Peculate – definition: to steal or take dishonestly (money, esp. public funds or property entrusted to one’s care) : embezzle
Unfortunately, there are numerous sites offering inexperienced authors a publishing ‘deal’, just as long as they pay lots of money. While researching this post I found a great article on this subject. See here: http://www.authormedia.com/3-signs-of-a-publishing-scam/
I often use Writer Beware – http://www.sfwa.org/other-resources/for-authors/writer-beware/ which publishes known scamming sites and companies. Do not be put off by the science fiction association, there is a lot of relevant information for all authors.
My own experience has been good and I count myself fortunate on having found Dream Write Publishing ( http://www.dreamwritepublishing.ca/) to publish my novels. This company has published a couple of novels of authors who were unfortunately, the victims of scams. Their money is lost and there is no recourse unless they want to spend even more money pursuing these fly by night companies through the courts, with no guarantee they will be successful. Many of the scamming sites change their name or dissolve to appear elsewhere on a regular basis. They use these loop holes to avoid detection and prosecution.
It is understandable to get wrapped up in the excitement of getting your first work published but please take the time to do thorough research and find independent reviews on the companies you are viewing before committing yourself to paying any money.
- Author beware! You are responsible to make good choices (bergsland.org)