Thursday, December 10, 2009

Yet Another Writer Beware Post

To be clear, I'm not posting this because of a specific recent incident. I was doing some research and the never-ending threads about rotten publishers started to get to me.

Sometimes I feel sad for people who get so excited about publishing that they don't do their research when they get an offer. Actually, they should do their research before they even submit, but even so ...

Always, always know what you're getting into when you publish. Maybe you want to self-publish--if so, look for the best deal: highest quality for lowest cost, and be prepared to work your buns off being your own distributor. It helps to have connections in the industry or a niche of some sort. It's my understanding that the Christian fiction market is more accepting of self-published books, for example. You may, as a private individual, possibly get books on the shelf with a phone call. You can also sometimes convince stores (not necessarily book stores) to sell your book on a commission basis. A book about flea market buying and selling, for example, may sell well alongside your other wares if you have a flea market booth.

But I digress.

Even if you do get pulled in by a bad book publisher, all is not lost. Writers write. If it turns out that the publisher wants you to buy your books and sell them yourself, ignore the publisher. If your contract requires you to buy a certain number of books (ack!! why would you even think about signing a contract like that?! ... well, people don't know what they don't know) then buy the minimum quantity at the maximum discount you can negotiate and be done. Write the next book and don't work with that sort of publisher again.

If you're reading this, you have internet access. Use it. It's true you can't believe everything, or even most things, you read on the internet, but here are a couple of tried and true resources for writers I use as my points of initial inquiry:

The Absolute Write Water Cooler (Beware, major time sink zone! This is a fabulous community and it's easy to make friends and spend lots of time here. Great search engine, free registration.)
Preditors & Editors (Wonderful free resource. Donate if you can--they have legal fees that arise when businesses that feed off of writers sue after having their unethical business practices are revealed for what they are. They also have lots of other handy info for writers like agent information and forums.)

I also like to Google the name of a business in quotes and add scam. Sometimes the complaints people make about a business have no foundation--there are lots of people who complain about unfair treatment who are actually making unfair and/or unreasonable demands of that business--but sometimes I discover some very interesting stuff.

Practice safe publishing out there, and happy writing.

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