Skip to content

Should You Pay to Publish?

~~~ Notes from Minnesota ~~~

Hey Freelancer,

Oy, what a week. As I’ve been focusing on rebuilding my post cancer writing career, a couple interesting events have unfolded this past week.

First, I’ve received a few quality queries, titles I hope we can add to our slowly expanding romantic suspense line. I’m pretty excited about this.

Second, I’m amazed at how implementing just a few (easy) marketing strategies can plump a newsletter list faster than I could imagine. The number of new subscribers to my VIP reader list on my personal site has blown my mind. I’m in awe.

Third, I’m continually astounded at how kind the author community is. I seriously believe writers are the nicest people anywhere.

Fourth, I’ll expand on each of these topics as time progresses. So watch this space for updates on how to rebuild and/or enhance your writing career after… er… interesting challenges.

’Til next time!

Onward and upward,

Beth 🙂


Got Questions?

  • How do I land writing assignments?
  • How do I get published?
  • How do I gain a devoted readership?
  • What makes an effective query?
  • How do I sell my writing?

All these questions (and many more) answered here: “Advice to Freelance Writers: Insider Secrets to Effective Shoestring Marketing, Managing a Winning Mindset, and Thriving in Any Economy, Volumes 1.”

With comprehensive, actionable answers to your most vexing freelance questions, this three volume set is not only an information packed read, it’s entertaining. Now you can get all three volumes for a special price.

Get the scoop here.


Should You Pay to Publish?

When I penned last time’s feature article detailing the reasons why I felt authors shouldn’t have to pay for publishing, I didn’t realize I was opening a can of worms.

Here’s the book that sparked the discussion: Publish Smart.

Perhaps I’m incorrect. But from what I’ve experienced, if an author wants a book published, they should receive just that… a published book. Not a large credit card bill. They’re providing a publisher with a product, the publisher sells the book and pays the author.

But it appears as though I could be in the minority.

Case in point. I received this message shortly after releasing Writing Etc. (it’s been edited to protect the identity of the author. Also, this is one of the kinder responses I received.):

Hi Beth,

I’m not sure I understand your critique of publishers… I know a very legit publisher that charges for all of the following in different packages…are you saying that the only fees a publisher should receive are royalties from the sales of your book? Or where do they get their money from then? I just don’t understand. Thanks.

Paying for publishing:

Any time a publisher, agent, or editor asks you for money, politely decline. These people are (in all likelihood) scam artists who prey on writer’s dreams. Legit publishers will not ask you to pony up dough for any reason.

Paying for edits:

If a publishing house or agent “just happens” to be affiliated with an editing company that will take care of your manuscript for a fee, decline to work with them. Legit publishers and agents will edit your manuscript free of charge.

Paying for Promotion:

Unless you’re self publishing, do not pay for any “promotional packages.” A reputable publisher will promote your title as part of their daily business operations.

My answer:

Hey JK,

Yup. Traditional publishers make their money selling books. They don’t receive payment from authors to get their book in the marketplace. That’s the way it’s supposed to work. But yeah… it seems like a gazillion new “publishing houses” have sprung up, implying that they’re traditional publishers, and are now charging authors like mad. Sadly, many of these companies make their profit by selling services to writers, not selling books.

Authors are supposed to write books and help market (but not do all of it). If a reputable traditional publisher takes on a title, they’re at least fairly confident they’ll turn a profit. Then, they team with the author, marketing together. Because if the author succeeds, so does the publisher.

Heck… publishers don’t even have to do huge print runs anymore. POD has made title setup a breeze. Ebooks are super inexpensive to produce. There’s no reason to charge the author.

Remember:  Money flows towards the author, not away from them. Post that on your computer monitor.

I’ll dismount  my high horse now.


Beth 🙂

(Back to the article.) What say you? Agree? Disagree? Where do you draw the line between self publishing, vanity publishing, predatory publishing, traditional publishing, and the hazy grey areas in between?

Is traditional publishing by small houses dead?

I’d love to get your thoughts on this. I’m completely prepared to be incorrect on this one. Scroll to the bottom of this post and comment (if you’re so inclined).


You can use any of these articles free of charge on your own website or zine. Just don’t make any changes and be sure to include this byline:

This article is courtesy of Filbert Publishing. Make your writing sparkle, write killer queries, get published. Subscribe to Writing Etc., the free e-mag for freelancers and receive the e-book “Power Queries.”



You received this email because you subscribed at You can easily manage your subscription by clicking the link at the end of this email.

You’ll receive between 1 – 4 emails per month, lots of tips, articles, and announcements of our latest titles.

I don’t rent or share your email information with anyone. Ever. Period.

Please forward this message with your friends, writing groups, peers, and anyone who you feel will find this content useful. I think they’ll find the information helpful and I know I very much appreciate your support.


PRIVACY STATEMENT: We will not distribute your email address to anyone. Ever. Period.


Published inWriting Etc.


  1. Cathryn Wellner Cathryn Wellner

    Well said, Beth. Maybe you’ll save some fledgling authors from being scammed by these “publishers”.

    • BethAnnErickson BethAnnErickson

      Thanks! I sure hope you’re correct. The amount of crazy information about this topic is jaw dropping. :O

  2. Natasha Yim Natasha Yim

    You are right, Beth. Writers should beware of companies marketing themselves as “traditional publishers” but wanting writers to pay certain costs. Writers should also familiarize themselves with the differences between traditional publishing, self publishing and hybrid publishing. Paying a publisher to publish your book is self-publishing or vanity publishing. Perhaps, the reason you may have gotten negative comments about this may be your statement, “writers should never pay to get a book published.” There are all kinds of self-publishing options now. I don’t think it’s wrong to self-publish if that’s what a writer so chooses. It’s just another option. I prefer to be traditionally published even if it takes a lot longer, but another writer might prefer self-publishing for various reasons beyond the monetary – more control, enjoys the creative process of designing the cover, illustrations etc. Whichever option (and all the other ones in between, including hybrid publishing), writers should go in with their eyes wide open, and do their research and vet the publisher. Scams abound, unfortunately, to take advantage of writers desperate to get published. This goes across the board to agents, editors etc. A good site to check out scams or publishers/agents/editors with less than stellar reputations is the Science Fiction Writers of America’s Writer Beware site:

Comments are closed.