Thursday, June 07, 2007


Lions and Tigers and Bears...

Oh my...

Yesterday I had to crush a writer's dream of being published. I didn't want to but better to have a little disappointment now than a lot later.

Here's the story...I hang out each day at lunch at the Long Ridge Chat room. It's so nice to be able to chat with other one knows what a writer goes though except another writer. There are a lot of novice writers there, some more experienced ones and of course some of us who have published. We have a lot of fun. Yesterday one of our novice writers shared the good news that an agent wants to see his manuscript. Naturally we all are happy for him. Then he goes on to say that it will only cost him $387 for an evaluation. This sent off warning bells, buzzers, sirens and the flashing lights.

Legitimate agents NEVER charge fees of any kind before taking you on as client. Not reading fees, evaluation fees or fees of any kind! Legitimate agents only get paid after they sell your book.

After asking a few questions, it turns out this agent is listed on the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writer's of America Twenty Worst Agents List. No, this isn't a list put together by a group of disgruntled writers. This is a list put together by professional writers based on complaints and backed up by documentation.

Friends...there are so many people out there just waiting for someone to take advantage of and novice writers are fair game for them. Thankfully there are places we can go for information before making a decision we might come to regret.

So, here's a couple places to get the info you need.

Writer Beware. This is the SFWA website that includes the Twenty Worst Agents list.

Writer Beware Blog This blog has a lot of great info on agents and how they work.

Preditors & Editors Here you'll find info on agents, editors, conventions and all sorts of useful stuff.

Agent Query is a searchable database for agents.

AAR is the Association of Authors' Representatives. They have a searchable database, great FAQs and also list the "Canon of Ethics" agents must follow to belong to AAR. No, not all legit agents belong to AAR but it's a nice place to start.

As new writers, we so want to be published. And when an agent tells us how great we are, we believe them. We'll pay almost anything to have that agent who loves our writing take us on as a client. The thing is, we have to step back, take a deep breath and do some research before taking that plunge. The water may be shallow and filled with sharks.


Oh...if you get the chance, stop by the Long Ridge Chat Room. A group of us meet weekdays at noon central. You don't have to be a LR student to join us...all writers are welcome. We talk about writing, food, kids, critters and all sorts of stuff. You'll find me there as Speckledorf:--)

Labels: , ,

Thursday, May 17, 2007


Don't let the Sharks Bite

Back several years ago before I knew better, I submitted a poem I'd written to a website. Not long after, I received a letter in the mail praising my poem. They wanted to publish it in their latest collection of fine poems. Needless to say, I was doing the happy dance. Talk about excited...I just knew I'd hit the jackpot. And it only would cost me $69 to see my poem published in their book.

About this same time, I'd started a writer's course and attended a forum of questions and answers. One thing that stuck in my mind was "Money flows to the writer, not away from." So I started researching. I discovered while not a scam, this "pay to be published" format wasn't the way things were really done in the writing world. It didn't take me long to go from happy dance to funeral dirge.

Here are a few things I've learned along the way.

Money does indeed flow to the writer. Writers work hard getting those words down on paper. We should get paid for them. There's a difference of opinion among writers about working for free. The truth is though, many times we have to write for free to start our portfolio of clips. And honestly, I don't think there's anything wrong with considering an unpaid for but published article or story as a stepping stone to bigger and better things.

The sharks are circling. They love to take advantage of novice writers. Our job doesn't end with just the writing. We have to sell that article, novel or story to someone. Before sending your work to just your homework! Research is so easy to do these days with the internet. Google that agent or publisher and see what comes up. Check out their websites and remember the old saying..."If it seems too good to be true, it probably is".

There are many, many places online to gather information. Naturally WOW! is my favorite. :-) There's so much great info packed into each issue just waiting to be used. Another great place is Miss Snark's blog. She's become part of my morning wake up routine. If you are looking for an agent, then be sure to check out Writer Beware. The ladies there have made it their mission to inform writers about all the bad apples in the agent barrel. For information on publishers, stop by Preditors & Editors.

I've come a long way since that first "acceptance" letter and learned so much. Now, when I wade into the murky water searching for publication I can avoid the dangers lurking just under the surface.

I want to encourage everyone to learn as much as possible about the way the publishing world works. You won't regret it.

Labels: , , ,