My Perception Is My Reality

Dew drops on a spider web.

Pred•a• tor noun \pre-de-ter\ •a person who looks for other people in order to use, control, exploit or harm them in some way.

When I think of a predator the first image that comes to mind is the adorable Dilophosaurus in Jurassic Park. How sweet it looked as it established eye contact with Dennis Nedry (Newman). The cooing was so disarming. He had no idea he was dealing with a clever hunter until it unfurled its collar, spit its venom, and went in for the kill.

The second image is of a particularly beautiful spider web I came across one morning. Drops of morning dew clung to the intricate strands and in the middle sat an imposing banana spider. I stopped to watch her for a few moments, and she undoubtedly watched me back. I couldn’t help but marvel at her ability to feel even the slightest disturbance to her web and move quickly to claim her victim.

It is unfortunate that as a contributing author at Indies Unlimited I have to write a piece that finds fault with another writer’s post. I am not a negative person. I have so many goals this year—positive goals. I agreed to investigate an article on Authors Publish Magazine and as a loyal minion I will fulfill my task. I eat a lot and do not want my gruel reduced.

The post I researched was called “The Five Best Manuscript Publishers That Don’t Require Agents.” The post itself is well written. The five publishers the author refers to do indeed accept manuscripts without agent representation. They are Baen, Algonquin, Solstice, Andrews & McMeel, and ABDO. Baen is highly recommended on Preditors & Editors as a science fiction publisher. None of these publishers have any negative comments on P & E. There is no listing on P & E that I can find for Authors Publish Magazine. There is an entry for Authors Magazine which according to P & E is “an online publication featuring the promotion of books by varying authors. This site fails to impress P&E and one writer has already complained.” I cannot verify if these businesses are connected—it appears they are separate entities.

My problem with the post is simple. The publishers described in the article are quality businesses with a documented history of professionalism, at least by the P & E standard. Scattered within the post, however, are advertisers who do not have the same reputation. You can research these businesses yourself. As I was scrolling through the article the following companies came up: Dorrance Press, iUniverse, Outskirts Press, Balboa, and Hay Publishing. Every one of these publishing businesses has a negative comment on P & E. They are listed as vanity presses with questionable practices. I decided to ask some of the other writers at IU for input and I believe I have gotten to the bottom of the problem.

The Authors Publish Magazine post utilizes the Google AdSense plug-in. By using this feature you can make money from a post you publish on your blog. You can install the plug-in and leave it up to Google to pair your post, through keywords, with their paid advertisers. The above scenario can happen to you if you do not specify companies you do not want on your post. If you use the AdSense plug-in it is important that you access the Google Publisher Toolbar and review all the options available to you to block ads you do not want to appear in your post. For example, if I were selling my own brand of hot sauce I wouldn’t want my competitor’s product to pop-up in the middle of a post containing a recipe that highlights my product. There are a number of ways to stop this from happening, and you can tailor this to your own preference. If you want to block a specific url you can do that as well. I now understand how it is possible that a writer might not realize that within the framework of an informative post they are unknowingly promoting businesses with warnings on P & E. 

Predatory businesses frustrate me. I don’t understand why a business or an individual can’t simply provide a good service that people are willing to pay for. This is not naiveté on my part. Does it not take more energy to construct a scam? Why not just learn to do your job well?

Also, I would like to emphasize that I don’t have a problem with literary agents or publishers. Many offer quality service to their clients. They understand how difficult it is for their clients to produce an excellent manuscript and they smooth the journey through all the tasks we authors cringe at. I applaud them.

When I had completed my first manuscript I tried, briefly, to follow the traditional route of publishing. The idea of having a literary agent and a name on the spine of my hardbound novel was exhilarating. Is this not every writer’s dream? After several rejections and nonresponses from agents I was lost. A literary agent was the gatekeeper to a publisher and if I couldn’t interest one in my manuscript I was doomed. I watched my literary dreams evaporate. Then one day I came across a thread on LinkedIn. Here I discovered a new way to achieve my goal and I met some amazing authors who were on the cutting edge of the independent publishing movement. I have never looked back.

Why would I submit a manuscript to Andrews and McMeel and wait a year for a response? If they decided they wanted to represent me it would take another year at least until my book would see the light of day. I might be dead before it was published.

Here’s a challenge for 2014. Write the best manuscript you can and learn how to become an independently published author. All the tools are here at Indies Unlimited. Study and learn your job well. When it’s time, don’t be afraid to go for it. You don’t need anyone else’s name on the spine of your book. Join us and you’ll never look back.

