As a writer, have you ever felt like a lowly worm on a hook?
A friend recently told me she had received a contract for her work (which was nowhere, and I mean nowhere, ready for submission).
She asked me to have a look at the contract before she signed it, after having been assured by the publishing house that they only took the top few submissions that they received (remember, not even remotely ready for submission). Red flag.
The contract said they were a royalty paying house with absolutely no cost to the author. They also said that no one but the author should look at the contract. Hmmm….red flag number two and waving frantically.
Now, this story is adorable, and I hope one day she’ll be able to connect with a wonderful publisher, but this wasn’t the moment she’d been hoping for.
I’ll now become more hypothetical so as not to upset anyone’s apple cart. Let’s say that further in the contract they wanted her to use exclusively: their editors, marketers, publicity group, or some other extraneous individual for whom she would pay an exorbitant amount of money. Red flags, red flags, red flags all fluttering wildly in the breeze!!!
They had fed her ego with a big, fat worm, and reeled her in like a juicy trout. What were they actually offering? A publishing contract for which she would pay and pay dearly.
I want to say no one falls for this, but sadly, the hook, line, and sinker works more often than not. As authors who have been told no so many times, this looks like a great deal.
My heart breaks when I see folks headed down this path. They hear, “Your book is amazing,” and then long for that contract. But what are they actually getting? A vanity press no matter how it’s dressed up to look like a traditional publisher.
Bait on a hook, or bait and switch, whichever you prefer to call it.
Well, she was smart enough to have other eyes on the contract, and once she realized she was the worm and they were reeling in the line, she decided to wait a tad longer.
There’s no substitute for the real thing. Don’t let ego get in the way of polishing your work until it’s “ready” for submission. There are no short cuts.
Take your time and edit, polish, and edit some more.
There lie your best chances to success!