I've been writing seriously (and in my own personal definition, that means with an eye to publishing and making money for my writing) for three years now. At one point in that three year time, after I had made my first two sales, I sold nothing for a year.
It was awful. I doubted myself. I doubted my choices. I wondered if my small success had been a fluke.
But at the same time, I was lucky. A year, even a sucky one, isn't that long in the grand scheme of things. I had a network of friends who supported me, who talked me down from the bad days, and who, most relevantly to the current discussion at hand, knew things about the writing business.
But not everyone knows things about writing as a business. I think it's probably safe to say that most beginning writers don't. They see that people in the field now each other, and instead of thinking that - like in any job - writers know their colleagues, they see it as a closed-door club, where one needs to know the password to get inside. They see ads promising publication without having to pay an agent, and don't realize that that's simply how business is done. Writing is their dream, and they'll do whatever they think is necessary to achieve it.
There are people out there who will take advantage of this. People like Publish America, who are right now promising to - for a fee, of course - show your book to JK Rowling next week, while their delegation is in her hometown. They will even ask her to tell you what she thinks of your writing. (I linked on twitter. I'm not linking again.)
This is evil. It is a fraud, and it is cruel.
I am not normally a litigious person, but I hope Rowling accios her legal team and has them perform a variety of legal spells on Publish America. (Because I am positive she knows nothing about this plan, and that the only thing that will happen to any manuscripts that even get near her is that they will be recycled.)
This makes me furious. Especially because I can see how this plays out. If you don't know how the business part of being a writer works, you might think that writers - especially someone who has sold as many books as Rowling - are the ones with the power. You might think that she might quite happily sit around reading slush and looking for books to pass on to her publisher. You might think $49 isn't so much, when it's a shot at everything you've ever wanted.
This isn't how it works. Publish America are behaving like Dementors.