I get really, really tired of writing about writing scams — I used to cover them extensively on my writing blog, but there are so many I can’t keep track. (Writer Beware does a good job of alerting writers to scammers.)
Publishers pay YOU, you don’t pay them
This should go without saying, but if you’re a new writer, remember: THEY PAY YOU — you don’t PAY anyone to publish your work.
“One of the chief points against Fletcher-the-Agent (New York Literary Agency, Writerâ€™s Literary Agency, Childrenâ€™s Literary Agency, Poets Literary Agency, etc. etc.) was that he demonstrably couldnâ€™t sell books to publishers. But if he owned a publisherâ€¦.
The difference between Strategic Book Publishing and Eloquent Books is this: Strategic Book Publishing pretends to be a â€˜traditionalâ€™ publisherâ€”no fees to the authorâ€”provided the author agrees to buy five copies per week at full retail price. Eloquent Books, on the other hand, pretends to be a â€˜joint ventureâ€™ publisher, where the author and the publisher each put up half of the cost. But since Eloquent Books authors typically send Fletcher (under one or another of his names) a thousand bucks plus in advance, itâ€™s clear that theyâ€™re paying the whole freight plus a nice profit for Fletcher.”
He’s one among many scammers. You can avoid them all, if you remember this one, very simple point: publishers pay you. You don’t pay them. Nor do you pay agents.
Make more money as a freelance writer by writing more
“Barnettâ€™s business model doesnâ€™t suit all authors. â€˜I probably get 50 proposals a year I donâ€™t make sense for,â€™ he concedes happily. â€˜I make no sense for a first-time novelist in Vermont whoâ€™s going to get a $10,000 advance. I make better sense for Bill Clinton or Tony Blair or James Patterson.â€™ In the case of Patterson, who dependably produces eight best-selling novels a year (only actually writing a portion of them), the savings can run into tens of millions. Patterson, a former ad executive whose books earned $50m in the past year alone â€“ only J.K. Rowling made more â€“ left his third agent for Barnett early last year. And he probably doesnâ€™t even need the full treatment.”
Three weeks after completing the class one student wrote:
“Thanks Angela, for all your help and advice in class. I’m quitting my job next week. I printed out my letter of resignation tonight after landing a contract writing job that will pay me more for three months part-time work than I earned in from my day job in the whole of 2007! You were right â€“ the great gigs are out there, and now I’ve got the skills to land them. Your class opened my eyes. Bless youâ€¦”
You’re writing a book, and you realize that at some stage, you need to get an agent.
But when’s the best time?
I’ve had several agents over the course of a long career, and here’s an essential truth: agents are BUSY. Their time is reserved for their clients.
This means that the best time to get an agent is when you’ve already won the interest of a publisher. An agent handles your literary business, and many agents will be interested when someone wants to publish your book.
A literary agent’s role is a business role
Your agent’s role is strictly a business role of negotiating contracts. So until you have an offer, you don’t need an agent. In fact, an agent may do you more harm than good. You’re the only person who knows what you can write, and what your goals and aspirations are.
Write, educate yourself on the world of publishing, and promote yourself and your writing.