New Writers Beware–Don’t trust the one with the shiny apple!

“Thanks, but no thanks.” 

This is a phrase I find myself saying more often than I care to. As an indie author, it can be a challenge to find the right people for your team. Your team may consist of:

1.) A graphics person for that “just right” cover look.

2.) A proofreader/copywriter to crisp up pages and catch errors.

3.) Someone to format the final manuscript.

4.) A marketing person, if you’re not doing it yourself.

5.) And depending on how busy your schedule is, someone to make sure all these things are running smoothly, so that everything will be ready-set for your projected release date.

But, buyer, BEWARE! There is always some damn wolf in sheep’s clothing, some traveling salesman handing out snake oil or some soft-spoken old lady holding that shiny apple, tempting you, ready to pounce and offer you bells and whistles for the low introductory price of your first born in the end (metaphorically speaking).

I have heard plenty of first-timer horror stories and nightmarish experiences, my own included. In fact, my nightmare only recently ended. And finally, after months of promised release dates, my book will release at the end of November 2012. And if I have to cut the paper to proper trim size and write the words out, in ink, by hand for that to happen…so be it. Okay, that last part might be a little dramatic and desperate.

Sadly, desperation and eagerness makes that shiny apple that more appealing. And when someone offers additional services (I call these offers of grandeur) for something not listed as part of their expertise…RUN! I say that with love. Oh, and experience. True seasoned pros in the field will take on a project that they specialize in–no extras. For that, they will usually point you in the direction of someone who can meet your needs and deadlines.

Disappointment plagued me for the past four months because I believe in giving people a chance to express their creative sides and I still do. The only difference now is that I know when to say when. From this point on, I will treat my work like a body on an operating table–each organ is delicate and every member on my team must be at their surgical best.

In my case, I was refunded for an unfulfilled service. That didn’t make it better or right. Friends cheered me on and told me I was lucky to get a refund because it could have been a scam. Well, in my eyes, it was a scam. When you hire someone to do a job and both parties agree on terms and you’re less than a few weeks out to release your debut novel, it can be crushing. And that it was!

Quitting for no apparent reason to me is never an acceptable option, especially, at the very end of a project. If the person you hire is not willing to see it through and offers up non-sense excuses for why they can’t or won’t fix what they did wrong usually means they are in over their head. RUN! If they try to make you believe that’s the way your book should look or they try to convince you those are industry standards, but you know in your gut it’s wrong…RUN! This is when you can see that they really didn’t know what they were doing to begin with–LESSON LEARNED!

It’s never too late to avoid making these mistakes. READ THE FINE PRINT! If something is not listed under their specialty, no matter what extras they offer you…even if it’s free, say “Thanks, but no thanks” or “I already have someone working on that for me.”  READ BETWEEN THE LINES! Harsh or degrading criticism in the comment panel from a proofreader/copywriter, unwanted suggestions about your characters ages, names etc. and comments about scenes from your story that are blatantly in the story, but the  proofreader misses it, are all unprofessional and signs to flee.

Some of you might be thinking, “she sounds a little bitter.” I’ll own that! But my bitter levels have come down considerably as I think about the taunting, cowardice email that was sent to me, offered up as an “I quit.” I felt like the jilted ex. My phone calls went unanswered. Now I just feel like the somewhat wiser newbie. And while I don’t really believe in bashing others so much, I do believe in standing up for myself and speaking out against those who mistake me for a doormat.

Don’t give up or give in. There is a solution, a lifeline, dangling close by. You just have to be willing to stand on faith and grab it.

Remember, this is the work you slaved over and poured your heart and soul into–no one should be allowed to take even a tiny portion of that away from you.  So new writers beware and don’t trust the one with the shiny apple because you just might bite into a worm.

Have you experienced something like this? Would you like to share your story? Please do so! It can help someone going through this now.

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