When I speak of magical thinking in this post, I am not discussing any sort of esoteric belief system, I am discussing a psychological state. As I have mentioned before, I have bipolar disorder, borderline personality disorder, and obsessive-compulsive disorder. Magical thinking is part of all three of these conditions. However, people with no formal psychiatric diagnosis can also fall prey to magical thinking, and there are unscrupulous individuals out there who will take advantage of this state of mind.
For a long time, I kept the ways I've been taken advantage of a secret because people have an unfortunate tendency to apply words like "stupid" to those who have been duped. I will not tolerate that word being used. People who have been duped are not stupid. Ignorant, perhaps. Desperate, almost certainly. Gullible, yes. But not stupid.
I will confine my narrative to what transpired with regard to writing for this post.
Many years ago now, back in 2007, I had a book published through Outskirts Press, a POD publisher. This book was written under a pseudonym. I was extremely naive a the time I published said book. I worked very hard on it, and that's pretty much all I thought one had to do. Work hard, and surely you will be rewarded! It sounds wonderful, and it's what I wanted to believe.
I spend a lot of money to get this book published, to have a press release written, to have the book reviewed. I really don't know where any of these reviews were published. I do know that I ended up with a "number one fan," and the actions of this person and another individual whom I came to like and trust because she was interested in similar subjects almost led me to stop writing entirely.
I now know that the best way to deal with "number one fans" is to assume a polite but cool demeanor. However, my self-esteem was so low and my desire for connection so high that I did absolutely nothing to protect myself.
A few years later, I released a revised version of the book, again through Outskirts Press under a different pseudonym. Again I spent thousands of dollars. Outskirts Press said a lot of flattering things to me. I believe the book sold two copies. Outskirts Press certainly came out the winner of that bargain.
At this point, I trust no-one but my own publishing companies to handle my creative work, be it solo projects or collaborations. I will never again spend thousands of dollars for nothing.
Unfortunately, these incidents led to my becoming a much more closed-off person than I used to be. I come off as cold, which I'm actually not. What I am is cautious, and I know now that having no friends is better than having fake "friends."
We are fortunate to live in a time where we don't have to paper our walls with rejection slips from publishing houses. Kindle provides a legitimate space to potentially make money publishing one's own work. I suggest paying exactly zero dollars to POD publishers. I could certainly use the thousands I paid to Outskirts Press over the years.
I recommend adding the Writer Beware blog to your arsenal. It could save you a lot of money and heartache. I wish I'd known about it years ago.