A friend on social media pointed me in the direction of a new blog that’s being designed to help new writers avoid the pitfalls of working in publishing in a time when so many things are changing. The blog is authored by two writers, one new and the other more experienced. The first post is an example of how new writers can get scammed by marketing services and e-publishing services that promise the world, for a fee, and never wind up delivering. The reason I posted a photo of an empty bookshelf above is because most new writers are focusing on e-publishing, and if they aren’t they need to be even more aware of publishing scams. Self-publishing print books used to cost a lot of money. Now it should cost nothing with e-books, or next to nothing depending on whether or not you hire a cover artist and copyeditor. I’ve posted about this before with Joe Mahalic’s indie books on personal finance. In Joe’s case he did all the work himself and it didn’t cost him anything. He produced quality e-books that are helping a lot of people get out of debt.
You really need to watch out for scammers now more than ever. It doesn’t get more blunt than this:
This blog has been created by one accomplished author and one semi-accomplished author who know that self publishing can be like self destruction. Both with publishing companies now, but still clawing their way through the filth that is the land of writing. Thanks for visiting. Emily Walker and Nikki Palomino.
I think all writers in e-publishing should follow blogs like this. One thing I find often with writers who work WITH start up e-presses tend to think they are working FOR the e-press and there’s nothing they won’t do to please the publisher. And that shouldn’t happen. No writer works for any publisher. It’s a collaboration between publisher and author and the author should always have his or her own best interest first in mind, not the publisher’s. This is why there are literary agents, and if you don’t have one and you are working for a start up press you need to think like a literary agent when dealing with your publisher. Writers work for themselves. Here’s a sample from the post I was talking about above:
Published? Means nothing. It’s how you get yourself out there that can get you in trouble.
I hired a marketing firm in the beginning because nobody knew me from spit.
Take a risk knowing you’ll fall.
I did to the tune of 25000 dollars.
There have always been scams and con artists preying upon new writers. A while back when I was only concentrating on submitting short stories to small LGBT presses I was approached by a publisher I thought was reputable. They wanted to publish one of my novels and I was beyond thrilled. Until I found out they wanted to charge me hundreds of dollars to have the novel edited. I contemplated doing it because I knew how hard it was to get published. I knew rejection well and I knew the market for anything LGBT oriented was slim. I figured it would be an investment in my future and in my career.
Thankfully, a good friend who is a literary agent that I’ve spoken about before on this blog advised me against doing it. He basically said any good publisher who acquires a novel should be willing to edit that novel and produce that novel without charging the author a penny. And still, I almost didn’t listen to him with all his years of experience. That’s how determined I was to get a novel published.
But in the end I didn’t do it, and I came to learn later that not only was this sleazy publisher charging authors huge editing fees, but none of the editors there seem to be real people. They were the earliest sockpuppets I’ve ever encountered online in publishing and it’s a one man operation being run by one person who creates editors with fake names and profiles. I truly believed they were real people, too.
That particular publisher is still in business, and in addition to them there are ten times as many scams out there new writers need to be made aware of. The best advice I can give is that if it sounds too good to be true it probably is too good to be true. And, following blogs like the one I’m linking to here helps, too. One of the best ways to learn anything is through experience, and the people writing this blog sound as if they’ve been through plenty.