I have two pieces of mail to share with you today. First off is this query from an aspiring screenwriter in Germany:
I am trying to collect experience in "stoffentwicklung" what might be similar to the expression "scriptwriting" for movies and television. I had the Idea to got to Los Angeles- Hollywood to do a trainee, but I really don't know if this is
common in the same way as it is here in Germany. I would be very greatfull if
you could help me on this.
I'm not aware of all the trainee opportunities in screenwriting in L.A…but the few that I know about are highly competitive. You would be competing against graduates of the film schools at UCLA, USC and NYU, to name a few. And I suspect the trainee programs are more likely to take a U.S. writer than one from Europe. That said, it couldn't hurt to apply anyway. All it will cost you is a stamp or a click.
I am an aspiring and intelligent writer who is aware that there are so many less-than-honest companies. Do you despise all self publishing or do you see the value in some authors deciding to self publish? Are there any companies in particular that you have found success with? Do you know approximately how many legitimate literary agents are available in the US and how many manuscripts they take on per year? I know that there are relatively unknown authors that do get the opportunity to publish but is there an average advancement amount that is given to a first timer? How is the figure decided? I am passionate about what I have written and I do not want the manuscript, characters, places, etc to be altered in any way. Can I get a guarantee from a traditional publisher that my work will not be manipulated or misconstrued?
Here's how I replied:
Why? Because no agent is likely to represent a newbie writer as inflexible as you appear to be…unless, of course, your work is
mind-blowingly spectacular and amazingly commercial. And while a real publisher won't edit your work without your consent…they also won't publish it if you are unwilling to make the changes they think are necessary.
So if what you want is your manuscript to be printed in a form resembling a book without any editing whatsoever, then hell yes, call iUniverse right away. You won't sell any copies, and it will cost you a small fortune, but at least it will be printed in book form without any chance of rejection, editing…or advances and sales. But hey, at least you will have done it your way and avoided any chance of someone telling you something you don't want to hear.
Do I despise all self-publishing? No, I don't. I despise the vanity presses that prey on the stupidity and desperation of aspiring authors and swindle them out of their money. And I have little patience for newbie writers who are so intent on finding a short-cut that they blind themselves to obvious scams.
Self-publishing is rarely a wise idea for fiction but it can work with non-fiction, especially if you have a strong platform from which to publicize and sell the book, like teaching a class, hosting a TV or radio show, preaching to a congregation, touring as a speaker, running seminars, etc.