Sam’s FAQ for Writers who Post on Social Media Asking for Advice

I belong to a handful of social media groups that target writers of all kinds. I see a lot of the same questions posted a lot, and wanted to do my part to help answer common ones. feel free to share this post to any new writers looking for advice. But be aware: my answers are honest, and honesty is sometimes hard to hear.

Q. A publisher offered to print my book! But they say I have to pay a fee/share the print costs/share the risk/”invest” in my book. What does this mean?

A. This means that the publisher is a vanity press. Traditional presses pay the author an advance for printing their book and are highly selective. Independent presses do not charge anything to the author but may not provide an advance. In short, if money is coming out of your pocket and you’re not self-publishing, then it is a vanity press and is generally considered to be a scam. Don’t fall for it. even if they tell you your work is amazing. Even if they promise you will make your money back. Even if it seems really, really, legitimate.

Q. Can I self-publish? What does it cost?

A. The short answer is it can cost between 0 and a bajillion dollars. The long answer is that you can self-publish for free through Ingram or Createspace/KDP but unless you follow through with an editor, a distribution and marketing plan, your book will not net you much monies. (I self-published my book and had a strong distro plan, which is why my book can be found in bookstores.)

Q. How much money can I make as a writer?

A. Between a bajillion dollars and negative a bajillion dollars. Seriously, the amount of money you can make is dependent on more factors than I could ever answer here for you.

Q. I have an idea but I need help writing it!

A. Some people might be willing to turn your idea into words (if you hire us) but generally we will not put your ideas to paper for free. We’re professionals. It’s common for writers to have a friend/acquantance who goes “I have this great idea! But I’m not a writer. What if I give you the ideas, and you write it? and we’ll split the profits?” No. We won’t do that.

Q. Editors are very expensive! Can someone edit for free?

A. No. Unless you stumble upon a person who fetishizes manuscript editing and wishes to be paid only in candy (note: you won’t), then you get what you pay for. If you’re self-publishing, budget for an editor.


Sam Swicegood is an author, speaker, blogger, and podcaster from Cincinnati, OH. He is the author of fantasy and science-fiction literature, including The Wizards on Walnut Street and No Place.

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