Vampirates! (Kudos to author Justin Somper for thinking up the coolest concept ever).
But I don’t mean the sort of vampirates that roam the seas of Captain Somper’s imagination. I mean the ones that roam the world of publishing, leaving a trail of exsanguinated writers in their wake. We all know about poetry.com (note I do not include a hotlink to their site), where, as jb puts it, every kiddie wins a prize.
An AWMonline subscriber narrowly escaped the grasping talons of a publishing vampirate this week. In attempting to contact a reputable Australian literary agent online, with one slip of the keyboard they found themself (yes, I’m taking liberties with the singular they, but it’s so handily gender-neutral and anonymous) being lured down a dark alley towards a dastardly deal. Fortunately they kept their wits about them, and bolted once they realised the offer was all just too easy… like slipping into a dreamworld where a writer’s fond wish to be published can be made real in a blink, and for such a reasonable fee…
Just to be clear: austlit.com is highly reputable, but auslit.com (without the first "t") is a link farm that may direct you to places inhabited by fanged beasties in tricorn hats, (whereas austlit.edu.au is awesome). Check before you click, my friends, check before you click. It’s best to investigate the bona fides of any literary agent before dealing with them.
Fortunately, there are heroes are in our midst, brandishing long stakes carved from the planks of wisdom’s ghostships. Look up an agent’s code of practice at the Australian Literary Agents Association. Check the listings at Preditors & Editors. Follow the link in our blogroll to Writer Beware. Contact your local community legal centre. (Btw, QWC is still collecting your letters of support to assist the Arts Law Centre in getting an audience with the Queensland Premier to put their case).
I’ve also had recent cause to grrrrrrrrr at cybersquatters. Laws are developing to evict people who are maliciously profiteering by holding on to your perfect domain name, but the laws are just too complex (= expensive) for us mere mortals to implement.
Ever been bitten by a publishing vampirate? Step inside this candlelit room, sit upon our dusty velvet armchair, and tell us your tale…