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Thoughty Thursday WARNING!

by | Feb 23, 2012 | Writing Advice & More | 26 comments

”WARNING

A colleague of mine recently sent a link to something called the Writers Pitch Book that purports to “Connect Writers With Agents, Editors & Movie Producers.” The idea is that YOU (the author) send them your ‘pitch’ and they publish it in the book which goes out to the “right people” to get you noticed and published/produced.

Oh yeah, did I mention there’s a fee involved?

Shoot-fire, it’d be worth it to spend $50 to get your pitch before those with the golden keys to the kingdom, wouldn’t it? That’s what these folks bank on, people! Let’s take a deeeeeep breath and think for a minute.

TAKING ADVANTAGE, GRRRR!

What’s the benefit here? Well, you will get your pitch published. The “pitch book” certainly may be sent/delivered to all the movers-and-shakers in Nooo Yawk and Hollywood, very likely that will happen.

But why in the wide world of sports (or publishing/movie making) would those editors/agents WANT TO READ THIS FREAKIN’ BOOK? I mean, come on, people–agents and editors receive thousands (yes, that’s several zeros) of pitches a week. Not a year, but in a week. Ask yourself, just who is this publisher/person who has the means to persuade a busy editor or agent or (gasp!) movie producer to open up a book filled with pitches, sift through, and say, YES, I want to make YOU a star!

I apologize if this offends anyone but it makes me jump up and down and gnash teeth and say SIC-‘EM MAGICAL-DAWG! when anyone takes advantage of the hopeful aspirations of writers. There are many online sites that already purport to “connect writers with X” and they’re just as ineffective.

SCAMS, DREAM-KILLERS, SUCKING WRITERS DRY

Is it a scam? Well…some are, some aren’t especially if they do what they promise–publish a pitch and send that pitch to the agent. But the only people benefiting are the ones that take your check.  That sucking sound you hear is your wallet being lightened.

Similar “opportunities” are offered to actors for getting their head shots and resumes in front of casting directors–you submit your teeeeeny tiny picture and info to these ginormous catalogues that end up as a doorstop (at best) or hamster bedding (at worst).

Please, people. It’s never been easy to get work seen by editors, agents or producers. And nobody can do it for you. Instead of spending your hard earned money on one of these “short cuts” that don’t work, save those nickles and dimes and invest in a really good writer conference that allows you a face-to-face with an agent or editor. You’ll also hear success stories–and cautionary tales–from writers in the trenches, just like you.

I wish there was a magic wand–or magic book–that would do the job for you–and for me. If you ever happen to find that sparkly magic spell, please clue me in. Until then, watch out for the dream-killers. Protect your dream, it’s priceless, and don’t let ANYONE devalue your work with such things.

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26 Comments

  1. Barbara Saunders

    This preys on people’s fears of marketing and self-promotion. The issue is not unique to creative people. One can register for a directory of life coaches or attorneys or fitness trainers or nonprofit consultants. Some of these directories occasionally yield business, but rarely enough business. A job hunter can pay a resume writer who stuffs his resume with machine-readable keywords. Bottom line is: you want to be as good as you can get. Then you want to get as close as possible to a real person with the power to pay (or hire or publish) you.

    Reply
    • amyshojai

      Barbara, thanks for the comments that it’s not just us “writerly types” that get hit with such things.

      Reply
  2. Karen Crumley, author

    So what is your wisdom on all of those bookfest contests…the ones by J.M. Northern or something like that. You pay a fee to enter your book in a contest. I get offers to enter all the time but have never entered because I figured it was some kind of scam. What is your wisdom on all of that?

    Reply
    • amyshojai

      I’m not familiar with JM Northern contest. There are some that are terrific and others that ARE scams and it can be difficult to tell the difference. If the “prize” is to be published in an anthology (some of the poetry/short story contests do this), those often do turn out to be more of a pay-to-play proposition with everyone who enters (pays fee) getting published.

      You have to remember with contests that it depends on the quality of the judges and if there’s only one (or a couple) winners, you have to weigh the cost vs potential benefit. Decide what you want out of the endeavor. Some contests provide feedback even if the entry isn’t a winner and that can be well worth the fee. But you can submit your work for publication without a fee for print or online magazines, book publishers and the like, WITHOUT an entry fee and to me, publication is the best “prize” of all. *s* Check the rules on contests, too, because sometimes even the legit ones say you can’t submit the work elsewhere for X-weeks/months so it can prevent you from submitting. Great question, Karen! I hope others will weigh in, too.

      Reply
  3. Allia Zobel Nolan

    I go by the old adage, “If it sounds too good to be true, it probably isn’t.”

