Recognizing Online Writing Scams
Many dishonest companies have found an eager market to swindle in scamming potential writers. These can range from content providers offering pittance wages to self-publishing ventures that can drain an aspiring novelist’s savings without gaining any notice for their work.
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Navigating through this jungle of scams to find legit opportunities as a writer is a challenge. Learning some of the signs of real online writing scams can prevent everything from wasted time to losing rights to your work and large sums of money to shady publishers. Doing some research on any company is a good start, but before it comes to that there are some red flags to forewarn of questionable practices.
A good publisher or content provider will never ask a writer for money up front to get started. Whether they call it a membership, administrative costs or advertising fees, those things are well within the budget of a successful company. If they’re asking a writer to pay their office staff, it’s because the company isn’t making enough sales. Some publishing outfits will offer any writer an opportunity to become an author for a price. They know its a dream of many people to become writers, but it’s best to earn that. Buying a dream will just get the facade and this is why you have to be careful of online internet scams.
Be aware of standard turn around times in the industry. A publisher sending out acceptance letters within a week of receiving your work is most likely sending that same letter to every writer who contacts them. It’s practically unheard of to receive a response in under a month from a legit publisher. Understanding the journey a book length manuscript takes to the editor’s desk can be helpful in spotting scams. With the time it takes to determine whether a piece is suitable for publishing, patience is a big part of becoming a successful online writer. Sending follow-ups will not speed up an editor’s decision, be sure to read over the guidelines for the publisher for their expected wait times.
Other red flag warnings of potential trouble can include advertising that’s overly eager to publish first time online writers. Established writers would know they’re not being offered a fair deal, there’s a reason these companies are seeking out the inexperienced. If they claim to have a revolutionary new marketing plan or business model, ask why this method isn’t being used by the large publishing houses. Asking questions about sales figures for their best sellers as well as overall shouldn’t fluster a trustworthy company. Citing confidentiality can often mean they’re hiding something important like their average titles don’t sell more than a hundred copies. The old cliché is all too true for aspiring writers, if it sounds too good to be true it probably is.