Thursday, May 22, 2008

Discrimination - Part Three

There is a Web site, hosted by a genre fiction magazine, where writers can check out publishers, agents and others prior to doing business with them. This informal clearing house warns writers away from fraudulent situations and scams.

I applaud these efforts. Scams and frauds should be exposed.

My concern is that this group paints with a very broad brush. Their home page states the site is for serious writers – with an exclamation point. On another page titled Warnings, they provide rules for spotting scam publishers. Using their rules, all subsidy publishers are scam perpetrators. I don’t think that is accurate or fair. To say all subsidy publishing is a scam is like saying all doctors are quacks.

First, I am very serious about my writing and about my writing business. Second, if I contract with a company for a service and receive that service in full, I have not been cheated.

I hear many grievances about subsidy publishing. Primarily, those doing the complaining did not read the contracts they signed, expected something for nothing and dreamed of fame and wealth without doing any of the hard work necessary to achieve either one. In their effort to attain unrealistic goals, they sometimes get taken. There is an adage that covers this – if it sounds too good to be true, it is.

For my first three books, I used a subsidy publisher. I decided on this company by reading the contract, comparing their services to competitors’ options, and interviewing other writers who had also used this and other subsidy publishers. I even checked the Web site referred to in the opening paragraph. I got exactly what I expected and what I paid for. That is not a scam.

I have no doubt that the original intent of this site was to protect writers. Now their reasoning seems more self-serving. By convincing writers that publication by any company other than those on an “approved” list is a scam, they preserve the status quo. By discriminating, they hope to stave off change just a bit longer.

I suggest writing organizations go back to providing real service to their members and all writers. Instead of denouncing alternative publication methods, help writers understand the changing business. And expose the real scam artists – there are plenty of them out there.

Think I’m the only one addressing these issues? Please visit
These eloquent essays are well worth your time.

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