After wading through my snail-mail, email and tweets today, I got an uncomfortable feeling. It's not like I have buzzards circling above the house, but more like the panic I felt when stepping off a bus in downtown Bangkok for the first time. Before your American shoe hits the street, you're surrounded by a horde of vendors of all ilk's trying to sell you snacks, a taxi or their virgin sister. Having lived in Bangkok for my high school years, I quickly learned how to fend these folks off without offending them. It takes pretty good Thai, but a firm "my ow" usually does the trick.
But what about the folks trying to market to us just-off-the bus authors? We're offered services of all kinds, how-to-books, quick-path-to-riches courses, contests, seminars and conferences? How do we novitiates know the difference between those just pumping out material for any schmuck with a typewriter and those that can provide genuinely good content for hardworking authors. How do we know which will help those of us trying to make the best use of their limited budget of time and their spouse's money?