This page is courtesy of Arjay Books, a subsidiary of Arjay Enterprises. It collects links to resources for writers. If you have a resource you would like to see listed here, contact us.
Disclaimer: We have not used all these services and even the ones we have and mention may contain content or suggestions we do not endorse. Your kilometreage will vary.
Beware of the following scams:
- an "agent" who wants to charge you for reading your MS,
- a "publisher" who wants to charge you for editing your MS,
- a "publisher" who wants to charge you for printing books but has no means of selling them except to you,
- a for fee "editor" with no references or who is connected to an agent or publisher,
- a "publisher" who guarantees everyone's book can be published,
- any deal that sounds too good to be true.
Legitimate agents charge only for postage, phone calls, and duplicating, never for anything else. Legitimate publishers do not charge an author for anything. (Possible exception: very small eBook publishers may charge about $100 for setting up POD, because they cannot absorb these fees. However, even they don't charge you to read or edit your book.) Legitimate freelance editors read and proof MS. They are not a front for a fake publishing house, so they won't make promises that your MS can be published. They just edit. All legitimate agents, editors, and publishers can give references. When in doubt, check the Preditors and Editors site.
You might ask, "Do I need an agent?" If you are approaching any of the large paper publishing houses, the answer is YES. None of them consider unagented material. Check. (Exception: Some SF publishers do not require agents.) Electronic publishers have not yet begun restricting themselves to agents.
You might ask, "Do I need an editor?" It's amazing how many authors can string together a good plot but not write past the grade nine level. It's not good enough that your friends like your work. If there are any flaws in the MS, a publisher's editor will not fix them, just toss the MS. Harsh reality.
You might ask, "Do I need a publisher?" If you don't care whether you sell any books, no. Go ahead and publish it yourself, pay a vanity house to publish it for you, or send it directly to a Print-On-Demand house (POD). The world has many basements full of books the authors have paid to have published and printed but that never sold. That said, there is a possibility you might sell some self-published non-fiction (how-to books or?) but little or no fiction can sell this way.
What about publishing as an eBook? See our separate page of eBook Resources. Personally, I believe this is the wave of the future. EBook retailers are shaping this industry up to be a major player in book selling. But it isn't the wave of the present. An eBook best seller might score twenty copies a month. A handful of people have sold in the thousands altogether (all their titles.) But, hey, the average book writer published in paper earns maybe $3K-$5K a year, so not many make a living at fiction. However, even here, beware of eBook "publishers" who want money from you or who have only published one author (him/herself). For instance, Arjay Enterprises produces the shareware Modula-2 and ethics books (one previously published BTW), but is NOT a publisher in the sense that it solicits MS from other people, nor does it publish any fiction, even our own. Other personal services outfits do represent themselves to others as publishers, though.
Will your masterpiece be accepted by a publisher? If you have a good agent (see exceptions above) and the MS is flawless, well-written, timely, and has (you think) everything going for it, but you are not an established big name author(ess), it has less than a 1% chance of being accepted at a paper house, and under a 5% chance at a reputable electronic house. In fact, at many houses it has less than a 5% chance of ever being read, and none of being looked at within six months to two years. These numbers are going down, not up. Even the books published by major houses seldom make money. Harsh reality.
Beware of any publisher, electronic or otherwise who guarantees everyone's book will get published, who makes an instant decision, or who brings it out without several people reading and approving it, including a searching, heart-wrenching editorial process with up to three detailed editorial criticisms. You are not "published" unless expert professionals have worked through every scene, sentence and word in detail before making the go-ahead decision. Such a book may still end up in electronic form with POD for print copies, but it is nonetheless legitimately published. Otherwise it is not.
The bottom line: If you have a book in you that must come out, write it. Maybe it'll catch the fancy of an editor and you'll become a star. Maybe I'll read it and give you a good review. Go for it! But if you view it as a business or an investment you might be statistically better off with lottery tickets (not that I would advise you to buy them.) If you do decide to jump in, look first, ask around, get references, and be careful about scams. Meanwhile, don't quit your day job until you have five or more titles selling at least 20 000 copies a year each.
Oh, and both electronic publishing and single copy print fulfillment (POD) are perfectly legitimate and respectable means to put high quality books into consumers' hands. Someday, all books will be published in both ways, and the traditional top heavy and wasteful distribution chain will vanish. It is not the use of these versus traditional techniques that distinguish "published" from "not published" from "self-published". What matters is who engages such services and when. Is the book professionally edited or not? Who sent it to the eBook store and the POD house--you, or the editor who marked up your book in detail and made you fix the errors, use appropriate words, set the scenes properly, develop your characters logically, and produce a professional book? Exactly.
A wee note on plagiarism
If you use someone else's work without making clear you are quoting and/or without providing a citation to the original, you are trying to pass off someone else's work as your own. This is theft of intellectual property, and in the age of the Metalibrary, it is easy to spot. Always cite, even for ideas from other sources that you have expanded upon. Citation (with the proper format) is the mark of a professional. Even when you re-use your own material, make this fact clear. If you do otherwise, you will certainly be caught, your reputation will be destroyed, and no reputable editor will ever buy from you afterwards. Worse still, if you get caught stealing someone else's plot, you will be sued, and all the profits from your best seller will revert to the real owner of that plot.