The View From Here Interview:
Preditors & Editors
Interview by Mike
Part 2 : Part 1 can be found here.
Preditors & Editors is a resource intended as a simple compendium for the serious writer, composer, game designer, or artist to consult for information, regardless of genre. Famous for daring to list publishers and agents that are just out to scam the writer, it is a valuable resource in a world that will bite you as soon as feed you. I speak to editor & founder, Dave Kuzminski, about the history of the site and how it is currently under threat.
How are you generally received within the publishing industry?
Within the publishing industry, P&E is acknowledged as a valuable resource. Our listings may not always have the depth and detail of some other resources, but we fill a niche that many of those shy away from because we dare to give out negative recommendations to businesses by name. I can state that a number of legitimate publishing businesses actually have written to P&E asking to be listed or have their listings expanded upon, so that's another source of our listings. Others have recommended P&E at different conventions across the country. Clearly, that shows there is a definite level of acceptance of P&E within the industry.
How many times has action been taken against you and can you tell us anything about any of them?
The first time action was taken against P&E, we were briefly bumped from the Internet by a false claim. We thank the SFWA for assisting P&E in those early days when some ISPs would react by shutting down the site instead of actually evaluating the complaint for validity. The SFWA gave P&E a temporary home that proved sufficient for P&E to show that it wasn't going to be bullied by scammers. When the SFWA later produced its own watchdog site in the form of the Writer Beware site, we went our way and accepted them as a long needed and welcomed partner in watching over the interests of writers. It's best for the industry that there be more than one watchdog site because such operations carry a lot of responsibility. Because of P&E's early success, there are now several others and not just Writer Beware and P&E. Since those early days, there have been plenty of threats, but only the two recent and pending court actions are significant since both are threats not only to P&E, but to the interests of all writers.
Can you give me some examples of the type of bully boy tactics that have been used against P&E and have there been personal threats against you?
Typically, P&E and I get threats that we'll be sued, that my books will be burned or that I'll never be published again after I'm reported to my publisher, that I'll be reported to the government (probably because some folks have accused me of being a foreign agent), and so forth. Most threats dissipate when they discover how much it costs to hire an attorney in order to sue. A few individuals have created sites that oppose P&E. Usually they fold after they discover how difficult it is to maintain such sites or when they find themselves on the receiving end of criticism from those who rely upon P&E's recommendations (which I heard happened to one such site).
Can people help you in any way?
Yes, P&E can use donations to help pay its attorneys. Right now, we have enough in donations to pay for attorneys in only one case.
Do you have any advice to new authors seeking agents or publishers?
Advice for writers? Absolutely. Practice your craft, improve your skills, never lose sight of your goal, and be patient. It can sometimes take a lot of time to be recognized, so never give up.
What are your feelings about the amount of Self-publishing that is pushed to new authors looking to get their book out there?
Self-publishing is fine for poetry and books applicable to speakers giving how-to speaking engagements based upon specific platforms. On the other hand, it's the second worst route to take for fiction. Only vanity publishing is worse for novelists.
What is your advice on competitions that have an entry fee. Some like the Bridport Prize are reputable organizations and provide a way of an author gaining recognition.
Unless it's a long established contest that has a fee, P&E recommends that authors avoid such new contests because they're too often meant to make a quick buck for someone and their backers frequently do not have the proper background for judging literary works.
Do you see any new trends or scams appearing that writers should be aware of at the moment?
I do, but I'm not going to state what they are because I don't want to see an explosion among the scammers trying to emulate the latest idea that's starting to show already.
If a writer is unsure about a company and they are not listed with you, what route would you advise them to go down? Can they contact you?
Writers should keep in mind that P&E lists businesses with significant complaints as soon as those are verified. Reputable businesses don't get into our listings quite so fast. So it's not at all unusual for reputable businesses to not be listed yet because there are so many of them. Still, if there's a question, any writer can email P&E to ask about a business.
Finally can you give us a few tale tail warning signs that writers should be on the lookout for when dealing with agents or publishers?
The biggest warning sign is when the agent or publisher asks for money. As James Macdonald, author and operator of SFF.Net, has stated, "Money flows to the author." His words are golden and should be heeded. If a writer follows that advice, odds are the writer will avoid ninety percent of all the scams facing writers. And if they're still not sure, they can always visit P&E to see what we know about any publishing business. We do our best to tell the truth and be accurate because our integrity is always on the line.
Thanks Dave, it's been fascinating talking with you, good luck with the future of the site.
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