Territory for Writers!
for the faint of heart.
Elrod's gotten a lot of questions on writing over the years.
her take on a few aspects of the industry, including serious bewares
concerning sharks in the publishing pool.
How do I learn to write?
All writers are insatiable readers.
For every book you plan to write, read at least 200
For every book you plan to write WELL, read at least
500 other books.
Make the library your new second home. If you're a
born storyteller, then this is something you're already doing!
The 808 section
of your library has LOTS of books on how to write. Read them.
And this is a helpful forum:
Membership is free, though they can use donations.
THERE ARE NO SHORTCUTS FOR THIS KIND OF JOB.
Do your due
diligence and write every day.
How do I to find a
First: WRITE A BOOK THAT'S WORTH
Second: GET OFF THE INTERNET.
Seriously. Don't bother using the Net for just
I know it's fast and easy, but when you put "book publisher" into
any search engine 99% of the results are going to be useless to you.
If they're not scams, they'll be vanity/subsidy houses or self
-publishing operations. None of those are any use to a professional
writer who wants books in stores.
If you stick with the 'Net, then at least bulletproof yourself against the
The quick way is do a search of that
name + "complaints" or "rip off" or "scam" and see what pops up.
That trick is good for just about any business for which you want
to do a background check!
If you went online anyway and think you've found a likely publisher:
Look for a "testimonials" page. (No
vanity/subsidy or self-publishing site is without one. Real publishers don't
bother. Their testimonial is having books selling in stores. Check the
Do they offer a "package"? (Real
publishers don't. They offer a contract with a 4-figure advance.
Do they appear friendly and claim to make getting published "easy"?
(It isn't. Don't kid yourself.)
Is the site geared toward selling itself to writers more than
selling its books? (You want them selling
books to the public, not themselves to you.)
Do they have ads up all over the Net?
(Real publishers don't bother with ads for themselves,
only their books.)
Do they express instant interest in your book?
(Real publishers take months to look over a book. Only
vanities after your cash at some point will get back to you within days.)
Do they heap on the praise?
(Real publishers don't, lest the author decide to ask for more money than is
If you encounter any of those, it's
not going to be of
use to you, so keep moving.
Cruise on over to the library to
look through a copy of WRITER'S MARKET.
In a hurry to get published? Then this is the wrong
job for you.
writers are a scammer's delight.
Take your time. Do the research.
Writer's looking for shortcuts on the road to
publication rarely ever end up where they want to be.
real publishers take months to decide on whether to buy a
book or not. It is a huge investment for them. They have to be
certain that your book will make them money.
Case in point, I have an
experienced agent, a string of sales, and a good fan base of readers.
Any proposal I submit will be accepted for publication, right?
No, not really. I had a hot proposal for a hot
market, a detailed outline for the first book, the first 60 pages
done, and general outlines for two more books in the series.
But it took more than six months--with some
prodding from my agent--for SEVEN different houses to look at it.
They all turned it down. Thankfully the eighth house accepted the
deal and we signed a contract. I'm working on those titles right
shopped the book to long established print houses. She doesn't waste
time on vanity operations and neither should you, if you want to
crack the professional market.
And finally, the
sure-fire way to find a reputable publisher:
GO TO A BOOKSTORE.
Look inside the books similar to your work for the names and websites
of their publishers. Read their submission guidelines. Follow them to
the letter. If they want agent-only submissions, shop for an agent.
Good guys or bad guys?
Check them out!
How do I find a reputable
ASK YOUR FAVORITE
Most have a contact addy on
their website and don't mind
replying to a short polite e-mail asking who represents them. It's
a good way to avoid fee-charging agents or inept agents.
Make sure the author writes stuff similar to
your own work. Do not ask them to look at your work. That is considered
the author writes in your genre. You don't send a cookbook to an agent
who only sells mysteries. Agents specialize, just like doctors.
delighted to be represented by
Lucienne Diver of The Knight Literary agency.
Do NOT bother with any agent who
wants up front money. They have no reason to sell your book
if you're dim enough to pay them first. That's a good reason for them to not
A legit agent makes
money AFTER achieving a sale.
A helpful hint for SAFE agent-hunting.
Pitfalls can be avoided.
How much does it cost to get published?
Publishers pay YOU.
