So, late last night, I couldn’t sleep. My brain kept talking to me and wouldn’t shut up and I decide the best way to deal with this is to go check my email. Because naturally when you’ve got a billion thoughts racing through your head with to-do lists, the first thing you want to do is see if any of the literary agents you queried wrote you back so you can torment yourself with rejection or make up reasons as to why they haven’t gotten back to you.
And what should I see but two emails in my inbox from a publishing company. We’ll call them Dingleberry Press, for the sake of this narrative and to keep me from being sued. If here actually is a Dingleberry Press out there, my apologies and I will rename them Cocky-Dingle Dalliance Publishing. Anyway, this company is saying they recently saw that my Huntress of Rosefell Hall had been registered with the Library of Congress and they want to talk to me about publication? Now, they have one of these names that’s hugely popular and in my half-awake state, I’m thinking, “I’ve heard of this company before. Could this be the answer to all my prayers?”
The answer is a resounding NO. So if, like me, you’re tired and not thinking straight or if, like me from many years ago, you’re new, let me enlighten you as to why.
First of all, THIS ISN’T HOW LEGIT PUBLISHING COMPANIES WORK. You query–with or without an agent, depending on their guidelines, and they either approve or reject. Imagine you’re a publishing company. Do you really have time to send out this message–twice–to someone who randomly finished a book just because they finished the book? You have no idea what the book is even about, but you want to read it? How many just finished books by new authors are out there? How many people are on your staff available to read it? Mhm. You see what I mean, don’t you?
And so, I get a red flag that this is a vanity press. I quick Google search confirms my suspicions. Vanity presses will publish just about anyone. They either make their money by charging you to publish your own book or they publish you on faith that your friends will want a copy. That’s how they work and if you’re okay with that, I won’t throw too many stones at you. I’ve been there myself. The lure of publication calls, everything sounds so good, and your knees buckle under the weight of your dreams. I get it. And not to bash on vanity presses, but they’re not for me and my broke ass. For those with the monetary means and little patience, maybe this is the route for them. To each their own.
BUT WHAT IS DISCONCERTING is that they have someone on their staff lurking outside the copyright office to see who published a manuscript recently and I am NOT okay with this. So secondly, they’ve invaded my privacy and managed to somehow get my email account and email me. This smacks of gangster racketeering. “That’s an awfully nice book you’ve got there. Be a shame if something happened to it.” What. The. Hell.
Anyway, I want to get out this message: getting published is a lot like landing any other job. Doing things like PitMad or writing contests, you put yourself out there in a similar way to posting your resume online. Or maybe you’ll meet your literary agent or publisher at a writing convention much like at a job fair. Or you know a friend of a friend and came highly recommended. Bottom line is, you’re going to have to put yourself out there. People don’t come knocking on your door unless they want to sell you something; they don’t come to your home hoping to buy something you’ve not listed as for sale. Not unless they’re really creepy. And if they are, run. Run very far away.