You're right. I remember many around me counting on that. There are sharks out there. Alternately, there seem to be a few good people around. I'm sorry, but don't trust them.
I have a better experience with publishing, but I never acted it out.. architectural historian friends clued me into a boutique but well regarded publisher, and they accepted my outline. I failed to show up with a book, all my own fault. Because of substantiation from the friends that clued me into that publisher in the first place, the last thing I'd think would be that it was any kind of rip off.
So, I'm mostly wary, but every human is not horrible.