Dear Scammers: Stay the hell out of my convention

publishing.pngAfter registering at a convention last year, I was horrified to find flyers for not one, but two vanity presses (aka “scams preying on desperate writers”) in the goodie bag. Both of them were listed – by name – on Writer Beware or Preditors and Editors. For the rest of the convention, I spent the beginning of every panel saying “Please take these papers out of your bag, crumple them, and throw them away.”

And then I explained why.

And I just found some flyers from a vanity press1 on the table with the rest of the GenCon Symposium’s stuff.

The nice thing about playing paladins is being able to drive away undead. The nice thing about being a publishing paladin is being able to drive away scammers.

New, aspiring, and fledgling authors! Here are some key warning signs to look for:

  • Writers Wanted
  • We want to “review” your manuscript
  • Up-front fees to publish
  • Discounts if you buy many copies up front
  • Editors only if you pay extra
  • Boasting about really rather basic services.

This particular “publisher” is essentially charging you for printing services from CreateSpace and LightningSource. (With e-Book services coming soon!) Would I have a problem if they billed themselves as providing publishing services? Not at all. After all, part of what I do is publishing services.2 But they’re not up front about it, and they’re sure as hell not being up-front about their fees and what they’re used for.

And between writing that last paragraph and this, the guy stopped by again. We spent an hour talking, and it seems like a lot of things were bad communication. I’m still not going to point you at them (yet) until they fix the things we talked about, but we addressed all these issues and more – and he seemed rather receptive. I hope he’s sincere and another person has been converted to the light side.

1I’m not going to embarrass you by name on the interwebs unless you force me.
2I am also a micro/small press; they aren’t the same thing and I treat those aspects separately.

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