Sometimes it pays to be paranoid, or at least highly skeptical.
Today, I received a call from a “senior acquisitions specialist” for “the only award winning hybrid publisher” about evaluating my book to present to one of their “book investors” and possibly add it to this year’s portfolio. (I was just sitting down to eat before getting ready for work, so I let the machine get it.)
To her credit, the woman, identified only as Sunshine (no last name stated), did pronounce my first name correctly. She failed, however, to actually identify the publisher she represented. I found out from my caller ID it was called Stratton Press. The call back number matched the one she called from, which seemed to add a touch of credibility.
The thing is, I haven’t sent out any queries since early last fall. I keep a board of who I’ve queried and when. This publisher was not on it. I am assuming the fact I’m an author, and my contact info was culled from my FB posts on various author and book promotion groups, then Google-fu for my phone number, which I don’t believe I’ve posted.
So, I did a little Google-fu on my own. Sure enough, there was a post about this publisher on SFWA’s Writer Beware.
Yeah, I’m not calling Sunshine back.
I’ve been a published author for 9 years and a regular attendee of the writing tracks of several conventions, so I’ve heard a lot of horror stories about naive new authors and even veteran authors falling prey to the somewhat dubious business practices of some vanity and/or fly-by-night publishers. (Yep, the terms acquisition specialist rather than editor and hybrid publisher had images flashing in my head of Robbie the Robot flailing its arms and repeating “Danger, Will Robinson! Danger!”)
So my advice to my fellow authors out there is do your research when looking for an agent or publisher, be suspicious of unsolicited offers to help you publish, especially if the one’s offering want money from you, and don’t be afraid to ask more established authors for advice or recommendations.