They’re out there, oh yes they are, and I’ll bet you’ve seen them. The less-traveled cable channels are full of them, especially in the middle of the night. Nation-wide AM radio call-in shows? Check! Internet? Try turning on a computer without a measured bombardment, I dare you!
Oh, I’m sorry, did I start in the middle? Allow me to clarify:
ARE YOU READY FOR THE COMING DEMISE OF THE DOLLAR?
I’m just a dumb secretary with an AA degree from a community college, but my billionaire boss just moved to a secret ranch in Outer Slobbovia after converting all his assets to one form of holding. He survived the Great Depression, the Nasty Recession, the Unexpected Gold Plunge, and the Other Great Depression, and if you buy my book, I’ll disclose the secret method he used that will enable you to survive the Coming End of the World!
Now, this is brilliant, and I’m a bit ashamed that I didn’t think of it myself. After all, I’ve lived my whole life in the US, where the politicians get elected by making up some perceived end-of-life-as-we-know-it that only they can fix, the military gets the new budget they want by reporting that our ideological opponents are just one circuit board away from rendering our armed forces impotent, where the auto industry has pretty much convinced us that it’s too dangerous to drive on public roads if you aren’t in an SUV that can go head-to-head with a Tiger tank. How did it never occur to me to simply tell everyone that you’re going to die in poverty if you don’t buy my book?
Oh, wait a minute, because of my personal shortcoming, integrity. I just can’t do it, largely because of the embarrassment I’m going to suffer when the sun rises tomorrow, and the only thing that’s different is that I now have some of your money. And his, and his, and hers, and… Hey, looks like I’m going to survive the coming recession, after all! What are you going to do?
Okay, at this point, you’ll recognize that I’m tap dancing as I try to find a point to put on this ramble. I’m just having some fun this evening, but I think the point I’ll make for you, the aspiring author, is to be careful! Let me make this perfectly clear: This is the Golden Age of the snake-oil salesman! Those guys who went from town to town in the Old West, selling bottles of colored water from the back of a wagon could reach maybe a hundred people a week. These guys today can reach a million people a nano-second, and from Deposed Nigerian Princes to Undercover Bank Auditors, they’re doing it; and they have their sights on you!
Breaking into writing is a tough prospect, and I don’t think I’m disclosing any secrets to anyone who has already tried their luck with the publishing industry. Even if you’re destined to be the next J.K. Rowling, you’re going to experience rejections; in all likelihood, you’ll collect enough rejection slips to wallpaper your bedroom. It’s the nature of the life we’ve chosen. But some of the less scrupulous among us have chosen a different path. They prey on young writers, new writers, some not so young, with stars in their eyes, and dreams in their heads, and they come calling. They’re in your e-mail, they’re in your sidebar, they’re in your pop-ups and your blog comments. Once they find out that you’re trying to market a book, they’re as relentless as ants at a picnic. They’ll sell you this, they’ll sell you that, they’ll sell you that elusive success that’s just around the corner… Only they won’t. What they’ll sell you is a bill of goods that will never be delivered, and what it will cost you is every nickel they can wring out of you, and most of your dreams besides.
Don’t believe me? I know how easy it is to be taken in by these hucksters, because I almost was myself. They found me as I was shopping my first novel, Temple of Exile, around looking for a publisher. They were so smooth they made butter look like sandpaper, and they might have caught me if their first request for money, for “editing” services, hadn’t been so far beyond my means. I’m here now, an almost-victim, to try to help you avoid these predators. And you don’t have to take my word for it. Read what the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America has to say about them. It’s a fascinating read, but don’t go into it unless you have a few hours to spend. Yeah, it’s that bad.
So that’s my post for this week. There are, unfortunately, people out there, lots of them, who feel that they are somehow entitled to take your money and give you nothing for it, and they know that people with dreams are soft targets. Knowledge is power, forewarned is forearmed, intelligence is victory, you guys are writers, you’ve heard them all. They’re all true. Educate yourselves, be smart, and don’t be a victim. And until we meet again, let’s be careful out there!
This is the tenth and final post of my first-week blitz. The tone of the site is established, and there’s enough material here to hold the attention of a new visitor for a while. I am amazed at the turnout. Writing this at 6:45 PM Pacific Time, the counter shows 145 visits, which is about three times what I would have considered a decent number. There have been 26 Likes and 14 Comments, all of which I have enjoyed and appreciate greatly. Two more Likes have been posted while I was typing these sentences, and nine of you have seen fit to follow my humble work. I am in awe!
Commencing immediately, I am shifting to my normal schedule, which means I’ll be back with a full post next Thursday, although of course, should anything important arise, I’ll pass it along immediately. And what will I be doing in the interim? My plan tonight is to begin in earnest to assemble notes and the outline for the first story of The Darklighters, my Beyond the Rails sequel. The Muse will have quite a bit to say about it as he always does, but rest assured that I’ll be working on something. Drop me a line about anything at all, and we’ll talk.