Illusion, Coma, Pimp and Circumstance

preditors are out there...

Writers beware, predators are out there…

You can thank the artist currently known as Prince for that really cool title. It’s a song on his Musicology CD.

How can I say this? Er. Um. About a month ago I somehow wound up having several conversations with a woman who tried to pimp me.

First of all, I’m not a prostitute. I am a writer. What do I write? In a word, everything. Newsletters for my family. Newspaper columns for my church. Articles for magazines. Short stories. Blog posts. Technical manuals. Online help. Feature description documents. White papers. Specifications. And oh yeah, I also write fiction.

Fiction is my passion. I wrote a novel. Then I rewrote it, rewrote it again, pushed for two sets of critiques, had a focus group go through it, then primped, prepped, and polished that bad boy in preparation for publication. (Say that five times fast!)

Here comes the illusion…

During the birth cycle of the aforementioned novel, I thought a lot about my book contract. At the time I was dead set against self-publishing. I was sure I could shop the novel around and eventually a publishing house would say, “Hey, this is great, here’s your contract, and what would you like to see on the cover?” For two years, I held on to that dream. I submitted to publishing houses. I submitted to agents. I sat and read the book over and over again looking for sloppiness and bad grammar. All the while, I held on to the illusion that traditional publishing was right around the corner. Whoo hoo! Wowee! Yep, my dreams were big. I even envisioned Cuba Gooding, Jr. playing the lead male role after I sold the film rights.

Here comes the coma…

I got the call last month. Yes, THAT CALL! It came from a publishing house I had researched briefly through Google before submitting my manuscript to them. So, one day, I was reading through specifications at my day job, getting ready to draft another online help topic, when SUSIE REPRESENTATIVE called my cell phone. The number on the screen was long distance, so I didn’t answer it. The caller left a message, so about ten minutes later, I left my cubicle for a break and listened to the message. It was just like in my fantasy. Skyscrapers and everythang! Susie Representative said, and I SWEAR I am not making this up, “Hi! We received your submission. We were pretty impressed with it. Please call us back as soon as possible. We would really like to get you into the 2014 publication lineup.” I walked around my office building in a daze for five minutes. Total coma! I think I even drooled a bit.

Here comes the pimp…

I sat down in an empty break area in my office building and called Susie back. We had a wonderful chat for about ten minutes. She told me all about how their editing team works almost exclusively with new authors. She said she loved my story and she was excited for the chance to work with me. She said the company invests a great deal in their authors, and that they do the cover work, editing, marketing plan, and even commercials. I was smitten. She sounded like a fine lady. Immediately I envisioned myself flying out to the midwest to meet her, and that we would form a wonderful nurturing author/editor relationship. I think I wanted to marry her after she told me that she was sending me contract and the information about the company in an email to me that afternoon.

That afternoon when I got home, I grabbed a big cup of hot tea, opened my email and prepared to read through the documents. Everything was there just like Susie said. Still in a daze, I opened the one that said CONTRACT first. It explained everything from copyrights to ownership – standard publishing stuff. Nothing truly stood out until I read one page that said I was expected to pay $XXXX dollars when I returned the contract. Pay? Pay! Wait a minute! Was this a vanity press or subsidy press? I went back and read my other materials. No, the documents clearly said traditional publisher.

A traditional publisher? Who asks for money up front? My antenna immediately went up and I decided to ask some of my writing group people about NONAME PUBLISHING. Three fellow authors assured me that they were known predators, out to get my money and not edit or market my book properly. Hmm. I called Susie again to talk to her about this, and she verbally assured me that they were indeed a traditional publisher. But that I would have to send them a check along with my contract.

Mind you, in all of this, the company only had a sample of my book. What was the dead giveaway that they might have only been after my money? Something so simple you could blink and miss it? They never asked  me to send the rest of the manuscript.

Yes sirree, if it looks like a preditor, and sounds like a preditor, and asks for your money, honey…it’s a pimp.

Here comes the circumstance…

I had spent a number of months trying for a publisher. So, it was actually difficult for me to call NONAME PUBLISHING and tell them that I was declining going forward with their contract offer. But call I did. A day later I got a call from another person at the company, asking me to reconsider. I declined again.

I may have a dream. But a dream is a dream. Not desperation.

So now, my circumstances are the same as before. I’ll spend maybe only the remainder of the year submitting before I take a turn at the self-publishing route. I trust God. Maybe that’s what He was guiding me toward all along. But one thing is for sure…

know I’m not meant to be preyed upon.

2 thoughts on “Illusion, Coma, Pimp and Circumstance

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