Are you a writer? Have you noticed certain accounts following you on Twitter and/or Facebook after you've announced your intent to self-published? Or after you've announced the release of your latest book?
Then there's other spam. I keep getting e-mails from a company calling themselves Publish Wholesale. They will publish format my print book and create for ONLY $959! And for ONLY AN ADDITIONAL $200, they'll format my ebook!
I can't begin to tell you how many of these scam artists are popping up to prey on naïve writers. The incredible David Gaughran has made it his mission in life to document the worst of these abusers, Penguin Random House's Author Solutions.
Yep, that 's right, ladies and gentlemen. The absolute scammiest of the scam artist belongs to one of the U.S.'s Big Five publishing houses.
But I'm not jumping on David's bandwagon. I'm advocating a radical change in a writer's thought process.
Learn how to format and create covers yourself.
Now, someone out there is going to see this and start screaming either "I don't know how!" or "How dare you can't tell me what to do!" Let's break both of these down.
1) I don't know how!
This comes from a place in your head where fear resides. Maybe you're computer phobic. Maybe you think you can't learn new things. Maybe you are sure you'll screw up, and no one will ever buy your book again.
Now shove that fear aside. Research conversion software. There's a lot of freeware and low cost packages available. And by low cost, I mean less than $50, but personally, my cheap ass self prefers freeware.
Take a short story you've written and spend a few hours practicing on it. Start simple. No fancy fonts, pictures, graphics or whatever.
Now find some graphics freeware. I use Paint.Net for my erotica covers. If you're not a fabulous artist, there's a ton of stock photo sites. I generally buy a small package, so the cost comes out to less than $10 per photo. Also, there's fonts you can purchase if you don't have any on your computer that are appropriate.
I'm not talking out of my butt here. This exactly what I did with Seasons of Magic: Spring back in 2011.
By practicing, you'll also figure out what you are good at doing yourself and what you suck at. There's nothing wrong with that either. Every good businessperson needs to know where to cut costs and when to hire out work.
2) You can't tell me what to do!
I'm not telling anyone anything.
I'm making a suggestion based on a business need, so if you decide to hire somebody to do these things, you've got a rough idea of the time and effort involved. There're some incredible editors, formatters, and graphic artists who price their services reasonably. By learning the tools of the trade, you'll have a better idea if you're getting a good deal or getting screwed over.
For the record, I've started hiring out some of my covers and some of my formatting. Why? More demands on my personal time since our niece moved in with us are cutting into my writing time. And I was seriously juggling my writing time before that since I'm writing under two different names.
Now, if you just won the lottery or have a trust fund, none of this means anything to you. But for those of us building a career, a thousand dollars can mean rent, groceries, and doctor's bills. That's why I advocate making decisions that don't result in you living on the streets.