Wednesday, July 20, 2011

When Writers are Prey

Two years ago, I ventured into the world of publishing. My first novel, Radiance…Love after Death was like a child to me and I was ready to give birth! I had spent over a year researching, writing and learning Microsoft Word to finish my manuscript. I thought getting published would be the easy part. Wrong! Fortunately, I navigated through several scams which could have ruined my dream of being a published author. They were so convincing even established writers were falling victim to them.

Here's the deception. They print and market your book, and pay royalties on the sales, but the writer must make a considerable contribution to the production costs. Legitimate publishers will not ask you to pay anything. The small voice inside me said to wait and see if I got more offers. Thank goodness, I listened.

 The next scam alert involves the “eager beavers.” They want to rush you into a quick deal just like a high pressure car salesman. First, I merely looked online for publishers and filled out forms for information. They quickly started calling and sending e-mail offers immediately night and day. They would try to rush me into a deal saying the offer was about to end soon. Then, after I refused that they would slash that fee in half to make you feel like you were getting a deal. If you receive an offer in a small amount of time and they want to publish quickly, beware! They need money and it will come out of your pocket!

 Acceptances usually take place in less than a month with these scammers. Even less than a week is not unusual. In my case, my manuscript was over 460 pages long and eighteen chapters. I thought how could anyone read that fast in three weeks? {They can’t unless they can hire hundreds of editors and most aren’t able to do that.}The truth is they make money off the authors and not the readers. They will encourage you to buy a few hundred copies to family and friends for an inflated cost so they can make money. They are indeed a POD (print-on-demand) publisher, and they make money by pressuring authors to buy their own books for resale, and sending order forms to the author's friends and family.

 These books are often unedited, overpriced, and not returnable. They also try to convince you that your book will be available in bookstores all across America. Barnes & Noble has sent letters to these authors saying that they will not stock their books due to the shoddy work ethics. Writers have sent in unfinished books and copied and pasted the same pages over and over to have them happily accepted. I’m sure if you Google publishing scams their name will come up. It's Publish America.

My word of good advice to new writers would be to first learn what kind of publisher you are sending your work to. I never knew there were pod, vanity, royalty, and self-publishers all with different list of rules, requirements and contracts. Identify your genre. Is it a romance, paranormal, or a mystery? Some publishers only accept specific genres and you’ll waste time and money sending it to them.

Next, research your choice of publisher. There are lots of sites with ratings on the internet. Also look on Amazon, Barnes and Nobles and other major sites to see if your publisher has books there. Turn over some stones! I even asked someone for recommendations on who published them to see if they were treated professionally. My best advice to new writers is what I wished someone had said to me. Be patient. You didn’t write it overnight, you’re not going to publish it overnight. After four months had passed, I got an acceptance letter and contract from a publisher who has not asked me for a dime and my book is for sale as we speak. Good things come to those who wait!

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