Tag Archives: conferences

Pay-To-Play in Traditional Publishing, and Why We Need to Talk About It

1 Aug

A few weeks ago, I was querying when I kept coming across agent after agent who was closed to submissions except from those who they’ve met at conferences. Below that, a list of conferences was provided, where a writer could go and purchase a ticket (often in the hundreds), and then an additional ticket to pitch them (somewhere between $50 and $200 extra). 

I almost went on a Twitter rant about accessibility and paywalls, but decided against it. 

Then I saw this:

Of course discourse followed, many of whom were against the offering. But honestly? It feels a little hypocritical to me. Or, rather, willfully ignoring the overall bigger issue here. 

There are lots of ways to pay-to-play in traditional publishing, and it was only a matter of time before it got egregious.

The traditional publishing landscape has always had issues–nepotism, lack of accessibility, etc.–but what I find the most frustrating is how contradicting the landscape can seem to a new writer. 

One of the first pieces of advice writers will hear is that money should always be flowing to the author. Agents shouldn’t be charging reading fees, editors shouldn’t be charging packaging fees, etc. However, we have created an environment where there’s exclusive conference pitching, MSWL’s e-consultations, and the freelance hiring of editorial staff and agents for query/manuscript critiques. 

As someone who works in library programming where our speakers are often literary agents, editors, and authors, I understand that we all need to make money here, but we’ve largely ignored how this environment has confused up-and-coming writers–many of whom fall prey to scams because of it. A more common issue I’m seeing, though, isn’t necessarily writers falling for scams, but rather writers feeling obligated to pay-to-play. In fact, I have been one of those writers before. I think most writers have at some point. How could you not, when you keep hearing success stories from those who could afford that one conference, service, or MFA program? The odds feel stacked against you. And the truth is, they are.

Networking is an essential role in any business, and networking—more often than not—costs money and time.   

This reality is why so many turn to buying opportunities. In fact, I’ve blogged about one conference I personally attended when I was not in the financial place to do so (but why I didn’t regret it). You can read that piece here: How Writing Conferences Can Surprise You 

I was so desperate to move up in my writing career that I sacrificed my health, wealth, and other well-being for a measly chance at talking to somebody–anyone, really. I didn’t end up with an agent, but I did find some of my best writer friends that I still have to this day. I don’t regret it for that reason. But I haven’t paid that much to attend a conference since. I just can’t justify it. Not when querying is free. In fact, I got my first agent through the slush pile. Not at a fancy conference. Not through a consultation. A free, one-page query I workshopped with fellow writers I found online. (Again, for free.) 

This is why I tell newer writers that conferences/meetings are great, but not to spend money if you are struggling. Querying is FREE. There are lots of free resources and opportunities, including scholarships. 

Here’s a quick list:

  • QueryShark
  • QueryTracker (there is a premium version, but you do not have to use it)
  • MSWL (search the database for free; some classes are also free; other classes and consultations are not.) 
  • Free newsletters and articles through Writer’s Digest, Publishers Weekly, etc. 
  • Google around for writing blogs! Especially from writers you read. 
  • Jami Gold
  • IWSG (Insecure Writers Support Group) 

We also have free writing and publishing classes at The Story Center, open to anyone in the world. You do not have to have a Mid-Continent Public Library card to use our services or attend our programs.

Speaking of libraries, if you have access to a library near you, you may have free craft books and publishing resources that you can check out. 

These resources are great to help any writer begin their publishing journey. 

You can also apply for scholarships funding memberships and conferences. Many don’t know that you can also volunteer your way into a space. It never hurts to message the conference manager and ask what your options are.   

That said, I’m not asking agents/writers/editors to not charge money for critiques or pitch opportunities. What I am asking for is a greater focus on accessibility and affordability. 

If you’re only going to be open to those who can attend conferences, make sure you’re contributing to conference scholarships. If you’re often sharing your services, make sure you’re sharing free writing blogs/tips you see that you think your followers will find helpful. You may consider doing a giveaway every once in a while. 

On a larger scale, we need to be advocating for publishers to pay their editors a living wage. We need agents/writers to make a living wage, too. That way, we’re not all side hustling ourselves into a pay-to-play model only few can benefit from. 

Most importantly, we need to be championing free resources more often. 

