Posted in books, Publishing, writing

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.


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…

Posted in writing

Writer Beware strikes a blow for writers everywhere

Thought I’d pass along the glad tidings. From the SFWA website:

Retaliatory lawsuit against Writer Beware staff dismissed
March 26, 2009

A Massachusetts Superior Court judge has dismissed a lawsuit against Ann Crispin and Victoria Strauss, the principal operators of the Writer Beware website, filed by a purported literary agent.

Writer Beware is a publishing industry watchdog group sponsored by Science Fiction & Fantasy Writers of America (SFWA) which “shines a light into the dark corners of the shadow-world of literary scams, schemes and pitfalls.”

The suit, initiated by Robert Fletcher and his company, the Literary Agency Group, alleged defamation, loss of business and emotional distress while making claims Fletcher had lost $25,000 per month due to warnings about his business practices posted by Crispin and Strauss.

The suit was dismissed with prejudice March 18 by the Massachusetts Superior Court due to Fletcher’s failure to respond to discovery or otherwise prosecute the lawsuit. Crispin and Strauss, through counsel, intend to file a motion against Fletcher and the Literary Agency Group, Inc., seeking recovery of their legal fees incurred in defending what they believe to be a frivolous lawsuit.

The case dates to February 2008, when Fletcher and his company filed for a temporary restraining order pending a preliminary injunction against Crispin and Strauss in Suffolk County Superior Court in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. During a subsequent hearing Feb. 19, the temporary restraining order was dismissed for improper service (Strauss wasn’t served until 42 minutes after the time of the hearing, and Crispin was not served at all), but the supporting complaint was allowed to proceed.

Currently, Fletcher and his companies remain the subjects of an active investigation by the Florida Attorney General’s Office.

“I’’m very pleased that the case was dismissed. Knowing how hard those involved with Writer Beware work – and how important the work they do is to writers, both within SFWA and outside of it – it’s very good news, indeed,” said SFWA President Russell Davis. “Writer Beware is one of the most important and valuable services SFWA provides, and knowing that this frivolous case was dismissed, and that Mr. Fletcher is now the subject of an investigation in Florida only validates the work done by Ann Crispin and Victoria Strauss.”

Crispin and Strauss have volunteered countless hours of their time to advising, educating and warning aspiring and established authors about dubious, questionable and outright criminal business practices on the fringes of the publishing industry. They maintain the Writer Beware website ( and are major contributors to Writer Beware Blogs! (