Self-publishing is becoming more common, especially for first-time authors. Unfortunately, with the increase in writers looking toward self-publishing, there has been a rise in scams and shady publishing practices. This isn’t to say self-published books are a terrible idea. It is an excellent option for some writers, provided they work with a reputable publishing services company that isn’t merely looking to make a buck. There are some red flags you need to look for when talking to a publisher offering self-publishing services:

Unrealistic Self-Publishing Turn-Around Times

Some publishers will tell you they can get your book published within a week. This isn’t publishing; this is printing. You can go to your local copy shop or office supply store and have them print and bind your manuscript, and it pays significantly less, but you aren’t published. If it can be done in a few weeks or even, as some self-publishing companies will advertise, a few days, it isn’t quality work and ignores lots of details (such as whether you have an ISBN number). These are printing presses more than publishing houses.

Hard Sell on Additional Self-Publishing Services

Many hybrid publishers and self-publishing houses offer a menu of services such as proofing, editing, or even marketing guidance. These are valuable and legitimate services that help you with your writer’s journey. The key is understanding whether these are optional or included in your publishing package and whether or not you need them. If the publisher keeps pushing and is very insistent that you buy all the add-ons, be wary. Also, look at the revenue of the publisher. If they make more money off their additional services than they make off revenue from their published authors, reconsider. It’s a sign they make their money upfront with little regard for whether your book will go anywhere after publication.

Reading Fees

If a company charges money to read your manuscript, move on. There is no place in the legitimate publishing universe where you have to pay a publishing house to look at your manuscript. 

You Don’t Work With an Actual Contact

This goes back to the unrealistic turn-around times. While you may be self-publishing, you still need a contact person to work with. If the book is churned out so quickly you never talk to a live person; then you are just a print job. Personal service is essential even when self-publishing. Your contact within the publishing services company should be available to answer questions and point you in the right direction when needed. 

They Don’t Want You to Review the Contract

If they rush you to sign the contract or tell you the agreement is “ironclad” and can’t be adjusted, walk away. Always carefully evaluate any self-publishing services contract offered. Look for signs of problems such as references to the publishing company having sub-rights for translations, serials, etc. If the contract makes you uncomfortable or takes away too much control of your work, talk to an attorney, and ask for any needed changes before signing.

Assisted Self-Publishing at Dudley Court Press

At DCP, we are proud to offer a unique, Assisted Self-Publishing model that ensures you will have the appropriate level of guidance and support without overstepping. We never rush a manuscript to publication. When you are ready to self-publish, we ensure that your book is properly published on Amazon, with all of the important marketing metadata completed so your book has the best chance for success as a self-published book. You are the official publisher. We set you up for success.

Dudley Court Press

Dudley Court Press works with writers like you every day. As a full-service, hybrid publishing house, we help thoughtful people write their books and become successful published authors. Contact us to discuss our assisted self-publishing option today.

For more information, including about DCP’s latest programs, please get in touch at We just launched our latest program,  Memoir Writing Made Easy! Are you interested in writing your memoir, but don’t know where to start? Our Memoir Writing Made Easy course is a step-by-step guide to help you generate story ideas and write with a style you can be proud of. Plus you can work at your own pace, whenever and wherever you want! The course is written for non-writers. Topics include: setting yourself up for writing success, writing styles and formats, editing, legal issues, publishing ideas and lots more!