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Sunday, 27 May 2018

Author Trap

You've heard of traps in general? Maybe you've heard of fox traps, and man traps? But have you heard of author traps? You haven't? They're typically known by other names, including ""vanity publishers", "money sinks", and other more colourful terms that I won't sully your eyes with on this website.

I bring this up because I've had to be wary of such things. New writers are always susceptible to this. The "lure of the shortcut", as I remember a Dragon Age game referring to the concept of Blood Magic. But it's no fantasy. That lure is real, but while fantasy is able to paint such things with big and clear warning signs, real life isn't so forgiving. I think one of the best ways I've seen concerning agents it summed up in relatively polite language is on Erica Verrillo's blog;

And one more word - to the not-so-wise. There are a few unscrupulous people out there who claim to be agents, but who are really out to ensnare writers who are desperate to publish. Do NOT under any circumstances pay an "agent" to read your work, or to edit it. Do NOT get sucked into having your work crowdfunded, or placed before "beta readers." [...] You've worked hard on your book. It deserves good representation. (Source)
And another quote for publishers specifically.

Remember – legitimate publishers don’t need to advertise for authors, they already have a rich pile of pickings to go through, and the only time you should be asked for money is if you are self-publishing. And if your book really is that fantastic – someone will pick up the phone to talk to you. (Source)

I probably couldn't have put it better myself in either instance. Unfortunately, I've had reason to be wary of these kinds of operations. But fortunately, they haven't cost me anything yet. My first taste of this was a publisher who didn't say anything about cost on their website. They responded positively to my submission, and sent me a contract. As I read through it, I saw that they were asking upwards of £300 for their services. I politely rejected their offer, and kept my eyes open after that.

A different type of "scam" are marketing websites such as "Publishing Push", which for a "modest fee", would promote self-published works. A different yet similar thing was something posted in a comment on one of my posts, claiming to monitor which Amazon tags. Their lowest quote was something over $240. I investigated the whole thing fully, as they weren't that upfront about the costs.

This whole post can be summed up in this sentence: The waters navigated by fledgling writers are full of sharks, so take care.

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