As this stinky business with Undead Press, Anthony Giangregorio, and any other publishing entities the man uses, blows up all over writerly facebook pages and blogs everywhere, I thought I’d post my thoughts on the issue.
For those not aware of what I’m talking about, her is Mandy DeGeit’s original post that is going viral as I type. I think I commented last night, when there were about 30 other comments. Now my inbox has accumulated each subsequent comment to the tune of 400 and counting. It’s like she made the Freshly Pressed pages here at good old WordPress. The girl had a crappola thing happen to her, but all the buzz is a sweet turnaround, so the story may indeed have a happy ending.
Anyway, read her post. Cringe along with everyone else. And then ask yourself, “How do I, as a fledgling author, keep buggery like that from happening to me?”
The allure of thy name in print is strong. So powerful, in fact, that tons of would-be authors probably fall for scammy publishers every day. Not all bad experiences make the viral radar, however. So we need to arm ourselves here, people. Together, if we refuse to work with these tumors, they will eventually shrivel up and die. Because, let’s face it–they’re blood-sucking leeches who can’t sustain themselves with their own sub-par writing, so they climb on the backs of the innocent and naive.
I was fortunate enough to have the first piece of writing I ever sent out be picked up by a reputable (and professionally paying) publisher. Had that not been the case, I can see where I might have undervalued my work; where I even might have been desperate enough to send weeks worth of work to a POS like Mr. Giangregorio for the chance to be published by ANYBODY in the world. His shtick, you’re not good enough for publication, but I’m going to do it anyway, could look like a golden opportunity for a newbie, and one might easily overlook the fine print.
So what’s an author to do? Well, first of all, knowledge is power. Know the web sites that post reviews of publishers and editors. Predators and Editors is one. Writer Beware is another.
Google is your friend. Seedy publishers are not.
Talk to other writers and find out about their good and bad experiences. Absolute Write is a fabulous site, chock-full of information and helpful people fighting the same fight you are.
Research, research, research. You do it for your writing, so why wouldn’t you do it when seeking a potential publisher; when sending your baby out into the cruel world?
Another thing: Go with your gut. If the website of a potential publisher looks like a child put it together, they obviously do not invest much time and effort into their “business.” It stands to reason, they will invest even less time and effort into your writing. You want your work in a well-put-together and attractive package that you won’t be embarrassed to show to friends and family.
If a pub’s website looks like this, odds are your book will look like shit, too, even if they don’t butcher your hard work before printing it. I landed on Open Casket Press’ site while floating around the ether investigating submission calls a while back. It just so happens that Open Casket is another of Giangregorio’s publishing ventures. Well, I noticed the horrid web presence and out of morbid curiosity stuck around long enough to see what they were paying for a story. Nada. Zip. Zilch.
And that is exactly what they think of your work.
Have more respect for yourself than that.
And, finally, we get to the contract. If you submit, and your work is accepted, there will be a contract. This is your legal bible. Your authorial condom there to protect you from underhanded disease carriers. Read it carefully. Pull it out of the package and fill it with water. If it leaks from countless different holes, toss that shit. If you are unsure of what a “normal” contract looks like, or whether or not the people who want to print your story are royally screwing you over–ASK! Just ask. Jump on Absolute Write and post on the appropriate forum. Guaranteed, you will have twenty responses in a day. Don’t sign anything unless you know what you are getting yourself into.
At the end of the day, it is your story. Your hard work, and no one is entitled to make money off of it and leave you high and dry without your say so. Just say no, because odds are you won’t end up being an overnight sensation and gaining thousands of new blog followers by allowing your work to be defiled and your name to be jeopardized.
Odds are, all you’ll have to show for it are a bunch of overpriced books sitting in your basement and a very sore ass.