Marketing,  Publishing

Five Tips To Weed Out Writing Predators

Nearly anyone with a server can set up a website and call themselves an editor, agent, or publisher, find a group of desperate wannabe authors online and then give them an offer they can’t refuse.

10 Minute Novelists is chiefly a group of novice writers. We’ve seen our share of predatory mercenaries who have decided that because we are mostly newbies we may just as well call ourselves: “FISH IN BARREL”.

Sadly, as 10 Minute Novelists has become more and more well known, we’ve learned how to spot these the hard way. We do have a screening process, trying to keep the riff-raff out, but it’s not perfect. There are members here who are taking deliberate steps to find “clients” through our Facebook group they intend to take advantage of. 

What’s your best defense? Look for the clues!

1. Thoroughly investigate the people you’re allowing to see your work-in-progress. We want you to make friends, but you’re probably safer working with another author — someone whose agenda is to help you –rather than someone who may call themselves “publisher” or “agent” or “editor”. 

2. Be wary of your private messages. We’ve had trouble in the past of people sending spam messages or contacting people privately for unscrupulous reasons. If something smells fishy to you, it probably is. 

3. Don’t be in a hurry. If you are new at writing, it is unreasonable to think that you will have a contract, bestseller or a livable income in a year. The safest, safest way to stay out of trouble is to concentrate on craft. Be the best writer you can be. Make that manuscript amazing. When you’re not crafting, learn all you can about this complicated process of publishing.
Knowledge is power. 10 Minute Novelists want you to face the publishing world with as much knowledge and skill as you possibly can so your dreams can come true at the right time.

4. Do NOT automatically accept friend requests from writers you meet. You don’t owe anyone anything. That knee-jerk decision to “be nice” might backfire on you.  

5. Legitimate literary agents will never charge you a dime. They will eventually get a cut when you sign a contract with a publisher, but not until. Be wary of “reading fees”. Publisher and agents who offer this aren’t interested in you as a writer, they just want to separate you from your money.  Everybody wants to be published. Everybody would like to make some money off their writing. Everybody wants to change the world with their words. But . . . it’s far, far better to wait to find the right situation, with a well-crafted book and a reputable publishing house than to rush into something you regret.

If you are NEW and you have little experience in this business, if you’ve never investigated the way publishing works or if you have a manuscript that you are practically DYING to have someone accept, then YOU ARE A TARGET. An entire sub-industry has been set up to take advantage of the vulnerable, uneducated and desperate. Predatory publishers, editors, and agents are looking for a fast buck and when they get a whiff of your “big dream” they see dollar signs.

But if you are wise, you’ll have no trouble spotting these opportunists and saving yourself time and heartache.

Katharine Grubb is an author, poet, homeschooling mother, camping enthusiast, bread-baker, and believer in working in small increments of time. She leads 10 Minute Novelists, an international Facebook group of time-crunched writers. She lives with her family in Massachusetts.

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