I spent today alternating between writing fight scenes involving Faeries and dead people and reading Bewares and Background Checks on Absolute Write. Specifically These threads.
I don't like bullies, I don't like liars, I don't like con artists and I don't like people who take advantage of other people's ignorance. If you own a business and you are bringing sellers into said business (and authors are sellers, goddamn it) you have a fucking responsibility to be honest and forthright in your dealings and transparent in your practices. So suffice to say I feel rather miffy right now.
I have two points, kids. First off, this is why vetting presses and agents are a good thing. Publishers and agents come in three flavors, good, clueless and actively conning. Sometimes they come in combinations of the latter two. The ONLY way to tell the difference is to apply that old Bible adage, "By their fruits you shall know them". If you see questionable practices, if they are asking you to pay money for ANYTHING, PERIOD, DO NOT SIGN ANYTHING. The ONLY exception would be if you've fully vetted the publisher in question, you are satisfied with their track record and you can afford to pay what they're asking. DO NOT SIGN WITH ANY AGENT WHO IS CHARGING YOU MONEY. THIS IS NOT NEGOTIABLE.
Second: You, the author, should be compensated for your writing. You wrote the thing they are making money off of. You deserve to be paid. If books are selling people are making money and if your writing is in said book you by God should be making money. If it doesn't say "Free" on the amazon page this is not a favor they are doing you, it is a fucking underhanded ploy to get money without having to pay anything out. Even if it's a promotional book. If it's not free, you should be getting something for contributing to it. Any publisher that can't afford to pay you money for your writing is a publisher that can't afford to publish anything, at all, ever, and signing with them puts you at risk for an awful, awful lot of unpleasantness.
Bookmark Bewares and Background Checks and freaking CAMP there. Tack "Absolute Write" onto the end of your search strings re: potential publishers and agents.
Yog's law is "Money flows to the writer".
Tattoo this to your freaking eyeballs.