Don't let anyone tell you different.
Remember YOG'S LAW. "Money flows toward the writer."
Its corollary: "The only place a writer signs a
check is on the back, when they endorse it."
-- When in doubt, check them out!
FAQs on Fanfic, Writing,
Publishing, and Rip Offs
FAQS ON WRITING
You write too slow!
Can I do Vampire Files stories myself? I'm not doing it for money or
anything like that!
Using another writer's creations without
permission--even when you are not making money on them--is called copyright infringement.
Depending on the writer, it is either something
they ignore or they will sue your socks off.
Consider me to be one of the latter. I know you
love my stories, but in the end, I own that little universe and I don't
want to share. It's all I've got, besides my dogs.
Most of the wonderful, wonderful people
who love and write fanfic totally understand and respect this.
I hope you're one of this most cool
The simple fact is that it's perfectly
okay and legal for any writer to defend their copyright. Gracefully
accept and respect their wishes. There are plenty of other writers who
don't care or mind fan fiction.
Here's the dish--I'm not being selfish
or mean...it is to protect YOU!
(I have a special blog on it here)
In nearly ALL book contracts is a clause
that states if I find anyone violating my copyright I am legally bound
to take action.
If I don't, then my publishers would SUE me.
Publishers are really hard-assed about it. They do NOT care if you're making no money
from it and only do it for love. These are LAWYERS fer cryin' out
This is why I'm humbly asking fan
writers to please include me out because it keeps YOU safe.
I'm honored you like my work so
much, but I DON'T want anyone to get into trouble over it!
THAT SAID--I'm also stating that I have nothing
against fanfic! A few people sitting in the back
of some panel rooms misheard me on this point. Put away the
voodoo dolls and pins, you're scaring the kids!
Other writers, TV shows, etc. don't mind fanfic on their works, and that's their business. I'm not
going to condemn fic writers for enjoying themselves. Some of my writer
buds (print published pros, yet!) write fic. My 'tude is live
& let live, and if a writer objects, just respect their view if they
don't want to play. It's just being polite.
Do not copy pages of any
author's books to put on websites or blogs.
Even if you give
the writer credit for the excerpt, doing so without permission is still copyright violation.
There is such a thing as "fair
use" and using short quotes is okay, but copying
whole pages of a book is copyright infringement. The fair use thing is
for reviews and commentary, but don't abuse it.
I have seen whole sections of books posted by
gamers who have them up as blogs for the characters they're
role-playing. They also blog for the character. You guessed it, that's
also copyright infringement if the character is owned by someone else.
And think--whatever is posted from a book could be a SPOILER! I've
seen it. I had to ask for those to be removed.
Maybe you really love a particular section of a favorite book, but fans who haven't read it yet won't thank you
for spilling the beans on a key scene.
Don't you just hate it when someone
blurts out a spoiler? I do.
Please, be polite and let other readers enjoy
finding out those things in their own!
Wait a sec--YOU wrote fanfic!
Indeed I did, a good 25+ years ago when I didn't know any better.
No one told me what a risk I was taking. No excuses, it was my bad. I
even thought the "I mean no copyright infringement" statement would keep
me safe. Not.
But I learned about copyright, and I don't write
fic any more. I was very, very lucky. I didn't get sued, and I am extremely grateful for that.
If I'd been
prosecuted for it there would have been NO Vampire Files
or any of the other books, because the publishers and agents would have
heard about it and rejected my work as a legal liability.
That's why I let new writers know what
they're risking and encourage them to make up their own universes to
lady decided to rewrite Star Wars. It is a nasty cautionary
tale. No biggie, lots of fans have done it. But SHE decided to
SELL her book via her own publishing house and put it up on
Amazon. Well, of course word
got out and the all-seeing eyes of LucasFilm's lawyers turned her
Never mind the fact that everyone in the
SW fanfic community is ready to nail her hide to the wall for terminal
stupidity, she has lost ALL chance of ever becoming a professional
writer. It doesn't matter that she has her own publishing
"house," these days anyone with the right software can set one
up and the big guns know it. Publishing is a small world, and the
people that matter in it just love hanging at the bar and sharing
stories. Word gets out.
That little disclaimer in the front of most
zines "we intend no copyright infringement" cuts no ice with lawyers; it
is their job to make your life a misery.
