Resources for Writers
Really Useful Links for Writers: Don’t Get Scammed
I’ve often said that this is the best time to be a writer. We have so much choice now, so many paths to publication. But with all this choice, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed, and just as easy to mistake a deadly trap for a friendly gesture.
As the Internet has allowed easier communication and business deals all over the world, it has become that much easier for unscrupulous people to take advantage of inexperienced newcomers. You need to do your homework on every professional you deal with in the publishing industry, whether you’re self-publishing or going the traditional route. One of the biggest concerns is the number of companies taking advantage of new authors with poorly-worded contracts, bad deals, and in some cases, outright scams.
Before going on, I’ll direct you to Deirdra Eden’s blog, where she lays out some standard terms used in the publishing industry. And I’ll remind you that the vast majority of people in this business are decent and honest and just want to make great books happen. But for the small number of people out there who’ll take advantage, the damage to a new author’s career and confidence can be devastating.
Now, one of the things to be aware of is that scam publishers are smart. Very, very smart. And it’s very easy for them to stay in business for years before anyone even realises what they’re up to. Writer Beware posts regular updates on class action suits being taken against Author Solutions Inc, which has been connected to a number of troubling cases. The problem is, it’s very hard to prove wrongdoing in these cases, because everything the company gets from the author has been laid out in the contract that the author has signed. So you need to know how to defend yourself.
Be A Better Writer has a list of three of the most common traps used. The biggest red flag of all is that if you’re dealing with a publisher or an agent, the author should never be asked to pay anything. There are ‘partnership publishers’ out there, as Deirdra mentions above, who share the financial cost with the author, and while I wouldn’t recommend them myself, if you decide to go down that route, make sure you keep all the rights to your work, all the costs are detailed up front, and you have a concrete opt-out clause should you change your mind.
The Huffington Post has a detailed article on what to look for if you’re concerned you’re being scammed. It links back to Author Solutions, above, and how they’ve been branching out, offering to take on some of the overflow of legitimate publishers. Huffington Post also has this article detailing some cautionary tales from authors’ experiences. Remember, nothing can happen to your book until you sign the contract. If you’re not 100% happy with it, do not sign. Get advice from a contract lawyer if you need to, or ask any of the industry professionals here on Writing.ie, who I’m sure would be happy to help.
To finish up, I’ll bring you back to Deirdra Eden, with her top 10 tips for publishing self-defence, and an excellent list of scams to watch out for.
(c) Paul Anthony Shortt