Print on Demand. It is this crucial difference that puts up a lot of red flags and puts this company in the same class as scammers such as PublishAmerica. Please note the PublishAmerica link routes to SFWA's Writer's Beware. You can also refer to Preditors and Editors, an excellent resource on the traps and pitfalls writers may get themselves into.

This is not to say that Print on Demand cannot, in fact, work. It can, in certain situations. However, print on demand is something that you should be very careful about. SFWA, once again, has an excellent article on Print on Demand. Here is Wikipedia's entry on Print on Demand.

However, you should be very cautious. Never accept anything less than a true publication. If you go with a print on demand company, remember that you will lose the ability to publish that novel elsewhere until the terms of the print on demand have expired. Because print on demand prints your novel, most publications will not take your work. This is not always the case, but this is the case 99.9% of the time. Publishing houses do not want to have to deal with the investment and hassle of freeing a book from the clutches of a POD publisher.

Writers, there are scams everywhere. Never go with something just because you are desperate to see your work in print. This can have consequences that can not be easily repaired.

EDIT: After several hours, IFWG has shown its true colots. They have launched their royalties page. That is right, ladies and gentleman. They operate via royalties, just like a traditional publisher and unlike a print on demand. Here is a sample from their royalties page.

Author Royalty $3.98
Production cost $4.89
Trade discount $5.12
portion $1.00

For comparison, here is how LuLu breaks it down:

Lulu takes 25% OR $0.19. If you look at IFWG, this is very similiar.

However, Lulu's printing cost for the equivalent novel is $5.95. In addition to this, Lulu gives you *full* control over your manuscript.

In other words, if you wish to publish total crap, they are not going to stop you.

'nuff said.


  1. Maybe what you said was true when you said it, however, none of what you said about IFWG seems to apply at this time.

    I read about a lot of scams from LuLu so I will presume you work for them in some way.

  2. This is several months after the fact of this comment, but I felt I would respond:

    I have never worked for any publishing company. At the time of the original post, LuLu maintained a good reputation as a print on demand.

    All the things stated about IFWG at the time of the post were taken directly from their website. I am going to assume they reviewed their practices after hitting Writer's Beware or other watch-dogs. I have not looked into them due to their practices at the time of the original post.

  3. Nothing in this post is correct today. Maybe once upon a time.

    They have printed two of my books and it has cost me some time, but that is all. They aren't yet on the level of the big guys but they are NOT anything like you state.

  4. Rebecca,
    You claim that your "business" is to "know the business of publication." If you then intend to publish the information you glean from your internet searches so that others may benefit from your vast knowledge, you should at least keep your postings updated. What you have in this blog is inaccurate and outdated, and it gives authors the wrong information about what could possibly be a fruitful publishing opportunity.

    For the sake of writers, and your own professionalism, please provide current information or nothing at all.

    - A fellow writer.