A publishing opportunity but I am unsure about it. Please Help


I want to become a published author and I began searching for a mentor a few weeks ago. I messaged a well-known author on Instagram about becoming my mentor and I received a response and we exchanged emails. I sent a business-like email explaining my wants and we’ve been back and forth for two days. She asked for $75 for a 20 min consultation and I stated I didn’t have it at that moment, but I gave a specific date on when I will have that. I’m going to post the response below:

" Not a problem! Reach out when you are ready. If I see that you are a good fit with our brand, and you do hire me the $75 gets applied to any upcoming work. But FYI to publish a book it costs $$."

I was told about publishing scams and what not and this email made me question a few things. My question involves the last part of the response…I know businesses charge for consultations, but I was told that a author doesn’t have pay to publish their work unless their self-publishing and if they are told about paying it is a scam.

I am very confused and I would appreciate posts that can help me understand this more. This is a very serious issue and I’ll appreciate responses from individuals with strong knowledge of the publishing business. FYI I’ve researched and I cannot find any sources stating that the author pays unless it’s self-publishing.

If you have any questions and need more information please ask and I’ll answer the best way I can.

Thank you


First off, if the person asks for money right off the bat, I would be worried. I mean you haven’t settled anything yet. And the $$ at the end is also very fishy. I would be careful with my money, because even if it’s real, the author could just bail. Maybe only give them a portion and the give them the rest after they help. Making a book does cost money, but this person isn’t the one who should be telling you this, after all they are just mentoring you; it’s not like they are making the cover and taking care of the distribution and such.


It depends on how you publish.

If you are planning to query agents and publishers (traditional publishing), you will pay NOTHING upfront. Not on red dime.

If you are planning to self publish (also called indie publishing), then you are the publisher, and you are responsible for the quality of the product you produce. If you are capable of producing a professional-quality manuscript without paying for professional editing AND you can produce a professional cover without paying for one AND you can produce the digital file without help AND you can market without paying, then yes, it’s free. Very few people produce a professional product without incurring cost.

The third kind of “publishing” is vanity publishing. That’s where a company “helps you” self publish or offers to publish you for a fee. Basically, it’s a scam. Stay far, far, far away.

Also, can you share the name of the person you reached out to? We might be able to tell you if it’s legit.


I want to clarify that I want the traditional publishing route.

I have experience with vanity publishing and I am happy to announce that I caught on to the scam before losing my money for good.

Therefore, that is why her response confused me. This author is well known in the urban fic/street lit genre and has her own publishing company. I have never heard or read any of her signed authors work, but I just assumed I’ve never been memorized by a cover or the summary of one of the authors books to give them a chance. But I’ve never set out to check out the authors for my own personal opinion of them either. The author name is Wahida Clark


If she has her own publishing company, my guess is she’s a self pubbed writer who decided to create her own imprint and then decided that made her a publisher. She is probably charging people to publish through her imprint, because she doesn’t have the upfront funds to cover the cost.

I, personally, wouldn’t go that way.


I know the company Simon & Schuster INC published her early work, then once she was released from prison she started her own company.

Simon & Schuster is legit. They represent authors like: Mary Higgins Clark and etc. It is a very tricky situation because I didn’t contact Simon & Schuster, but her personally and I believe it was assumed that I wanted to get signed… I mean, I do! But I was looking for a mentor.

Then, when it seem as she wanted to take it a step further I became excited. However, I never sent her my work for her to think it is good to publish. So that’s why the latest email confused me. I know traditional publishers don’t ask for authors to pay, the advance is given to the authors.


You’re right. I messaged her to be my mentor. I am very confused about the situation.


I would simply reply that your goal is to be traditionally published. If she brings up money to publish again, remind her (again) that your goal is traditional publishing.


Okay I will. I feel a little better about this now. Thank you for your advice


If she is a busy author I think it’s entirely legit that you pay for a consult with her. Popular authors are swamped with requests from others for advice, most ignore them or say no.


Most things you do run across are scams. $75 is too low a price. I’ve seen authors charge $300 an hour for consultations. (How do you think tax attorneys make so much money these days?)

But let me share with you my experience and knowledge on the subject of publishing:

  • Traditional publishing costs absolutely nothing. You don’t pay anything to publish. (Though I wouldn’t say the same for some agents who are now charging writers for their “services” in terms of editing and contract work.)

