Writer Beware

So you’ve written a manuscript that’s bound to be the next best seller, have done all the editing and rewrites and you’ve got something polished up right nice.  Good for you.  Now you need to find a publisher, and of course, there are a ton of scams out there, and not just in self-publishing, but traditional publishing as well.  There are ‘vanity publishers’ who end up trying to get you to pay for services that any legit publisher would offer for free, sketchy contracts, and just places with a bad reputation, and unless you already know a lot about publishing, it can be hard to tell sometimes what’s good and what’s bad.

The upside is that there’s a ton of resources out there to help writers dig through and identify scams, and a lot of them are easy to find online.  Often they’ll have tips on how to identify scams, what you should expect from a publisher or agent.  One of the big things I found is that if you go through traditional publishing, you should not have to pay them anything, they get their profit from selling the books, and it’s similar with agents.  If they try to charge you something like a ‘reading fee’, red flags should go up.  Speaking for Canadians, there is the Association of Canadian Publishers, and I know many provinces have their own Federations or Associations for writers, and there’s lots of information on those sites.  There’s also the Writer’s Union of Canada, which has good info, but some of it is members only, and that does cost money.  Though on a side note, some groups like that might wave or reduce fees if your a student, check the websites.  I’m guessing that other countries would have similar things available.

Sometimes finding out if a publisher is legitimate can be as easy as typing the name into Google and seeing what pops up, including scrolling down to ‘related searches’ and trying any of those that might indicate the publisher is one that you might want to skip.  However, even that isn’t foolproof.

One really, really awesome resource I found not long ago is a website called “Preditors and Editors”.  It lists all of the publishing houses in North America alphabetically.  Moreover, the list is regularly updated to say if a publisher is a scam, if writers have been having trouble with them, if they appear to be out of business or the website link is broken, or if it is one they recommend.  They also cover writing contests (and say if the contest charges a fee), book festivals, resources for scriptwriters, information about submitting a novel and the processes involved, general warnings, and even info about agents.

Another good resource is the website of author Holly Lisle (she’s got some decent books too), she covers some stuff about publishing, editors, and also writing in general.  The Canadian Authors website is also good (and people not in Canada might find it has some useful information as well).

The websites I mentioned:

Holly Lisle’s website

Preditors & Editors

Association of Canadian Publishers

Canadian Authors Association

PS: Sorry this is about a year late…



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