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Old 01-25-2007, 06:03 PM
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Scams

Before I forget, I wanted to have a thread dedicated to scams. Before you submit anything to a publisher or an agent, please please please take five seconds to google "agent/publisher name scam" and see if anything pops up.

Here are a few of the big ones:

1. New York Literary Agency. Total scam.
2. Children's Literary Agency. Same thing.
3. Poetry.com and the National Library of Poetry. Most of us got sucked into these at one point or another. You enter their free "contest" and, no matter what, they tell you you're a semifinalist and have a chance to win a prize. Really it's a scam to try and get you to buy their anthology and pay for their expensive, overpriced lectures.


Here are some good sites for checking out possible scams:
1. Preditors and Editors manages a database of agents and publishers and their track record.
2. Writer Beware contains updates and warnings on various literary scams.

Here are a few general tips:
1. Money flows one way: publisher --> writer. Never the other way around. You don't pay your agent for anything (until your book sells, of course) and you never give money to a publisher (unless you're self-publishing).

I can't emphasise this strongly enough. Some agents want to charge for incidentals like photocopying, mailing expenses, etc. Professionals don't; those are business expenditures they are expected to make as part of doing their job. Beware of anyone who wants to charge you anything to get published.

You'll find even at conferences, should you be lucky enough to attend, if you meet an agent or editor for coffee and a business discussion, they will pay. It is a business expense.

Some agents will recommend an editing service. This can be legit, but usually isn't if they recommend a particular service. For example, "This story needs a lot of work; consider an editing service," isn't a warning sign, it's just good advice. "This story needs a lot of work; consider hiring Editing Service XYZ for reasonable rates and a good experience," is a red flag. The agent may have an interest in the service and recommend everyone there.

Editing services and proofreaders charge legitimate fees, but shop around so you don't wind up overpaying.

2. For contests, measure the entry fee against the prize money. Reputable contests can charge to enter; that's how the business makes money and how it generates the winnings. If a contest charges you $10 an entry for a prize fee of $100, though, it's not a good gamble. Obviously they skim most of the money for themselves. If a contest charges $10 an entry for a prize fee of $5000, though, it's probably more legit. Again, google "contest name scam" first to see if there are any warnings out there.

*intercom static* That is all.
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