Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Scams, Lynchings, and it's Time to P-A-R-T-Y!

If you’ve been reading this blog, you know I’ve been having an on-going exchange with the Australian publisher of a certain so-called newsletter for writers. A few days ago—after having heard from me several times about the deplorable practice of attempting to scam writers—he had the gall to send me yet another invitation to participate in his grand scam/scheme.

I have unsubscribed rather than make more attempts to stop his money-making schemes while he continues to operate under the guise of “helping writers”. This, to me, is more akin to a raging moose in full rut, than a helping hand to the less experienced writer. Rob Parnell and your Easy Way to Write; you have lost my respect, my patronage, and will forever be included on my list of disreputable sources.

Since I’m already on the soapbox:

Well, here we are with yet another scam to take advantage of newbie writers and/or those who think self-publishing is a good way to break into print.

Wearing the good-guy hats: “Writer Beware, a publishing industry watchdog group sponsored by the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America, shines a light into the dark corners of the shadow-world of literary scams, schemes, and pitfalls,” according to the heading on their blog. They are taking on the latest multi-level marketing scheme to hit the self-publishing industry.

Wearing the bad-guy hats: WriteWise, BookWise, Richard Paul Evans, and Robert G. Allen. SHAME ON YOU!

Wait! Is this the same Robert G. Allen of real estate infamy? Maybe, maybe not. I don’t know. It’s a common name.

I’m thinking these folks should be lynched along with the thieves who stole my beloved old truck. Just my personal opinion and not that of TWC! However, I’m more than a little fired up over thievery and share the same ideals Toby Keith and Willie Nelson bestowed upon us with their song Whiskey for my Men and Beer for my Horses. With a 460 engine, my ’77 F-250 Super Duty truck had a lot of horses!

(Lynching seems to be on my mind since finishing Brant Randall’s ARC of BLOOD HARVEST. Great read! Due out in May.)

At the very least, vanity and subsidy publishers and hawkers who take advantage of writers are thieves and should be subjected to the same punishment afforded to bank and convenience store robbers and especially to those who steal beautiful old trucks from defenseless women; a huge fine AND prison time. L-o-n-g prison sentences. They are con artists and, often, stalkers. But--
maybe--I’m not so defenseless.

Check out this link and then bookmark it, subscribe to it, and make sure you listen to what they post:


Here is a “Thumbs Down” list of literary agencies of ill-repute:


Finally, here’s some good stuff! We’re geared up for the kickoff of Jordan Dane’s month-long “launch”, culminating in a P-A-R-T-Y on March 30th!

You’ll get all the details in TWC’s March Spotlight. Watch for it in your email inbox in the next couple of days.

What? You haven’t subscribed to the newsletter or announcements? How are you to know what’s going on in the writing world? How else will you get a front row seat to watch a debut author reach for the stars? A debut author with SIX sold books!

It’s much more fun to write about the good stuff.


Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Buyer Beware--Even if it's Free--or Nearly Free--at Least Appears to Be!

(I promise, there’s a positive note at the end of my rant.)

Yes, I’m still gritching and groaning … and trying to save the newbie’s money! Saving the newbie-writer from heartache and mis-spent monetary currency is one of the reasons TWC exists, so please bear with me while I vent once more. Please also note that I’m speaking for myself and not for anyone else.

I promised an update to my February 6 post regarding Pay to be Paid Scams: Even though the newsletter owner promised to quote me in his rebuttal, his next edition stated that he did not wish “to incite”, and the issue was dropped altogether. HOWEVER, he is still pushing sales of the Pay to be Paid Scam. Please do not fall prey by paying $50 for absolutely NOTHING on this “Opportunity”!

I repeat: Rob, “SHAME ON YOU!” A scam is a scam no matter where on earth it is formulated or perpetrated.

On to other issues:

Over the years I’ve gotten hundreds—if not thousands—of newsletters and e-zines written by the top writing gurus. Most started out good or even almost great, and then denigrated to pushing the latest e-books or courses written by the editor/writer and/or his/her buddies.

(Please note this does not include those writers/editors who put out quality electronic publications to, honestly, help other writers—usually at very reasonable prices. This bitch session is aimed mostly at copywriters … this time.)

Seems when they go from sending out one quality newsletter or e-zine per month, as Peter Bowerman does, or once a week, as John Forde and Trent Steele do, to filling up your inbox with time-wasters carefully worded in their best emotion-grabbing copywriting to buy this and buy that to turn you into a $600K per year Bob Bly or Clayton Makepeace wannabe, they’re in it not to make money from copywriting, but off you and me. Why else would Mr. Bly have spent the time to write 70+ books? Why else would his books be shilled in nearly every copywriter’s e-zine?

