Self-publishing has continually grown in the past few years. Based on recent statistics, the number of self-published books has increased by 264% in the last five years. Nonetheless, self-published authors are experiencing the threat of being scammed. Some publishers are also facing allegations of being scammers. 

Fortunately, many agencies, like the Better Business Bureau (BBB) and Trustpilot, are helping to detect scammers and save authors from losing their hard-earned dollars. ReadersMagnet (RM), a finalist of the BBB Torch Awards for Ethics 2022, created this guide to help you avoid marketing and self-publishing scams.

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BBB Reviews help you obtain a well-informed decision before buying a product or service. It’s a platform where customers can file complaints of scams in self-publishing and various industries. It records raw stories of satisfied and unsatisfied clients after experiencing a product or service first-hand. 

With public reviews, potential and even active customers can have a reference while searching for the right self-publishing and marketing agency to work with for a book project. They will also give you a hint about publishing scams and how to avoid falling victim.

ReadersMagnet BBB Accreditation 

From hospitality and health care to marketing and self-publishing, many industries seek the honor to become BBB-accredited agencies. ReadersMagnet is one of the reliable companies that gained more trust after receiving BBB accreditation. To get accredited, firms must follow the BBB Accreditation Standards of 1) Building trust; 2) Honest advertising; 3) Telling the truth; 4) Being transparent; 5) Honoring promises; 6) Being responsive; 7) Safeguarding privacy; and 8) Embodying integrity.

ReadersMagnet became accredited by the Better Business Bureau in 2018. The company received an A- rating from the BBB at that time. The A- rating is the third-highest letter rating on the scale. It has an equivalent of 90 to 93.99 points on its 100-point scoring scale. 

Fast forward to 2022, ReadersMagnet became one of the finalists of the BBB Torch Awards for Ethics. RM happened to be the only finalist representing the publishing industry in California. The recognition did not stop with the prestigious awards nomination. BBB also graded ReadersMagnet with an A+ trust rating, the highest score given to a company. The A+ rating is equivalent to 97-100 points. With that, our ReadersMagnet’s Vice President was more than glad to attend the awarding ceremony and receive the plaque recognizing us as the finalist of the BBB Torch Awards for Ethics in 2022.

ReadersMagnet BBB Torch Awards for Ethics 2022

ReadersMagnet Scam Allegations

Despite being a BBB-accredited company with an A+ rating, ReadersMagnet faces accusations of being a scammer. From the allegation of setting high prices on services to belittling our non-native English publishing consultants, ReadersMagnet has been receiving complaints that can actually be dealt with on good terms. In the past three years alone, the company has already closed eight complaints and currently receives 4.62 stars from BBB Customer Reviews.

Khristina Chess, a competitor and self-acclaimed award-winning author, had long been proud of seeing herself on Google with her attacks against ReadersMagnet as a scam. For about five years now, Khristina wrote in an article that ReadersMagnet is a scam for some reasons, such as having a caller with “a strong accent” and asking for a $600 registration fee for a book event. With that experience, Chess went on searching more about self-publishing scams and concluded that ReadersMagnet is one of the so-called “scam artists.”

Everyone knows that the United States is a melting pot of various cultures and languages. Accusing a caller with “a strong accent” scammer is not only discriminating but also a stereotype that could make almost all industries in the U.S. fraud and unreliable. Needlessly to say, it is common for big companies in the United States, such as Amazon, Google, and J.P. Morgan & Co., to outsource call center agents from Asia. As a California-based self-publishing company, ReadersMagnet does not discriminate against a person based on religion, race, culture, language, and gender. We are open to outsourcing well-trained publishing consultants to accommodate our growing indie authors from the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, and the United States.

Through the years, ReadersMagnet has physically attended and brought authors to various national and international book fairs, such as:

  1. The London Book Fair
  2. Tucson Festival of Books
  3. ALA Library Learning Experience
  4. Los Angeles Times Festival of Books
  5. New York Library Association Annual Conference
  6. American Library Association Annual Conference & Trade Show

We are also planning to attend the following book fairs (nationally and internationally) this 2023:

  1. Frankfurt Book Fair
  2. Printers Row Lit Fest
  3. Hong Kong Book Fair
  4. Guadalajara Book Fair
  5. San Diego Tribune Festival of Books

As the only publishing company that became a finalist of the BBB Torch Awards for Ethics 2022 in San Diego, we provided this guide not only to respond to malicious attacks but also to help indie authors to stay vigilant and be more critical even with seemingly reliable reviews from the competition.

Watch what some of our valued authors have to say about ReadersMagnet with this collection of interviews with syndicated radio broadcaster Ric Bratton of This Week in America.

Scams in Self-Publishing and Marketing

Scammers are ever-present and ever-persistent in every industry, not only in publishing. From using fake locations and phone numbers to promising a novel turns into a movie, a novice author can meet every kind of scam in self-publishing. Aside from scamming trackers, you can check reliable platforms, such as Trustpilot and BBB Reviews, to find raw stories from authors. We will be discussing more of this in the proceeding items.