I usually hear that as an automatic
defense from fanzine writers/publishers and some actually believe it
will protect them from prosecution. But the hard truth is that the
owners of any given copyright have a right to defend it.
It doesn't matter that you're doing it
for love, not money.
Once you�ve been accused of
plagiarism and/or copyright infringement NO legitimate publishing house
or agent will want to see anything you write.
A pen name won�t save you, nor
will appeals about First Amendment Rights. This is not about
freedom of speech, it's about people using something that
doesn't belong to them. There are whole sections on "intellectual
properties" protected by copyright.
A writer friend of mine once got a letter
from two fanfic writers asking to use her famous series character in a fan
fiction they wanted to publish. Some writers don't mind this sort
of thing, but she is not one of them. She said no, giving her
answer in writing. She kept copies of all their mails.
Not getting the answer they wanted, the
fans went ahead and published anyway and hoped she wouldn't notice.
My friend--who is not rich--was forced to sue.
She won her suit, but was close to flat broke after the lawyers were
done. Had she held off, her publishers would have bankrupted her
by suing her. Like me, she has that clause in all her contracts.
The fans had to gather and destroy all
copies of their zine, so they got off light. In the meantime, my
friend's life was badly disrupted, she fell behind in her work, and it
didn't do her health any good having to deal with something so easily
prevented had those fans simply shown common courtesy and respected her
Most fanfic writers are
really fantastic, wonderful people who ARE totally polite and respecting
of another's property. They accept the other person's wishes and
move on. What's on this page has to do with that tiny fringe
element found in any sub-culture. We've all met them!
On the professional
extreme case cautionary tale is still going
around about two women (Dawn & Susan Hartzell writing as Pauline
Dunn) who ripped off Dean Koontz's Phantoms,
lifting the plot and whole passages and putting them into their books,
which they sold to Zebra back in the 90's. They got
caught. (Well, d'oh, again!)
They had to give back
thousands in advance money and buy a full
page ad (which costs thousands) in Publisher's Weekly to publicly
apologize. (Trust me--they got off light.) That was back in the
90's--in ALL that time I've
not heard of them selling anything else ever again, at least to a
professional print house under their pen name. Now this was an
over the top case of "WHAT were they THINKING???" --- but you can see the
consequences just ain't worth it!
So be safe. Make up your own
universe and play in it.
It�s a LOT more fun than my or anyone
else's used backyard. Write the kind of
stories YOU want to read. That�s how my career got
BE HONEST, TOO
When you write, write your own stuff; don't copy
another's work. That's called plagiarism. No one likes it.
Remember how it was in kindergarten? It's far worse in the adult world
and because of the Net, it can go viral and ruin a life in a matter of
Remember young Kaavya
Viswanathan whose book apparently plagiarized a number of other
novels in the genre? If she ever sells anything again I shall
be very surprised.
Perhaps you heard of
Cassie-Gate and the ferrets? Romance writer Cassie Edwards was finally busted. She'd been
plagiarizing copyrighted works for decades.
Remember this idiocy? In this case the writer made up
stuff, passed it off as a true story, and embarrassed the hell out of
Oprah, who'd bought it as a real deal. Not smart in the age of Google.
All any writer has when they start their professional career is their
So be smart and keep it!
While some plagiarists land on their feet and move
forward, don't assume you'll be one of them. That shadow of that theft
is always going to follow those writers.
Because of these scandals, publishers are taking out insurance riders to
keep them safe from dishonest writers. I've had to sign such documents,
swearing that the content of my books is my own, and not copied from
another source. That's always been the case for me, and it sucks that we
live in a world where such riders are required, but there it is.
about the Kolchak stuff? And Quincey Morris? Aren't those fan fics?
Kolchak's copyright is owned by writer Jeff
Rice, but he granted permission to a professional publisher
other writers the use of his character. I get paid for that
writing, and Jeff Rice gets paid for the use of his character.
It's professional writing and legal since everyone agreed on the
The copyright on Dracula,
expired decades ago.
It is in something called THE PUBLIC DOMAIN.
Public Domain is a cool thing!
It is totally LEGAL to write a Dracula stories, film, novel, musical,
and/or ballet, etc. if you want!
other writers have written Dracula stories and novels before I took a
Bram Stoker would be quite shocked that people still read him since the
book was not successful during his lifetime.
