I’ve only attended a handful of writing seminars and conferences, but from what I’ve seen in my magazines there’s BIG business in trying to teach people to write. Which is funny when you consider that most people always seem to start off a conversation with a writer with "I’ve got this great story…"
Anyway, this post is about writing scams. Not necessarily of the PublishAmerica type or any of the other vanity press scams that you trip over on every second page in some magazines, but the conference and seminar types. Because there seems to be more and more of them every time I look.
First, I love the idea of a seminar. A single afternoon or an evening with a great deal of information being taught in a short amount of time. But not when the author is barely qualified to carry the title of "author". Or has self-pubbed the last sixteen books of his/her lifetime and thus feels qualified to expound on the curses of Big Business Publishing and How You Can Buck The System. Or has pamphlets pointing you to their special friend, the vanity house that printed their own tomes. But it happens more often than you’d think; a local presentation being held by someone whose qualifications don’t really enable them to speak on such things. Tell me about your self-pub successes but don’t think I’m going to take you seriously when you start ranting about the Big Conspiracy to Keep The Man Down at Publishing. Don’t portray yourself as an expert when it’s pretty obvious that you’ve got nothing to add to what I can get out of doing a few minutes research online.
And more so when you charge something outrageous for the experience.
I see that more self-pubs are sponsoring their own conferences. Yep. Right. And what do you think they’ll promote at those panels? Why, how you should go with THEM and pay THEM to print your work because, again. of the Big Conspiracy. And parade out their success stories of people who have busted their backs not only paying to be printed but also learning how to promote and putting a lot of money into selling their book. Which is fine if that’s the way you want to go but at least be up front about what you’re selling – which is your printing press.
There’s nothing wrong with attending seminars, courses and conferences. But do a little field work on the credentials of the presenter or the sponsor before writing the check. Be an informed consumer instead of tripping into the latest cult craze about publishing.