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A World War 2 Trilogy

By FRED NATH (Novelist and Neurosurgeon)

More writing / publishing tips for authors:

Writers beware!

So you've been on a writing website.

You noticed an advertisment saying they are looking for authors,they want to see your manuscript! Wow! That's great, you think, I'll send them my book, maybe at last I've found an agent!

They send you an email saying: We have read your MS and think it is great. First you need it proof-reading they tell you. They suggest you use their editing arm - £x00, or maybe a company that doesn't sound affiliated to them but actually is.Then they agree to tout your book to publishers. Then nothing happens. It costs you hundreds of pounds or dollars, and no one buys your book.

What are you? A mug? Do you really think someone is going to love your book so much that publishing it is effortless?

No, they want your money and then do a kind of 'vanity publishing' scam. When you look at sales from some of these companies, you find they never sell more than about twenty copies.

There's a simple rule:If an agent or publisher EVER asks you, the author, for money suspect a scam. Say no. Go to P&E (Preditors and Editors) and report them. P&E have a list of good and bad publishers, you can even email them for advice.

Assume at the outset that no one will sell or publish your book without editing, but a reputable publisher will never charge you for that.S0, how do you spot the good agents / publishers?They are the ones who come back to you and say they've read the MS and like it but...and there's always a but.. you need to change this and that and then come back to them.

Meet your agent / publisher face to face. Do you want to be linked to someone for your whole writing career whom you've never met? Think hard. What have they sold / published before? Are those books available? Can you buy them? What do they look like - cheap, shoddy rough paper from a bad publisher, or good paper and good presentation?Think folks! Think!

Just because they sound keen doesn't mean they are, even though you desperately want to be published. They know how much you are hot for it, which is why they take advantage of you. Don't be so keen that you go with anyone.


Once your book has done the rounds - agent & publishers and you're feeling rejected like your book, you may decide you believe enough in the book to self-publish.

Some negative and some positive comments:

On the up side, you have control over the project. You design your cover, you choose the paper and the printing font etc. You get all the rights to your book and keep all the royalties. Sounds good? Yes?

On the down side, you have to stock all these books and store them. You have to market the book. You have to make all the arrangments to do book-signings, get reviews, submit to the British Library, get your bar-code from Nielsens. You have to sell the book. It can be very time-consuming and I have a feeling most bookshops won't look at self-published authors unless they are local.

There are two basic types of self-publishing companies - vanity presses and genuine self-publishing companies.

A vanity press is where you pay someone to print your book from cover design to finished book and they do nothing else. Certain of them pretend to you that they are genuine publishers. They don't sell your book, they don't market it. You are paying to see your book in print and that's it. Cost? Well, some charge thousands of pounds.

Genuine self-publication companies: They don't take every book that's offered. They have standards and will advise you to get the book edited and proof-read. They will help you through the publishing process and some even have a marketing arm. It doesn't come cheap, but from some companies it can be done cheaply but with less help and less marketing.

There is a third method called 'partnership printing'. The interested company asks you to pay a proportion of the cost and then treat your book as a real published book. I have no experience of this process but I suppose it could interest someone with the cash to go this route.

Before you self-publish with any publisher, look at what books they have produced. Buy one. Is it well-produced?Is it available? One company I looked at, claimed to be prolific, but when I looked at their books, there was only one and that was unavailable. I emailed them and asked why that was so and got a very curt reply that they would take legal action if I made derogatory remarks!

Writing a book is the easiest part of the process. Finding a good agent and getting a good publisher is the hardest.

Notice I haven't recommended a self-publishing outfit. This is because I haven't self-published myself and although I was at times tempted, I feel traditional publishing is the best way to go.

I wish you luck with the whole thing - if you want it enough, you'll do it!