A Note on Publishing Scams +UpdateSome People's Kids
Warning: This is pretty tl;dr. Feel free to skip to the second section. Spread the word, because this community needs a little common sense sometimes.
Today there was a suspect-at-best post in the literature forums where someone who claims to have published nine anthologies and fifteen issues of a lit-mag was seeking submissions for a new anthology based around a short story that was, in his opinion, being rejected by other magazines because he's too "edgy" in his writing style (read: it was shitty so he had to self-publish it to have it read).
The poster was extremely homophobic, making comments about male-on-male anal sex and lesbians having cunnilingus, right in the body of his submission calls, and prattled on about how his publishing credits included the software program Open Office. I was pretty immediately off-put, so did some minor googling and found his "press", a lulu.com page, which was off-putting to begin with; he claimed it was a token-paying press, bot
Publishing ScamsCopied and pasted from my blog since deviantART's been having this problem for a while now. I had meant to post something on this matter back in October since it was when I noticed more and more "publishers" like this popping up on the site, but never got around to it. Of course, with all of these unprofessional publishers coming out of the woodwork again recently, I thought I'd share what I shared on my blog here.
What is a scam publisher?
Essentially, a scam publisher is a press that cheats authors into believing that they are getting traditionally published by their rules and guidelines. However, if you read the fine print, you'll see that "traditionally" publishing you is not at all what's happening. This can range from promising royalties which never come, making you pay a fee to be published, or even stem from lack of professionalism. While the term "scam" usually means forcing you to pay, there are many other
Publishing Resources ListMake sure you the news article!
So you've written something freaking awesome. You've edited a million times (and if you haven't, turn around and go do that. Right now). You think you maybe want to take the leap and try publishing something. But you have no idea where to start.
Well, this is a good place to be.
This the journal where I'll be keeping a running list of all the publishing resources I find, both on and off dA. Most of it will probably be related to literary journals, since that's the stage where I'm at in my literary career, but I'll add things about book publishing as I find them.
If you ever find a great resource, or if you'd like to request something specific, please leave me a note in the comments.
Also this journal is probably going to be super-messy and slightly badly-categorized for the first few weeks, so if anything looks out of place and/or you can think of a better way for me to organize this, please
Research research research research research. I can't stress this enough. Try Predators and Editors (okay fine *TarienCole it's spelled Preditors and Editors), try the AbsoluteWrite Water Cooler; these places are well moderated. The top few Google results might be misleading, so look for the tone of the first 2-3 pages of search results.
Look at their Internet presence. It's not hard to get 100+ Twitter followers if you follow bots that automatically follow back. It is, however, hard to have a conversation with them...do they ever reply to people or is it all a steady stream of 'I made X today'?
Professionalism. Before I start quoting von Clausewitz at you, let's make this easy. Look at someone super reputable, a big publishing company or a famous author. Now look back at the guy you're talking to. Regardless of publicity, do they maintain a similar sense of decorum?
Connections. Zero prior experience does not make someone a desirable alternative to the mainstream (which, by the way, isn't all that main when there's hundreds of small presses out there; beware of someone selling themselves on 'no one else will give you X'), it makes them a wanker who doesn't know what the fuck they're on about. If every single person they're printing is a young teenager who lists de facto prizes as awards on their CV, then this publisher is, deliberately or because they can't get anyone more reputable, targeting the uninformed. If an author is only getting into shitty magazines, either they don't care or they can't make it, for a variety of reasons that are all variously bad.
No such thing as a free lunch. Let's be realistic, there are over a million writers on dA. If someone comes up to you and is like 'hey wanna be in my mag,' they're just not super-huge. This isn't always bad, but you need to be realistic about what it means. Mostly, it's not going to be your big break, and down the line you may not want to ever admit you had that piece printed there.
I think these five points are an easy place to start, not to mention the excellent blogs at the top, and if you'd like to add more, do so in the comments. (Warning: if your statements don't tally with my experience, I will say so. I don't hide comments. No take-backs.)
In short, be vigilant. You haven't fallen for 'em...yet.
Not for everyone's tastes or projects but check out the SCBWI (Society of Children's Book Writers & Illustrators) at scbwi.org. Once you're a member and have had a book published you can get on their PAL (Published and Listed) roster BUT only if the publisher is on their list of established publishers. Through knowing the group and it's members (22,000+ worldwide), you get good, solid, well-tested information and word of mouth as to who is looking for what. I got my first illus gig through another member who met a publisher's rep at a conference. I've illustrated 8 children's books and been doing this for more than 10 years. The last publisher I worked with is not on that PAL list. I had no problems with them but since then I have heard writers have had no end of grief and runaround from them.
If someone offers you pay down the road, royalties only, for the "exposure" or something that smells of week-old dead squid, run far and fast away. The stories I've heard of authors and illustrators getting shafted and paid next to nothing are on the rise. With ebooks and self-publishing it's getting worse. I chase away most of the selfers by quoting an upfront minimum. And btw, most of the mss I read have a long way to go before being publishing ready. Tad Crawford has an excellent series on contracts for writers and artists, what to look for and avoid, and do-it-yourself kits. As the article said, find out as much about who you are going to work for as possible.
I'm all for risk taking but if you're taking all the risk, forgedabowdit!