Copyright infringement might have annoyed him, too, though.
His widow sued a film maker for ripping off Dracula in the German
film Nosferatu. She won her suit and tons of copies were
destroyed. The film survived and is something of a classic now,
but the guys who made it should have gotten permission from the
start. It must have been a horrible experience for Mrs. Stoker to
have had to go through that.
What's with that "don't sell your book on eBay"?
Sounds like a good idea to me!
if you're into wacky comedy relief.
and publishers NEVER cruise eBay listings looking for future best-sellers. Trust me on this, they are steadily plowing through the
manuscripts that have been sent to them by writers who are serious about
I've seen a few of these idiotic
and absolutely useless attempts. NOT ONE of them ever resulted in
a professional sale, but I bet they were contacted by plenty of
How much does it cost to get a book
ABSOLUTELY NOTHING!!! You pay for paper, postage, and photocopying of your manuscript before
you send it to a publisher, but that's all. Sometimes not even
that much, as more and more publishers and agents choose to look at
One more time:
THE PUBLISHER PAYS YOU!
Some self-labeled "publishing" houses--that are really
author mills and subsidy operations--give the
impression that paying to get into print is the norm and how it's done,
but those are vanity houses who put this LIE about so THEY can get your money. DON'T USE THEM!
No matter how much cash you flush their way, they cannot get your book
Please read A.C. Crispin's piece on this topic.
How much do writers get paid?
Not a lot, but it's usually at least 4-figures. Check out Brenda
Hiatt's "Show Me The Money" piece. Assume that, as a debut writer, you
will get the lowest amount offered.
Even a low advance is better than paying to publish, and remember
that REAL COMMERCIAL publishers (sometimes called legacy or
"traditional" ) are the ones who can get books into stores!
Again--no vanity/subsidy or self-publishing house can do that. If
they claim otherwise, then go into a bookstore. See if it has any of
their titles. Ask the manager if she stocks books from them on a regular
basis. If the manager never heard of the publisher, it's a bad sign!
Check the publisher out with Writer Beware. Do that search +
"complaints" trick. If you can't find anything about a publisher, they
may be too new to the game. Keep moving. There's plenty of other places
out there for your book.
much does it cost to get an agent?
ABSOLUTELY NOTHING!!! A reputable agent only
gets paid AFTER the book has sold.
USE a fee-charging agent!! You want an agent out selling your book,
not one sitting on his duff waiting for your check to clear and having a
good laugh at the easy money he just got from you! (They will usually
have a number of interesting excuses why your book's not selling.
Many fee-charging agents will have slick looking
sites. They know how to look reassuring.
LOOK FOR agents who have sold books to print publishing houses.
The agents will represent writers you've heard of, have pics of books
they've sold and announcements on deals they've made. If the agent is
secretive about such information, offers to send you a "brochure" or
offers to do a "consultation" RUN AWAY. They'll have a sales pitch ready
and you'll be paying for the phone time.
If an agent asks for a "reading
fee," RUN AWAY.
If an agent asks for a
"processing" fee, or up front money to cover postage and
copying costs--RUN AWAY.
Those are scam artists. You could
be out thousands of dollars while they live it up and do NOTHING to sell
A legit agent will NEVER ask you for
money. A legit agent takes her 15% cut only AFTER a book sells.
And some of these "agents" are
Check the Editors & Predators
site for the
woman who faked her death to get out of lawsuits from angry clients she
A legit agent will be professional and
polite. It's a business and they're in it to make money by helping
you make money. They get paid only when you get paid!
How to get an agent? Write a
kick-ass book worth buying.
I�m writing this really good vampire book.
Will you please read it and tell me what you think?
Sorry, no, that�s an editor�s job.
Absolutely do NOT send any professional writer anything you've
written. We're too busy! Such things are deleted unread.
said yes to everyone who wanted my feedback on their novel/short story/idea I
would have no time to write my own, couldn�t pay my rent, then me and my
dogs would be living in my car until it died, then we�d drag our
starving bodies to your door and fall down gasping and ask if you could
please spare us some food�.you get the idea. It�s just too embarrassing.