Meanwhile, while scammers are ripping authors off, some entities in the world of books are also dragging others down while pushing themselves up. For instance, Writer Beware (purportedly sponsored by the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers Association or SFWA) is making the industry more dubious by pulling down publishing agencies while claiming to be “a bright light into the dark corners of the shadow-world of literary scams, schemes, and pitfalls.” 

Instead of believing Writer Beware without a single proof, you can go ahead and check a more reliable list of reported publishing scams from the Authors Guild, a trusted organization for published writers.

However reliable an entity seems or pretends to be in the eyes of the public, remember that empty words without evidence should not be taken seriously. We want you to weigh the evidence (if there is one or two) and not easily fall for pretentious reviews. We believe you, as an author yourself, are brilliant enough to choose and decide what is right for you amid the prevalence of fraud. You can go ahead and check the next item to help you to detect scammers in the self-publishing industry.

Detecting Scammers in Self-Publishing

If you are not familiar with the industry, it is more likely that you can easily fall into the sweet promises of being a bestseller or seeing your novel filmed in Hollywood at no time. It could also be easy for you to believe that everyone bearing the title “literary agent” can really help you get noticed by a top-tier publishing house.

Aside from the above experiences, you can spot self-publishing scammers through the following characteristics.

  • Managing Different Imprints.  Imagine someone called you to publish your book with them, but after rejecting the offer, you’ll receive another call with the same offer but a different brand name. Aside from losing credibility, agencies with different imprints or names but the same services could be guilty of deception.
  • Charging Manuscript Reviews. An agency asking for a fee to review your manuscript before it gets printed could be a potential scammer. Professional editing and proofreading, though, require a fee, but never for a manuscript review. The Authors Guild reiterated that legitimate publishers and agents do not charge a fee to review your manuscript.
  • Guaranteeing Huge Book Sales. Hearing that your book could become an Amazon bestseller, let alone a New York Times bestseller, sounds good to the ears. Nonetheless, there is no guarantee that an indie author, let alone a new and unpopular writer, can easily produce big sales. In whatever type of marketing offers, you can effortlessly dismiss any claims of huge online book sales.
  • Offering No Refund for Undelivered Services. Well, you are lucky if you can still contact the number they have provided you with. Aside from not fulfilling services and not refunding a promised service, scammers could get money from your card and leave without a trace of contact with the person you have talked to.
  • Pretending to Represent Traditional Publishing. Scammers are great pretenders. It might be due to the frustration of unfulfilled dreams. They might present themselves as expert literary agents from a well-known publishing house. Worst, they may use or imitate the logo of a popular agency or claim to be connected to a famous literary agent.

Continue reading to learn more about scammers and how to protect yourself from falling victim.

Better Business Bureau Scam Tracker

Besides reading BBB Reviews and detecting scammers with the points we provided in the previous item, you can go directly to BBB Scam Tracker. If you don’t know yet, the Better Business Bureau is a nonprofit organization aiming to build trust between buyers and sellers. They have devised a Scam Tracker to detect scammers preying on customers from all walks of life. That includes self-published authors.

As posted on BBB’s website, the Scam Tracker is a free tool anyone can use to report suspected scams. Your reports warn others so they can avoid similar cons. There are two ways to maximize the platform. You can either report a scam if you were scammed or look at a scam if you think you’re being targeted by a scam. 

Spotting Scammers with BBB Reviews

BBB Reviews are initiatives that give customers the freedom to speak their minds concerning the experiences they have with a certain product or service. You can read about various types of satisfied and angry customers, giving light to what possible experience you can have from a prospective self-publishing company.

The Better Business Bureau resonates with the sentiments of businesses that believe in the positive effect of hearing customer reviews. Positive in the sense that any bad or good feedback could be a learning experience for the client and the company.

With the detectors provided under the item Detecting Scammers in Self-Publishing, you can go on and read reviews at the BBB account of the company you’ve been working with for your book project. Remember to use critical thinking instead of emotion and look for evidence instead of relying on mere assumptions.

ReadersMagnet as Finalist of the BBB Torch Awards for Ethics 2022

Reporting Scams in Self-Publishing

Yes, you have to report scammers after running off with your dollars without delivering the service or product they’ve promised. This is not only to give justice to the wrong deeds done against you but also to warn other authors who could be potential scam victims as well.

When you’re doing transactions, you have to make sure to document everything, review your rights, be firm but polite at the same time, be persistent, let the scammers know you’re serious, and report them.

Aside from the BBB Scam Tracker we provided above and the list from the Authors Guild, you can report self-publishing scams and frauds through the USA Gov website:

For Further Reading:

To learn more about us, please feel free to browse our website. For further assistance, you can contact us at 1-800-805-0762 or send us a message at [email protected]. We’re more than glad to hear from you soon.