Thursday, September 15, 2011

Resources to Protect Writers

Preditors and EditorsEvery once in a while I want to point out a couple of important resources for querying writers. These sites frequently don’t get the mentions that other sites do.

These two resources help writers protect themselves from scammers. It’s an unfortunate fact that there are people out there posing as agents or legitimate publishers who are targeting unsuspecting, hopeful writers.

Many writers are fairly easy marks. Many of us have wanted to be writers for most of our lives. We’re eager to share our work with others. We want to be published.

These scammers pose as a legitimate business, which means writers may query them. Posing as real agents or publishers they may say something complimentary about a writer’s query (or maybe it won’t even be the result of a query—it might be a random email sent to the writer that compliments their blog, etc.). They’ll butter them up a little. Then they’ll take their money.

You shouldn’t have to pay an agent anything upfront. They’re paid when you’re paid. My agent makes a 15% commission from what I bring in and she earns every bit of it. There should be no reading fees or critiquing fees.

Publishers should pay you. If you’re paying them, then you should realize that’s not a traditional arrangement. (If you’re fine with it, that’s okay. Just be very careful and realize there are other options.) If you’re wanting to self-publish, consider less-expensive methods like e-publishing directly to e-readers or print on demand services. Be the publisher, yourself. I did it recently, myself—my ebook lists the publisher as Elizabeth Spann Craig.

There are two excellent free resources for writers. One is Preditors and Editors.

Another is Writer Beware, which warns writers about various scams. It’s run by A.C. Crispin and Victoria Strauss who do a fantastic job as watchdogs. I’ve even emailed Victoria Strauss before and she very graciously checked into something for me.

You could also search forums like Absolute Write where writers frequently discuss their experiences with different publishers and agencies. Obviously you’ll sometimes come across a writer with a grudge there…just weigh what people say carefully.

If there’s a red flag that comes up somewhere in your research…well, naturally there are two sides to every story. But if the agent or publisher you’re in contact with has red flags flying everywhere…it’s better to just keep on searching.

It’s exciting to get an offer from an agent or editor…but it’s important to make sure they’re reputable and not someone preying on writers.

There are plenty of other resources, of all kinds, available for writers. What are some of your favorites (forums, sites, etc.?)