Wednesday, June 2, 2010


Is there any honor in the publishing world anymore? Ok, I admit I'm jaded, but I have every right to be! It's proven to me time and time again, just now, only moments ago, how many traitors and parasites are in this "new world of publishing." You've read it before, how basically 'self-publishers' work off writers' dreams. Well, they do more than that. They eat the bread out of starving artist's mouths. That's where the evil lies.

Let me tell you a true story. It's about a writer, a good one, who had a dream to become a working writer. So, she did the work required to learn her trade, many years of it, and then began the harder work of writing many stories with a mentor, sending them off to hundreds of publishers and agents, waiting months (each time) to hear if they'd been accepted for publication, and then she even made use of the rejection slips. She wallpapered a closet with them. Most were standard photocopied slips sent to the masses without any personalized words of encouragement at all, but some had small hand-written notes that did provide her with hope. She'd read many times that such tiny gestures on the part of editors were to be taken as good signs, meaning her stories showed promise. Therefore, she kept at the dream, publishing a few stories here, winning a contest there, until one day she'd completed her first full length novel. Again, she went through the right processes, sending the manuscript or proposal or cover or whatever was asked off to agents, small publishers, even contests, but could not find anyone willing to take on an unknown writer. After much careful consideration and research, she decided to publish her novel with the help of a "reputable" company who would give her everything a BIG publisher would (for the money), and if the book was good enough, she believed it would stand on its own merit and her dream would come true. And the "reputable" company, BP (not real name for reasons of liability), agreed that this is how it's done. (Note that these are opinions biased by personal interest.)

Foolish child. It's not about worth and merit. It's much simpler than that! It's connections and already being a celebrity! You either have the connections or you don't. You're already a celebrity or you're not. Simple. But she didn't know that for some time. She did her best promoting her book once it came out, got good, even rave reviews, press coverage, interviews, and had book signings. In fact she did everything right, yet nothing came of it. BP failed to live up to its contract with her and began billing her. When she refused to pay, they deducted her book sales from the money they said she owed them. So, she began selling her own books on consignment out of several local stores and even made some money, all of which she reinvested to try to further promote her book. The dream still there, eventually she tried a few writing contests, thinking that if she won a contest, she'd get publicity and who knows what more would come of her book. She did win one and got a HUGE article in one of the big local papers. Still, no agents called, no big publishing houses, no interviews outside of her own small pond.

After her win in the contest she began receiving offers to help her promote her book (for a price). She looked at all the offers, but knew she could no longer "invest" in her dream. The last twine of hope broke just a few minutes ago when she went to check out an offer that sounded too good to pass up. This one from the sponsor, JG (not real name for reasons of liability), of a contest she'd entered and not won called the IPPYs or the Independent Publisher Book Awards. They'd offered her placement in a catalogue, "Foreign Rights Connect," which they supposedly send out to over 6,000 foreign publishers, agents, etc. for a fee of over $100 for one time placement. She'd asked to see the catalogue, and they'd sent her four pages of a simple pdf. file filled with 16 books. She took one author's name from two of the books in the catalogue and sent an e-mail inquiring about the catalogue and if the author had received any bites. But this author had never put his book into this "catalogue," and, in fact, offered wise words like "it's not worth the money." The word "Sham" came to her mind. It's all a bloody sham. And poof, just like that, her dream died.

Yes, it's a sad tale, but sadder still the fact that the same story happens all the time. More and more people are buying into this same dream and are being scammed. Maybe it's not BP, but another so-called "reputable company." And I'm here to say STOP. Don't give these slick snake oil salesmen your dreams. Don't do it. Spare yourself the heartache, not to mention your hard-made dough. There has to be another way. A right way. At the moment the answer escapes me. All I know to be true is that this concept does not work. Maybe it's the economy. Maybe it's that no one reads anymore. Maybe we just have too many bloody writers. Whatever the truth is, the world doesn't need any more writers with their hearts torn out, stomped on, and dreams shattered. Put your dream on the shelf for now. Don't do anything EXCEPT keep writing. It doesn't have to be read by anyone. For now.

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