Had an exchange today that reminds me of this simple adage – Always do your homework – when deciding whether to engage with a new publishing opportunity. In this case, I’m starting to get emails from unknown places with offers of new writing opportunities. My first reaction may be like yours – “OMG, someone emailed me. Cray!” – but then I decided to put my thinking cap on.
“Jackson,” says I, “you need to do some digging. Figure out if this is a legitimate publishing opportunity.” Thirty seconds with Google and I had all the information I needed: SCAM.
Here’s the bad news, kiddies: there are a million snake oil publishing scams out there, preying on naive writers/authors. We’re so starved for attention or validation, that sometimes we can look before we leap when ANYONE expresses interest in our work. Scammers prey on this, period. Be very, very cautious and DO YOUR HOMEWORK before signing with anyone.
Here’s the good news – there are a ton of resources out there (including querytracker.net and publishers marketplace) that give you feedback on who the publisher / agent is and what their past business track record may be. Bad guys slip through the cracks sometime, but if they have a name, they’re on Google and if someone’s had a bad experience, they’ll tell you about it. Conversely, if an agent or publisher has NO information available, this is also a bad sign. It may mean they have a terrible reputation, but under their old name. Caveat emptor.
So, thanks to a little homework I avoided a big headache. I’m passing this along as a lesson for everyone else – always do your homework before signing with an agent, publisher, or anyone else associated with your work.
And if you’re a younger reader / aspiring author – always do *your* homework, too! Shelter-in-place is no excuse to neglect your studies. 🙂