Writer Beware: Your Work Is Valuable; Don’t Get Scammed

Most of us start writing because we enjoy it or because we have something we are desperate to share. While some writers hoard their work, afraid to let the public see it, many want or even need their work to be read. Those of us who want to publish aren’t always content to just throw our work on our website or someone else’s. We want to see our stories officially published in some kind of book, journal, or magazine. However, we need to be smart about it and not fall victim to scammers and predators who are out to take advantage of us.

Publishing isn’t easy. It’s slow and painful. To be successful, writers need to be able to stand up against an onslaught of rejection and push through it until a piece gets accepted, and then start the process all over again. It’s easy to feel defeated, like your writing is bad and doesn’t hold much value.

No matter how many rejections you get, your writing is valuable. Rejections don’t mean you’re a bad writer. Every writer has room for improvement, but no one should judge their writing based on rejections. Feedback from beta readers, critique groups, and workshops can help you identify your strengths and the skills you need to work on. Reading craft books and published stories are also tools for identifying weak areas and improving them.

Still, not getting published and not getting paid is frustrating, especially when the markets with the highest rates and largest reach are the hardest to get into. I can consistently get $5 or $10 for a piece of flash fiction, and have had a few pieces sell for over $100, but I have yet to break into award winning markets, pro-paying markets, let alone gotten to the point in my career where editors are soliciting stories from me.

Solicited submissions are some kind of a dream for me. How cool would it be for an editor to be familiar enough with my writing to ask me to write a story for their publication?

Technically, this has happened twice. The first time was from a woman in my twitter network who starting up her own online magazine, Speculative 66. Like the name implies, it features speculative stories that are only 66 words long. It did pay, but the stories were free, and writing the story was a fun challenge.

The second was from a scammer dressed up publisher. Earlier this week, I got an email from an editor at Z Publishing. This person claimed to have looked at my website, and thought I would be a good fit for the Massachusetts edition of an emerging writers collection. I was excited for about five seconds, but then I realized I had never heard of this publisher, and my scam alarms blared.

I googled them, read a blog about them, and a post on Absolute Write. After that, I went to their website to verify what I read about them.

Here’s the scoop. The put a high volume of anthologies, and according to the blog I read about them, they accept almost everything. This I didn’t verify myself.

Their anthologies come out in both print and electronically, and are sold both on their website and on amazon. Their contract says there is no payment and no royalties. However, if authors join their affiliate program, they can make some money.

Here is how it works: Authors are given a link to the publisher’s website. If an author sells books through the link, they get 25% of the sale and the other authors get nothing. 100% of the money sales made on amazon or through the website that aren’t connected to an author link goes to the publisher.

I n theory, if an author had a big network of family and friends who were going to buy the book, they could make money off of it while the other authors get nothing. The publisher has the chance to make money off of the amazon sales while sharing nothing with the author. If an author has a big of a network to profit from this model, they could make at least double by self-publishing a collection of their own work.

The website makes it sound like some new, revolutionary publishing model, but really, it is a scam that preys off of desperate and naïve authors.

If you are going to give your writing away, send it to a place that doesn’t charge people to read it. And if you want to make money, then submit to more ethical, paying markets whether they are anthologies or magazines. Keep writing and keep sending them stuff until you finally get in.

If you wind up with a dozen stories that have been rejected by the big paying markets? No big deal. You can self publish it and keep a lot more than 25%.

Do be careful where you submit to. Find market’s whose goals align with yours. If I’m going to publish in an anthology with out an advance, I know I’m taking a risk. However, if the publisher has competent editors, a good cover artist, a marketing plan, and a fair contract, I’ll consider it, though it isn’t my first choice.

If you want an example of a small anthology publisher who did things right, check out B Cubed Press’ Alternative Truths.

Remember, your writing is valuable.  Don’t rejections tell you otherwise. Don’t let scammers profit from your work while you get nothing.

One thought on “Writer Beware: Your Work Is Valuable; Don’t Get Scammed

  1. Yeah, scammers are a pain. I forget the name of the last one I had contact with, but they emailed me to invite me to write A story for an anthology. There was no pay, but I could order author copies for the discounted rate of 25 dollars per page the story took up.

    Liked by 1 person

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