Best of Writer Beware: 2015 in Review

Posted by Victoria Strauss for Writer Beware

2015 was not my best blogging year, by a long shot! My mother's deteriorating health sidelined me for much of the second half of the year (and will probably sideline me again in 2016--after bouncing back surprisingly well from broken ribs this summer, my mom had a small stroke in December, which has messed up her vision and made her very weak).

Still, I do have some posts to highlight. Read on.

JANUARY

- Two Red-Flag Sentences in Publishing Contracts: Does that publishing contract you just received state that promotion is "at the publisher's discretion", or that the publisher doesn't guarantee that your book will sell? Be warned: this may be advance rationalization for zero promotion and tiny sales.

FEBRUARY

- Editing Clauses in Publishing Contracts: How to Protect Yourself: A bad editing clause can really come back to bite you, especially if your publisher doesn't employ qualified editors. This post discusses what to watch out for, and highlights some contract language that should ring warning bells.

- Who's Running Your Writing Group? Why You Should Be Careful: A writing group can be a terrific resource for peer feedback and support. But what if the writing group is run by a pay-to-play publisher? This post discusses why this growing trend may pose a conflict of interest.

MARCH

- Manuscript Pitch Websites: Do Literary Agents Use Them? Such sites purport to provide a submissions shortcut, allowing writers to post manuscript pitches for agents to peruse, instead of going through the tedious and uncertain query process. But do agents really use manuscript pitch sites? I asked some agents, and their answers may (or may not) surprise you.

- Author Solutions Losing Market Share As Production Numbers Fall: The much-maligned Author Solutions presents itself as a leader in the self-publishing services space. But according to a recent industry report, AS saw major production declines in 2012 and 2013. Is AS's POD-centric approach--not to mention its high fees and dubious marketing services--going the way of the dodo?

APRIL

- Warning: Raider Publishing International: Yet another warning about a major predator, which has taken thousands of dollars from authors for services never delivered. (Raider is on Writer Beware's Thumbs Down Publishers List.)

- The Strange and Twisted Tale of Peter Senese, Serial Con-Man: For sheer weirdness, you can't beat the saga of Senese, for whom literary scams were only the tip of the iceberg.

JUNE

- Awards Profiteers: How Writers Can Recognize and Avoid ThemThe boom in small press and self-publishing has fueled a parallel boom in deceptive writing awards and contests, whose aim isn't to honor writers, but to make money for the award or contest sponsor. This post highlights the warning signs of a profiteering award, and names some of the worst offenders.

AUGUST

- Beware Social Media Snake OilFrom guest blogger Chris Syme, a great post on how to separate worthwhile social media strategies from pointless ones, along with warnings about some common social media scams.

- Want to Become a Better Writer? Stop Writing: Another terrific guest post, this one from Barbara Baig, who explains how the path to productive writing may sometimes be, paradoxically, to put your writing on hold for a while.

NOVEMBER

- Arbitration Clauses in Book Contracts: Signing Away Your Rights: Arbitration clauses are increasingly common in publishing contracts, as well as in the Terms of Use of some major self-publishing platforms. Many authors don't understand their implications--including the way they restrict the right to legal redress.

DECEMBER

- Author Solutions Sold to Private Equity FirmI actually put this post online just this week, but the sale happened in December, which makes it 2015 news. Just over three years after Author Solutions was purchased by Pearson Education and folded into the Penguin Group, Penguin Random House has unloaded it, selling it to the Najafi Companies for an undisclosed amount (probably much less than the $116 million Pearson paid). Will Najafi take steps to address AS's deplorable reputation? I'm not holding my breath, but you never know.

5 comments to Best of Writer Beware: 2015 in Review

  • [...] here for every aspiring writer! Strauss is one of the best resources around! Share [...]

  • Hi,

    I’m glad to get an update on your mother’s health. I think of that every time I see a post from you in my feed.

    This list will provide me with lots of informative reading. Thanks!

  • barrie trevain

    HELLO VICTORIA,

    thank you for getting back to me. chinofy only publish on e.book,it is self publishing but do not charge if it is published in ENGLISH.

    my western story for CHILDREN was published by them in NOVEMBER 2014.every 3 months if you sell over 20 dollars U.S.I would receive royalties of 70%.

    in FEBRUARY of 2015 I was informed by chinofy that there were no sales on my e.book,which is not the end of the world,but disappointing to say the least.

    however in may chinofy would not get in touch with me to say if I was successful or not.they totally
    ignored my emails.

    AUGUST same treatment and NOVEMBER.if they had only just told me no sales each quarter,that would have been o.k.and would have understood that the story was not up to standard being my first published.

    I became suspicious and contacted the HONG KONG POLICE who were not very help full.

    before that being BRITISH AMERICAN,I got in touch with both the BRITISH EMBASSY and the AMERICAN.they gave me a few pointers,and being diplomats they had to be careful.

    tried the TAOBAO STORE in HONG KONG,and they informed me that the E.BOOK was no longer on sale there and had been cancelled.there are 2 schools of thoughts there,did they cancel because the story was no good?if so why the silence from chinofy?or was it because they found out that I was asking questions to the police.

    I am trying at the moment to find a lawyer in HONG KONG who will investigate on a no win no fees basis.so the whole thing is a complete MYSTERY.

    if you look into CHINOFY more fully,you will find they are clean and have a glowing reputation.it would make a good MYSTERY STORY.

    kind regards.

    BARRIE TREVAIN.writing in the name of WILLIAMS,my birth name.title of story.

    THE OLD COOT GOES TO CRAZY CITY.

  • Victoria Strauss

    Hi, Barrie,

    I’ve never encountered this company before. It’s not a publisher, but rather a self-publishing service. I’m concerned that there’s no information at all on its website about the company or its staff, nor any list or links to books published by the service (you really need to be able to find books published by any service you’re considering, so you can order a couple and assess quality). The basic publishing service does seem to be free, but I’d bet money that the promised post-publication marketing involves fees. Chinofy also offers English-to-Chinese translation for $55 per 1,000 words, but says nothing about who–or what (Google Translate?) will be doing the translations. It also appears to be limited to Chinese ebook platforms–in other words, it’s not a way to get global ebook distribution.

    Doing some websearching, the owner of Chinofy seems to be a guy named Bo-Erik Abrahamsson, whose resume shows experience in business and finance, but none whatsoever in publishing or self-publishing. All in all, I don’t see a lot of benefit here, unless you have a particular desire or reason to distribute your English-language book in China (and even then, I’d strongly suggest verifying that Chinofy is actually present on Chinese ebook platforms).

  • barrie trevain

    DEAR VICTORIA,

    do you have any bad reviews on publisher called CHINOFY OF HONG KONG?

    kind regards.

    BARRIE TREVAIN

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