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Monday, 7 May 2018

The publishing equivalent of Those Men on Facebook

It's a Bank Holiday Monday, the sun is shining and I can't wait to get outside and run for a few miles..., sorry, I can't even type it with a straight face. It is a Bank Holiday Monday, and one on which I am not at work, but far from being consumed with a desire to go for a run, I'm sitting indoors, in my pyjamas, wondering whether I can legitimately start eating chocolate at not-quite-ten in the morning. I will go for a run later but...yes, later...

So, here I am to talk to you about the next stage in your writing journey. I'm calling it 'When To Say No', but it's not some long tale about Dubious Consent (which is a whole other topic in the romance writing fraternity, regarding sexual consent - yes, cream cakes are nice, but you don't necessarily want to have one forced down your throat when you are trying to watch NCIS, and associated imagery), it's about not jumping on the first publishing offer that is sent your way.

I KNOW that when you get that e-mail (or letter, if you are old-school), your first instinct is to punch the air and leap about all demented yelling "Somebody wants to publish me!!" Of course it is! You've worked long and hard to get here! All those biscuits! All that sobbing over the keyboard while the cat stares at you!
But, just sometimes, The Offer is not all it appears to be.

You know those men on Facebook? The ones that want to Friend you, and have a picture that makes them look like a cross between Keanu Reeves and Mark Harmon (go and Google them both, if you must, quite frankly I despair of you!) in a uniform? Well, there's a publishing equivalent.

If a publisher emails you (or, as previously mentioned and old-school, writes you a letter), and it goes along the lines of 'hello lovely Lady, you have such a pretty smile I can't help myself but write to you and want to be your friend,' BEWARE.

Although the letter will more likely go 'Dear 'AUTHOR' (sometimes they will spell your name wrongly, but this is merely a courtesy detail).

'We, here at Boggin Books, have read your submission' (which will carefully not be named here) 'and are delighted to say that we would love to publish it.'

This is the point at which you whoop, punch the air and, usually, stop reading. Sometimes you break out the gin or champagne. Someone loves your book! They want to publish it! You have practically made your first million, and you start planning your poster campaign and what you will wear to your first book launch party.

But hold hard.

Dubious people out there know how desperate authors are to be published. They will leap on your hope. Beware of ANY letter (or email) from a publisher that doesn't mention your novel by name, and also doesn't mention any kind of contract, because the follow up letter to the one I mention above, once you have confirmed your interest, will often go...


We are delighted you have expressed an interest in using Boggin Publishing Services. We would ask for a small contribution towards the cost of publishing YOUR TITLE HERE, in order to maximise your reach.'

or some such.

AUTHORS NEVER PAY TO PUBLISH. Except self- published authors, of course, and they know that they are self-publishing. Don't EVER get duped into paying any money to produce your book, not for 'cover design rights' or 'for a top notch editor to work with you' or 'to have your book listed on Amazon'. Publishers, proper publishers, pay these costs for their authors. It's why they get first grabs at the money and your royalties are what's left - because they've taken the risk of publishing your book and put money into it.
I know, but it's fair when you think about it. So, if you get an offer that you think might be too good to be true...

think of those widowed single dads in the US military who inexplicably want to be your friend.


Terri Nixon said...

I love this. Here's the link to a post I made concerning a very plausible (at first) 'agent' named Darin Jewell. A cautionary tale!

Jane Lovering said...

Thank you so much, Terri, for your first hand experience.

This is how it happens, people. Even savvy writers can get taken in (at least at first. Read and learn (and never, ever pay to get published, taken on by an 'agent' or your manuscript put in front of publishers). NO reputable agent or publisher will EVER ask for money!