I've just been chatting, online of course, to a writer in the UK who feels let down by her publisher. During our exchange I realised that she had been scammed into paying for her first 2 books to be 'published' before working out it was a con.
As many of us know, this happens, and sometimes the cost of knowing better can be very high, both in cash and trust and disillusion. So I'm repeating the warning I once got from more experienced writers, because it never hurts to pass it along.
And so, a cautionary tale...
Not so long ago another writer told me about meeting with an agent, who bought an expensive lunch, offered to represent the writer and asked for a modest 'stationery costs' subsidy to get things rolling. Since the agent had just spent more than that, on lunch, the writer agreed.
Over the next few weeks, then months, the agent kept the writer informed by email as to which publisher had taken a look and declined, then that one major publisher was very interested, and finally that one of their editors had made an offer. Wonderful!
At which point the writer contacted said editor to say thanks - and discovered she had never heard of him, and never read the manuscript.
Worse, when the writer started spreading the word it transpired they were by no means the only victim, there were a while bunch of them out there. Worse still, while our writer had previous publishing credit, most of the rest had none, and to put it bluntly, had been encouraged to believe their manuscripts were a great deal more likely to find publishers than they actually were, being at best first draft standard.
But weren't they entitled, inexperienced or not, to think otherwise, if an agent bought them lunch...?
To cut a long story short, in the case of my more recent exchange, I mentioned checking out Preditors and Editors before taking the plunge, assuming this writer would know of them.
They didn't. But they checked them out straight away, because they emailed me right back, to say how cheered they were to discover the publisher they'd fallen foul of was already blacklisted there.
Not quite a happy ending, but it's something, I guess, that she knows a place to look next time?
As I said to her, trust isn't always enough. Always check things out, anywhere you possibly can.
And never pay them, unless you know that's what you intended.
"Money flows to the writer."
Not the other way round.