Monday, February 9, 2015

Writing Scams

Always someone trying to make a quick buck off writers.

I run a writing group, one of the most successful in my local area. We meet every week and essentially do what I do here with Of Note, give advice, resources, laugh, discuss, drink heavily. (Please don't drink and read Of Note at the same time people. These are the high quality jokes you've never come to expect from me.) And I do this all free of charge. All I ask from my members is their time, dedication, and passion.

Is it expensive on my end? Not really. The costs to run the group is affordable. I love to write, and no one else is doing what I do for the community. What I do see are people trying to sell "Workshops" at around $20 per event; multiple events per month. I call that swindling.

If these groups actually had some value, some incredible experience to offer for the cash money, then I wouldn't mind. But they don't. One will offer word prompts to assist in a writing exercise. Excuse me, word prompts? I can go to a Writer's Digest or some other writing magazine constantly advertising word prompts on the front cover, sometimes 52, a full year's worth. That's the price of the magazine, a single purchase and it's done.

The silver lining is I never see these groups survive very long, if at all. I remember one popped up and the backlash was so bad it didn't go to a single meeting. Writers are easily separated from their money, but that usually involves something that benefits their books, such as covers, editing, promotion, reviews, et cetera. It's the reason why vanity presses still thrive today, and why Penguin Random House's Authors Solutions is aggressively expanding. They do it because it's easy money.

It isn't easy to say proclaim oneself as a "Renowned author" when anyone can do a quick Google search on their phone and find out the truth. Word prompts, inspirational stories, and vaguely stated workshop activities don't cut it anymore, since they don't assist the author in any way.

Sometimes I see these ne'er-do-wells go the extra mile and set up a homebrew publishing house. Don't think these are the common people trying to scam you. I've seen agents do this. I had an interview with one of these agents, and as soon as I discovered this I tried to get a refund. There was no refund, but it was fun to not care about a pitch.

Beware of anything that involves your writing or your money. This brave new world of publishing isn't that confusing. Do your research and you'll be fine.