A Publisher in Sheep’s Clothing

by Debra Erfert

Preditors & Editors pic (1)

I found out from a good friend of mine yesterday that her friend from Tucson has just had a book published. I did the happy dance with her! Figuring for sure I’d recognize her, since we’re both Arizona writers, I asked her name. I didn’t know Samantha (her name has been changed to protect the innocent) and I found out this is her very first book. Being the dangerously curious woman that sometimes gets me into trouble, I did a search on Sam and came up with her open-to-the-public Facebook page. She’s a very nice looking young woman with a husband and new baby. I also found out who published her beautiful book. I could see the cover art in one of her Facebook pictures, but the title wasn’t clear.

Some of you may know I write mystery romances, and therefore my detective skills are really quite good. Really! After carefully reading Sam’s profile I noticed she “worked at” writer for Tate Publishing. Hmmm, I thought. That sounded odd. Acting on a hunch, I Googled Tate Publishing. I landed on the splash page of a subsidy vanity publisher. I still wasn’t sure if this was Sam’s yet, so I input her name in the author’s search box, and much to my disappointment I found her beautiful book and discovered her title.

I clicked back to the publishing resources splash page to do some reading—just to make sure I wasn’t interpreting the signs wrong. Yes, they do beautiful custom cover designs just for each book. I loved Sam’s. And believe me, at $4,000; her cost for being published with Tate, it had better be top shelf. She also was promised the best in editing and text layout. And her book is “set up for nationwide distribution.”

This is what I found so very disheartening, and really what angered me enough to spend time away from my editing to write this post: Sam’s book isn’t on Amazon.com nor BarnesandNoble.com, the two biggest book-selling websites, like Tate’s Publishing alluded it would be. I checked first thing last night. I also checked five minutes ago. So you see, I couldn’t look to see if she had the best in editing or text layout since I can’t reach it in the standard ways we’ve grown accustomed to.

Sam has her box of paperback books at home, took pictures with them with a radiant smile on her face, but the only place you can buy her book is through the Tate’s website. I didn’t even know about them until I hunted it down like an odorous escaped convict.

With that disturbing evidence, I clicked over to Predators and Editors http://pred-ed.com/pebt.htm and found this: Tate Publishing: Not recommended, a subsidy publisher.

This got me curious about subsidy publishing. I did another web search. I came up with this blogpost by the Raynfall Agency. Claire Ryan wrote a post on the Anatomy of a Subsidy Publisher that I found more than informative. There was also another link to an article in the post about Tate Publishing firing 25 employees last year and outsourcing their work to the Philippines that is well worth your time in reading before you even think about submitting your baby to this publisher.


Friends, if you are nearing the end of writing your first book, be it a novella or full-length manuscript, please do your research before you submit it to any publisher or literary agency. You don’t need to spend thousands of dollars to publish your work. Don’t believe smooth-talking salesmen when they promise you the moon only to end up with a box of goods instead.  Ask, and you will be helped in the right direction, whether you want to be traditionally published or independently published, there are authors on the Think Tank who have gone both routes and can show you the way. You aren’t alone.


About Bonnie Gwyn Johnson

Bonnie Gwyn handles all guest bloggers on this website. Contact her if you would like to volunteer your time to share writing advice for The Authors' Think Tank.

Nancy Pilling
Nancy Pilling

I happen to know Claire Ryan. She has been a fabulous source of support and intellect when it comes to publishing. She has a book for sale as well titled 'The Author's Handbook on Publishing.' It gives some very pertinent information for anyone looking to launch their first book. Thanks for the post.

Debra Erfert
Debra Erfert

I'm very grateful to Claire. Thank you for leaving a comment, Nancy!

Marsha Ward
Marsha Ward

Thank you for your passionate defense of the weak, which probably should mean "just simply uninformed" writers. The maxim in book publishing has always been, "Money flows TO the writer." Exceptions in this day and age are for free-lance editing services, possibly formatting help, and cover design, but those are the only exceptions necessary in our day of technology miracles.

Debra Erfert
Debra Erfert

Yes, Marsha, I do believe Sam was uniformed. Or maybe she was very impatient and didn't want to do the work herself, either in submissions, or going the indie-route. If that's the case, then she paid to have her book in print. I do hope she learns from this. Maybe even joins a few writing groups. Who knows, maybe she'll join us soon.