Vampirephiles Blog






Data Dump Territory for Writers!

Not for the faint of heart.

P.N. Elrod's gotten a lot of questions on writing over the years. 

Here's her take on a few aspects of the industry, including serious bewares concerning sharks in the publishing pool.


How do I learn to write?

You read.


All writers are insatiable readers.

For every book you plan to write, read at least 200 other books.

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: http://www.absolutewrite.com/forums/

Membership is free, though they can use donations.



Do your due diligence and write every day.


How do I to find a reputable publisher?





Seriously. Don't bother using the Net for just yet.

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 useless sites. 

The quick way is do a search of that publisher's 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 stores.)

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 offered.)


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.

Impatient 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.


As stated, 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 now.

My agent 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:



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 literary agent?


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 impolite.

Make sure the author writes in your genre. You don't send a cookbook to an agent who only sells mysteries. Agents specialize, just like doctors.

I am 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 sell anything.

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?

Nothing.    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."


Writer Beware -- When in doubt, check them out!


FAQs on Fanfic, Writing, Publishing, and Rip Offs




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 crowd!

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.


The Legalities: 

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 loud!

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 write about.

 This 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 way.

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 wishes.

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 level:  This 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 started!



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 hours.

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 good name.

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.


What 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 to allow 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 contracts.

The copyright on Dracula, Shakespeare etc. 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! 

Many other writers have written Dracula stories and novels before I took a turn.  

I'm sure 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!


Only if you're into wacky comedy relief.  

Editors 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 getting published.    

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 scammers.



How much does it cost to get a book published?

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 electronic submissions.

One more time:


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 into stores.

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.



How much does it cost to get an agent?

ABSOLUTELY NOTHING!!!  A reputable agent only gets paid AFTER the book has sold.  

NEVER 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.  More below!)

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 your book.


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 real whack jobs.  

Check the Editors & Predators site for the woman who faked her death to get out of lawsuits from angry clients she robbed.  

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.


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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. 

If I 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 money.

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 friends along.

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.

If you 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. You see where this is going?

Poetry-dot-org is where you should go instead. Non-profit. REAL poets.


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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 of Style.  

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 that.

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 Caine says,

"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 by."

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 outlined above.  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.


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What do you think of E-Publishing?

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 second choice.

Some are better than others. If you choose to go with an e-house, be sure to check them out first:

http://pred-ed.com/     <-----Preditors and Editors

http://www.brendahiatt.com/id2.html  E-book earnings vs print book earnings


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What's 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 bookstores?

Does it have a professional-looking cover?

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 professional-looking?

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!


Let's talk 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.

Example: 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 of copies.

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 advance check.

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.




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.



What would you do to make E-publishing more acceptable?

Well--that's happened!

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 typical".

There are no guarantees. For every Amanda Hocking there are 100,000 epic fails you'll never hear about.  Heck, I might be one of them.

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 writers.

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 acid-free paper, 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 website.


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.


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Woo hoo!  I found an agent willing to read my book.  But he wants a reading fee.  Is this normal?

Run away from this one.  Fast!  Warn your friends!

NEVER, EVER PAY an agent to read your book. A 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.

 In 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 victim!

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 the book.

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 you.



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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 money. 

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 published!

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. 



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complied by Victoria Strauss and A.C. Crispin, 

as seen on Miss Snark's blog

Below 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."

If you have been defrauded contact WRITER BEWARE AND REPORT IT!!

Steer clear of the following: And keep in mind these are only 20 out of 100's of scammers.  


If 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 Washington, Inc.)

*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 Barbara!"

*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 Services)

Lee Shore Literary Agency -- No. 21 Honorary Runner Up mention



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Twenty "Thumbs Down" publishers from Writer Beware:
















































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