English: KOLKATA WEST INTERNATIONAL CITY SCAM (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
It has come to my attention that some people who come to my blog are seeking advice on publishing. By my attention I mean, among the search engine terms that have brought someone to me, this was listed: “whitmore publishing real or scam?”
So far my publishing experience is limited, and remains only within the short-stories in webzines realm, but I still feel the need to at least direct some people who are seeking advice towards the right path the best that I can.
When you are seeking a publisher, the number one advice I give almost anyone is simply, always look at your own library of books first. If you collected those books, chances are pretty good that whatever you wrote that you want others to read is within the genre of at least some if not most of what you already own, and, obviously, if they are publishers you already know they will get someone who works with them published (this is clear because you yourself know them).
I know, you’re scared and intimidated by the idea of throwing yourself at those publishers that you’ve actually heard of and instead feel that your lowly self could only stand among the simpler “underground” publishers working out of some guy’s basement—I swear I’m not reading your mind right now, this is just what goes through most authors’ heads, including my own. The only solution to these voices telling you you’re not good enough for the “big guys” and should just take your chances with the guys who never “published” anything other than their own friend’s single book, is to simply ignore them—set-up your submission letter, write in the address, take a shot of rum, hit send… to the “big guys” (if it’s snail-mail, you might need more rum).
Don’t tell yourself that you’re getting in on the ground floor with some new publishers and it will be fun because they’re new; that’s just not true… they’re ground floor, they will not get beyond that within the time that you’re there, if ever. If you want to take your chances with them, then at least realize what your chances really are.
Then of course there’s the increasingly popular method of self-publishing. This actually can be a great thing, or it can just as easily put you in the same risks as you were putting yourself in with the small publishers—because most small publishers are actually self-publishers trying hard to hope you won’t notice until after you’ve already shoved your money in their wallets. But, when it comes to self-publishing, the best I can say is make sure it’s truly self-publishing—meaning, you are the one in the main control of everything going on, keep as few middle-men in it as possible.
I’m a bit bias towards Lulu.com, since I had a couple of books sold through them (don’t bother looking, I’ve taken my store down a bit ago, I’ve been too busy to deal with it, plus I needed to remove some things for rights issues). But, Lulu charges you, the writer, nothing; they will only charge the reader about the same amount they would pay for any other book in the grocery store rack (I don’t remember the percentage, but it’s added on to whatever you choose to set as your own income for the book, plus printing costs if you choose to print—if you choose for it to be free, then it is entirely if you leave it as an e-book). There are a few others that run pretty much this same way, I’m only telling you of Lulu because it’s what I’ve had experience with.
Also keep in mind, that when you self-publish at this level of self, you are also the one who has to push your product—which means, blogging, tweeting, FB, etc, becomes so much your life that fitting in time for the next book could become an issue. Not saying it can’t be done, reference Amanda Hocking—but also realize that she really isn’t a common case, but she does at least prove that it can be done.
Now, to reference the question of people being scams or not (for those who still insist on trying publishers that leave them to question), the best advice I can give on that is to Google the crap out of them. This is the digital information age, there is nothing, I repeat, nothing that can’t be Googled. With that in mind, if you Google, and for some reason find nothing on them at all, then you need to leave them alone—they’re a scam, and you’re one of their first victims (it’s not always good to be at the front of the line). When you find results, read them… all of them. Read message boards, read blogs, read whatever comes up and take in what others are saying, and weigh it out. Everyone has pissed off someone, so there will always be at least one negative review, but if the negatives out weigh the positives, well, then you’ll only have yourself to blame if you convince yourself that they’d be different with you, and you get it in the ass as a result.
And the number one advice I can give anyone is visit Writer Beware regularly, read the site, click Like on the FB page, and buy the contributors’ books (that part won’t really help you, but it just seems like the right thing to do, since they’ll be helping you so much anyway). Writer Beware is detailed in researching scams and non-scams alike, they compile some of the best writer’s advice you could ever get. If you call yourself a writer and do not keep up with Writer Beware, then you are doing yourself a great injustice, now go fix it.