Book Review: The Street-Smart Writer

The introduction says it well. “I wish there were no need for this book.” Unfortunately, there are enough scams and untrustworthy folks in the writing industry to warrant a book on the subject. I’d like to think I know better, but I got suckered when I was as a college student who loved the idea of getting published somewhere.

I was taken in by that infamous scam where you send a picture, poem, story or any other creative work, and you hear back saying you’re a finalist or your work made it. Order the beautifully bound book for cherishing. Check written, form sent and no gorgeous book arrived in the mail. Thank goodness, it was a small sum and the only time I’ve been taken (thanks to a lesson learned and this book).

“Submit your creative work and buy the book” scam is one of many. Others aren’t so easy to figure out. Writers know there are many trustworthy contests out there that require an entry fee. Because of this, it takes little convincing for a writer to enter scammed contest that has an entry or reading fee only to find out later the money is gone and no contest existed.

Then there’s the publisher that requires paying a setup, printing, copyright or some other fee. Legitimate vanity and print on demand publishers do this. This blurs the line between the good and bad guys, and the authors clarify how vanity press works including all of its related or similar terms and how to tell the difference between the legitimate and the rip-offs.

Writers get advice from Jenna Glatzer, an experienced author who has confronted unsavory characters in the publishing world, and Daniel Steven, an attorney specializing in publishing. They point out the scams as well as “what to do if you’ve been screwed.” Chapter titles like this and “Special Screw-Overs for Screenwriters” highlight the writing style you can expect from the book. No finger-pointing or shaming, but rather frank and “we’re on your side” talk.

Contracts, copyrights, agents, deadbeats, and courses are covered. This well-rounded book also contains an appendix of six forms (agreements and a release) to help a writer dodge the dark side of the writing world.

Though you may not enter contests and all of your current writing associates are upfront and honest, having this book nearby should make you feel more secure. New opportunities continually pop up and the next one could be the one that goes bad.

Considering the high cost of legal advice, Street-Smart Writer is a bargain since you’re getting a lawyer’s expertise in this book. With the lawyer-writer team, Street-Smart Writer is a worthy addition to your professional reference library.

Title: The Street-Smart Writer: Self-Defense Against Sharks and Scams in the Writing World
Author: Jenna Glatzer and Daniel Steven
Publisher: Nomad Press
ISBN: 0974934445
Date: January 2006
Format: Paperback
Pages: 304

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