I will sell you my feedback. Prices are posted. My time is worth
There are a number of ways to get feedback for free; honest friends
who also write are your most valuable asset.
Look around for a local writing group. "Critters Meet-Up" might help,
but be cautious. Make sure the group has been around for awhile, has
regular meetings, and a website. Bring a friend!
Avoid Craig's List. That's turned into a real swamp and it can be
dangerous. Do not go to meetings in private houses, and take a few
Check your library or a literary minded coffee shop that might have
an informal writing group. that meets there.
Check the forums of Absolute Write. They have an active "SHARE
YOUR WORK" covering every kind of writing there is. You have to earn
your way in. Give feedback to get feedback and respect your fellow
writer. Absolute Write is safe and run by pros. If you just want someone
to tell you how great your work is, go elsewhere. If you crave
finding out how to make your work better, sign up. It's free.
I will give you a tip: Don�t give up your day job until you�re making a
steady living at being a writer�and even then! Writers rarely have
benefits like health insurance, dental plans, etc. and they have to pay
extra self-employment taxes and other fun stuff.
meet a writer at a convention resist the temptation to tell her all
about your book. That writer would much rather be sitting in the
bar visiting with friends.
Absolutely DO NOT send me your
fanfic or any idea for a novel you think I should write, either! I
love, you, I really do, but I have plenty of ideas of my own, thank you.
Seriously, if I DO need an Idea, I'll ask for one on my blog.
DON'T put your book up on
the web for all to see. There are thieves out there.
Posting your whole book online is seen by publishing houses as a "1st
printing." They won't be interested in buying your book then.
Avoid display sites like "Worthy of Publishing." They are linked to a
vanity publishing company, which is a huge conflict of interest. They
offer a BAD deal to publishers. Books on display just don't sell to
legit publishing houses. Editors do not want a "2nd printing" nor do
they cruise by there looking for new writers. But I'm sure a
number of WoP books were eventually vanity published!
Avoid Poetry-dot-com. Your poem will "win" first place
in some contest, then they will give it a special spot in a poetry
book--which costs YOU about 100.00 to buy if you want to see your poem
in print. Each book has about 800 poems in it. Each poem a
"winner" in the contest. It costs them 3.00 to print the book.
where this is going?
Poetry-dot-org is where you should go instead.
Non-profit. REAL poets.
How do I learn to be a writer? Do
I have to take classes?
The sites above have EXCELLENT advice. Go there. Absorb.
Becoming a writer is an individual journey,
like becoming a painter. Classes probably won't hurt, but you only
use what works for you.
Read everything, especially read books
OUTSIDE of the genre you want to write in. That helps you develop
your own "voice," and it makes you real, real smart.
Get a copy of Strunk and White's Elements
It's a skinny book found on every writer's
desk. Read it and keep it on your desk.
Read the 808 section of your
library. I did. Then read the rest of the library. I'm still doing
WRITE EVERY DAY.. You don't get good at music unless you practice every
day. Same thing goes for writing.
Hooray! I just finished my novel and am posting it
on the 'Net for a Big Time editor to spot!
As my friend Rachel
"Posting your novel on the 'Net in the hopes that a big-time editor
will see it is like writing the perfect resume and then tacking it to
the front door of your house, hoping your future boss will walk
Reality check: Big Time editors don't have TIME
to surf the Net looking for talent. The talent goes to them.
You wanna be published? Go through the proper channels as
It's the Way Things Work!
Besides--why should they buy the cow when
you've already given the milk away? D'oh!
Another "D'oh" -- As we
have sadly learned, there are thieves on the 'Net! They
might like your work so much that they copy it and claim it to be their
own. Heck, they could even send it in to a publisher with their
name on it!
I got word from one of my long-time
writer buds that an erstwhile fan scanned and copied portions of her
novels, changed the characters' names, and put it up on a website,
claiming authorship. All I can think is that the fan was mental,
because this writer is very well known and has many readers. One of those fans--seeking reading material in the
genre--found this rip-artist's site and passed the news to the writer's webmistress.
She contacted the site's ISP server and got the thief shut down in an
eye blink. She does periodic searches in case this person tries to
pull this stunt again.
Fandom is a very small
community and fans tend to read the same things. Sooner or later
someone's going to spot a theft and report it.
In this age where piracy is just too easy,
it is more important than ever that we respect copyrights.
