Ben Peek (benpeek) wrote,
Ben Peek

The Scam

Lately, the concept of author scams has been on my mind. It is probably motivated by the fact that I was asked to read someone's book the other week and, I thought, "This is it, this is my chance to open my dodgy author appraisal business where I drink whiskey from a draw in my desk before going down to the bar to drink." Sure, my dream of a bad author appraisal business is very similar to my dream of a bad detective business, which is also surprisingly similar to my bad animal import business, and that business I run ensuring marriages for men who you marry just because you need a visa and refugee status takes too long.

But it was just a dream, really, because author scams are so plentiful. A lot of the time they're run by lower level authors and editors (like myself, lets face it) who think it's a good way to take cash. You may not I didn't say make. Sometimes, you know, it's what you have to do to make money, and I don't begrudge anyone that: I myself have lied and cheated and taken advantage of people when I've needed to pay bills, but I've always understood that that is exactly what it is, and that its been short term. I also try to do it in different fields, such as paid research, medical testing, and helping your self esteem. But that doesn't change the fact that for a lot of new authors, a lot who are just starting, it's easy to get scammed.

How do you avoid it, then?

Well, there's one simple rule: money flows to you, not away.

Which means the following are scams:

  • Paying someone to edit/read your manuscript.

  • Paying an agent to represent you.

  • Paying to meet an agent so you can 'pitch' to them.

  • Paying to submit your work.

  • Paying to have your book published.

  • Paying to meet a publisher.

  • Paying, paying, paying. If you're asked to pay for something before you do it, it's a scam, it's gouging you, it's fucking you over.

During the course of your 'career' as an author, plenty of money will flow away from you without you ever having to pay someone anything. You'll lose it in hours spent at a keyboard, you'll lose it in travel to conventions, time spent doing interviews, etc, etc. You don't need to be giving money away to people that, really, you could get worked out for free, on your own, and based on your own skill. Sometimes, it's actually nice to pay people cash if they do something for you--cash is love, after all--but that ought to be up to you, and ought to be decided on your own free will and your desire to do that. The scam of those who take your money is in what you are promised and what you believe will happen because of that promise. Anyone promising publication, for example, is giving you shit.

Now, if you excuse me, I'm going to go and create a miracle cream I can sell to authors.

You'd be surprised how many would by that.

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