Writer Beware!

Becoming a writer is a tough process.  The writer works alone.  Often it’s his or her ‘second job’,  the one done for no pay while  spouse and friends are watching television or socializing or working at second jobs that have real paychecks.  Nevertheless, the neophyte writer labors on alone until he has that first, finished manuscript.  And then he lifts his head up and wonders, “How does this get turned into a book?”

And that, sad to say, is when the sharks may begin to circle. A ‘bite’ for the fake agency that charges the author a reading fee and sends him to the fake ‘book doctor’ who takes another bite and sends him on the pretend ‘publisher’ who tears off a chunk of his money and his pride as he sends the writer off, alone, to peddle a badly-edited, overpriced book to his family and friends and no one else.  A book that receives no advance, no publicity, no distribution and no royalties. 

Worst case scenario?  Yes. But it happens far too often to inexperienced writers.

Over many years of writing and years of offering advice to newcomers to the field of writing, I’ve often referred to Writer Beware as an extremely valuable source.  If you write or think you might want to write, bookmark that link right now! This recommendation applies for writers of all genres, including poetry and mainstream, because  there are no limits to the scam agents and pitfalls for new writers.  And in a time when self-publishing is no longer seen as an author’s last resort, but a valid option especially for special interest books, the scams have only multiplied.  Make no mistake. There is a long line of folks who would love to take your money and trash your dream.

And that is where Writer Beware! comes into play.   Writer Beware! is a site that investigates scams affecting writers and boldly publishes their findings.  They will tell you, bluntly, which agents and publishers to avoid.  They put out, in plain words, exactly when you should be willing to pay a fee, and when that fee is a cheat and a rip off.  They will tell you which publishers are actually vanity presses, and give you the information that can help you decide when self-publishing IS a good choice, and how to go about it.

Plainly put:  They teach you what you need to know to avoid being fleeced on your way to being published.

Victoria Strauss and Ann Crispin have been extremely valuable allies, over and over, to me and to many other writers I know. They have given unselfishly of  their time, pursued lawsuits on behalf of writers and endured the sort of harassment that befalls people who expose scumbags.  There is now a concerted effort to discredit Ann, Victoria, Writer Beware! and many of the people who have supported them.   For the details on this, I will refer you directly to Ann’s Blog about the matter.

Don’t be deceived.  Writer Beware! is a valuable resource to any writer.  If they weren’t effective, they wouldn’t be enduring this harassment.

Ann and Victoria, thank you.


13 Responses to Writer Beware!

  1. Thank-you for taking the time to offer us all such detailed and helpful advice.

    Hugs to you, Robin! 🙂


  2. Ah, having worked in a major book chain I can easily believe there are more unfortunate naive people that I had previously believed – they would turn up with a self-published book (printed in Comic Sans, ugh) and yell at us because their “publisher” had p”guaranteed” them that every branch of Waterstone’s will stock their book in bulk and display it in Front of Store and Charts… As if any publisher had any influence on it… Sad but true! 😕

  3. Thank you Robin, I will spread the word about this post. Especially the campaign by the nefarious losers trying to discredit Writer Beware.

  4. It’s good to be informed that you can’t trust everyone in the publishing business. My sister and I wrote a children’s story but haven’t done anything with it, mostly because we have no idea how. We aren’t “writers” but we were greatly inspiried by where we lived for a year and wrote a story based off of it. I’ve toyed with the idea of getting it published, but when research online what we’d need to do, I get discouraged. So for now it’s sitting on the shelf. Maybe someday….
    Thanks for the heads up!

  5. April, it can be so discouraging!
    But I hope that you will persevere.

    If you’d like your story to see print, here is one possible path:
    First make sure your manuscript is in great shape: check spelling, grammar, paragraphs and punctuation. Whether you submit electronically or on paper, it’s still important.

    Next, look at your story. Is this a book length manuscript? A story for a magazine? When you’ve decided that, I suggest your next stop might be the library to look through a copy of Writer’s Market. This book lists book publishers and magazine publishers, and tells what they are looking for, what they don’t want, and were to send your story. Pick out a few likely markets, and then double check with your own research. If it’s a magazine, go read a few copies to see what they buy.If it’s a book publisher, look to see what books they have published recently. Do they seem like a good fit?

    If all is well, then submit your story (on paper or electronically, as directed.)

    Then sit back and chew your nails. 🙂
    Or start writing the next book if you have a great idea.

    If you get a rejection slip, carefully put it in your rejection slip folder (I have a big one!) and then send it on to your next best choice.

    It’s not easy. You have to be thick skinned about rejection. But this is the only path I know to paid publication.

    Good luck!


  6. Thank you for taking the time to post this, Robin! I’m writing my own first book currently and don’t really know much at all about the publishing industry so it’s very good of you to post this. I’d hate for my first publishing attempts to be nothing more than people trying to take my money.

    Not only are you an excellent author (you are one of my favourites!), you really give great advice for people who also want to be authors. So, thank you 🙂


  7. Hi Peter! The ‘Writer’s Market’ and library are how I began my career. There are many resources on line, and publishing opportunities on line as well. I don’t feel as qualified to advise on them, but my ‘old fashioned’ way might be a good fit for April, who sounded a bit overwhelmed by the Internet resources (but maybe I’m just channeling my own inner fears there!)
    Do go visit Writer Beware early and often as you are writing your epic. SFWA is not the only writers’ organization with helpful pages. Visit the Mystery Writers of America and the Romance Writers of America, even if you don’t think you fall in those categories. Helpful writing advice and helpful writers are out there.
    Good luck! And let us know how things progress for you!


  8. Robin,

    Just a quick FYI. I posted on Facebook and shared it. Then I posted another link on Tom Piccirilli’s page. Tom is sort of my writing mentor and a horror/noir/hard boiled author with a pretty large following. He approved of my posting it so hopefully it will get this some attention.


  9. Thanks, Brandon. Writer Beware! provides a valuable service to all writers. I’d hate for people to lose confidence in them because of a smear campaign!


  10. Hi Robin,

    Just to reiterate what the guys above have said – as I have been taking my first steps into this world it’s really helpful to have an established author to take the time to recommend this! I fear, based on my first load of critique, I may be some time from having to refer to it in earnest though 😉

  11. I’m glad to see this post because I’ve heard about the vicious attacks on Writer Beware, which I know to be an extremely valuable site. I even went to the website of one of the attackers to see what they were up to (it was laughable, really, very desperate).

    I’ve seen writers get scammed by in the past, poets and prose writers alike. Preditors and Editors keep lists, too, on the scammers. There are many scam contests, too.