1. Lyrical
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    Lyrical Frumious Bandersnatch

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    Publishing scams

    Discussion in 'Publishing' started by Lyrical, Jul 23, 2015.

    So, I've hunted all over this website to make sure I'm not just reposing something that has already been shared, and I can't find anything like this. There was a post about agent and publisher scams in 2010, but it only had a few views and other than that, I see nothing.

    If this is an old story, I'm sorry and I will carry myself off to the corner of shame.
    But anyway...

    I was browsing around SCBWI today and found this very informative and helpful website called Writer Beware, talking in depth about the various scams and schemes that are out there to get writers who want to be published. I haven't begun my publishing journey enough yet to fall into any of these, but I am grateful to know about them now. Since so many of us would like to be published one day, I thought this could be a valuable resource.

    http://accrispin.blogspot.com
     
  2. psychotick
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    psychotick Contributing Member Contributor

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    Hi,

    Writer Beware is out there and so is Preditors and Editors. Check any sites you're worried about with both before doing anything more would be my advice.

    Cheers, Greg.
     
  3. TWErvin2
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    TWErvin2 Contributing Member Contributor

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    Lyrical,

    Those two websites mentioned by psychotick are good places to begin research to avoid scams or signing with publishers with bad contracts or track records. One has to watch out as well to avoid hiring questionable editors/cover and layout artists if one decides to self-publish.

    With publishers, it's always wise to look at a publisher's apparent business model. Does it appear to earn money from sales of books, or does it appear that charging fees to writers is the main source of a publisher's revenue. (Money should go from the publisher to the author, not the other way.) Is the website designed to attract writers, or is it focused on potential readers?

    You can also look at rough sales records of a publisher...how often do they publish new works, are they specialized in your genre or do they shotgun every and anything. Have you come across any marketing efforts (especially if it's not a big 5 publisher)? How are some of the newer releases ranked on Amazon, B&N, Kobo? Look at the quality of the cover art. I'd never sign with a publisher without at least looking at one of their published works...the editing, layout, blurbs, teaser, etc. It'll give a good idea what to expect for your work...you can do much of this with the Amazon look inside...but that won't always tell you how editing to avoid plot holes and long term editorial consistency. I wouldn't buy a book (or pick up a free ebook version if available) with every publisher I submit to, but if one offers a contract, I definitely would.

    Take a look at the other authors published by that publisher. You'll be evaluated by potential readers with the company you keep. And finally, just because a contract is offered, that doesn't mean you have to accept their boilerplate. If you have an agent, that will help with any negotiations. If you're unfamiliar with contracts and clauses, then don't even consider negotiating/signing a contract. Hire a literary attorney to review it. A bad contract can cause long term grief for a writer's career, and that's an understatement. It's not all about advances and royalties. Rights the contract gives the publisher--including with respect future works, reversion rights and more are of great concern.

    There are some publishers (mainly small presses) that prefer not to work with the author through agents or literary attorneys. There are some that say they need an answer on a contract within a short timeframe...one week. These things you can find online at the websites listed in the post above or elsewhere with a reasonable amount of research.

    Those are just a few ideas off the top of my head. I'm sure other folks will chime in with more.
     
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  4. psychotick
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    psychotick Contributing Member Contributor

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    Hi,

    Also adding to what TWErvin has said, do check references of those you hire. I recently had a bad experience with a cover artist - I won't mention his name. He did the spaceship in my signature. He's a guy with real talent from what I saw of his work. But he got paid, took forever and never completed the work. I had to.

    Cheers, Greg.
     
  5. matwoolf
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    matwoolf Contributing Member Contributor

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    Another - a very absolute bore writer site has 'predators and editors.'

    Also beware - my son received a letter in which they said, or some so-called editor said he wanted to publish my son's poem, said it was 'amazing' and 'thought-provoking' - all the usual cliches. This poem he submitted months ago. I told him it was an obvious scam. Saw the poem first draft, and it wasn't very good even then. Beware those guys - I threw the letter away. 'Poetry' I think they were called, Chicago mafia types, the 'National Poetry Prize,' something.

    As if he'd get a poem published and I didn't, it was very amusing as I told the family.
     
  6. TWErvin2
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    TWErvin2 Contributing Member Contributor

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    Matwoolf,

    There are a couple poetry scams out there, sometimes my students come across. A publisher accepts their poem (no payment) and the only people that buy the poetry anthologies (at an exorbitant price) are those who have their poems published in them. We're talking 8 point font, two columns to fit in as many poems as possible per page.

    And while some of the poetry is decent (I know, what is good poetry can be very subjective) there was some utterly horrible stuff. One of my students purchased several copies of one, to give to his grandmother and such, and one for himself. He brought in the book to show me the first week of class, and was very proud. I was able to work with him and he was able to get two poems published in magazines/ezines where he was paid. Not a lot...five and ten dollars, but the process taught him about researching markets, the submission process and an introduction to contracts. It took almost two years, and he wasn't a student in my class his senior year when he finally found some success, but we still saw each other between classes and during his lunch.

    This was several years ago. In any case, it may be one of the scams you mentioned, Matwoolf, and often people new to writing are not aware of what's legitimate and what's a scam.
     
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  7. matwoolf
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    matwoolf Contributing Member Contributor

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    Hi TW, I was playing around - as if it was the real deal...but nail on the head, kudos to you.

    The 'actual' letter was indeed a scam - where the authors are the only ones buying the book, and the scam you mentioned It happens, thanks, and all the best.

    Somehow I preferred the fiction where wise father rejects advances of Random House, Mr Penguin. It wasn't that clear, was it...tch. Thanks TW
     
  8. S Raven
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    S Raven Member

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    I was contacted yesterday by a publishing company. Since which I've done some research on them. There's quite a lot of unsatisfactory feedback about them.

    I'm tempted to reply so I can have a look through their contract and have a bit of a giggle.
     
  9. live2write
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    live2write Contributing Member

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    The Writer's Digest puts out a book called "Writer's Market" for every year. It is a start to researching and finding the resources provided to fit your needs. Always Always Always research the company and find what books they have published and the success rate as well if they are a parent/sister company to any of the top publishing houses. Finding an agent can be tough and I believe they are listed in this book. When in doubt, I ask around. Book stores and Library's also carry these references.

    When something sounds too good to be true or does not sound right, keep that in mind.

    I also research Authors and Writer's blogs to see what their experiences are. Sometimes they put a mini-autobiography of how they got published.

    Also I will take TWErvin2's advice. I agree with his recommendation and pointers.
     

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