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Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Caveat Emptor

Call me cranky (I am. I always am when I'm sick.), but why don't people do their research? I have an online acquaintance who is a very nice woman, but she's like a train wreck when it comes to picking publishers. This is the third time now that she's submitted to the wrong place.

I'm not sure she could have done anything about the first one. This was ten or twelve years ago, before the writing community really got on the Internet.

Then there was publisher number 2, one of the companies that imploded a year or two ago and filed for bankruptcy. I don't blame her for this one because I hadn't heard any rumblings either when she signed with them, but things sure came out later.

But that brings me to publisher number 3. This weekend, she posts on the board to wish her luck because she's hoping XYZ publisher will make her an offer for her books. The name of the publisher set off a few alarm bells, but I decided I must have remembered wrong. And between my dad being in the hospital and my getting sick, I didn't have the time or energy to reply anyway, but others wished her luck.

Then on Monday, she posts a note thanking everyone for their good wishes and saying that one person she knew from another loop had said she'd heard rumors about XYZ publisher and wanted to know if we'd heard anything bad about them.

Remember I told you alarm bells went off in my mind when I first heard which publisher, so I did a quick online search. In less than 1 minute, I not only had the search completed, but I clicked on the second link and had time to scan the blog article about this company.

Now this is where I get cranky. Didn't this author acquaintance of mine do any research before submitting her material? You'd think that would be the first thing she'd do, especially considering how badly her previous two experiences turned out. But apparently not. Not when I was able to turn up the information and read it so quickly and she didn't know anything about it. I feel like saying something to her because you know what? If that were my work, I'd definitely be checking them out six ways to Sunday. Heck, I've done this for every NYC publisher my work has been submitted to and I find out what I can about the editors, too. Why wouldn't I want to know as much as I can?

Would you buy a house and then check out the neighborhood and the schools? Of course not. Why is sending to a publisher any different? It's still a huge investment on the writer's part--not just of her time, but of her heart, her soul, and her talent as well.

Writers research any publisher you're going to submit to big or small. For heaven's sake don't be a casualty and don't expect other people to do your research for you. I think what has me crankiest about this situation is how simple and fast it was to find the information. Now, after I posted, she's finally, finally checking into this company. Sigh.