Buyer Beware!

The majority of complaints I receive from publishers are usually about a business that they hired that did not give them what they promised. These complaints range from press release services that did not actually send out releases, printers whose books were of inferior quality, to publicists who asked for payment up front but gave no guarantees of performance and did nothing.

I always ask each publisher or author the same question, “Did you check references or ask for referrals from the company?” Almost always, the response is, “No.”

Each time I have one of these calls or emails, my heart goes out to the individual who has been ripped off. I feel bad for them and their loss of funds, time, and energies. However, my brain knows that the individual I am speaking to is partly at fault for not doing due diligence in checking out the service before handing over a large sum of money.

I wish that I could say that these instances are just limited to general market companies where the people are probably not Christians. However, this is not the case. The vast majority of publicists and companies I hear complaints against claim to be Christian.

Here is my advice for authors and publishers who are employing help in any aspect of their book production or marketing: Do each of the following steps before hiring a service. Don’t skip any!

1. Google™ (or use another search engine) the name of the organization or person you wish to employ. Check the sites that come up to see if there are any complaints against the company or person listed on the Internet.

2. Ask other publishers and authors if they have used the service and what their experience was. This is where belonging to online discussion groups of like-minded individuals engaged in the same pursuits can be a goldmine that you do not have to pay for.

3. Ask for references from the company you are thinking about employing. CALL the references. Simply being given the references is not enough. Call them and ask them questions about their experience with the company and their services.

4. Ask to see copies of the work the company has completed for others. If you are hiring a company to print your book, they should send you samples of other books they have printed so you can inspect the quality.

5. Pray over your decision before proceeding. God will give you direction. Just as Isaiah 30:21 says, Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying, “This is the way; walk in it.” God can direct you. If you have a check in your spirit, don’t use the service.

We are all busy. It is tempting to skip some of these steps to save time. Remember the little saying that goes “a stitch in time saves nine.” In this case it means a little time early on may save you lots of money and heartache later.

Have you ever failed to do due diligence with a company that resulted in a bad experience?

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