Tonight I am not going to share with you the wisdom of the universe. I’m not even going to tell you how to write better. I’m going to be a crabby person and grump, here on the blog.
You folks may or may not be aware of it, but there are writers out there who don’t like us. Not scammers, but fellow writers. Hard to believe, isn’t it?
The most common reason people don’t like us is that they feel we’re too hard on agents and publishers. Some people think we’re really mean to the well-intentioned but clueless agents we warn against. They point out, truthfully, that their intent is not criminal. Well…yeah. But if they charge fees and have no sales, their INTENT becomes rather secondary, don’t you think?
We also sometimes have people get unhappy with us who have written to ask us if an agent or publisher they’ve queried is legitimate. When we reply back with info that reflects the data we’ve gathered on that agent or publisher, and the info we provide is negative, they climb aboard a reed boat and push off into that big river in Northern Africa, “De Nile.” “Does this mean I shouldn’t sign their publishing/agenting contract?” is a response we receive all too often, I’m afraid. Even worse, they’ll say, “Does this mean I shouldn’t have signed that contract and paid them X amount?”
Don’t get me wrong, the vast majority of people who come to Writer Beware for help are nice folks and quite grateful for our help. Every so often, however, we get nailed on a message board by writers who are just plain not Our Fans. Why?
The most common complaint, as I said, is that we’re too tough on agents and publishers. Another complaint we hear from time to time is that we’re not “qualified” to be watchdogs because we are not police officers or associated with law enforcement. Or people say we can’t know what a scam is because we’re not lawyers.
The thing that’s ironic about all of this, is that if we WERE your average garden variety police officer, or lawyer, we wouldn’t know enough about the publishing field to know when someone is behaving in a suspicious, scammy fashion. Most of the law enforcement officials we’ve worked with, we’ve had to explain, in painstaking terms, how a REAL agent functions, or a REAL publisher functions. Then we explain how the scammer in question functions, and point out how writers are being defrauded. The officers and agents we’ve worked with are smart folks…they catch on quickly. But publishing is an esoteric field, and publishing scams operate a bit differently than your average con.
So…we’re not lawyers, but we do have an IP/Copyright attorney who once specialized in prosecuting scammers in his former life, looking over our shoulder. “Jaws” keeps us pretty well aware of the law and how it applies to the scammers we deal with.
I’ve noticed that Dave Kuzminski has come under fire lately, too. Dave, you’ve got my sympathy. It’s really tough to be out there trying to help people, only to have them turn around and whack you on the shin for your efforts.
As for my report on the iUniverse/B&N publishing and bookstore placement situation, I’m still working on it. One of the things I set out to do in preparing this report requires that I at least skim the 6 books iUniverse sent me so I could see what kinds of books they’re talking about for their “Star Program” and “Publishers Choice” placement programs. Even skimming six books takes some time.
-Ann C. Crispin
Author: STORMS OF DESTINY/HarperEos