I’m following Mad Scientist Matt in the AW Blog Chain, and he talked about scams regarding fuel savings and cars. Well, I know nothing about scams and cars, but I do know plenty about scams and publishing. Or scams and the Internet. Scams and email. There sure are a lot of different kinds of scams out there – where there are humans, there are scammers.
I’ll concentrate on scammers and the publishing industry for the purposes of this post. Since this is a writing blog, after all.
There are two rules of thumb to follow. One, money always flows to the writer, which is a publishing rule of thumb. Two, TANSTAAFL, which is much more of an all-purpose useful rule of thumb. Plus I love saying TANSTAAFL!
Money always flows to the writer.
Broken down, that means that writers should not be paying agents or publishers. Money should not be flowing away from the writer towards agents or publishers. That’s not the way the industry works. Of course, there are some exceptions, and I’ll deal with those in a minute.
When a writer gets a publishing contract, if the writer also has an agent, the publisher will send the money to the agent, the agent will take their fees out of the advance or royalties, and the agent will then send the remainder to the author.
At no time does the author send money to the agent or the publisher.
The exception to this is if an author decides to self-publish a book, and there are legitimate reasons to do this. If the book will have an extremely limited audience, for example, like a family cookbook or a family history, then no traditional publisher will take the book on because it makes no sense for them to – they won’t make any money on it. In that case, self-publishing makes sense.
The scams come from self-professed agents who charge reading fees, registration fees, refer an author to an editorial service that the agent owns, and so on. If at any point, the agent wants you to part with your money, know that it’s a scam. There are a lot of scammy scammer agents & publishers and whatnot out there and your best resources for checking to see if an organization is a scammer is Writer Beware, the Writer Beware blog, Preditors & Editors and the Absolute Write Bewares & Background Check board. There are other such resources, but these are my favourites. You can also check out the Top Twenty Scam Agents list which I like repeatedly linking to just for fun.
But scammers aren’t limited just to agents. You can find them in book doctors, editors, and so on. If an agent refers you to one specific book doctor or editor or such, chances are it’s a scam and the editor or book doctor is another company owned by that agent. If the agent gives you a list of three or five editors or book doctors, it increases the probability of the recommendation being legitimate, but it’s still your responsibility to check the various people/organizations out to verify that they’re legitimate.
Oh, and in case you were wondering, Publish America is a scam. A very very big scam. Run as fast as you can away from them – they’re bad news.
There Ain’t No Such Thing As A Free Lunch! If it looks too good to be true, it probably is. Paranoia is your friend. It really isn’t paranoia if they’re really out to get you.
These and more cliches available for a small fee.
But seriously, there are a lot of scammers out there. If it’s too easy (like Publish America), then it’s probably a scam. If you’re being promised the sun, moon, and stars, it’s probably a scam. If you’re promised that you’ll definitely be a bestseller or make a lot of money fast, it’s probably a scam. Be at least a little bit paranoid and check out everyone you intend to work with. Do your homework. Make sure that whoever you intend to deal with is legitimate. In the case of agents, book doctors, editors, publishers, find out who they represent or have published.
I know that for writers who’ve done their research already, nothing I’ve said in this post is new. But I also know that there are many writers who would like to be published who haven’t done their research yet and don’t know about scams. It’s for them, the innocents, that I write this post.
And because scammers piss me off.
This post is part of an Absolute Write blog chain. The participants in the chain are as follows:
- Auria Cortes
- Life in Scribbletown
- Polyamory From the Inside Out
- For the First Time
- Family On Bikes
- Writes in the City
- Elf Killing and Other Hobbies
- Rotating Bear
- Fantastical Imagination
- Asian Business
- Spittin’ (Out Words) Like a Llama
- As Yet Untitled
- Mad Scientist Matt’s Lair
Read through the other entries – that’s where more than half the fun is anyway – and comment. We love comments!
- Time-release GoogleBomb against literary scammers
- The whole kerfuffle started with…
- The Top Twenty Worst Agents
- Preditors & Editors
- Even more sites talking about the AbsoluteWrite Takedown
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