“Let me go and check online for the reviews,” says my daughter every time I want to buy a product for myself or for the house. “Let me find out if it’s good and what people have to say about it.” She then disappears to her room only to come back a few minutes later and relate to me the results of her research.
“See why I love the internet, mom?” she asks.
“Of course I do.” I reply. I am on all those websites that are “the thing now” as my kids call them. I am on Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and LinkedIn. I use WordPress, Pinterest and Tumblr and yet I am not a tech savvy myself. And by the time I familiarize myself with one site and proudly inform my kids about my achievement, they laugh and say, “Oh that’s old, mom!”
When I first began writing, there was no such thing as the internet. At the time many literary agents charged reading fees. Not knowing any better then, and not having the online facilities teenagers have nowadays, I paid them. The first agent I mailed my manuscript to in New York charged me a ‘reading fee’. And because he said he liked my work and the way I wrote, he wanted to further evaluate it for me and find out its sales value on the market at the time. I agreed to send the manuscript a second time. He then asked for an ‘evaluation fee’. I paid. As a result I got such a positive response from that same agent that when he suggested to edit my manuscript I agreed again. He offered two types of packages for editing, ‘general’ and ‘chapter by chapter’, the latter of course for a higher price. Without a doubt I wanted the best for my book and I paid for the full package. Only to receive a chapter by chapter analysis of my book by some English major graduate student in some university in one of the states.
If you are a writer like me you know that we writers dream. We dream of making it onto the bestseller lists, of winning literary awards, of signing books, of giving interviews. We dream of sharing our stories with the world one way or another, and maybe even getting paid to do so. It is common knowledge that we need to pay our dues to get there, so when someone- anyone- tells us our work is good, we tend to get carried away and let the praise blur our judgment.
Even though I got this feeling back then that it was wrong of me to pay more money, I still went ahead with it. Because part of me wanted to believe that people have good intentions. That agents shouldn’t make a profit on my behalf before selling my manuscript. They are not supposed to make money by charging a writer fees before the work is sold. Agents are supposed to flourish by selling their clients’ work, keeping a percentage of what writers earn from publishers.
Needless to say that I learned my lesson and I learned it the hard way. I doubt if anyone would fall in that same trap nowadays. Not with all the facilities that technology provides them with.
So how about we go online to find out more!