We need to make sure everyone feels welcome in the traditional publishing landscape, not just those who can pay. 

~SAT

#BadBloods Pre-Order, Prequel, and Book Trailer!

25 Apr

If you’re signed up for my newsletter, then you already received MOST of this lovely news, but if you missed it and wished you hadn’t, click here to sign up.

Bad Bloods is officially up for pre-order!

draft3

Amazon

Barnes & Noble

iBooks

Kobo

Smashwords

Goodreads

It will only be for sale at $2.99 for a limited time. Once Bad Bloods releases, the price will go up, so pre-order soon to take advantage of Clean Teen Publishing’s deal. You can now read the first chapter via Wattpad by clicking the link! 

Bad Bloods in 35 words or less: 17-year-old Serena is the only bad blood to escape execution. Now symbolized for an election, she must prove her people are human despite hindering abilities before everyone is killed and a city is destroyed.  

Watch the book trailer today!

During the next few months, I have some AWESOME releases coming out, including teasers and sneak peeks. Even crazier, I will be publishing a FREE prequel on Wattpad. You can read the first chapter—Adam—by clicking here. If you enjoy the story, don’t forget to vote and share. 🙂

Why a prequel?

wattpadAdamWell, before the Bad Bloods novels take place in 2089, twenty-four homeless bad bloods had to find shelter and safety in a city set out to eradicate their kind. Twenty-four. Which means there are a lot of characters in Bad Bloods. (Twelve kids in each flock, to be exact.) So, while their back-stories are mentioned in the books, the intricate details didn’t always make it through. These origin stories will not only show how the Northern Flock and the Southern Flock formed, but how Vendona treats bad bloods over a series of ten years. My hope is that this prequel shows everyone’s side to the story and ease readers into the story. These will also be great for readers who want to explore each character in-depth, so you can read it before, together, or after.

So how do I read these stories?

Read them with Bad Bloods or read them separately, but it’s probably best to read with or after. Since Bad Bloods is about Daniel, Serena, and Robert, their stories are purposely left out. All stories are put in the order of the year the child arrived and categorized by the Northern Flock and the Southern Flock, but the story may not necessary be told by that child. The tense might also change, depending on the speaker. More important than anything else, these short stories are how the Southern Flock and Northern Flocks formed before Bad Bloods takes place in November of 2089.

Some background:

What is a bad blood? A child born with hindering abilities. In Vendona, bad bloods are not considered human, and they are executed immediately upon discovery. Even parents are expected to report their own children. This was a law put in place during the Separation Movement, a war that took place in 2051 between bad bloods and humans.

What is a flock? A group of bad bloods who have managed to survive by coming together and living in secret. In Bad Bloods, there are two left: the Northern Flock and the Southern Flock. The Western Flock and the Eastern Flock have been killed.

What about A, B, C, or D? Any additional information about the city was left out of the prequel on purpose to keep suspense and surprise in Bad Bloods, but feel free to ask anyway. I might be able to answer or direct you to a spot in Bad Bloods that answers your question.

When will you update? I will upload a new origin story every other Friday.

Do I have to read this to understand Bad Bloods? No. Bad Bloods can be read completely on its own! These stories simply add to the experience. Example? In Bad Bloods, “gangs” are mentioned but basically go unseen. In the prequel, however, readers will get to see that side of Vendona and how it affected the characters’ lives before 2089.

Where can I read Bad Bloods? Anywhere books are sold! Amazon, Barnes & Noble, iBooks, Smashwords, Kobo, Goodreads, etc.

AmazonBarnes & NobleiBooksKoboSmashwordsGoodreads

I hope everyone enjoys the upcoming prequel and teasers! 

Let it snow,

~SAT

event5Clean Teen Publishing is hosting an event – the #AskCTP Giveaway on Twitter April 27! I’m REALLY excited about this live author-reader Q&A, and I really hope you all can make it. You can even win a CTP Mystery Box, which includes 1 to 2 print books, swag, and more.

In other news, I will be at the 101st Annual Missouri Writers’ Guild Conference in Kansas City, Missouri from April 29 to May 1! Feel free to shoot me an e-mail if you’re coming, so we can connect! I’d love to see some of you there. It’s going to be an absolute blast.

11754878_1124017337612985_8697381832323265118_o

%d bloggers like this: