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Thursday, August 18, 2011

The DIY Writer #2: Don't get scammed.

I originally intended on writing this post on a completely different topic, but the events over the last few days concerning PublishAmerica (I won't ever link to those d-bags) have made me feel it's necessary to address something else.
For those who don't know, PublishAmerica posted a promotion that read:

"We will bring your book to the attention of Harry Potter's author next week while our delegation is in her hometown, and ask her to read it and to tell us and you what she thinks. Tell her what you think: in the Ordering Instructions box write your own note for JK Rowling, max. 50-100 words. We will include your note in our presentation for her!

Go to (redacted), and your book will be among the very first that we will bring to JK Rowling's attention next week while we are in Edinburgh. Go to (redacted) if you have more than one book with PublishAmerica. We will ask the world's very bestselling author to look at all of your books next week."

It should be noted that JK Rowling's attorney's immediately sent a cease and desist, to which PublishAmerica responded with this. Shorthand: "We can fulfill our obligation to 'present' your book by throwing it onto Rowling's lawn."

If you recognize that for the bullshit that it is, good one on you, and have a nice day.

If you don't...don't move. Stay right there. This post is for you.

*   *   *

Now, that little rant was just a bonus. Here's the actual blog post.

Writer scams.

For the new writer, they're everywhere. And there's a reason for that. A lot of new writers (a group I belong to) don't know any better. For the most part, the only research they do concerns the content of the book. By the time they've typed "The End" and hammered out their dedication, they're so gung ho to get the ball rolling and go worldwide that they're incredibly vulnerable to predators like PublishAmerica.

I can sum up everything that the new writer needs to know about avoiding scams in four words: NEVER PAY UP FRONT.

Not for an agent.

Not for a publisher.


No reputable entity will ask you for money up front. If a publisher does it, it's a vanity press. If an agent does it, well...they're just an asshole.

That isn't to say that there aren't some legitimate charges associated with an agent. For example, it's a known (but not completely common) practice for an author to be responsible for certain costs like copy fees and postage to publishers that an agent incurs. Research something like that on a case-by-case basis.

But <chrisjericho> never....eeeeeeeeever...</chrisjericho> pay a publisher up front for the privilege of having your work printed up. Don't pay an agent a "reading fee." Just don't.

If you're going the traditional publishing route, Predators & Editors is a fantastic resource to research prospective agents and publishers. If you're a self-publisher, the entire process doesn't have to cost you a dime.

There are no shortcuts to success as a writer. If such a thing existed, so many people would use it that it wouldn't even qualify as a shortcut anymore. A writer needs patience, a willingness to learn, a good work ethic, an entrepreneurial spirit, a little bit of luck, and yes...some talent.

We all need to hear this.

Stop enabling these pinheads.

Every person that falls for scams like PublishAmerica emboldens them to keep doing it. Any writer who disregards this advice because they think they've found the Golden Ticket only succeeds in becoming part of the problem.

If I sound edgy about this, it's because I am. I don't like to see trusting people get separated from their money dishonestly.

In life, much like in my stories, I don't like to see the bad guys win.

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