Santa, the last of the wildmen

AW Amazon Store

If this site is helpful to you,
Please consider a voluntary subscription to defray ongoing expenses.


Welcome to the AbsoluteWrite Water Cooler! Please read The Newbie Guide To Absolute Write

Page 2 of 4 FirstFirst 1234 LastLast
Results 26 to 50 of 89

Thread: General tips about avoiding/dealing with scammers

  1. #26

    The Fine Print

    Ordinarily, P&E doesn't review books. One written by an entertainment lawyer came to my attention in a manner that caught my curiosity.

    First of all, it contains a plain language explanation of provisions found in many contracts used by POD and ebook publishers that every new writer considering either of those should learn and understand. Second, it rates over 70 POD and ebook publishers and gives details of the good and bad points of their contracts and terms. All in all, it's an excellent guide for many new writers and even some not so new to writing. I recommend it.

    At present, it's available at URL for those interested in it.

  2. #27

    Re: Don't get scammed

    This is all great info - thanx a ton everyone.

    What about a word for those of us aready suckered in and stuck with a bad agent? How do we continue?

  3. #28

    Re: Don't get scammed

    >>What about a word for those of us aready suckered in and stuck with a bad agent?<<

    First, check your contract. Is there a termination clause? If so, invoke it. You can usually do this by sending a letter of cancellation to the agent. Send the letter certified so you will get a return receipt, since bad agents often don't bother responding to a cancellation request.

    Pay attention to any provisions that may apply after termination--it's reasonable for an agent to go on administering any contracts they brokered during the term of the agreement, and to claim commission on a sale that results from contacts they initiated, even if the contract is signed after the agreement has been cancelled. But some of the more disreputable agents claim broader entitlements, such as the right to get commissions on any sale made within six months of the termination date, even if they had nothing whatever to do with the sale.

    If your agent is one of the real baddies, there may not be a termination clause. However, your contract probably isn't valid anyway because it was offered to you under false pretenses (i.e., that the agent could sell your work). Send a cancellation letter, terminating the contract as of the date of the letter (again, send it certified), and consider yourself free and clear.

    If your agent is a baddie, you don't need to worry about where your work might have been sent (or might not have been--some bad agents don't bother to send out submissions at all), since your submission was probably just ignored. But if your agent is marginal (i.e., someone with a small, indifferent track record who has enough expertise to get your work on an editor's desk, but not enough clout to get them to pay it serious attention), your ms. might have gotten enough of a reading to generate a non-form rejection letter, and therefore can't be submitted to that particular imprint again. If you seek a new agent, she'll need to know about this, because she won't want to duplicate submissions. So before cutting ties with your old agent, you need to find out where your ms. was sent.

    Who's your agent? I might be able to give you more specific advice if I knew (and I'd be glad to take a look at the contract for you, and give you non-legal feedback). If you don't feel comfortable saying it here, contact me at Writer Beware:

    - Victoria

  4. #29

    Great work, Victoria

    I just had to jump in here and publicly thank you for the wonderful information you've been giving regarding PA and bad agents and the like. You are doing a great service to authors who are going through tough times with disreputable agents, as well as alerting upcoming authors to potential scammers.

    It's terrible that bad agents are scamming so many authors, but I think it's great that people like you (and James MacDonald) take time out of their busy schedules to offer advice and help us all out.

    Please keep up the good work.


  5. #30
    James D Macdonald


    While "dishonest" and "clueless" are different things, writers would be well advised to steer clear of both the crooks and the incompetents.

  6. #31


    If you take the time to do your homework. i.e.

    verify recent sales
    check AAR membership (if they are not members, it does not mean they are scammers, but it is a signal that you need to research more thoroughly)
    check P&E and Writers Beware
    check Publisher's Marketplace,
    ask for feedback on boards like this one,
    get their client list, etc.

    you should be able to avoid both the scammers and the clueless

  7. #32
    James D Macdonald


    Rule of thumb:

    A useful agent has sold books you've heard of.

