I’ve been spending the last couple of days trawling the internet trying to find opportunities to improve my writing, as well as finding markets to submit my work. My main goal at the moment is to build a portfolio of ‘published’ work, whether that be via working on a charity project writing articles, blog posts or updating their website content; or actually finding a suitable magazine, ezine or other area that I can submit to gain these ever elusive ‘credentials’.
Penny (or many) for your thoughts
I remembered this morning that I hadn’t even checked the Writer’s and Artists Yearbook which have in print for 2012. I decided to pull up the website for a quick browse with the morning coffee and the first thing I saw was button that read:
Do you need a professional opinion on your book idea?
What on earth is this? I thought. Curiosity got the better of me and I clicked the Book Idea Service button. Well, blow me down with a feather.
£119.99 to have a group of ‘professionals’ review your idea and tell you if it’s a good one. What?? (Yes, I used two question marks – I am that shocked.)
Can they guarantee that you’ll become a successful author? I doubt it. Even with the best idea in the world, there are no guarantees that your books would sell, so there are no guarantees that this money will be recovered. You can’t claim it on expenses. It’s a frivolous expenditure that is completely unnecessary. I’m sure they are ‘professionals’ that can spot a strong idea but they’re clearly exploiting the fears of new writers that worry about wasting their time on work that may not become published.
Kudos to them for finding this little cash cow. I’m intrigued as to how many people must take them up on the offer with it being such a prominent advertisement from a reputable source.
At a glance
The premise of the service sounds quite appealing – to have some unnamed professionals browse through a structured submission (they will not accept it if it doesn’t meet certain criteria) and give you a report as to how strong your idea is.
But surely you could visit forums for free where people who live, work and breathe within the industry would happily offer you advice, opinions and guidance on how to develop your ideas so that they are strong – for no charge at all. They merely do it because they love to help.
Better still, you can target those that would read your genre of work. Aren’t they the best people, given they’d be the ones buying it in the future? Again, no charge.
Examples are community pages on facebook such as: How many pages did you write today? (search for what you want and see what comes up).
There are so many sites dedicated to support and discussion that it’s not possible for me to list them all. I know that even local libraries, coffee shops and bars sometimes have writer and critique groups. Or you could set up your own…
Make your own path
So, deciding that you don’t want to shell out more money than a starving artist could afford, but you still want support. I’d recommend finding a good guide like Becky Levine’s Writing & Critique Group Survival Guide, she also has a fabulous WP page though the blog post: Thankful Thursday: Ideas is probably more relevant to this specific post when discussing ideas. More information on her book can also be found on Writer’s Digest with links to an excerpt and interviews.
The moral of this blog post? You don’t need to pay some big shot lots of money you need to make sure you’re developing a good idea!