The ISP's and others fully understand this and go after violators to protect themselves from prosecution. But there's virtually
no protection against you getting ripped off by some thief. Some
of these disputes devolve into pointless "she-said/she-said"
sniping matches. Don't kid yourself, there are a lot of strange people out there who see nothing wrong in copying stuff off the Net, so
be smart about how you get your feedback, then send your book to a check-writing editor at a print house.
What do you think of
These times, they are a-changing!
I used to loathe e-publishing, and there are still some
publishers who are clueless about what they're doing.
In the last decade others have gotten their legs under
them and are doing good work. They've earned respect from the print
publishing industry and from me.
But I still tell new writers to start at the top with
the biggest print publisher they can find and work their way down. Going
with a Print on Demand/epublisher--there are hybrids!--should be their
Some are better than others. If you choose to go with an
e-house, be sure to check them out first:
http://www.brendahiatt.com/id2.html E-book earnings vs
print book earnings
POD, and why are you so down on them?
POD stands for Print On Demand, which
means a machine spits out one book at a time when an order is placed. It
describes both a kind of publisher and the technology. There are some
bookstores that have such a machine on the premises and will print a book to
order. This may change, in the wake of e-reading devices offering the option
of an instant download.
POD technology is a good idea.
It means the publisher only prints a book that has actually been bought and
paid for by a single reader. This means no warehouses of unsold books
and no huge investment for the publisher. I think it's great to save the
trees this way, but not all POD operations are equal.
Some accept every book submitted to
them, slap on a cover, and put it online to sell. Many do not have proper
editing, or the covers are terrible. Use your own judgment. If the book
does not look on a level with titles you see in stores, then that may not be
the best home for your work. Do that background check trick by searching
for the name of the house + "complaints."
Again--some POD publishers are
better than others.
Your best bet is to look at the product.
Is it in
Does it have a professional-looking
Have you heard of the author?
Heard of ANY of their authors?
What sort of product do they print?
Does the book looked edited? Proofed? Is the interior design
What do the readers have to say about
the product? Be suspicious of debut authors with nothing by 5-star reviews.
They may have a lot of loyal friends.
What sort of royalty rate do they
offer? Industry standard is usually around 8% of a portion of the cover price.
How much are their books? Do the
prices seem oddly high? If you
see a 100-page book selling for 20.00 + S&H -- RUN!
royalties again. This is for print books, not ebooks.
A royalty is a percentage of the book's
net price which is usually half the cover price.
a 24.00 print hardcover with a 12% royalty means $1.44 goes to the writer for each one
sold. 12.00 X 12% = 1.44.
A 7.99 paperback with
a 8% royalty = .31 for each and so on.
Say a POD house gives a 15% royalty for
trade paperbacks sold from their site. (
A 16.95 softcover means the author
should get around 2.54 per copy.
Sounds great, providing you sell a lot
The trade off for higher royalties may
be lower sales with a smaller publisher.
If you get a $2,500.00 advance with a,
8% royalty for a trade paperback selling for 14.00, then you get .56 for each
copy sold. You have to sell 4,465 copies to earn back the advance against
royalties. Any copies sold over that number will earn you .56 a pop.
Not all books will earn out. It's the
nature of the business. some books sell, others tank. You keep writing.
I heard it's a good idea to take a
larger royalty percentage over a large advance. I heard you can make
MORE money that way!
So have I. It stinks.
An advance check may be the only money the writer will ever get for a title.
The writer is not in charge of print run numbers or sales--her publisher is.
A publisher may print enough books to achieve a profit for itself, but not
enough to generate a royalty for the writer.
If it takes the sale of 6,000 copies to pay back the advance and start sending
royalty checks to a writer, then the publisher might print/sell only 5,000
copies. They will make money on it and the writer only has the
Is this a bad deal for the writer? Yes, if she took a smaller advance. Assume
your book will not earn out. Keep writing new books..
Forgoing a good advance in favor of large royalties is a stupid move for a commercial
writer. I can't recommend it. You might wind up with a publisher that makes
sure to print only enough copies for their profit, not yours.
GET ADVANCE MONEY. WRITE A NEW BOOK. RINSE, REPEAT.
