Writer, Educate Thyself


I know there are scads of websites out there now with all kinds of advice for aspiring writers, but today I feel compelled to add my .02¢ to the fray. Plus it bears repeating.

This is due in large part to this post, and the explosion of e-publishing now, where anyone can set up  a publishing operation to sucker new writers who don’t know any better into publishing with terrible terms in their contracts. These outfits exist for one reason: to make money. And the easiest people to fleece are new writers who haven’t yet realized they have rights in a publishing contract (or rather, should have rights), or know who to ask about these things.

Writing is a business. You have to educate yourself on how that business runs,whisky so you know going in what a bad deal looks like, and what a good deal looks like. I know, it’s not fun. We just want to write and express ourselves and be artistic and sit around being moody and drinking coffee or scotch, or something. Well, there’s more to it than that. If you don’t want to get ripped off, that is.

A lot of these e-publishers fold as quickly as they start up, so it’s really important to read the contracts they offer. If the contract grants them all rights, you’ve still given up all rights EVEN IF THEY FOLD. So if they go belly-up, and you want to publish your book in print through someone else, you can’t. There is recourse, you may be able to get them to release the rights back to you, but it’s usually not easy. For this and so many other reasons it’s crucial to understand what you’re signing. And if you don’t understand it, get help before you do sign.

So herewith, a couple of the best sites for writers.

First and foremost, read Writer Beware. Victoria Strauss (@victoriastrauss ) and A.C. Crispin blog about scams and other situations unfriendly to writers. READ THEM. They have so much good information, and they constantly shine a light on shady publishers.  Victoria’s own site is here. A.C. Crispin’s is here. They don’t just write about scammers, they’ve filed suits against them. You can’t go wrong with their advice. The blog is also listed with the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America (SFWA) here where they show a nice breakout of all the topics covered, including contests, recommended reading, the truth about literary agents’ fees, and lots more.

Secondly, read Behler Blog, written by Lynne Price of Behler Publications. Although they don’t publish fiction, it is still an invaluable resource for any writer on how publishing and writing work. Also, Lynne has a book out, The Writer’s Essential Tackle Box, that is full of fantastic advice. Also beagles. And margaritas. And beagles with margaritas.

dop_margarita

If you read nothing else on writing and publishing, those two are probably enough to keep you out of trouble. Don’t jump at a contract; read and understand it first. If you don’t, you may find yourself in need of a couple of margaritas.

If anyone would like to suggest other sites they’ve found helpful, please do so in the comments below.

Now I’m thirsty…

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2 thoughts on “Writer, Educate Thyself

  1. Wow Dame, this is is great. Thanks for going to all this trouble. You’re right, it’s quite easy to get fleeced out there especially if your ego is steering the car. one nice word and you’re off to the, where do I sign, races. You write so well even when you’re educating 🙂

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  2. Thanks, Susannah 🙂 This was prompted by the latest Writer Beware article re: Authorium, who does in fact want anyone who signs with them to sign over all rights, in perpetuity. Horrendous terms. People need to know about these piranhas.

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