Spring brings with it hordes of publishing predators as writers' conferences gear up for yearly meetings.
Be aware that all conferences are not created equal. Agents, acquisitions editors, and publishers are vetted by conferences sponsored by national organizations, like the SCBWI or RWA.
Smaller, state or regional conferences, don't perform the same due diligence. They're happy to snag any agents, acquisitions editors, or publishers who will attend their conferences and help them attract paid customers: writers who want to become authors.
Publisher predators hide their true motives. They look and act like the real deal as they flash glossy business cards and showcase their websites, filled with books they claim to have published. Once they spot a flicker of interest in a writers' eye, they lavish praise on the writer's work and promise everything in return for a signature on their contract. Some of the perks include professional editing and book design, extensive promotion and marketing programs, interviews, blog posts, author tours, shelf space at Barnes and Noble and listings on every virtual bookstore on the internet. Wow! What's not to like?
The writer launches into their happy dance, doesn't read the contract (which they wouldn't understand anyway), and signs on the dotted line. Oh dear! They've just given away the rights to their manuscript . . . forever. Once they discover the publisher is more fake than real and perks offered are not part of the program, it's too late to wrestle back the rights to their own work.
One of my clients fell prey to a publisher predator who printed her book via a P.O.D (Print on Demand) company. The un-edited, poorly designed book shrieked "rookie" and only sold to faithful F&F (the author's friends and family). Despite repeated emails and phone calls requesting follow through on promises made, nothing happened until an attorney stepped into the picture. One year and several hundred dollars later, my client regained the rights to her manuscript.
Publisher predators, who thrive on the inexperience of newbees, often entice the writer to hire their "associate" for editing, and a second "associate" for formatting and cover design. The writer goes along to get along, pays the fees and hopes for the best: a beautifully designed and carefully edited book. Never ever happens! The end result is always the same: a poorly crafted book that will never make it onto the shelves of Barnes and Noble.
Become your own first line of defense~
When you receive notice of a writers' conference that looks promising, study the listings of publishers who will attend. Check out their websites, then read sample pages of their books at Amazon.com. What are you looking for? Books with unappealing covers, tiny page margins, small type, extensive writing mechanic errors, and un-edited text. Steer clear of these "publishers."
Take advantage of the situation~
If you're offered a contract from a possible publisher predator, or any publisher, never ever sign a contract without consulting an agent. If you've researched potential agents interested in your genre, email them and explain your situation. "I've received an offer of publication, and would appreciate your professional opinion." Also include (in the same email), your query letter, synopsis, and sample pages. Most agents will read a query that has generated publisher interest, even if the publisher may or may not be legit. This can result in your landing a agent to watch your back and help you get what you've wanted all along, a credible publisher.
Nancy Cavanaugh's dream, since 1994, was to become a published author of children's books. Her path toward that goal has involved learning to love each part of the process which she describes as:
I met Nancy when hosting a critique group in my home. She inspired us with her determination to expand her story telling skills, and develop material for different venues, including articles and curriculum for mid-grade students.
Nancy's path to publication has not been straight forward (very few are). She launched her quest with a dynamite query letter which landed an excellent agent who recognized her ability to tell stories beautifully tailored to the mid-grade market.
However, and here's where the process took off in an un-anticipated direction. The agent couldn't sell Nancy's first book, "This Journey Belongs to Ratchet" because a similar one, with excellent reviews and upward sales, already was on the market.
At that time, Nancy was polishing a second book
(smart move: always have your next book underway). So, her agent shifted gears and sold Book #2, "Always Abigail" to Jabberwocky (2013), a division of Sourcebooks.
One year later, Nancy's agent sold her first book, "Ratchet." Her third book, "Just Like Me" was released this year (2016).
Nancy's future is filled with books, books, and more books, geared to the market she knows and loves. When asked how she managed to keep plodding along toward her goal of becoming a children's book author, Nancy cites her personal motto, "Slow and steady finishes the race."
Comment from Molli: So, what's your motto?
If you’d like to re-post any of my blogs, help yourself. Please reference the source as: Molli Nickell. THE Publishing Wizard at www.getpublishednow.biz