    Reply
  4. Layla Morgan Wildel

    Thank-you for pointing out there are no short cuts. LOL re: doorstop (at best) or hamster bedding (at worst).

    Reply
  5. Brenda

    Thanks for reminding people of this!!!! It is much needed. I have thought often of an elderly lady in my long ago writing club that fell prey to so much like this — at least before people started warning her.

    I have a question on a separate topic. A friend in an online group asked for help in finding something to solve a problem she has — SPIDERS in the couch. She has cats and wants a solution that does not harm them. Any ideas? I suggested pow-wowing with her veterinarian but wondered what you and your other readers think. THANKS.

    Reply
    • amyshojai

      Yikes, spiders? Gee…well, it the cats would hunt the spiders that’s added protein. (eww…I know). Actually any of the cat-safe flea sprays should work. Just make sure it says “cat safe” and be aware that some dog flea products can kill cats.

      That gave me the willies thinking of sitting on the couch reading a book and having creepy-crawlies emerge *shudder*

      Reply
      • Brenda

        Thanks! I’ll pass this along.

        Reply
  6. dawnall

    Good for you, Amy! Even if their motives were altruistic – anyone interested in swamp land in the Mohave Desert – it is just another money making effort in the end. And no gain for the money spent. I agree with you save that money for conferences! See you at OWFI!

    Reply
    • amyshojai

      Hi Dawn, thanks for visiting and the comment! And lest others misunderstand–I myself have fallen victim to some scams and wish I’d had someone to warn me. Actually, I did have one person warn me (and I didn’t believe ’em!). You WANT to believe in that pot of gold, even when the rainbow keeps moving.

      Reply
  7. James M. Copeland

    I certainly do know about your subject. I have signed up for several situations that were free to later find out that if you want to see the real meat of what-ever subject you have to pay a hefty fee. I block them now, just to prove my point. Thanks for sharing your thoughts. JMC

    Reply
    • amyshojai

      Hi James, sorry you’ve had that experience. And good for you blocking them! Today, sharing our experiences as writers can be a great way to empower ourselves and protect each other from the sharks.

      Reply
  8. teabuddy

    This is the latest one for me. Writers are so vulnerable. They want to believe that writing a book will pave the way to millions and a cushy life. At the end of the day it is all about good writing and a spot of luck. Never shell out money.

    Reply
    • amyshojai

      So true. Whenever someone urges you to open your wallet, take a closer look. They aren’t ALL scams, but just be sure you’re getting what they promise and if it seems too good to be true…heck, you can fill in the blank there. *s*

      Reply
  9. Judith Burnett-Ridgley

    I agree. If they want $$$ it’s likely a scam. I’ve fallen for a few.

    Reply
  10. Jackie King

    Amy, Thanks for your wise words.

    Reply
  11. KM Huber

    Excellent post, thoughtful and really helpful, as all have indicated. No matter how smart we are, we need to remember to think Much appreciated.
    Karen

    Reply
  12. Ali Dent

    An agent friend of mine once told me, if someone asks for money, RUN!!!!

    Reply
    • amyshojai

      Yes, RUN…and then tell ALL your writing friends. *s*

      Reply
  13. Doc Whodunit

    My comment is somewhat self-centered, but why on earth would I send a logline to anyone and pay for it…..even if some producer read the log line and was curious, I seriously doubt I would be contacted, but a studio writer might be contacted and given the logline to see what he/she could do with it….so now I would have just paid to have my logline delivered to a studio
    writer. Not smart folks, not smart at all.

    Reply
    • amyshojai

      You’re exactly right, Doc! In fact, this is one reason that movie producers return-to-sender unsolicited material from folks (other than agents) and/or require you to sign a release for them to read your material, to avoid getting sued of even the perception of swiping an idea.

      Reply
  14. Mike Bacon

    Amy, you are so right on the money (sorry, I could not resist!) here… I am a firm believer in not paying to play… If someone wants me to pay to audition, then I don’t. I might be willing to put money into a production if I am part of it, but that is a different story!

    This reminds me of the Poetry.com scam….

    Thanks for this post!

    Reply
    • amyshojai

      Hi Mike, thanks for the comment–you’re right, the world of acting has similar “opportunities” just waiting to suck your wallet dry. And the Poetry.com folks took in a lot of people. In fact WRITER BEWARE just posted a great blog on pitfalls targeting poets and here’s a link to get folks started:

      – Poet Beware

      Reply
  15. Tameri Etherton

    This is such an important reminder, Amy! I knew of these scams early on in my career, but that’s because I went to a conference and they addressed the issue, but if you don’t know, then you can totally be scammed.

    Thank you, thank you, thank you for posting this.

    Reply

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