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Thread: General tips about avoiding/dealing with scammers

  1. #51
    Banned
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    If PA is pushing authors for expressing dissatisfaction, perhaps said writers need to hire lawyers.

    You shouldn't live in fear of expressing your cpinions on the internet. Also, if you have to go out of the way to hide your true identity, then you lose all credibility because anyone can make any claim under a false identity.

    Also, if PA is that bad, why not let them find out what you think of them? Wouldn't you be wanting the association to dissolve?

  2. #52
    practical experience, FTW
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    Any Literary Agency that has client testimonials on their website or other advertising/marketing pieces, are either scams, or else novices who hung out a shingle knowing nothing about the business.

    Legit agents do not have to convince anyone to sign with them - their legitimate sales, client lists and reputation in the industry speak for themselves.



    Any publishing company whose advertising and marketing efforts target authors as opposed to bookbuyers are POD or Vanity publishers - NO MATTER WHAT CLAIMS THEY MAKE. They are looking to make a small profit off of each author - and their goal is to have as many authors as possible.

    Traditional, legitimate, commercial publishers put their advertising budgets into selling their books - not themselves. Their goal is to sell as many copies as possible of each title they release.

  3. #53
    Mostly Harmless SuperModerator CaoPaux's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by IWrite
    Legit agents do not have to convince anyone to sign with them - their legitimate sales, client lists and reputation in the industry speak for themselves.

    Traditional, legitimate, commercial publishers put their advertising budgets into selling their books - not themselves. Their goal is to sell as many copies as possible of each title they release.
    To emphasize the above: If an agent or publisher advertises via Google ad, or in the back of writers' magazines, AVOID them.
    ICAO
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  4. #54
    practical experience, FTW
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    Thanks CAO - great addition. And a very specific example which makes it that much easier to recognize the scammers, PODS and Vanity Presses.

  5. #55
    Dave Diamantes
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    This Board is Working!

    I found this board after finishing the first draft of my novel last December. I have a couple of technical books under my belt, but have always wanted to write fiction.

    To date: 40 queries/ 3 requests for sample chapters/ 12 rejections/ 2 no responses and 1 where I rejected the agent! I thought of sending Jenna a thank you message, but thought this post might do more good.

    My dealings have been straight up so far, most rejections have been form letters, one was a short personal note, one was a scribble across the top of my query letter. I have only sent 3 email queries.

    Within a few hours of my 3rd equery, I received a glowing response and a request for the full manuscript. The agent has a neutral rating on P&E and has a website. Before sending the manuscript, I decided that a little due dilligence was in order. I noticed that the agency website posted only a PO box, no street address. The website didn't list clients "to respect their privacy." The agency phone number wasn't posted on the website.

    I emailed the agent asking if they would "mind sharing their list of clients and recent sales." They response? "I would mind, but I am very successful, I'm swamped with submissions."

    The agent isn't listed at WritersMarket.com or Publisher'sMarketplace.com. A Google search showed a reference to a six figure sale and a couple of satisfied clients... but these are anecdotal references.

    I passed and decided not to send the manuscript. I know in my gut that I did the right thing. This search for an agent is like waiting for someone to invite you to the prom. We're vulnerable. This board and the member posts helped me extricte myself from a potentially terrible relationship. Looking back, I queried a total of 3 agents that I should not have. One passed, I passed on one and if the 3rd reponds, I'll back away.

    Life is good though. I'll find the right agent. It's only been 4 months and 40 queries. No cause for concern until the next 60 queries are rejected!
    Last edited by the1dsquared; 04-23-2005 at 10:22 PM.