Author: L. A. Lewandowski

Lois Lewandowski graduated from Rutgers University with a degree in Political Science and French Literature. A passion for life lived well is reflected in her novels, Born to Die-The Montauk Murders, A Gourmet Demise, and My Gentleman Vampire, giving readers a glimpse into the world of the beau monde. Lois lives in Tampa, Florida. Learn more at her lifestyle blog, and her Amazon author page.

19 thoughts on “My Perception Is My Reality”

  1. I just realized that I’m probably hyping iUniverse and Publish America on my review site, Lois, since I use Google Adsense. I suspect I ought to limit those. Thanks for the prompt.

  2. Great post, Lois!

    One thing with these vanity predators is that some of them will take the name of a well-respected publishing house that has fallen on hard times. A good example of this is Trafford – once a major player in the minor ranks of traditionals, now under the predatory banner (with Author Solutions, if memory serves). The post a few days ago on Kirkus shows this situation to a new light and new level.

    I have no personal experience with any of those publishers that article mentioned, or know if perhaps this was the case, but at Andrews & McNeil and Algonquin have names reminiscent of old school houses. Trading on someone else’s fame has always been the easy way for the weak-minded.

    1. You make an interesting point, Rich. Using the name of a previously successful business is pretty slick. That is why it is so important for a writer to do their homework.
      Thanks for your comment.

  3. Great info, Lois, particularly about Google Adsense. This explains why Gmail keeps showing me ads for vanity publishers. 😀

    Algonquin, if memory serves, was founded in North Carolina in the 1990s as a small literary press; looks like they’ve since been acquired by Workman. Baen is indeed a pretty big player in sci-fi/fantasy; they have a BBS called Baen’s Bar that used to be a viable way to get to know editors there and get your foot in the door. I dunno if it still is. I think Andrews & McMeel publishes nonfiction — business and technical, mostly, it seems to me. I don’t think I’ve ever heard of the other two.

    1. And I’m with you on the predators. How is it that these people don’t see a problem with taking other people’s money? Didn’t their mothers teach them better than that?

      1. Hi Lynne,
        Thanks for the additional info on the recommended publishers. I cannot see waiting a year for a response and then another at least to see my work published. I doubt there would be an upfront royalty, either. As soon as we self-publish our e-books we have a chance for remuneration. It still is a better deal for most writers I know .
        Thanks for stopping by.

    1. Hi Mark,
      I would love to see some of these scammers spend their time developing a good business model. At the end of the day it’s nice to know you added value and assisted other people with their goals.
      Thanks for your comment.

    1. Hi Laurie,
      I never understood how this worked until I was pointed in the right direction by a couple of IU writers. I will definitely be blocking some advertisers when I install this on my blog.
      Thanks for your comment. 🙂

  4. Thanks, Carolyn.
    There is so much to learn and the constant advances in software are mind boggling. I learn every day, often from this site. Overlooking the ability to block an ad from a poor business, or a competitor, can mean lost revenue to us. Or, in the case of this article, my initial response was very negative toward the writer until I realized that it was probably an oversight. No one can afford to alienate potential customers or readers.

  5. Thank you, Lois, for this very informative post. I love the analogies. I think I discovered P & E in 2004; while I was going that route their service was priceless. Also, I have become increasingly annoyed by those inane ads that just keep popping up; I kept saying, “How do they find me?”

    Thank you again, Lois; excellent article.

    1. Hi TD,
      P & E is an invaluable service. I am surprised how many bloggers don’t seem to know that they need to block certain ads on their site – I thought it was just me. 🙂
      I get distracted by the pop-ups, but I can’t say that I’ve ever bought anything from one of those ads.
      Thanks for stopping by.

    1. Hi Chris,
      I’m glad this info helped you. Once I knew where to look the directions on blocking certain ads were very easy. As TD says, a lot of these ads are annoying. I want to read the article through from start to finish and not be distracted.
      Thanks for your comment.

  6. This was very helpful. Thanks for heads up on Ad Sense. I agree – why wait? As I get older the realization that time is precious and I am not invincible keeps the pressure on to move forward. There is so much possible, the challenge is to keep writing, keep learning, and don’t let roadblocks get in the way.

    1. Hi Elizabeth,
      Time is precious and a limited resource. I am a list and Post-it note junkie. We shouldn’t be afraid to take a qualified risk. When we’ve polished our manuscript we need to let our readers see it. There is no reason to wait years to get the feedback we need in order to become a better writer.
      Good luck to with your projects. 🙂

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