Gaffs of Truth

from One Who Creates with Alphabets

05 March 2006

Just call me Ambassador

To paraphrase a famous television ad: "Writers don’t let writing friends (and acquaintances) get scammed.”

I am a Writer Beware “ambassador.” And guess what? You can become one too! All you have to do is become AWARE of how the agent and publishing scams work, and spread the word. Refer writers you encounter to the WB website, and to Preditors and Editors. Refer them to Absolute Write. Make sure they understand that real agents work off commission, and that they don’t advertise in Writers Digest. Make sure they understand that no “real” publisher pays a one-dollar advance or pushes their writers to buy a thousand copies of their own books before publication.

On Ann Crispin's website is a one-page {PDF} handout called Excuse Me, How Much Did it Cost You? Ann gave up copyright on that handout years ago. Anyone can copy it and reproduce it at will. Pull it off the website, print it out, and take it to the organizer of your local conference, and see if he/she will agree to print up a couple hundred copies (it’s designed so it fits on one page, front and back) and then put the handouts on the “freebie” table they always have at writing conferences.

Victoria Strauss also has an excellent handout {HTML}, The Safest Way to Search for An Agent on her site. It’s several pages long, much more detailed than the one Ann wrote, which was designed to cover both agents and publishers. It’s a great companion piece to the “Excuse Me” handout.

If all else fails, hey, you could always spend 10 bucks of your own money and take a handful of handouts to any conference you’re attending. Ann and Victoria would be ever so grateful, and there is no better feeling than knowing you’ve saved some fellow writer from signing on with the likes of Agent F, or PublishAmerica. It makes you feel warm all the way down to your toesies, trust me.

Several weeks ago, one of our local colleges had a writing conference, led by the $10,000 winner of the contest. Before choking while reading the brochure, I decided to talk to this person and see how things went. I went to the conference. I took several things to hand out to the organizer, letting them know just how and its various incarnations are scam organizations. And I made sure the organizer was around when I asked detailed questions about the 'prize' and the selection 'process'.
Don't all gasp at once, but it turns out that just after the poet applied for copyright on their book of poems and short stories, they received a letter from inviting them to send their poem. Of course it was a mistake that the poem title mentioned was the title of the book, so the poet changed it to the title of their favorite three page poem and sent it. It was very surprising when they made the semi-finals. They bought a book as a mug couldn't contain their words. They almost didn't go to Florida because they were very short of cash, but the offer of a free dinner was nice, so they got the money from their mother. It was tight, as mom lives on social security and their father's life insurance, but this was their big break and there would be money later to pay it back. In Florida, they were randomly assigned three roommates to share a room with one queen bed and a roll-away. Everyone was excited so they didn't let little mix-ups bother them. The poet was most shocked when their poem won the category. It turns out, there are 50 categories. And the $10 grand, once the production and administrative costs are deducted, is split between the fifty winners. The poet received $100 and a plaque. They didn't bring it with them because the wood backing split during the bus ride back and the gold front no longer stays stuck to it. The glue has worn off. However, it was a great experience and they look forward to sending their poems off to a list of agents said would be interested. {If you would like a copy, Dave, Ann and Victoria have most of them listed in big red letters on their sites noted above.} As they are from this area, they wanted to share with their sibling's college the wealth of accurate knowledge they have accumulated about the publishing industry and help others on their own roads to success.
The organizer has done a complete redo of the page involving this particular conference. They have also changed their page of recommendations as well as carefully edited the page on this poet/speaker. I do not know for sure if they ever spoke directly to the poet/speaker about the materials I gave them.

I also talked to several new and not-so-new writers. None of them had ever heard of Writer Beware, P&E or realized how prevalent writing scams are-even on local levels. Many of these people had internet access and considered themselves savvy about publishing. They are smart, educated and very dedicated to their writing. And now, I hope, a little more dedicated to getting into the right hands--the right way.

It was a great feeling, and it’s one you can share. Victoria, Ann (WB) and Dave (P&E) are both reachable. Give anyone who needs it, Writer Beware’s website address. Urge them to write to these true writer's advocates..

Ann's personal email address is:

I really hope that if you haven’t already done so, that everyone reading this post today will decide to become a Writer Beware “ambassador.”

Let’s create some predator-savvy smart writers, shall we?


At 6/3/06 22:14, Blogger AstonWest added...

Fight the good fight...


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