Follow the Money

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 ( ), 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.

Tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

7 Responses to Follow the Money

  1. Great points, Maris. Thanks for sharing 🙂 I hadn’t heard about agents or editors asking authors to get their manuscripts cleaned up because they don’t have the time to edit. I don’t think I like that idea either.


  2. Oh yeah! I was very nearly hooked by a similar ploy back in the day. That’s what critique partners are for, isn’t it?

  3. Kristen says:

    Isn’t it awful how many different ways there are to get scammed? Great information, and very helpful – thank you for posting!

    • Maris Soule says:

      I’ve heard way too many stories from writers who have paid a considerable amount of money and discovered they didn’t get the distribution or book they’d been promised.

  4. Melissa Keir says:

    What a great blog. I’ve been with two POD small publishers who didn’t ask me for money but didn’t stay open very long. That’s another possibility that could happen in today’s world. So many small publishers (and big ones) are going under. It’s important to know how to get your rights back.

    • Maris Soule says:

      Excellent point, Melissa. Every writer should read and understand the contract s/he signs. Getting ones rights back has become even more important now that writers are putting their older novels out as e-books.

  5. Lucy Kubash says:

    Does any other group of creative people get scammed as much as writers do? You have to wonder. My experience with an epublisher going bankrupt taught me a lot about getting rights back, and yes, that is very important.