Yes, there are exceptions:
If the writer is a regular on the NYTimes bestseller lists with 100's of
thousands of sales this could be a good move for them.
The book earns out faster, and royalties start rolling in.
But it is only a good idea for writers with a long established track record of
sales who have a good agent watching their back.
If that doesn't describe you, then you are not an exception.
would you do to make E-publishing more acceptable?
In the 10+ years since I first wrote this page, an ebook revolution took
place and better believe I'm jumping on the bandwagon.
Only it's not with an ebook publisher, it's me doing my
own publishing using digital tech as offered by Smashwords, Kindle, and
PubIt! and Createspace to get my backlist up and selling again.
I, like other writers, am bypassing publishers entirely and uploading
work to digital publishing platforms. Anyone with an ebook reading
device or a computer can download a low-cost digital copy.
It's become viable. Writers like Konrath, Hocking and others are
making money on the 65-70-80% royalty rates offered by PubIt!,
Kindle, and Smashwords. Writers are loving it.
Just be aware that like the fine print in infomercials "results not
There are no guarantees. For every Amanda Hocking there are
100,000 epic fails you'll never hear about. Heck, I might be one
I've just made my first jump into this and waiting to see if it
will turn into a viable income stream as it seems to be doing for other
The stories in my
first collection have been sitting in files for years. They
earned money once, when they were first published, and bupkis since then.
It did not cost anything to upload them. I did pay for royalty free
images on iStockphotos.com for the covers.
If it works, I'll do more stories and possibly full novels to release
through my Vampwriter Books imprint.
Do I recommend this for debut writers? No.
I have what's called a "platform," which means I've a fan base built
up over a 20-year period and a pretty good bit of traffic on my website.
A debut writer doesn't have that advantage. Sell something first.
Build up a fan base. You can do both with different books, if you like.
Just be aware that when you put a book up for sale that you can't resell
that title to a print publisher. They consider that book to have already
been published and won't want it. Ms Hocking is doing all new books for
her new publisher. More power to her!
Ebook publishing is a viable, no cost option for writers whose
work has a limited market.
This includes personal journey, family
history, poetry, and other kinds of writing that is in small supply in a
bookstore. A big publisher won't be interested in such works, so
self-publishing digitally is a practical no and low cost option.
It's way better to go with an ebook hosting site like Smashwords than
paying to publish, or paying to have books printed to sell.
I've done the latter, which you see as the signed, limited edition on
The Devil You Know. I had
to save up over a thousand dollars to afford the printing, and lemme tell you--it ain't
cheap! However, I'm proud of the product. Tops did an
amazing job, and went above and beyond on the quality. Will I do
it again? Maybe. But only for a similar limited collector's item.
As of this writing I'm using a long established POD service called CreateSpace
to have a print copy of the short story collection. Will it cost me
money? Not so far. I paid for new cover art from iStockphoto.com,
but that's it. I'm following their directions, the book's formatted
according to the easy templates and will soon be up on Amazon and my
Things are changing rapidly in the delivery systems
to get your words to readers.
But the task of writing in itself hasn't changed.
You still have to put your butt in a chair and WRITE.
hoo! I found an agent willing to read my book.
But he wants a reading fee. Is this normal?
from this one. Fast! Warn your friends!
NEVER, EVER PAY an agent to read your
legitimate literary agent will charge you a fee�usually 10 - 15% of the
advance�only AFTER they�ve sold your novel.
Fee-charging agents are to be avoided at
all times! The general scam�and it is a scam�is to tell writers
"You�re good, but your book needs polishing, I know a "Book Doctor" who
can fix you right up." Then you pay THIS person a fee�it can run into
the thousands, more than any advance you'd get�to "fix" your book. THEN the " agent" might say afterwards
that he can�t sell the book and offer a number of creative excuses.
the meantime he and the "doctor" have split your money and are having a
nice vacation. There are several horror stories--all true--on the SFWA
website listed below. Think it won't happen to you? Think
again. One of these bottom feeders scammed over 5 million from
eager wannabe writers who didn't know any better! Don't be a
Avoid "literary agents" who also run or work for a publishing house.
THAT is a huge conflict of interest.
