I recently had a conversation with a family member about a newly self-published author she knew. Because this topic (self-publishing) has been of great interest to me over the past year, I inquired of the reasons this budding writer choose the indie route to publication. Her response surprised me.
She said, "The author told me she couldn't afford to be published the traditional way."
Couldn't afford it? I was confused - traditional publishing does not require money upfront to get your book in paper format. In fact, you can get paid for your work before it is published in some instances, in the form of an advance.
It sounded like this new author was confused as well. It sounded like this new author had been looking at vanity publishing. If you don't know what the definition of vanity publishing is, then chances are, you're more likely to get ripped off by it.
Two weeks ago I did a post about telemarketing scams and computer viruses. This week, I want to draw your attention to a type of scam that hits a little closer to home for most of us that frequently visit this blog - scams aimed at hurting writers.
I'm not saying all vanity publishing is a scam - I'm just saying that as an author you need to be aware of what is acceptable and what is not in terms of money transfer between an author and a publisher. That means you need to do a little business research when you've finished the story research. I'm sad this new author didn't understand the difference between the two systems. I wish that this author had been mentored by another of either the traditional or self-pub route. But I am glad that, in this case, no money was lost.
Visit "Preditors and Editors" "Writer Beware" and "Association of Author's Representatives" to find good agents and avoid bad ones. (You will have to google the sites).
The bottom line comes down to this: never just hand someone over your money without understanding what you get in return. And, as the old adage goes, if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.