To a writer, getting and being published is the dream, the lifelong achievement, and everything a writer wants. A sad thing is there are many, many people, con artists and organizations out there that prey on that dream and scam writers out of their money. It’s a sad occurrence that has increased in the last decade or so, with self-publishing gaining in popularity. However, author, agent, and publishing scams have occurred even before that, and below we’ve gathered the ones that an aspiring author needs to watch out for.
1. Reading fees
While there are some respectable agents that charge a reading fee in order to ensure that their desk doesn’t get cluttered, these days, organizations within the publishing industry (such as the Association of Author’s Representatives in the USA, and the Association of Author’s Agents in the UK) require in their ethics code that an agent shouldn’t charge a reading fee. They included this code because some people took advantage of the reading fee that was traditionally asked of the writer and got paid to send back rejection letters without actually reading the manuscript. But these days, if an agent is asking for money to read your manuscript – you might just get a rejection letter in the mailbox for your trouble.
2. Representation fees
Maybe they will not charge you for reading your manuscript, since reading fees today are a clear sign of a scam. But they will charge you for representation fees that are usually higher than usual. How to distinguish them? They accept everything. They might even advertise that. And that is how you will end up giving your manuscript, your baby, your work to someone who in turn will only take as much of your money as possible, without actually doing any kind of representation or attempt to sell it to a publishing house.
Contests are always a very good, productive way to get noticed by publishing houses and the publishing media in general. The contests are usually organized by big organizations, or magazines and they offer various prizes for winning first, second or third place. However, there are many scams within the contests as well, scams organized by unethical people that actually manage to make a living out of aspiring authors. This is why you need to beware of contests that have high entry fees and have a very small payout, that promise a publishing contract up front, and those that have no track record whatsoever and are organized by a host that’s largely unknown. Be sure to research everything you can about the contest: the organization, previous winners and contestants, may be even try and contact some of them as well.
4. Vanity publishers
Today, self-publishing is slowly becoming a more and more mainstream method to get published. Since this means that the author is responsible for everything: from editing, to designing the cover of the book, many organizations have popped up, companies that will publish your work if you pay them. These so called vanity publishers have many scam taglines in their advertising, promising you 100% of the royalties, or that they’ll publish your book for free, as well as promise that they will print out a large number of your books – which you’ll later be obligated to buy from them if the book doesn’t sell well. They will also give you an exaggerated fee for book and cover design, marketing and promotion, and even promise to put you on TV as part of their promotional process.
5. Social media scams
These days, every aspiring author needs to be present online, and this has offered an opportunity to many con artists that will take your money, while promising to increase the number of your followers on Facebook and Twitter within a day, or will ask for large monthly fees for managing your social media profiles. The thing is, you don’t need them – on most social sites, setting up a profile is for free, and you don’t need their help in managing that profile. Beware as well of service providers that will promise to make an easy website for you and your work, while charging you high set-up fees and very exuberant monthly fees for a kind of website management that you could, with a little work, easily do yourself.
Image credit: adrigu on flickr and reproduced under Creative Commons 2.0[author] [author_image timthumb=’on’]https://writingtipsoasis.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/12/photo.jpg[/author_image] [author_info]Georgina Roy wants to live in a world filled with magic.
As a 22-year-old art student, she’s moonlighting as a writer and is content to fill notebooks and sketchbooks with magical creatures and amazing new worlds. When she is not at school, or scribbling away in a notebook, you can usually find her curled up, reading a good urban fantasy novel, or writing on her laptop, trying to create her own.