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james writes...

Dear Greg

With your expertise in the writing industry I am hoping you would be willing to perhaps give me some advice in my own writing career. I have written a fantasy adventure story for pre-teens and have begun my search to get it published. I have been working with Children's Literary Agency and they have suggested me to go to Strategic Publishing, which I have done. They sent me a contract that sounds okay, but they are asking for a large fee up front and I am a bit concerned.

1; Is this a vanity company, which I have been advised to stay away from?

2; Is it normal for publishers to ask for a fee up front?

3; Do you know anything about either of the two companies listed above?

Being new to this industry I am hoping that you will lend me your professional opinion.

Greg responds...

1. If they are asking YOU for money, then it sounds like a vanity company at best. There's nothing wrong with that, per se, if it's legit. You pay to get the books published and succeed or fail on your ability to market and sell your books. (Good material helps of course, but isn't mandatory.) But make sure it is legit so that you're not sending money to someone who's just going to pocket it.

2. No.

3. No. But keep in mind, I have no experience in that end of the business. Comics and animation is the sum total of my background - at least so far.

Response recorded on March 16, 2010