Ben Peek (benpeek) wrote,
Ben Peek

Your Scam, My Scam

On the weekend, my sister sent me a message, asking me if I'd like to get some cash for proof reading. She only really calls when there's money to be made.

I figured that it wouldn't be such a bad way to make some cash before Xmas, so I asked her what it was. I figured it was something technical, nothing too stressful, but it turned out that it was someone at her work, who wanted to be a writer. He had a collection of short fiction he wanted to pay me to read--something that came about, from what I understand, after my sister said I was a writer. Yeah, it's been a quiet year, but those kind of things happen--I still put in the time, do the work, and all of that. Anyhow, this guy was offering a chunk of cash, and even with the holidays coming up, I turned it down. I told her that she ought to tell him to find a writing group, submit to things, and just keep pushing away at the publication angle, and not to pay money to anyone to get an opinion on their work.

There's a lot of scams going round for new writers. The Harlequin Romance a week back was the big company scam, but that doesn't mean there aren't little versions of it going around, wherein you pay an author or an editor to read your work and give you feed back. Some of the people who do that are pretty decent authors and editors, too, but it doesn't really change the fact that they're scamming you. They're taking your money, reading your stuff, giving you an opinion, and then that's it. Nothing anyone says--for money or otherwise--is going to get you published, or will put you on some quick route to getting to the success and fame side. You could argue that there's really not much difference to teaching than it is to proof reading, and perhaps there's not, except for the mindset that you get into it. Of course, teaching is a scam, too, and the truth of it is, all you do is sit round, help people understand things, and then send them off to work--the difference, of course, is I don't charge seven hundred and fifty dollars for that particular experience, and I tell you, up at the front, that you're here to learn shit. You learn your syllabus, you learn a canon, you learn how to use whatever correct. In addition, teaching is aimed to get you marks, and despite what High School English teachers like to say, there is a right and a wrong in the subject, and it isn't too difficult to get good marks. But being a writer and paying someone to proof read, go through your shit, and 'mentor' you?

You're being scammed.

Write, meet people, join writing groups, don't give money to people, no matter who they are. Well, okay, if you want to give money away, do it, but don't expect anything out of it. There's a million different opinions on what's good, what's bad, what sells, what doesn't, and what makes good and bad writing. I can tell you my opinion of it, but I'll tell you for free if I like you, or I'll charge you an hourly rate if you want to be a student, but at the end of the day, a lot of really bad literature makes a lot of very real money, and I would never have published it.


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