Sunday, November 12, 2006

When Is Being Published NOT Being Published?

So the other day an email arrives from an old friend of mine. Among all the newsy things she was attempting to keep me up with, she says: "Just wanted you to know that I am now a published poet. Poetry.com published two of my poems which I submitted. And they already offered to put my poetry in a book! I am really happy about this!"

So now I read this email, hit my head and say "Oy Vey!". How the hell do I tell this friend that she did the worst thing possible? How do I tell her, when she is all proud of herself, and probably told her whole family and all her friends that her poem is published in one of the best scams on the Internet? How do I tell her that not only should she never mention that in professional credentials but that she will find it really hard to get her poetry off that site? How do I tell her she just got taken?

Now this is usually a job for the wonderful blog:
At Last! Writer Beware Blogs! A.C. Crispin and Victoria Strauss Reveal All!
These guys really do it all. They have their act together and they make sure that writers who want to are aware of the scams out there. The only problem is - most newly starting out writers have no clue there is anything such as a scam. It never crosses their minds that someone would with malice and forethought set up a site or a business to take their money and scam them into kingdom come.

Well the first thing I did was send back an email with just a URL to the above site:
A.C. Crispin - 40 - Giving Your Work Away?

And I let her read it and gave it time for it to sink in. It did. And my friend writes me back a real short email:

"So I got taken huh?"

Yes darling you got taken. You are not the only one. Yes darling, it is disgusting and horrible and really a bitch that people do that sort of stuff. And it would be more credible to open a blog and put your poetry up there than send it to places like Poetry.com.

So it hurts. People get taken. It really does hurt and that is why people like Strauss and Crispin devote their precious hours to doing what they do. But it leaves you in the lurch. Cause not only did you not accomplish a thing with your poetry, you sent it into a black hole of invisibility.

As much as this advice hurts to anyone reading here:
  1. Check out the place - and yes even the agent - you are submitting to.
  2. Make sure the agent is listed in AAR
  3. If not listed (and there a million reasons why they would not be) go to P&E - PreEditors & Editors.
  4. Try AgentQuery
  5. Check out Writers Beware; Miss Snark and other legitimate and viable blogs and web sites.
  6. Use Google, Yahoo, MSN - Google the place - see what others are saying.
  7. Do NOT send in your work to some Internet site without first making sure it is fairly legitimate.
  8. Check out names, people, previous publishing experiences.
  9. Go to Absolute Write or other writing boards and ASK. (Absolute Write has a board "Bewares & Backgrounds Checks" just for this.)
I do not want to sound cruel - but with a few minutes on the Internet and in forums - there is no excuse for being taken by a scam. No excuse whatsoever. And those few minutes will save you considerable heartache in the future.

And make no mistake. Poetry.com is one such scammer. They will bleed you dry taking your money and never let go. Every few weeks in my spam box another great "offer" from them comes in.

So you may ask what is the scam? They put up your poetry on their site. They publish it in a book if you agree to be pay them. They do what they say they will do. Of course everything costs the author something. Everything is monetized. And you certainly are not going to get the book at Amazon!

The scam simply is the oldest in the book. To prey upon innocent people and their dreams. To hold the agent-publishing stick in front of them. (No reputable agent or publisher would ever think of looking at the Poetry.com site.) They take your money, promise your dreams will come true - only for you to one day find out that you were taken for a ride and whatever you did submit is gone forever.

What hurt me the most about the email my friend sent me were the tears she shed afterwards. Just for those tears scammers ought to be tarred and feathered.

Be knowledgeable. Be careful. Be smart.


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3 comments:

Bhaswati said...

Very useful advice, as always. Thanks for all those links, Teddy.

sammyig said...

I am going to start checking out your blog more often. You post alot of useful information here. I think that it is always helpful to post information about scams.

I hadn't noticed the problem with the blogger beta and the search feature either. Great job!

Teddy said...

Thanks for the compliments sammy.
Come back often.