Would you pay someone $1500 to publish your words?
These days, it seems anyone can be a writer, or an author. Getting published is as easy as setting up a blog, slapping together an ebook, or paying someone to publish your work.
In fact, for a mere $1500 you can bang out a 1200-word article and have it appear in hardcover alongside “best-selling authors” who have spent decades earning their stripes. After all, why waste time earning credibility as an author when you can simply buy it?
Call me old school, but I actually respect my craft. I’ve invested the time and money to professionally study both classic and modern authors, and my bookshelves are brimming with my favorites: Fitzgerald, Shakespeare, Tolkien, Garcia Marquez, Rice and a collection of children’s literature, among others. I’ve been known to read cereal boxes and milk cartons, and occasionally and oh-so carefully, correct a professor.
To me, writing isn’t just a profession. It is one of my loves. And paying someone to publish my words just to see my name in print would equate to something much worse than being a snakeoil salesman. It’s something no self-respecting writer would do.
At least that none I know.
Thankfully, I’m not the only one that feels this way… There’s a special notation in the American Heritage Dictionary to address the frauds that try to pass themselves off as more than they are:
Usage Note: … The verb author, which had been out of use for a long period, has been rejuvenated in recent years with the sense “to assume responsibility for the content of a published text.”…. The sentence He has authored a dozen books on the subject was unacceptable to 74 percent of the Usage Panel, probably because it implies that having a book published is worthy of special lexical distinction, a notion that sits poorly with conventional literary sensibilities and seems to smack of press agentry.
Note the part about assuming responsibility for the content of a published text… There’s also clarification that states an author is someone who practices writing as a profession – meaning, of course, that they get paid to create, and not vice versa.
I feel sorry for these snakeoil authors. They don’t see the forest through the trees…
- The benefits of earning your stripes far outweigh the ego boost of instant credibility – You don’t have to be a starving artist, but making a real effort to learn and polish your skills will not only make you a better writer, it will earn you the respect of other writers. And of your fans. On the flip side, when people discover (and they always will) that the ONLY reason your name is in print is because you bribed a publisher with green just so you could boast that you’re a “best-selling author” – you’ll INSTANTLY lose the credibility you paid so dearly for. With no REAL credits to your name, you’ll become a laughingstock. You might even be called a fraud. On the flip side, getting a paid gig that you’ve earned by gaining recognition for your talent over time, and from your peers, will make it that much sweeter (and true) when you say you’re a writer and author.
- You’re a victim, allowing yourself to get preyed upon – Yes, there is a money-making scam behind this system – and YOU are the sucker. The publishers take your money, and then rely upon you to buy and sell their books. If you the words you write suck and they don’t resonate with your audience, they don’t care… Because they already made their money. After all, you already paid cash for the 500 copies in your garage… (No wonder it can be called a best-seller!) But hey, at least you can say you published a book, right?
Thankfully, these shams and quasi-authors are easy to spot. Google them. Google their publisher. Ask what they do FOR A LIVING. In fact, ask a lot of questions. How did they get gig? Who is their agent? Did they have a draw, and what were the royalties? Do they have any more books published? What was the editorial process like?
Then use the brain God gave you. If they’re a snakeoil author, they won’t be able to answer your specific questions without squirming. And if they claim to have written a recent best-seller and clearly aren’t working in the industry, and in fact have ZERO prospects, run. Fast. Trust me, you don’t want any of what they are selling.
Their willingness to trade integrity and respect for the craft for personal gratification is shameful. And presenting their pseudo-work as more than it really is seems like an indicator of a much bigger personality flaw. Perhaps poor self-esteem is driving an overwhelming need to feel important. Maybe taking the easy way out and cutting corners is their norm, rather than the exception to the rule. Or maybe, the postage-paid status symbol is compensating for a lack of real talent, a desperate attempt necessary to manipulate the unsuspecting and oh-so-willing sheep into buying their sub-par wares.
Just like the snakeoil salesman, I can’t take these wanna-be-writers seriously. They’re the type of people who spend a day visiting campus, and then say “they went to Harvard Law School.” Or they spend a week earning a certificate in a psuedo-science like NLP, and then spout expertise in neuroscience. Full of half-truths and exaggerations, these fluff-over-substance types will happily mislead you in any area, comfortable that they can always say they never “lied” if called on the carpet. But if you dig, you’ll find the facts don’t usually support their brash claims.
My advice? Steer clear, because their approach to life seems to ensure nothing but trouble if it becomes entangled with yours.