Scams And Gullibility

Yanno, like Sense and Sensibility, cos it’s . . . oh, never mind.

At some stage in your writing career (well, in almost any career), you’re certain to run into a scammer. Where there are writers desperately hoping and trying for a breakthrough, there are always going to be schemes like PublishAmerica and the like, ready to prey on the hopeful and uninitiated.

In my original quest for a publisher, I ran into three of these. The first was PublishAmerica. I’d sent a blurb and a sample chapter or two before I knew enough to check them out on the internet. They sent back an effusive email missive that said they would like to publish my book FOR ABSOLUTELY NOTHING. (And yes, they did capitalize that.) Once I’d come down from the high of reading that someone wanted to publish my book, a few things snagged uneasily in my mind.

#1 was that capitalized assurance that publication would cost ABSOLUTELY NOTHING. A genuine publisher has no need to tell prospective authors that they won’t charge for publication. Money flows to the author.

#2 was the fact that they hadn’t even read the full manuscript. I got this message after sending only a few chapters to PublishAmerica. So yeah. If a publisher hasn’t read your full manuscript and is already offering to publish it, run. Run for the hills. You might be that awesome, but my bet says you’re not.

#3 was the info I found on the internet after belatedly checking out the ‘company’. If you’re looking for information on almost any publisher out there, scam or legit, you can’t go past Absolute Write and Preditors and Editors.  I can’t stress enough the importance of checking your facts before even approaching a publishing company or agent. The less bait you are for scammers, the safer you’ll be. There will always be the cold-call, or direct approach, but at least you won’t make a mark of yourself.

More insidious was the supposedly reputable publisher who received my application (blurb, chapters, etc), asked for the full manuscript, and then sent an email back to me some months later, indicating that they could publish me under one of their imprints- which turned out to be a vanity outfit that wanted to charge me $3000-$6000 to ‘publish’ my book. This was after I’d checked them out online and found them to be supposedly reputable. It was only later that I learned this particular publisher had a ‘traditional’ side and a ‘vanity’ side. I sent them back an email indicating that I would wait until I found a publisher who felt they could support me in every way. As I said before (and many have said before me): Money flows to the author.

Pic from http://lifeissavage.com/2012/06/21/microsoft-study-solves-why-email-scammers-say-theyre-from-nigeria/

Pic from http://lifeissavage.com/2012/06/21/microsoft-study-solves-why-email-scammers-say-theyre-from-nigeria/

Most recently, a friend of mine was emailed out of the blue by someone who claimed to have read her fiction online, and who was interested in publishing her. Now, my friend is a great writer. However. This person purported to run a certain company with a name almost exactly the same as a reputable company. They were so similar, in fact, that every google search turned up the other publishing company instead of his. The reputable company has been around for some years, and is connected with many reasonably well-known names. The ah, entrepreneurial company has been around for two months. I still don’t know whether it’s a determined scam (though I’m inclined to think so, based on the name game), or whether this guy with no proven publishing experience/contacts just isn’t awake enough to himself to know how publishing works. Either way, it’s not a safe bet. Your writing might be that awesome. But it’s not likely.

There will be stuff you learn along the way – hopefully not through bitter experience – but what I’ve learned is that:

*Money flows to the author

*If a ‘publisher’ contacts you, check them out very carefully before signing anything

*Suspect everyone, and check out everything

*The internet is your friend

*If it seems too good to be true, it probably is (Actually, I got that from Hustle, but it’s true)

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