Writing, publishing, geekdom, and errata.

If I have to hunt for a publisher's real name, I won't do business with them and neither should you.

2 comments
Caveat:  Authors sometimes use pseudonyms.  And I understand the need for privacy.

But I do not understand why some folks do not put their names on their (professional) websites.

When you're running a business (and if you're writing/publishing, you are running a business), people want to know whom they're dealing with.  Is there a real person on the other side of the screen?  A bot?  A black hole where your money or stories will disappear into?

Yet I keep stumbling across (usually small, usually new) publishers trying to get submissions (or pledges of money) without bothering to say who they are.   

You should avoid doing business with any publisher who does not declare who they really are on a static web page.

A mention on a blog post does not count.

I'm not talking about making your business a great big "me-fest".  I mean a simple page where real names of real people are shown.  Whether it's the front page, or an "About" page (Clarkesworld, Pseudopod) or a "Contact Us" page (Asimov's) or "Masthead" (Apex) doesn't matter.1  It should be as easy to find the names of the owner and/or primary editor(s) as it is to find the submission guidelines or donation links.

Notice I said names.  I'm not saying you have to expose everyone's e-mail address to the world, even though I do... though I'm going to be skeptical of a digital publication that can't figure out how to obfuscate the e-mail from spammers... because here's how to do it.

Regardless, one of the big changes in the marketplace is that anyone can throw up a website and claim they're a publisher.  (Hell, I did.)  I am not going to trust anyone who won't stand enough by their business to put their own name on it somewhere.  Not with my stories, not with my money, not with my business.


1If you happen to be a publisher who somehow forgot to mention who you are, these are a bunch of good examples of different ways to do it.

2 comments :

Ken Marable said...

First off, I entirely agree with your main point. In general with anymore of business, I am skeptical of anyone who doesn't include a real name or location.

However, a side note - does that email obfuscation really work? Looking at what it generates, it would be really easy to detect that it is an email address. Thinly benefit I can see is if the crawlers just go for low hanging fruit and don't bother with the modification. But if they wanted to, it seems trivially easy to still accurately pick out email addresses obfuscated that way unless I'm missing something.

Steven Saus said...

It seems that I don't get a whole ton of spam, and get less when I bother to use the obfuscation. That said, anti-spam measures are pretty robust at any of the main webmail services (google, yahoo, even whatever hotmail got renamed to), so it could just be a side effect of that.

Realistically, I like the approach the Enigmail team wrote (they were talking about publishing your GPG key, but it applies):

"There is nothing you can do to prevent spam from littering your inbox. Trying to stop it is like King Canute marching into the sea, commanding the rising tide to turn back. It didn't work for King Canute and it won't work for you.

There are excellent ways to stop spam. Blacklists, whitelists, Bayesian filtering, ISP-level solutions and more. Some of those options work better than others. All of them work better than the naive "if I don't publish my key on the keyservers, then I won't get spammed" strategy. "