  8. #33

    About the forum

    While I like this forum, what truly makes it good is the content and participation from the folks who frequent it. Therefore, I have to agree with Jenna that it might be time to find a forum without all the popups. Paying to see the popups disappear is nothing less than giving in to legal extortion.

  9. #34

    Pop-Ups? We Don' Need No Stinkin' Pop-Ups!

    I read the plea for contributions to stop the pop-ups with interest, because I have never seen a pop-up here. Not once, honest.

    My kid the computer wiz tells me that pop-ups, like viruses, worms, spyware, etc., are written to work on the most popular internet browsers (the programs that allow us all to surf the internet), namely Internet Explorer and Netscape. Even with up-to-date pop-up blocking software, a few still get through on the big guys because they're all written specifically to work on them.

    So why haven't I ever seen a pop-up? Although I have Internet Explorer installed (and sometimes use it), when I started coming here I used Mozilla. Recently I updated to (Mozilla's) Firefox. Pop-ups apparently don't work on these browsers, or maybe their pop-up blocking is superior--plus I actually prefer either one to Internet Explorer. (Once you try the tabs feature for a forum, bulletin board, or thumbnail pix site, you'll never go back, I promise.)

    If you want to try either of these, Firefox is the more current. The download takes about 35 minutes on a dial-up rated 56K but realistically about 44K. It's FREE (whoopie!) and they do not send you any email or attempt to market anything to you. Visit or, if you have any questions, send me a message and I'll try to answer. (Be warned, I'm not a technical person at all.)

    (Geez, I sound like a total shill--I swear, it's just a great product, not one that pays me to tout their wares.)

    Maryn, hoping that people plagued by pop-ups at least give Firefox a try

  10. #35

    Re: Pop-Ups? We Don' Need No Stinkin' Pop-Ups!

    I'm getting popups and I use Firefox.

  11. #36

    Re: Pop-Ups? We Don' Need No Stinkin' Pop-Ups!

    If you've got a Mac w/osX - Safari's pop-up blocker does the trick.

  12. #37
    James D Macdonald

    Re: Pop-Ups? We Don' Need No Stinkin' Pop-Ups!

    This is getting seriously afield from general hints on staying away from scammers, but....

    a) I'm using Firefox with "block popups" turned on, and I'm still getting popups, and

    b) I'd hate to lose the archives of this forum. Lots of good stuff, going back years.


    Obligatory anti-scam stuff:

    Educate yourself about the publishing world:

    On the getting of agents


    Follow the money

  13. #38

    Re: Pop-Ups? We Don' Need No Stinkin' Pop-Ups!

    I think we had pop-ups for 4 days. Then some very kind people kicked in the money so I could extend our Gold membership 3 more months. I don't want to lose the archives, either, which is why I'm taking my time trying to find a board where I can possibly transfer these archives. If anyone has an idea, lemme know.

  14. #39

    Re: Pop-Ups? We Don' Need No Stinkin' Pop-Ups!

    Heck, paying those few bucks was the wisest investment I've made in a long time.

    This entire website is worth its weight in gold to some of us. Instead of a few wannabe writers, you've got an around the clock writers convention, with expert advice on every aspect of the business.

    I didn't feel ripped off at all. And I already have pop-up blockers, so I don't get the pop-ups anyway.

  15. #40
    Kate Nepveu

    Everything you wanted to know about literary agents...

    (reposted here by request)

    ... all in one handy post on Neil Gaiman's blog, which reprints a lengthy e-mail (with links) from Teresa Nielsen Hayden.

  16. #41

    Re: Everything you wanted to know about...

    If only writers would learn to add one more tool to their kit for finding publishers and agents on the Internet. All they have to do is add just one word after the name of the business or its owner/operator/manager/editor such as scam, felony, prison, misdemeanor, fraud, or parole when doing an Internet search.