Then there’s self-proclaimed reformed lawyer—and spam king—Shawn Casey, who will sell you his business in a box, complete with all the copywriting … for you to sell to others, who will sell to others. Honestly, just what the hell is being sold here?

Even though I enjoy Forde’s weekly e-zine, and Bob Bly and Clayton Makepeace are two of the best copywriters on the planet, the constant push to sell the latest and greatest from either of them is a turnoff. However, Forde’s e-zine typically contains enough substance to keep my finger off the unsub link.

End of rant. On to the positives.

This week Forde offers up a link to test how your webpage looks in 21 different browsers. This tool is a keeper: http://browsershots.org/

In COPYWRITER'S ROUNDTABLE #349, he also goes on to explain “How to Tell the Difference Between a "Good" Idea and a "Great" One”.

“Are You Thinking Too Hard” answers the question of why our best ideas hit us when we’re in the shower or driving down the road. Definitely worth a read. Subscribe at CopyRoundtable@jackforde.com

Also on a positive note: A few months ago our guest here at TWC was Dr. Bruce Cook. I loved his first book, “Philippine Fever”. I’m now about two-thirds of the way through his second, “Blood Harvest”, published under the pen name Brant Randall. Why the name change? He’s done exactly what we’ve addressed here many times and used one pen name for each genre.

“Philippine Fever” is all action/crime, written in one voice. “Blood Harvest” is historical, based on a true story related to him by his grandmother, and told in nine first-person narratives, where “dumb clucks” becomes “dumb Klux”. A lynching, political aspirations and moonshiner’s greed, combine to make one fine read. “Blood Harvest” is due out in May.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Will you make it as a writer?

Holly Lisle's name comes up often in chats. She's one of those people who knows the business, and gives good advice. I ran across an article on her site that I just had to share.

How to Tell Who WON'T Make It in Writing

"And I've discovered something important. I couldn't in a million years tell you who among those thousands of hopeful writers will eventually succeed. But I can tell you in about five minutes which writers are guaranteed to fail.

"The guaranteed failures among writerdom carry their amateur beliefs and attitudes and methods like a bad perfume - an ever-present cloud of Eau de Doom that rolls off of their bodies and wafts into the noses of publishers and editors who might otherwise be interested in the writer's work, sending the pros fleeing to green rooms and bathrooms to escape."

That's not the perfume you're wearing, is it? If you're not sure, better run at full speed to Holly's site and read the rest of the article!


Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Pay to be Paid Scams and Other Stuff

I’m having a disagreement with another writer—the owner of a newsletter for writers—
about what programs to promote to our respective memberships/subscribers, and which ones to tell our members to run away from as fast as they can.

It started a little over a week ago when I received his weekly newsletter. It usually has some good information for a wide audience.

This edition, the whole content was devoted to selling his subscribers a “lifetime” membership to freelance markets for only $49.95, with a $10 discount if we “were clever”. What we would get from our $50 included the opportunity to earn $10 each for articles, and a bunch of assorted “freebies”.

I should add that the owner of the newsletter made it clear we would be buying this wonderful opportunity to work from home from someone other than himself.

I gave it a few days to fester before responding.

See, my view, and one shared by the TWC team is that if we are to hold ourselves “out there” as providers of “help” to writers of all genres and writing aptitudes, we have a responsibility to provide good information; to attempt to prevent our members/readers from being led down a rosy path of publishing heartbreak; and to, generally, be good guys even if we aren’t wearing white hats.

Ask any of us. Depending on who you ask, the wording will be different, but the message will be clear. TWC exists to help writers write.

By “help”, I certainly don’t mean to offer up another “Pay to be paid” scam. And … while it’s perfectly all right for the newbie writer to write for peanuts (at first) to gather up those all-important publishing clips, seasoned writers don’t work for $10 an article—unless it’s for a good cause—or for a friend (and sometimes they’re one and the same).

Well, I didn’t like his first response. I emailed back. I didn’t like his second response either. I emailed back.

He’s been offered the “opportunity” to quote anything I’ve said in said emails. He’s promised to do so in Friday’s newsletter. He’s also been asked to justify just why in hell this is a good “opportunity” for anyone.

If he fails to deliver as promised: he will be named, all copies of the back and forth emails will be posted right here, and another article will be written about this “great opportunity” and the person or persons behind it.

I’ve got my gloves on. Stay tuned.


Elmore Leonard's 10 Rules of Good Writing

I've always believed that the best place to get info is from those who have traveled the road before us. (Which is what made last Sunday's chat with Maya Reynolds so great.) When people who are further along the road want to advise you, why wouldn't you want to listen?

I had never heard of this book before, but it's now on my to-buy list. Simply reading this short article gave me the feeling that this one may affect me as deeply as Stephen King's "On Writing" did.

Has anyone else read Leonard's book? What did you think of it?

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