A Cruel Scam

Hi friends. I meet people every week who are dreaming of having their books published. Unfortunately, in this economy, there are always people ready to prey on those dreamers. The following is a letter forwarded to me by an unpublished author. Let me preface this post by telling you that I am not a clearinghouse for writers trying to get published. I sincerely wish that every writer could have their work successfully published, but the reality is that publishing is a very tough and competitive business, and the list of viable commercial publishers is getting smaller all the time. I don’t have the answers to all your publishing questions. For that you should join a writer’s group, research publishing at the library, or attend a writer’s workshop put on by a respected organization with a proven track record. I myself attended the Antioch Writer’s Workshop in Yellow Springs, Ohio nearly 20 years ago and found that it truly put me on the track to being published. Summertime is primetime for writer’s workshops, so if you’re serious about being published, I suggest you do a Google search of workshops and find one that will work for you. What I DO NOT suggest is that you allow yourself to be victimized by unscrupulous scammers who suggest you pay them for anything. Listen to me people: THIS IS NOT HOW REPUTABLE COMMERCIAL PUBLISHERS or LITERARY AGENTS OPERATE. Did you hear me? If a publisher believes you have written a viable, saleable book of any kind, they will pay YOU. Because the plan is that they will sell your books, and that is how they recoup the money they pay you. Reputable literary agents don’t charge reading fees. Because they make their living from commissions earned on selling your work, it is only in their best interest to take on clients whose work they believe they can sell. Anything else is a dodge. If you have a burning need to have your work published at any cost, of course you can go any number of routes such as publishing through a vanity press, or a print on demand operation. But you need to realize that the chances are incredibly small that your book will ever be sold in mainstream bookstores, or that you’ll ever realize a profit after the expenses of publishing. Oh sure, it could happen. And you could also, I suppose, get hit on the head by a meteorite on your way to the Quik-Trip for a Big Gulp. I’m just sayin’. Now. Please do not deluge me with sincere emails about how wrong I am on this topic. Here is the excerpted letter forwarded to me by a hopeful author.

Dear Vulnerable Hopeful Author:
A common myth today is that publishers still pay new authors cash advances. What it boils down to is that book publishers today want to attract and will compete for well-known celebrity names and individuals who have national speaking platforms with the print and broadcast media. Books do not sell themselves. That is another myth. So publishers need strong spokesmen for their titles, as the media and readers want to hear from the authors of the books, not publisher representatives.
So, yes we do provide cash advances to these types of authors as do other traditional book publishers. However, if one is a new, first-time author with no recognizable name in a specific industry or with the general population and does not have good public relations skills or a fan following from other books or efforts, then it is very rare to get any advance, and even to get a publishing contract from a reputable traditional publisher.
We do have a new author program that helps in this respect, where we do publish a few each year, and you were one of the few selected. For new authors we require an $880 returnable deposit. We feel new authors is a special niche we have because we think at least a few new talented authors should get the opportunity to be published without an agent or successful publishing history, but since there is no representative or experience, we must do it within our returnable deposit program.
It is not likely you will ever see a better offer for your book and personally I think you would be wise to move forward and accept it. We would really like to publish your title and see you succeed and not have your effort in writing be wasted by shelving it and letting it become outdated or a dust magnet or ending up with a vanity, POD or self publisher.
We are very interested in your title as we perceive it would provide great social benefit. We encourage you to move forward and take the next step to action and publish it with us.
I’ve been in this industry for over 10 years and can tell you these 2 things for sure: 1) Since we only work with a few new authors a year and your manuscript was selected, which is really a very high honor, (as carefully choose our titles and limit selection to an average of less than 50 books a year). Our offer will most likely will be the best offer you ever receive. 2) You can submit your book for the next ten years and most likely not see an offer from a quality traditional book publisher like us. You may not have been submitting your manuscript for long, so you may not know this yet. There are many publishing myths that new authors are exposed to that do not accurately describe the reality of book publishing today. We do not know of any other traditional publishers like us that are now reviewing manuscripts without the author either having a respected agent or a history of successful publishing experience. This is a special niche we have because we feel at least a few new talented authors should get the opportunity to be published without an agent or successful publishing history, but since there is no representative or experience, we must do it within our returnable deposit program. I hope you take a few minutes to visit these web sites of these other top traditional publishers so you can quickly verify that my statements about cash advances and new author submissions are accurate.

The kind of chicanery threaded throughout the above letter makes me nauseous. Please don’t fall prey to a scam such as this. That is all.