Yesterday I attended a local writers’ meeting where one of the members mentioned her experience with an agency that had sounded promising until she received an e-mail mentioning that they wanted her to pay X number of dollars and they would help her get her ms into publishable form.
Now, I’m aware that many agents are so swamped with submissions that they are asking potential clients to have their mss edited, but I cringe any time I hear about an agency or a publisher asking for up-front money.
Writing nowadays has truly become a business with writers being forced to market as well as write. As a business person, the writer needs to evaluate how and where the money is being spent. Hiring an editor to vet a ms is fine, but the writer should be the one who chooses the free-lance editor and decides how much will be spent and what to expect from such an edit. The same is true regarding publicity packages. If/when a publisher promises marvelous promotion for a book for X number of dollars, be wary. Make sure they can and will deliver what’s promised.
The writer yesterday was wise enough to reject the agency asking her to pay, and she has been checking agents and publisher on Editors and Preditors (http://pred-ed.com/ ), but many new writers are so excited by the idea of being published, they’ll pay whatever’s asked simply to see their work in print.
That’s why some writers turn to self-publishing, which simply guarantees there will be predators out there waiting to take their money. Just recently a self-publishing company here in Michigan—one that stated “We are Michigan’s largest and most trusted book publisher. We publish most genres and offer such excellent services as custom book covers, editing, continuity editing, and specialized layout”—closed. It’s being investigated for claims of unpaid royalties, unfulfilled book orders, and breach of contract.
It would be wonderful if writers could simply write, but since that’s rarely true, do be careful. If you’re signing with an agent or a publishing house (be it a traditional publisher or a POD publisher), check it out. Contact others who are with this agency or publisher, check Preditors and Editors. Post an email on your chapter links asking anyone who’s had experience with this agency or company to contact you privately. The money is supposed to flow to you. If it’s not, make sure you know you’re getting what you pay for.