  6. #56
    Preditors & Editors Requiescat In Pace DaveKuzminski's Avatar
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    Some Rules for Spotting a Scam Publisher



    • Openly advertises for writers in print publications or online or both.
    • Openly claims that it's not a vanity or subsidy publisher.
    • The publisher gives no or very low advances for books it buys.
    • The publisher's books are rarely in any bookstores, particularly the large chain stores that carry books from just about all reputable commercial publishers.
    • The publisher's books have never been seen on a bestseller list published by a reputable source such as the New York Times.
    • The publisher's books rarely sell more than 5,000 books to readers in individual purchases and more often fail to reach that number.
    • The publisher refuses to release approximate sales figures for its own bestsellers.
    • When confronted with very low or non-existent sales, the publisher refuses to release the book from contract.
    • Books it claims to have published were actually published by another publisher, now defunct, that used the same business name.
    • Its contracts contain provisions that prohibit complaints by its authors about its service and product.
    • Postings in online forums never seem to include anyone who was rejected.
    • Online forum criticism is frequently immediately responded to by a defender of that publisher.
    • Acceptances usually take place in less than a month. Even less than a week is not unusual.
    • Acceptance letters tend to be identical when compared with what other authors received.
    • Contract provisions are specific as to how termination can be invoked, but the publisher disdains using anything other than some other method of communication.
    • Communications from the publisher are frequently unsigned by any individual using a department address so that no one can be pinned down as responsible for any comments made to the author.
    • The publisher never gives a direct answer to any direct questions. Instead, the publisher points to others who are satisfied with policy, procedures, contract, or sales as proof that everything is fine.
    • The publisher has a no return policy on its products.
    • The publisher threatens to blacklist its authors within the industry.


    Some Rules for Spotting a Scam Agency



    • Openly advertises for writers in print publications or online or both.
    • Claims that it has new methodology for gaining access or acceptance with book publishers.
    • Does not list any sales or refuses to divulge the titles of sales for confidentiality reasons.
    • The only sales it lists are for vanity or subsidy publishers or the sales it lists were made by the author before the author signed with the agent, often years before representation.
    • Sales it claims to have made cannot be found listed in any reference lists of books that were printed by the supposed publisher.
    • Sales it made were mostly to a publishing house wholly or partially owned by the agency.
    • Requires an upfront payment for administration or for a web display or for later postage and copying.
    • Online forum postings never include anyone who was rejected.
    • Online forum criticism is frequently responded to by a defender of that agency.
    • Representation is usually granted in less than a month or even less than a week.
    • Representation acceptances are usually worded identically.
    • The agency name has changed, but the same personnel still work at the same address and there was no conflict with another agency with the same or a similar name and no merger to warrant a change.
    • The agency never provides original comments from publishers that manuscripts were allegedly submitted to.
    • The agency never provides original invoices or receipts for postage or copying expenses it claims were made on behalf of the author.
    • The agency suggests that it will grant representation if the manuscript is first given professional editing. Frequently, it will suggest who should do the editing or offer to make its own in-house editing service available for a discount price.
    • The agency threatens to blacklist its authors within the industry.
    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.


  7. #57
    theguild
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    IMO, some of the "real publishers" should be avoided! I wasted hard-earned money (as well as my time) sending out SASE's, queries and sample chapters to certain publishers. Rock Publishing is one; Rising Tide, Filbert, Mystic Ridge are others.
    What a joke.

    Quote Originally Posted by the1dsquared
    I found this board after finishing the first draft of my novel last December. I have a couple of technical books under my belt, but have always wanted to write fiction.

    To date: 40 queries/ 3 requests for sample chapters/ 12 rejections/ 2 no responses and 1 where I rejected the agent! I thought of sending Jenna a thank you message, but thought this post might do more good.

    My dealings have been straight up so far, most rejections have been form letters, one was a short personal note, one was a scribble across the top of my query letter. I have only sent 3 email queries.

    Within a few hours of my 3rd equery, I received a glowing response and a request for the full manuscript. The agent has a neutral rating on P&E and has a website. Before sending the manuscript, I decided that a little due dilligence was in order. I noticed that the agency website posted only a PO box, no street address. The website didn't list clients "to respect their privacy." The agency phone number wasn't posted on the website.

    I emailed the agent asking if they would "mind sharing their list of clients and recent sales." They response? "I would mind, but I am very successful, I'm swamped with submissions."

    The agent isn't listed at WritersMarket.com or Publisher'sMarketplace.com. A Google search showed a reference to a six figure sale and a couple of satisfied clients... but these are anecdotal references.

