When I first began to write seriously I had no idea how to get my first “masterpiece” published. I had not heard about critiquing groups, or literary agents or query letters. I just wrote and wrote and wrote until my very first novel (75,000 words) was complete. It was just I, and my computer back in 2003.
A quick search of the Internet with the question, how do I get published, got a fast reply from an outfit looking for new undiscovered, talented authors. I needed an agent. Hey, that’s me, I thought. They were called STL and had a slick website that said all the right things. I filled in the info they wanted, added a sample chapter (their request) and hit send.
Two days later came a reply from a “senior” editor. He loved it! Wow, my very first submission and I was on my way to fame and fortune with a best seller on my horizon. STL Literary Agents wanted three more chapters, then two more and finally a full manuscript. At each stop along the way, STL’s praises grew stronger.
Then came the hook. They wanted $60.00 to do an email blast to a dozen publishers. Okay, I thought, $60 is a modest sum for fame and fortune in the writing business. A month later interspersed with one or two rah-rah attaboy emails came hook number two. A publisher had bitten, spoke to STL and almost made a deal to publish I was told. So close yet so far. The second hook required another up front payment. This time it they wanted another $60. I asked who had bitten but never received the name of a single publisher. That’s when I became suspicious.
Back to the Internet I went with a more serious search asking for any information on my erstwhile, would-be agent at STL. One of the websites that came up was, Predators and Editors, https://pred-ed.com/. There for the first time was STL and similar scams with all their naked glory exposed. Had I sent the second payment there would have surely been another “almost” and another request for another $60 until even the densest newbie writer caught on.
Newbie writers are especially vulnerable. They put their hearts and souls into every word and hope for a fair look and a sound critique of their work by an honest industry professional when they submit work. Now, sixteen years later and a lot wiser I have three published novels and a fourth nearing completion, and nobody asked me for $60.