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Sunday, 10 May 2015

The Target for tonight!

It's what you are aiming for, the target is to find a publisher, someone who will travel with you and share the journey from manuscript text to published novelist.

Sounds straightforward, and it should be, but as ever there are the unscrupulous, devious and downright nasty characters in the big bad world out there!

PT Barnum, the great showman is credited with the belief  there was one born every minute; a gullible fool, or a smart intellect that could be dazzled and charmed by smooth words and glittering acclaim, they were both the same to him and for the predatory publisher there really is no difference: either way the subject is a prospective source of revenue.

Setting aside the muddied waters of who may or not may be the good guys anymore, I want to look at the practical situation we've all faced as authors. The manuscript is finished, either as word doc. ODT, PDF or A4 double spaced times new roman on one side.

The search begins with the easiest tool available, the Internet search engine; Google, Bing, or whatever your choice may be, and the simple question; Find what I'm looking for!

The newbie writer, cloistered for months working on their opus suddenly emerges blinking into the daylight and onto the byways of the Internet.

Inspired by the surge of creativity that has brought the manuscript into being is not always the best driver for a reasoned step along the road. The question is asked by many, how and why do people still fall for the predators, and Indies Unlimited amongst others have recently given the matter considerable time and attention.

Now turn the problem around, we (the authors) are looking for a small target. The requirement is for a single publisher, and the target area is the Internet and straight ahead lies the bulls eye, the biggest target you have ever seen, so big, it is not possible to miss, no matter which way you turn.

Imagine a dart board made up entirely of the bull, no numbers, double rings or anything, I typed in find/search for my publisher and a couple of other variations and Author Solutions kept appearing.

The Google rating is so high it seemed impossible to miss, how could I avoid it. There's the rub, when does the resistance crumble and the author give in? "After struggling to find a publisher" is a phrase that prods my curiosity. When I read that line, or one similar to it I'm looking for the publisher's name in the article or press release to see who they are.

Good guys, bad guys; the words on the page may be black and white, but life never is, but bearing that in mind there are names we should consider carefully before moving ahead.  "Editors and Preditors"  has a very useful listing of publishers with advice on how to deal with them. Literary agents aren't immune to blurring the lines  either; Nicola Solomon of the Society of Authors in The Bookseller.com, February 2014 suggest authors check out any connections between a literary agent and the publishing company that is recommended.

Author Solutions massive advertising budget, based on the necessity to capture new authors (an estimated 27000 in 2015) is roughly a $100 million a year and that gets an awful lot of Internet space; the snare is set further afield in conferences, book fairs and the printed media buying advertising space, which is then sold on to authors at a considerable mark-up.

Despairing of an alternative, worn down by the frequency of the name in every possible media, our newbie may well succumb and tumble into the ever open arms, bearing their cheque book or credit card.

Innocence and naivety may be charming traits in a social situation, but they may also be ignorance and vulnerability, and an open door to the unscrupulous and manipulative. Traits the Predators are looking for, the furrows they plough to fill their store with another's hard earned cash.

The antidote; knowledge and strength; strength from being part of a community, and strengthened by the shared knowledge of that community. Indies Unlimited have their knowledgebase; Writer Beware have links to information and resources, and both discuss developments in the publishing world on a regular basis/

Staring at the screen, looking for a way past a wall where every brick seems to have the same name chiselled on it may seem insurmountable, but patience and a little digging, (any wall can be tunnelled under) will get you where you want to be. Keep an eye on what writers and bloggers are commenting on and discussing. Gather what information you can and if you have a question, ask it.

There is only one stupid question; it's the one you didn't ask, and you went away without the answer that could have made the difference!

What is blindingly obvious to the time served Veteran may seem like the deepest intangible mystery to the newcomer, and we were all newcomers once.

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