    I passed and decided not to send the manuscript. I know in my gut that I did the right thing. This search for an agent is like waiting for someone to invite you to the prom. We're vulnerable. This board and the member posts helped me extricte myself from a potentially terrible relationship. Looking back, I queried a total of 3 agents that I should not have. One passed, I passed on one and if the 3rd reponds, I'll back away.

    Life is good though. I'll find the right agent. It's only been 4 months and 40 queries. No cause for concern until the next 60 queries are rejected!

  8. #58
    figuring it all out Selene LuPaine's Avatar
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    I've heard from a succesful writer that a good publishing company will not charage you. Scammers will!

    By: Holly Lisle

    "Nothing. Not a dime, not half the expenses, not "a modest sum," not anything. Not ever. You don't pay to have your book published. The reason you don't pay to have your book published is as follows: If you're a writer, then writing is your job. People get paid to do their jobs---nurses get paid to nurse, ditchdiggers get paid to dig ditches, and writers get paid to write."

  9. #59
    Late Night Writer __VeNoM__'s Avatar
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    I've heard from a succesful writer that a good publishing company will not charage you. Scammers will!
    Well after all, that's how they make money. I don't think they actually send in to publisher's any manuscripts themselves, probably too much work with little to no reward.
    "In primitive society, when native tribes beat the ground with clubs and yelled, it was called witchcraft; today, in civilized society, it is called golf."

    "I used to go to the driving range to practice driving without slicing, now I go to the driving range to practice slicing without swearing."

    "A bad day fishing is better than a good day at work."

    "I once gave up fishing; it was the worst weekend of my life."

  10. #60
    Your Genial Uncle Absolute Sage James D. Macdonald's Avatar
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    Important rule: Research before you query or submit.

  11. #61
    Preditors & Editors Requiescat In Pace DaveKuzminski's Avatar
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    It was suggesting I post this here so it wouldn't become buried in the NEPAT. It is in response to the comment or question about why many publishers don't use an auto-reply system on their email.

    As to your comments about why don't other publishers set up automatic replies, the answer is simple. They're not computer gurus. They don't have the time to become computer gurus. They have a business to operate. They can do only so many things in the time they have, so they apply that time to the tasks that actually lead to bringing in an income. Automatic replies do not bring in an income because legitimate publishers are not dependent upon authors paying them.

    Conversely, publishing scams rely heavily on authors paying them because that is their income. Therefore, they cannot afford to ignore any authors and will go out of their way to make an author feel welcomed. That includes making sure they have the tools such as automatic replies on their email to let the author know that they will respond later.

    Legitimate publishers do not need volumes of authors. They seek volumes of readers so they can sell volumes of books. Because there is an oversupply of authors to choose from, legitimate publishers make use of that author abundance to choose only those that they feel address the market niche the publisher is targeting and winnow that down to those that meet their own preferences in style and taste. They further refine that selection process to accept only those that are well written, though not always in the order I have just outlined. In other words, you could write very well and do so with excellent style and taste. However, if your style and taste do not match their reading preferences, it doesn't matter how well you write. You're not a match for them.

    Scammers have no preferences for style and taste in who they scam unless you count green as a style and taste. This is why they accept so many so often and are eager to accommodate more.

    Legitimate publishers are businesses. They have no time to waste being overly polite to the point of political correctness. Most have learned it's better to just state, "No thanks, not for us." because it's least likely to offend anyone and it's as close to the truth as they can get without being offensive. They reserve their scant free time to being polite with their authors because those are the ones responsible for providing them with a salable product. Until a writer reaches that level, there is no reason to expect anything more. It's like driving down the highway. You do not tip your hat or wave to everyone you pass or who passes you simply because you don't have the time to take away from your concentration on the road. At most, you'll give a quick wave to those who allow you to enter the highway from your drive or a parking lot, but even that is about all. You and they simply do not have the time to get out, shake hands, and talk before moving on.

