Saturday, January 14, 2006


I promise that I will no longer get sucked into comment debates with anonymous bloggers claiming to be pros on other people's blogs because, you know, they might not blurb my books in the future, and we all know the value of a cover blurb written by ANONYMOUS. It could wreck my whole career.

Yes, I know better. I know better. Jesus Christ.

You guys, just do me a favor: don't pay to get published unless you're self-publishing. No matter what some anonymous publishing conspiracy theorist assures you that is what all the Big Name authors do. We don't. Ask those of us who don't hide behind anonymous blogs and threaten anyone who disagrees with us.

Vanessa, I apologize again for making shoddy use of your comments. It won't happen again.


  1. I think I missed something. Who paid to get published?

  2. Anonymous10:12 PM

    Bill wrote: Al Zuckerman devotes a chapter in his book working with Ken Follett on developing and revising "The Man From St. Petersburg" so it's not unheard of.

    I should clarify before another exception comes up: no major publisher that I've worked for (four of them) requires an author under contract to hire an outside/freelance editor. That's why publishers have editors on staff -- to do the editing.

  3. Anonymous10:38 PM

    To add to my tension headache, I'm now getting anxious e-mails about whether or not publishers recommend you hire book doctors to improve the chances of a ms. making it out of the slushpile. Another secret handshake thing. You're right, Ferfe, it's in the air.

    This after I posted a comment on Lee Goldberg's blog about how Bill Appel of Edit Ink almost scammed me out of $1500.00 via an ad in Writer's Digest for the same bullshit when I was unpublished, no less. The only reason Bill Appel didn't make me one of his many victims is that I stuck to my resolution never to pay anyone to be published.

    But what the hell do I know, right? Maybe I should throw up my hands and tell everyone to go ahead and pay to get published. Clinging to these good old secret handshake/conspiracy theories is what makes people happy. Not the truth.

  4. Anonymous10:49 PM

    And I should add (and I can because these are my comments, after all) that the reason I'm so upset by this whole stupid debate is because I was nearly scammed into something like this when I was unpublished.

    At that time we didn't have a lot of money, and I was feeling very low about ever getting a shot at being published, so it's a minor miracle I didn't go for the scam. It was an excellent con job, I was stupid about the industry, and it SOUNDED so good.

    When I found out I had avoided being scammed only by the skin of my teeth, I was stunned and furious and absolutely shaken. I can only imagine how the writers who actually fell for Edit Ink's BS felt. Ever since then, when I see someone perpetuating that kind of garbage on unpublished writers, I go nuts.

    So, with that as my end note, I'm unplugging. Feel free to debate away, call me bad names, etc. I can't help taking this one to heart. I've got too many scars in that spot.

  5. You mean you only would have had to pay $1500?!?

    I almost paid over $2000 for a complete edit and review. Almost.

    I asked for a sample chapter, which the woman kindly did, but after I looked at it several days later, I noticed all she did was change a few words to different words. Really. I guess it may sound a little better, but it wasn't $2000 worth for throughout the whole book.

    If people want to pay money to get published, tell them to buy a style guide and a book from a guy who has actually been published. Swain or Bickman come to mind.

    Don't stress yourself, hun. You can't change other people's minds. Only they can do that!

  6. FWIW after my last editing nightmare, I plan to hire a copyeditor on my own to run my next MS under a microscope before I even think about looking for a publisher.

    As to the angst running rampant lately on the writer's blogs. I suspect it's because everyone is on a diet. Makes 'em testy and anxious.

  7. You don't have to apologize for anything you've said on this matter. You've done the right thing in my opinion: told the truth.

    I gather, from reading the original blog in question, that whoever 'downward spiral' is, he or she deleted your comment. It wasn't a particularly intemperate comment, merely a good point strongly (and fairly) presented.

    I thank you for pointing out that he/she had done so, as I now feel safe in ignoring what he/she has to say.

  8. Anonymous10:24 AM

    My friend Sam goes through my manuscripts with a fine tooth comb before I sent them to my editor. She covers my backside and puts in a LOT of hours to make sure I don't look like a sappy idiot. Which I am. I force her to take a little money - never enough, for as hard as she works - and I've even been paid to proofread for working writers. We all help each other, and sometimes that little spot of cash comes in at just the right time.

    Editing, though, is done by my editor, my copy editor, the production people... by my publisher. Sam and I make it as sparkling as we can, then it's off to them. I have never, and will never, pay for an independant editor, or a book doctor. That's just wonky.

  9. I read Downward Spirals's blog, and I have to say I think she* has several of the 'red flags' for online lying that you brought up the other day. There seem to be a few holes in her stories, and her explanations didn't jive with the other research I've done about publishing, so I'm not buying what she says [and I'm not paying an editor, either!]

    As for linking to your blog, PBW, I put you under 'Blogs I Read' a while back, because I do, and I don't care who knows it. Granted, about 12 people read my blog, so I'm not exactly thumbing my nose at the world, but my point is, I enjoy your blog.

    I believe what you say about the publishing world, because I figure you know what you're talking about[32 novels and all that].

    So keep it up. You can't 'save' everybody, but there are people who listen to what you have to say, and appreciate your efforts.

    *I don't know if DS is a he or she, but I chose she as the all-purpose pronoun.

  10. Anonymous8:58 AM

    I have always stuck to that one precious rule I was told in the very beginning (by several published authors): You NEVER pay to have your book published; THEY pay you. Do I trust the people who always say that? Of course I do! Before they published, they were in the same income situation I am; I know they wouldn't pay ridiculous amounts for editing.

    I have several friends (writers and not) who read my work for me. One of my friends just goes through and circles the "to be" verbs for me (my biggest bad habit). *-* I either treat them to dinner as thanks, or I return the favor to them. They do a damn good job, too - better than any idiot who's going to make me pay a 3-digit (or more!) amount for shoddy work. *-*

  11. The problem lies in how all this was originally presented. Sure, it's possible that some professional authors do use editing to help them meet a deadline. That'd be a business decision on the author's part--does he spend time proofreading or moving onto the next project? But to the person who is getting rejection after rejection, all they're going to see is, "Best Seller Joe Smith is getting his work professionally edited. That must be how he got published." And then they go off and spend the money to have it edited, figuring magic will happen--but not correcting the real problems that are causing them to get rejected in the first place. A cliche-ridden manuscript that is professionally edited will have clean prose but still be cliche-ridden.

  12. Anonymous2:35 PM

    Why all the writer on writer angst? Downward Spiral brings up some valid contract issues. Just because everyone doesn't have the same problems isn't the point. It IS a cautionary tale, and I, for one, am glad to have heard it. PBW also has a cautionary tale. Don't let publishers make you pay any of the costs of publishing. I'm glad to have heard that one also.

    We're on the same side, after all. Let's not massacre ourselves.

  13. ferfe, I like that theory about the diets.

    Once a ms has been accepted, I can't imagine a publisher asking an author to pay for editing.

    Before that? Hmmm.

    I can imagine a publisher saying "It's good but I can't accept it. You ought to consider help with editing, here's a number of a freelancer I trust, if you're interested."

    In fact I know one publisher has recently started rejecting manuscripts that aren't proofed well enough. (Not edited. Proofed.) They say try again when the ms in better shape.


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