Writing Scams

My friend author Joe Konrath has an excellent post today on writing scams. He discusses Fee-Charging Agents, Writing Contests, Paid Anthologies, Vanity Presses, and POD Publishers, among other things. It should be required reading for all  aspiring authors. Here’s a sample of his wise counsel:

PAID ANTHOLOGIES: Here’s another quick scam. You submit a poem, and it gets
accepted into an upcoming poetry collection. You get excited, tell all your
friends and family, and then get a letter in the mail saying that you can
purchase the anthology at $40.

Naturally you buy a copy, and so does Mom, and so does Aunt Grace and your
best friend Phil. When you get the anthology, you see it is 700 pages long, and
your wonderful poem is crammed on a page with seven others.

Do the numbers. If there are 3000 poems in the book, and each writer in the
anthology bought at least one copy, the publisher made $120,000.

Poetry.com was infamous for this scam. They’d also invite writers to awards
ceremonies, at staggering costs to the gullible writer, to receive a worthelss
award along with 1000 other ‘winners’.

Please pass the link to his post along to any struggling writers you know…they should print out his article and keep it handy. It will help avoid the temptation to pay an agent to read their books, pay to publish their book with iUniverse  or pay to enter one of those Writers Digest contests…


14 thoughts on “Writing Scams”

  1. This is exactly what happened to one of my daughters. She “won” a poetry competition and was subsequently invited to buy the book in which it was published. Her poem was found on page … with 10 other poems by other people. The offer of “helping” her to make money out of it, was not taken up by us as her, in their eyes, gullible parents. They wanted £1000 upfront.
    Strangely enough, this company doesn’t exist anymore.

  2. Hmmm…I always thought that (modest) contest entry fees were on the up-and-up, a way to cover the costs of the readers and what not. This article says diff. Any other opinions on this?

  3. Some Romance Writers of America local chapters have writing contests and charge entry fees — anywhere from $10 – 35 per entry. But these contests have editors and/or agents as the final round judges, and many unpublished writers enter them.

  4. Took an editing class where a small press/journal publisher came to talk. She admitted to us that the reading fees for the annual contest kept the operation afloat. They weren’t doing much more than breaking even, and seemed dedicated to the work they were publishing.

  5. Someone posted this on my blog today:
    I run a literary service and a small publishing company.
    The majority of the manuscripts we publish come through the literary service, where we test market them on the web with anyone who wants to read them and report on them.
    We charge a fee through the literary service for two reasons:
    1). When we allowed free submissions, we were so overwhelmed by submissions that we could not even go through them all. Ninety percent of them were painfully bad. Now, with a fee, we get much fewer submissions, which allows us to truly ‘read’ them, not just skim them, and the quality of the writing has gone up ten-fold. Evidently, people are not as blind to their writing’s worth as we generally believe, because if they’re asked to put some money behind it, they are not as convinced as they were a moment ago that they have the next best-seller.
    2). Test marketing takes time (setting up the ms, tracking the reader demographics and the reader reports) and money. The fee charged in no way makes a profit. We make our profit from book sales (hence, why we test market. We want to know we have a winner).
    Double Edge Press/Cutting Edge Literary Services
    Be afraid. Be very afraid.

  6. It’s funny how some things never change. There are always scammers ready to take your money. With the self publishing capabilities of the internet, it seems silly for anyone to pay to have their work published, especially poetry. It’s so easy to do it yourself.

  7. Hi….I am new to all of this writting world! I have done some homework and found it to be a crazy world when looking for the real ghost writers and publishers…I have found a lot of scams and rip offs. I have written a detective story and a true one at that….some of the top reporting shows want my interview and tapes…not doing it right now….I have written this story abd it exist only on paper! LOL
    Can anyone help me with where to go next so I do not get ripped off? And it will probably need to be critiqued by someone…would that be a ghost writer?

  8. I have written and published 55 books. I write mostly for myself. Whether I sell or not is secondary. I got caught up in two self publishing scams that cost me several thousand dollars. I now publish free. And if I want a copy of my book they will send it to me for about 10 bucks and send it to me within ten days. Go to lulu.com. Publish free. Verify me at lulu.com. Put my name–Robert Morrison–into their search. You will be impressed.

  9. Don’t get ripped off with self publishers. I have written and published 55 books for free at lulu.com. Check it out.They will publish your book and get a copy of it to you in ten days for about 10 bucks plus postage.
    Check mine out–Put my name, Robert Morrison, into their search.


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