This week’s podcast is essential listening for all authors: Victoria Strauss from Writer Beware is joining us to share her most important advice for how writers can avoid being scammed. Writer Beware was co-founded by Victoria and Ann Crispin in 1998, is sponsored by SFWA, and its mission is to “track, expose, and raise awareness of the prevalence of fraud and other questionable activities in and around the publishing industry.” Listen in as Victoria speaks with US Manager Christine Munroe about:
- The origins of Writer Beware in 1998. SFWA put a call-out for someone to monitor scams aimed at authors, and Victoria and Ann Crispin joined forces.
- At that time, literary agent scams were prevalent. Victoria says she rarely sees them nowadays – self-publishing has shown many authors that they don’t need an agent to publish. Unfortunately, self-publishing has also created a new frontier in writing scams, from digital publishers charging exorbitant fees for their services to would-be experts offering services they’re not capable of providing.
- The craziest scheme she has heard of to date (you’ll have to listen to find out!).
- How she and a team of volunteers find the time to maintain the website and blog. Also, why their investigations need to be so detailed: Writer Beware is often the target of lawsuits by the scammers they work to expose.
- How writers can avoid being scammed: DO YOUR RESEARCH and educate yourself. There’s no such thing as a free lunch – if it sounds too good to be true, and you have a gut feeling that something is amiss, don’t ignore those instincts.
- The best way to get started as a new author. Start broadly by reading books about the industry at large and the various options available to you. What’s important is that you set goals for your writing and find the path that best serves those goals. Then you can dive into the internet as a resource for learning more about each aspect of the process, and checking that each company you’re considering working with is reputable.
- Additional resources for researching scams include Preditors & Editors and Absolute Write.
- Victoria’s publishing plans for the next year, which includes traditional, hybrid, and self-publishing paths. Victoria believes (and we agree!) that authors don’t need to choose just one path for publishing, and stick to that path forever. Often a combination of options is ideal.
Following this conversation, KWL Author Care Coordinator Vanessa Ghosh shares advice for taking advantage of our free preview function on Kobo. Customers can preview the first 5% of the beginning of your eBook, so many sure to give them a peek into your best work—and don’t use a dummy file when you’re setting up a pre-order, as previews for pre-orders are also visible to customers. If you have questions you’d like us to answer on the podcast, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Email Writer Beware: beware (at) sfwa (dot) org
Victoria Strauss is the author of nine novels for adults and young adults. In addition, she has written a handful of short stories, hundreds of book reviews, and a number of articles on writing and publishing. Victoria is co-founder, with Ann Crispin, of Writer Beware, a publishing industry watchdog group that provides information and warnings about the many scams and schemes that threaten writers. She lives in Amherst, Massachusetts, with her husband and two rambunctious cats.
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