Your agent is your advocate in the shark tank of publishing. Her job
is to watch your back, get you the best deals, and see to it book
contracts are as favorable to you as possible. You can't have that if
the agent gets her paycheck from the same publisher that plans to sell
Always do a background check on any agent, but automatically avoid
anyone charging a fee of any kind. They're not going to be of use to
Aren't "slush piles" just
that? After all, it's just a matter of luck. Sooner or later
someone wins the lottery.
What an incredibly STUPID way to run a multi-million dollar
business. Just pluck any old
manuscript out of the pile that week and send it to press and hope the
readers buy it.
No publisher leaves the expenditure of that much money and effort to
"luck." This is a business, and they want to make
There is NO "quota" of slush books they're supposed to meet.
They are honestly looking for the next bestseller. It's a big prestige
thing for them if they discover a new Rowling, Clancy, King or Steel.
Sounds to me like you tried and got rejected and
this is the old sour grapes violin singing away. Well, too bad,
try again. You think I dashed off Bloodlist in my spare
time and kicked back waiting for the check? It
took over TWO YEARS and 25+ rewrites to sell that first book, but it
was worth it for the learning curve. I had to WORK to get
What's the matter? Afraid to play
with the big kids? Think talent doesn't have anything to do
with it? The slush pile is the most honest sink or swim in the
industry. If you're good enough and stubborn enough and can come
back fighting after getting a bloody nose from rejection letters and
still don't give up, you will get published.
Think of the worst professionally published book you ever
read. That writer got paid to kill trees.
Think you can do better? Do you KNOW you can do better??
Then get off your duff and write your book.
I had a great teacher who taught that "People who are good at excuses
are good at very little else." So don't waste time coming up with
excuses over why you're not in print.
Get to work and finish something and send it out and work on
something else and don't stop and don't go all chicken on yourself.
BEWARE'S 20 THUMB'S
DOWN AGENTS LIST
by Victoria Strauss and A.C. Crispin,
seen on Miss Snark's blog
is a list of 20 agents about which Writer Beware has received the
greatest number of advisories/complaints during the past several years.
None have a significant track record of sales to
commercial (advance-paying) publishers, and most have virtually no
documented and verified sales at all (many sales claimed by these agents
turn out to be vanity publishers). All charge clients before a sale is
made, whether directly, by charging fees such as reading or
administrative fees, or indirectly, for "editing services."
you have been defrauded contact WRITER
BEWARE AND REPORT IT!!
clear of the following: And keep in mind these are only 20 out of 100's
they want money from you before selling a book--RUN AWAY!
*The Abacus Group Literary Agency
*Allred and Allred Literary Agents (refers clients to "book
doctor" Victor West of Pacific Literary Services)
*Capital Literary Agency (formerly *American Literary Agents of
*Barbara Bauer Literary Agency --
This person has sent abusive mails telling me to remove this list. More on this bit of lunacy may be found on my
blog. And there is the musical-- "Bye-Bye
*Benedict & Associates (also d/b/a B.A. Literary Agency)
*Sherwood Broome, Inc.
*Desert Rose Literary Agency
*Arthur Fleming Associates
*Finesse Literary Agency (Karen Carr)
*Brock Gannon Literary Agency
*Harris Literary Agency
*The Literary Agency Group, which includes the following:
-Children's Literary Agency
-Christian Literary Agency
-New York Literary Agency
-Poets Literary Agency
-The Screenplay Agency
-Stylus Literary Agency (formerly ST Literary Agency)
-Writers Literary & Publishing Services Company (the editing arm of
the above-mentioned agencies)
*Martin-McLean Literary Associates
*Mocknick Productions Literary Agency, Inc.
*B.K. Nelson, Inc.
*The Robins Agency (Cris Robins)
*Michelle Rooney Literary Agency
(also d.b.a Creative Literary Agency
and Simply Nonfiction)
*Southeast Literary Agency
*Mark Sullivan Associates
*West Coast Literary Associates
(also d.b.a California Literary
Shore Literary Agency -- No. 21 Honorary Runner Up mention
links to writers. Check 'em out. Bookmark the ones that work
Writing With Uncle Jim!
Down" publishers from Writer Beware:
Copyright � 2012 P.N. Elrod
and others. Maintained
by Mystik at
No artists or writers were injured or exploited in
the production of this website, though blurred vision, a few hangovers, and
extensive chocolate abuse took place, but were quickly hushed up.