Writers, Beware

I mentioned John Scalzi the other day, and his commentary on the dastardly dealings of Random House and their e-book only imprints. He’s done multiple entries on the subject now that are very much worth reading, and being the conscientiously helpful gentleman that he is has put them all together in one post here.

As a non-published writer, my advice is clearly of limited value. I haven’t succeeded at the job myself, so why would anyone else listen to me tell them how to do it?

But this I do know, and think everyone should know. There are a lot of scams out there. As Agent Pleakley says on the subject of mosquitoes ‘Here, educate yourself‘, because there are plenty of people out there who will take advantage of you if you don’t. Don’t be put off by the fact that most of my links are genre-skewed – this stuff applies to everyone.

Once you’ve perused Writer Beware, there’s more you can do. Such as:

1. If you have a local or otherwise writer’s centre, guild, whatever, check out their website for a section like this one. They’ll usually offer at least a few words of advice. You can also contact them for help if you do get offered a contract but don’t have an agent, which is useful.

2. Read sites and blogs written by those in the industry! Not just writers, but agents and publishers. Their advice can be very helpful, and if they say something is a scam, it likely is. (But if they say something isn’t, well, do keep your critical faculties engaged. You don’t actually know this person, after all)

3. Remind yourself early and often that a bad book deal is worse than no deal at all. The harder you can hammer this into your own head, the less likely it is (I hope) that you’ll be suckered by a vanity publisher or scam artists like Hydra because they’re offering to publish you and you want it so bad.

Be wary. Swim up that stream towards publication carefully, because there’s a lot of sharp rocks on the way, and an injured salmon swims slower. Be the strong, wily salmon who avoids the sharp rocks, and reaches the spawning ground of Publication relatively unharmed!

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