Editors Corner


-The Scam, The Sting and the Dirty Little Secret (of unscrupulous literary agents)

-Writers’ Resolutions (12 Rules for Writers)

-The Odds of Success for Writers and Others in The Arts

-Banned Books (or Why You Need to Read)


Editor’s Pick


The Scam, The Sting

and The Dirty Little Secret

Exposing the underbelly of the Book Publishing Industry


Editor’s Note:  The following true-life story about writers doing a sting on unscrupulous literary agents engaging in fraud caught the attention of not only the Attorney Generals of two states, but a major network news station in a large U.S. metropolitan city. The news station was so interested in the story that they sent a reporter on the trail of the literary agent in question, and ran a two-day feature of the story during their prime-time news hour.

Though this story played out several years ago, the scam is as fresh and as salient today as ever before. The writers have all gone on to become successfully published authors.  Their identities, as well as the identity of the literary agent, have been kept anonymous. The important point: they could be anyone.

Watch it here.

12 Writers’ Rules to Live By




Whether it is stagnation, rejection, depression, or just plain life itself, at any point in time, many writers would admit that they are not exactly where they want to be.  This can be true for both new writers as well as seasoned old-timers procrastinating about whether to even leave the starting gate again. So, in the spirit of encouragement and helping writers take a proactive approach to getting their manuscripts to that all important *next stage*, here, from one of our writers, is a list of things to remember…

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Writers’ Resolutions


As committed and dedicated writers, we resolve to:

1) Limit our bouts of depression to those times when we (a) have no time to write, and/or (b) have received a minimum of five new rejection letters.  Whenever possible, we will also try to coincide this with times that the Today Show features new authors who have just received million-dollar advances (preferably for self-help books on learning to love failure).

2) Resist the temptation to visit Psychic web sites to ask when we will be getting a substantial publishing contract.

3) Stop reading the New York Times Bestseller List and imagining that the authors were unconnected and discovered by some ingenious literary agent tunneling through millions of books on Amazon.

4) Refuse, no matter how enticing, to send our manuscripts off to any agent whose only big sale was a nonfiction book entitled, ‘Everything I Ever Needed to Know, I Learned from My Friend the Crack-Whore.’

5) NEVER refer to ourselves as *writers* to: (a) potential landlords, (b) employers, (c) loan officers, or  (d) anyone who might ask the question, “Really? Have you written anything I might have actually read?”

6) Acknowledge that Captain Morgan is NOT our friend, does NOT make our writing more creative, and, in fact, is not even a real person.

7) Remember that the opening passage to the next chapter cannot, no matter how many times we look, be found inside the refrigerator.

8) Start to actually appreciate that all the clerks at the post office know us by name and have taken to wishing us *Good Luck* every time we drop off another package containing a manuscript.

9) Stop expecting (a) speedy responses from anything called a *slush pile*, (b) anything good to come from agents who send back letters smeared with pizza stains, and (c) that our idea of 3-4 weeks will ever be the same as an agent’s.

10) Remember that the IRS does NOT recognize the cost of coffee, Prozac, or Absolut Vodka as legitimate business deductions.

11) Reassure ourselves that the thousands of dollars we have spent on editing will be tax-deductible just as soon as those first royalty checks roll in.

12) Always remember that the words, “The fantastic book you have written is sure to be a Bestseller and a box-office hit” should NEVER be followed by the words, “Send your check at your earliest convenience.”

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(Reprinted with permission. This article has been previously published under different titles and has appeared in various venues including Writer’s Ink, the Frankly Speaking column, Publish or Perish, and the Write Connection. )


 The Odds of Success for Writers and Others in The Arts


Powerball Jackpot Expected To Reach A Whopping Record-Breaking 1.5 Billion Dollars

The statistical odds for achieving financial success in the arts–that is, the ability to sustain life solely on one’s artistic pursuits without needing to get a day job–has been grim and getting progressively worse for several decades.  This is especially true for the unconnected–those people who lack the necessary insider connections and must rely solely on their talent, hard work, persistence and cleverness.