  • Indie publishing can be pricy–depending on who you contract with. But the results would give you a much needed “leg up” in the book business. There’s a lot of freelance editors out there who will take your manuscript for a set amount of money. (And most are open to a set payment schedule like mine have been.)

This includes formatting. But I would not take just anything that looks cheap and easy. There are people out there will charge a minimum amount of money for a book–regardless of size. So if they are asking for $75 for editing and $50 for formatting…? RUN.

My averages have been about $1500 per book and that also includes formatting.


The issue isn’t the consultation. The issue I’m pointing out is moving the traditional publishing route and being told to publish a book costs money. I was under the impression that traditional publishers did not charge authors.


Sorry, I thought you were questioning the consult fee. You are correct - trad publishing costs you nothing. But until you have spoken to her it’s simply not clear what she meant by her comment that it costs money to publish. She could be referring to self publishing and the associated costs (cover/editing) or she could be talking about the cost of advertising a trad published title.

If you don’t have an issue with the consult fee, then go ahead and talk to her and find out all you can. Just don’t rush to any spur of the moment decisions. Take what you find out and think about it. Ask more questions either of her, or here, if you need to :slight_smile:


Traditional publishing does not charge the author in any way, shape, or form. If this is the path you want to follow, then forget about a mentor and start querying. There are enough online resources to help you write your query and synopsis. Then there are sites like querytracker to help you find agents in your genre. It’s a lot of work on your part, but there’s really no shortcut.

I would be incredibly hesitant to follow-up with this author. I know a lot of people in the industry and this is a huge red flag. More than likely, she has her own “publishing company” and will charge you for everything from edits, to cover, to print on demand, plus any fees she feels she’s owed. And she wants you to pay to see if you would be a good fit for her brand? No.


I will be extending an appointment for a consultation very soon. I’ll ask questions regarding the point you’d pointed out in your post. Also, thank you so much for responding to my post. It helped a lot.


This sounds like a conflict of interest. If she has a brand and is looking for writers who are a “good fit” for it, that suggests she’s choosy about who she helps, and puts some effort into making them successful, in return for a percentage of the revenue. But if she charges $225 an hour just to talk to her, and then charges more for other services after that, that suggests she helps anyone who can pay.

Unless she or her team are really good at marketing, or really good at picking future bestsellers, she can make a lot more money from selling services to any writer who comes along than she can from selling books by a few of those writers to readers. So the talk of being a good fit with her brand could just be a lie to make you feel special.

Or it could be that the $75 consultation fee is just a way of deterring timewasters. Every famous writer gets a lot of mail from clueless newbies who think the writer will jump at the chance to volunteer weeks or months of helping the newbie to become rich and famous. Asking newbies to pay, even a relatively small amount, will get rid of most of them.


There are two things here.

  1. You wanted an author to help mentor you. She asked to be compensated for her time. Nothing wrong with any of that.

  2. The comment about “good fit for our brand” and “applied to upcoming work” makes it sound like this person also publishes books by people other than themselves? Now, they might call it a “hybrid publisher” (where they don’t take on “just anybody”) but if they are asking the author to spend money with them then it’s a “vanity press.” A TRUE publisher will not ask the author for money, they’ll earn their income through future sales of the work.


That helps. In the traditional route, no one should ASK you for money. That said, it’s possible that you SEEK OUT out various people to help improve your skills, and in such an arrangement it’s not unreasonable for them to want to be compensated for their time.

[quote=“All4Furious, post:4, topic:37689, full:true”]
Therefore, that is why her response confused me. This author is well known in the urban fic/street lit genre and has her own publishing company. [/quote]

Sounds like you may need to clarify the roles. Tell her you are willing to pay her for mentoring advice, but you aren’t looking for her to publish your work (since you want a traditional publisher and that’s not the kind of publishing she is doing). It sounds like she is running some form of “hybrid press” where the author is asked to put up at least some of the money (sometimes all of it). In the way I classify publishers there are only two types:

  • “traditional” - who assume all cost in producing the work and usually provide an advance to the author

  • “vanity” - who ask the author for some money. In general, vanity publihsers aren’t interested in whether the book sell any copies as their “profit” comes from the money the author pays as part of the “publishing.”


I agree with all of this.


It sounds like a miscommunication…she ASSUMED you wanted to use her hybrid publishing services. I think you can still use her for advice/mentoring. Just make it clear that you’ll be seeking traditional publishing once the book is ready.