Book readers are often book writers -- or often at least contemplate writing a book. For such people the rise of self-publishing and print-on-demand technology over the last decade or two would seem to be a boon. Yet the growth of this technology has also led, unfortunately, to the growth of "publishers" and "agencies" who are sometimes misleading, unscrupulous, or downright fraudulent in the promises they make to authors anxious to have their book published. We at Accent on Books have occasionally run into this, and I've heard reports along this line from other booksellers as well.
That's why I feel that it's important to mention a website that I've just heard about, though it's evidently been around for years. It's called Writer Beware, and though it's run by the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America its information is important to anyone who's looking to publish a book, no matter what kind of fiction -- or nonfiction, or poetry -- they write. In fact I found out about it through an article announcing that the Mystery Writers of America has decided to join forces with the SFWA and help out with the site.
So if you or someone you know is interested in having a book published I urge you to check out Writer Beware. You may still decide to go the self-publishing/print-on-demand route. But at least you'll have a bit more of an idea of what you're getting into.