The old adage ‘only pursue artistic endeavors for the passion and personal satisfaction it brings’ has never been more true.

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Approximately 40 percent of musicians and singers actually find work doing their craft, but only part time; they are frequently paid only meager wages. Almost half of those people working as musicians and singers are self-employed/independent contractors.

The number of qualified musicians and singers exceeds the number of available openings.

The vast number of people who desire to perform as musicians and singers will continue to greatly exceed the number of openings.

Talent alone is no guarantee of success: many people start out to become musicians or singers but leave the profession because they find the work difficult, the discipline demanding, and the long periods of intermittent unemployment unendurable.

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In the most recent industry data collected, about 61% of writers with degrees in their field who had planned to be novelists worked for newspaper, periodical, book and directory publishers, 25% of writers worked in radio and television broadcasting, and about 7% of writers were working as news analysts or reporters.  Of these, more than one-third of writers were self-employed, many working as independent contractors in the above mentioned fields.

Competition continues to be stiff for writing jobs in large metropolitan and national newspapers, broadcast stations and networks, and magazines.

About one-half of the salaried jobs for writers and editors are in the information sector: Newspaper, periodical, book, and directory publishers; radio and television broadcasting; software publishers; motion picture and recording industries; Internet service providers, Web search portals, and data-processing services; and Internet publishing and broadcasting.

The number of qualified writers seeking permanent employment in these fields exceeds the number of available openings.

The number of job openings in the newspaper and broadcasting industries—in which news analysts, reporters, and correspondents are employed—is sensitive to economic ups and downs because these industries depend on advertising revenue.

Thousands of people work as freelance writers, finding occasional work and earning some income from their articles, books, and, far less commonly, television and movie scripts.

Most fiction and nonfiction writers support themselves with income derived from sources other than writing.


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Approximately 63% of people making some income as artists are self-employed.

Of the artists who are not self-employed, many work in: advertising and related services; newspaper, periodical, book, and software publishers; motion picture and video industries; specialized design services; and computer systems design and related services.

Some self-employed artists offer their services to advertising agencies, design firms, publishing houses, and other businesses on a contract or freelance basis.

The number of qualified artists exceeds the number of available openings.

Craft and fine artists work mostly on a freelance or commission basis, and most find it difficult to earn a living solely by selling their artwork.

Only the most successful craft and fine artists receive major commissions for their work.

As the use of technology grows, there will be fewer opportunities for artists working as illustrators.

Salaried cartoonists will have fewer job opportunities because many newspapers and magazines are increasingly relying on freelance work.

Most artists find it difficult to rely solely on income earned from selling paintings, photographs or other works of art.

Additionally, like other self-employed workers, freelance artists must provide their own health coverage and other benefits

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Reports gathered from industry sources reveal that for unconnected artists (those lacking strong recommendations from established industry insiders) there is an estimated average 99.99% rejection rate from longstanding conventional industry institutions for publishing a book (on average 15,000 ms. are rejected for every one accepted), being offered a music contract, securing art gallery representation, or having a script accepted for film.





Banned Books (or Why You Need to Read)


See Links to Full Text of 25,000 Books Online…Books that have been Banned at One Time or Another
(Category: News and Politics)



Welcome to this special exhibit of books that have been the objects of censorship or censorship attempts. The books featured here, ranging from Ulysses to Little Red Riding Hood, have been selected from the indexes of The Online Books Page. (See that page for over 25,000 more online books!)

This page is a work in progress, and more works may be added to this page over time. Please inform onlinebooks@pobox.upenn.edu of any new material that can be included here. Note that the listings are meant to be representative rather than exhaustive. Also, many recent books that have been banned or challenged have not been included here, because they have not been made available online. (But see below).

Read a banned book today!

Click to See Banned Books: 

Books that were Suppressed or Censored by Legal Authorities