    It's absolutely amazing what can be found because a lot of newspapers have placed their archives online. Most of it's recent, but that's the kind of information that's most useful for avoiding someone who might have been found guilty of embezzlement or some other fraud in the past decade.

  17. #42

    After the fact action

    If you've already been victimized, there are still actions you can take that will help you regain some of your self-respect. Keep watch for any news stories about that scammer. If you should see one in a publication from outside your local area, you could approach your local paper with the idea of them running that same story while featuring a sidebar that includes quotes from you so that others in your area will know what to avoid.

    You might have been scammed, but that doesn't mean you can't be a hero to everyone else.

  18. #43

    Re: After the fact action

    Or failing that: voodoo.

  19. #44
    practical experience, FTW
    Join Date
    Mar 2005

    Thumbs up One Place That Gets Attention

    One place that people read is Be careful that you don't get hit by a virus from some that try to tear down this site. But they will post complaints about scams. Like Capital One and I heard they had something about PA but take a look and post a message if you have been scammed.

  20. #45
    5 W's & an H Sassenach's Avatar
    Join Date
    Feb 2005
    Southern Calif.
    Sites like My3Cents are mostly worthless, since they're filled with junk like not getting the right change at Burger King or a mean manager at the Ramada.

  21. #46
    Preditors & Editors Requiescat In Pace DaveKuzminski's Avatar
    Join Date
    Feb 2005
    In general, sites with watchdog activities that hold themselves to either industry or strong self-imposed standards will generally provide the best advice and guidance. In general, I've found those to be Writer Beware, Absolute Write, Speculations, and, I believe, my own site of P&E. I'm sure I'm leaving out some other sites unintentionally, but my mind is busy at the moment with about four other projects and these are the ones that I'm certain do have standards.

    With that said, I received a compliment from one business asking for a change in their listing so that they wouldn't be confused with someone else. They were concerned about that because they knew that P&E would give out a negative recommendation for a single infraction of its rating criteria, which is basically true when we know of such instances. However, the individual also pointed out that P&E's harshness was good for his business because anything better than a P&E negative rating gave them credibility in the market with clients. I hadn't given that any thought before, but he's right. Strict adherence to hard criteria does make for that kind of confidence in both the ratings and the businesses being rated.

    So, always look to see if the site offering advice also lists criteria and abides by those for its recommendations.
    When it comes to PA, the royalty check and the reality check arrive in the same envelope.

    Remember to be kind to writers who step in PA. They really don't know how bad it smells.

    The difference between PA and WLA? None. Both have the stench of dead and dying books emanating from their doorways.

  22. #47

    Lightbulb A few common sense things I thought about...

    ...Which I didn't follow through on the first time I tried to get published. The following are 'red flags' I've learned over the years to watch out for.

    1. Publishing Companies with flashy names using words like 'U.S.A.' or 'America' in the title. -- I've noticed that most reputable publishers don't have such 'Look at us!' style names.

    2. 'Loud' sites.
    -- What I mean by 'Loud' is the showy atmosphere of their sites. Kind of like a car salesman I once met with a brightly-colored, mis-matched suit, shiny shoes, greased-back hair, and a mouth that didn't know when to close itself so I could decide whether I wanted to buy the car he was selling. If a site has such an atmosphere, I'd say it's most likely not legit.

    In what little experience I have, reputable publishers will let the facts speak for them, not the showy atmosphere they try to push on their sites.

    3. 'Feel Good' tactics with no down-to-earth figures. I've noticed at several reputable, traditional publishing sites, that they do not generally use the 'feel-good' mentality. The reputable publishers have a tendency to 'tell it like it is.' At least that's what I've noticed by the few reputable publishers I've visited so far.

    4. Attempts at debunking the critics. -- I've noticed that, from the several sites I've visited of legit publishers, that not one of them is spending precious energy saying things such as, "You may have heard this about us, but if you just submit your manuscript to us, you'll see the truth."
    I submitted my manuscript, and I saw the truth. But I didn't see it in time to keep from being scammed.

