Just in case someone stumbles onto this blog who isn’t already aware of the rip-off artists out there, I’m going to blog about scams.
If you keep these four key points in mind, it’ll help protect you from most of the scammers you’ll run into who prey on new writers:
1) Money flows from a typical publisher to you, not from you to it. Little to no money should flow from you to an agent. I strongly advise reading the essay on agent fees at Writer Beware to get a sense of what a legitimate fee is and what it is not.
2) Do a background check of any agent, editor, writer’s contest program, or publisher you’re thinking of signing a contract with. What’s their track record like? How long have they been around? Thanks to Google, and websites like Preditors & Editors and Writer Beware this is easy to do.
3) If you decide to self-publish, you are now a small publishing company of one. There are good e-book services, print-on-demand services, and traditional printers out there, but there are also sleazy companies that grossly overcharge newbie writers and/or have unreasonable contracts. You need to put on your CEO hat, and research your industry to find out what the reasonable costs of production are. You need to learn about contracts, copyright, distribution, and marketing. You need to find and hire a good freelance editor to go over your work.
4) If it sounds too good or too easy to be true, it probably is.
Any writer can benefit from taking the time to read the various articles at Writer Beware about the common practices, pitfalls, and controversies of the publishing industry.