The New Zealand Society of Authors (PEN NZ Inc) issues scam warning: Writers beware

Media release: 14 September 2016

The New Zealand Society of Authors (NZSA) is increasingly concerned about writers being scammed with bogus publishing ‘deals’.

The NZSA is receiving an increasing number of enquiries from writers falling into the trap of paying large sums of money to get their book published only to find their expectations are not being met. The NZSA wants to increase awareness of the issues at stake before writers enter into an agreement that could see them handing over thousands of dollars to a publisher they found on the internet.

How to recognise a publishing scam is one of the subjects that will be covered during the National Writers Forum (NWF), a conference for writers being held in Auckland this weekend.

“The NZSA wants to help writers recognise a scam,” says Kyle Mewburn, President of the NZSA “and the National Writers Forum is one way we can inform writers.  There are honest reputable self-publishing services that can help a writer who wants to self-publish but who doesn’t feel confident about doing it alone. Unfortunately there are some rogue off shore organisations charging large fees to do very little. They misrepresent their services in order to profit from writers.”

Writers are paying from $5,000 to $15,000 to receive a few print on demand copies and an e-book, with no quality control or professional expertise in editing, proofreading and design. The writer is then asked to pay more money to market the book and offered payment plans to pay off the costs.

A writer should be very wary if the publisher tells the writer their book has been selected but that they will need to contribute, or cover the cost, of the publishing because they are untested. The publisher might also ask for a fee to read, edit or publicise the book and the writer may be obliged to buy a fixed number of copies. The contracts often take rights that the publishers do not need and offer a low royalty rate.

The NZSA gives contract advice to its members but they are hoping to reach a wider audience at the National Writers Forum, an event specifically for writers to learn more about the art, issues and business of writing and publishing.

“The writers being scammed are generally new to writing and don’t know where to find sound advice. This conference is suitable for anyone writing a book, whether their first or their fiftieth,” says Jackie Dennis, Chief Executive of NZSA and director of the National Writers Forum. “Understanding how to self-publish successfully is one aspect of the NWF. Attendees will hear from experts in their field about all matters to do with writing and publishing across many genres: literary, romance, crime, fantasy, YA, historic and graphic novel. Sessions for established writers will cover sustaining careers, promotion and marketing while new writers will learn how to get their manuscripts ready and find a safe path into publishing.

Tickets can be purchased at iTicket.

The National Writers Forum
Dates: Saturday 17 & Sunday 18 September
Location: Owen G Glenn Bldg, University of Auckland, 12 Grafton Road, Auckland
Tickets for the weekend are $325/$220 students
(NZ Society of Authors members $275/$200 students)
Tickets include morning and afternoon tea, lunches and CLNZ drinks party.

For more information please or Kyle Mewburn

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