Writers, for some reason, are especially susceptible to scams. Perhaps this is because success in the writing field takes a great deal of hard work, and people are always looking for short cuts. Also, most writers want see their own name in print. Here are some scams to avoid:
Subsidized publishing, also known as vanity press, can be a legitimate way to publish small works of personal interest or for niche markets. You pay the publisher/printer a fee and they produce your book. This is a legitimate way to publish, but do not be fooled into thinking your work has been “accepted” by a reputable publisher. The company is publishing your work based on the money you will give them, not the quality or marketability of your writing.
If a publisher recommends that you pay a particular editor before they consider your work, chances are that both the editor and the publisher are scamming you. There is nothing wrong with paying an outside editor to help you with your writing, but you should research and choose who to have edit your work.
Legitimate literary agents do not charge you a fee to either read your work or represent you. Finding a quality agent can be difficult, but do not settle for one that charges a fee. Chances are you’ll pay more than you’ll ever get.
Poetry and writing contests that sound too good to be true generally are. Be wary of any contest that charges a fee and do not pay to have your poetry published through these contests. For more information see Avoiding Poetry Contest Scams.
Poetry or writing anthologies are an offshoot of the poetry contest scam. Do not pay to have your book published as part of an anthology, and do not agree to purchase a copy. Any legitimate publisher will offer you at least one free copy.
Work From Home
You may or may not be able to make thousands as a freelance writer, but if somebody tries to get you to pay them to find out how, then chances are it’s a scam. There are plenty of books about freelance writing, invest in one of those.
Reviews / Polls
This is an offshoot of the work from home scam. Supposedly, you will get paid to review movies, books, web sites and such. Of course, to find out how to do this you just have to pay the advertiser a “small” fee. There are far more people willing to write reviews than people who will pay for them. Chances are, you’re being scammed.
Avoiding Writing Scams
- If it sounds too good to be true, it is.
- Don’t pay a fee for what you can get for free.
- Always research any publisher, editor or agent you want to work with.
- Never be afraid to ask for references.
- If you are victimized by a scam, report it to the Better Business Bureau and the FTC.