So, I was talking with one of my friends the other day and she told me she had wonderful news. Of course I couldn't wait to hear this news, so I sat back and waited for her to tell me what had her all a flutter. I was expecting something like a new boyfriend or she'd finally decided to go back to school. What I was told in the end wasn't at all what I had been thinking.
She sat there, her blue eyes lit up like a star. A giant smile was painted along her lips and I swore her soul was about to burst into flames from the excitement. That's when she said it. She was being published. My mouth hung open for a minute. If she'd been any of my writer friends, I would've jumped up and down and began the celebration. The thing is, she isn't. I'm not even sure she's written anything other than a shopping list before. (I'm not saying this is a bad thing. It just came out of nowhere since she'd never talked about wanting to be an author whenever we talked about my writing.)
Right away, I asked the logical questions. What did you write? A poem or a book? I'm sure I looked weird when she said she'd written a book. I looked even weirder when she added that it was a fiction book for teens. She didn't even know what genre it was or what YA meant. I had to explain that YA was young adult literature aimed at teens and that I was assuming that was what she meant.
After talking a little more, I learned that she'd jotted down a story in about a month. She didn't edit or revise it and she didn't even think authors HAD to do that kind of thing if their books were any good. Her belief is that a publisher will do all of that for her. (I've heard other's think this too and let me just tell you that they're wrong. You have and need to revise and edit before submitting. Trust me when I say you'll be thankful that you did later.)
Anyway, so this is what this post is about. My friend told me about how she'd written this "book" and how she'd contacted a new small publisher about it. They read it and told her how much they loved it. I asked to see it, and after reading it, I have to say that I knew what our next conversation would be. Sure enough, yesterday we talked and she told me that the publisher wanted to speed up her release date. To do this, she needs to agree to them sending her ms to an outside editor and pay their fees. Right away I told her not to agree to this. That in publishing, that's not how it works. Money flows toward the author, not the other way around. She agreed with me about this, but stopped short of admitting that the entire thing is a scam.
My friend is so excited to be published that she's not seeing nor researching anything about being published. I went the extra mile and sent her a file filled with all the info I've found along the road and even told her that there is always something to learn. I'm trying my best not to break her heart by saying she's been scammed, but I'm afraid that it's coming. Sooner than I hope. My fear is that when I break this to her, she's going to resent me or blame me for killing her new dream. Sure, she's the type that goes from wanting to be a model one day to wanting to be a teacher the next, but I don't want to be the one to kill the writer dream. She's got a great imagination and I'm sure if she put the time and effort into becoming an author, that she could do great. I just don't think this scam will help that along. In fact, I think it'll crush her.
At this moment, I'm stuck between a rock and a hard place. If I tell her it's a scam, our friendship could be damaged. If I don't, then she could end up scammed out of hard earned cash or her dream. Either way, I know this isn't going to be good. As her friend, I know that I should and need to tell her. And believe me when I say that I will before she reads this post. The thing is, I don't like being put in this position. Other friends heard this same news and haven't bothered saying a word. Not even when they heard about the editor. They just wanted to stay out of it. I can't do that. I just wish she would have researched before submitting anything.
Research is a friend to anyone wanting to be published. You should research topics while writing your book. Research agents before querying them. You should also research publishers before getting into "bed" with them. Never should you just go in blind. Not when it's a business relationship. Think of it this way, if you wouldn't hire someone to take care of your kid/dog without checking them out first, then why would you go into business with someone without checking them out? It just doesn't make sense.
I love my friend and I don't want her to be taken by scam artists who don't care about her or her book. I'm hoping that she will forgive me for ripping off the band aid. If not, then at least I can say that I tried to prevent the eventual heartache that is to come.
If you ever find yourself in this situation, do what's right. Tell the person it's a scam. You'd want them to do it if it were you being scammed. Also, remember to research before doing anything. It truly is your friend. Knowledge is after all power.
Have you ever been stuck between a rock and a hard place? What did you do to get out of it?
Until next time, happy reading/writing everyone!