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.