    The four above 'red flags' are simple common sense issues that I failed to listen to one time, and that one time is when I got snagged by a scammer. The basic idea behind all of these 'red flags' could probably be boiled down into one heavily-used cliche: 'If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.'

    I know that this list is most likely incomplete, and could have several flaws, but had I used this list in deciding whether or not to sign on the dotted line with a particular company which shall remain anonymous on this post, I would never have submitted a manuscript to them, much less sign on the dotted line.

    Something to think about. I wish you all the best.

  23. #48
    Preditors & Editors Requiescat In Pace DaveKuzminski's Avatar
    Join Date
    Feb 2005
    Some pointers for PA underground dissidents who do not want to be banned by PA or have their books become unavailable because they post on other forums:

    Always use an alias on other boards. If you acknowledge being a PA author, do not reveal what you write by title or content. Those can be used to identity you.

    Do not mention what city, state, coast, or country you live in even if you know that another PA author lives nearby. Do not mention what paper you read unless it is nation-wide. Do not mention any bookstore you frequent unless it is a national chain. Do not mention the names of other people in your area. Those can be looked up to pinpoint your area and identify you through a process of elimination. (Believe me, I have to do this as part of my day job for legal purposes. It's not difficult to learn or do.)

    If you recognize another dissident, do not mention it publicly. Doing so may give away your identities.
    When it comes to PA, the royalty check and the reality check arrive in the same envelope.

    Remember to be kind to writers who step in PA. They really don't know how bad it smells.

    The difference between PA and WLA? None. Both have the stench of dead and dying books emanating from their doorways.

  24. #49
    Player of the Letters Alphabeter's Avatar
    Join Date
    Feb 2005
    NW Iowa
    To kind of reiterate what Dave said above, I'll reveal what I did.

    After I discovered what PA really was (a lying, cheating, scamming, vanity publisher), I went looking for alternatives. Through a link, I found AW.

    I lurked for a nearly four months before posting. I noticed what happened to those who spoke out. Once I decided to post, I decided on a few "things":

    I created a user name that wasn't connected with anything I used before.
    I added a name that wasn't my own, nor connected with anyone who knew 'me'. [In my case Andrea Waters used Snarzler]
    I changed or altered specific information. [Again my choices included: when I signed my contract, the title and genre of my book, my background, and whom I knew]
    I even changed my 'natural' writing style. While my () are a hard habit to now break, my previous posting style was short choppy thought sentences which now read as irrititating.

    What is really sad is that a writer of a "real traditional" publisher wouldn't necessitate these steps in order to avoid persecution.

    Writing is a lot like sex.
    At first you do it because you like it.
    Then you find yourself doing it for a few close friends and people you like.
    But if you're any good at end up doing it for money.

  25. #50
    Super Opus jeffchele's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2005
    Moorhead MN

    just an addition from an as yet unpublished author

    Being as yet unpublished i have noticed something that is typical in PA and some other vanity press and self publishing type places. In the news or author news sections of the publishing sites those places use, I have seen things like, "was contacted by a high profile woman of her community who saw one of the flyers Ms. McDowell had posted around town in an effort to promote the upcoming release of her book", or big time actor/actress contacted/phoned /talked to said author and congratulated them on their upcoming book. Unless it's Oprah or the NY times, I would be suspect about the publisher adding the congratulations of anyone to their news section as noteworthy of their publishing prowess. In the news sections of real publishers they put things that make sense, large quantities of books sold in record time, awards won by authors books, etc. I don't trust places that go down to small things such as this to sell themselves.
    P.S. about popups, try the google toolbar with, glory be, popup blocker, it works here. You can even see how many of the grubby things have been blocked, to tell what sites to avoid.
    Last edited by jeffchele; 04-05-2005 at 02:05 PM.

Page 2 of 4 FirstFirst 1234 LastLast


Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
Custom Search