    Scammers, on the other hand, are overly polite. They even point to their politeness as one of the things that differentiates them from others whom they try to draw as cold-blooded and stodgy, to give only two descriptions I've seen of many. They make it appear like you're receiving something for the small fee they charge. However, when it comes to actually delivering on the goal you're actually seeking, they fail to deliver and that's when their attitude changes. At that point, they're total opposites once more from legitimate businesses which value your input because your work is producing income for everyone involved. You've already paid the scammer, so they want you gone and out of their life because they know that you're not likely to pay them anything more based on the same worthless promise. They also know that it won't be worth your while trying to take them to court because the amount you'd recover is less than it would cost to go to court.

    Give it some thought. Legitimate businesses don't have time for everyone because they're interested only in those who have the kind of product they want to produce as books and mass market. Scammers have time for everyone they haven't scammed yet because those people represent another paycheck to them. Businesses are brusque because they don't have a lot of time to waste. Scammers are almost always polite because that's part of how they charm you.

    You want charm? Go for it. Just don't be surprised too much when reality hits you later.

    By the way, Peekay, I've waited as long as two years for replies from some publishers. You might as well get used to this fact right now. You need a lot of patience. Not a little, but a lot. Then get used to needing even more.
    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.


  12. #62
    Hagiographically Advantaged AW Moderator HapiSofi's Avatar
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    Read this and this.
    Winner of the Best Drycleaner on the Block Award.

  13. #63
    New Fish; Learning About Thick Skin
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    We are often warned to look for a publisher's books in random bookstores, but that doesn't help if it's 3 a.m. and/or you live in Tuktoyaktuk (I don't). However, I may have stumbled on another sign that a 'publisher' is not on the up-and-up.

    Look up their listed titles on Amazon.

    Look at every possible picture of the cover, front and especially back. Is the publisher's name or logo on there anywhere?

    I did this with the few book titles I knew were POD/vanities despite their pretty websites, and there never was a publisher's name on the outside. I followed titles linked with those books, and found a few with at least something in the 'publisher' spot on the back. But when I googled them, they came up on various 'beware' sites as older versions of vanity/sp schemes.

    No publisher shown on the back cover on Amazon? Probably not a reputable house. Reputable houses LIKE for people to know they publish quality stuff.

    Admittedly, it's a small sample. I don't know that many gullible people to have lots of POD titles from different outfits at my fingertips. So maybe someone here could check on more titles that they know are scam-PODs? Just to see if the theory holds? It's much easier for some of us to play around on Amazon than to get to more than one bookstore looking for examples of that press's work.

  14. #64
    Writer Beware Goddess Absolute Sage victoriastrauss's Avatar
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    I have big stacks of books from Tor (US and UK), HarperCollins Eos, and Penguin Canada on the floor of my office right now. The Penguin books all have either "Penguin Books" or the little penguin logo on the back cover, but the books from Harper and Tor don't have any logo or mention of the publisher on the front or back cover.

    All the books have the publishers' logos on the spines.

    I have several books from sleazy PODs, including PA and American Book Publishing, and all have the publisher's name prominently on the back or spine.

    - Victoria

  15. #65
    New Fish; Learning About Thick Skin
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    Thanks, Victoria. It would have been too easy, wouldn't it?

  16. #66
    Wibbly-Wobbly. Timey-Wimey.
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    Here's one: A lot of the scams I've seen here advertise as doing something with/for writers "for the first time ever", such as giving writers access to the publishing industry.

  17. #67
    practical experience, FTW Tilly's Avatar
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    I think one sign that a company does not do well by its authors is animosity towards author advocates and warning sites. That animosity comes from a potential threat to their revenue.

  18. #68
    Empirical Storm Trooper MadScientistMatt's Avatar
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    Another tip-off, inspired by some of the nonsense posted by defenders of various scammers: They attempt to justify their practices based on historical examples over 100 years old, or industries that are outside of the realm of book publishing. Some examples:

    One PA author tried to defend POD using the example that Ben Franklin printed some of his materials one at a time. Well, he didn't have the same sort of printing speed or automation available today, did he? Using examples over a hundred years old as "how the publishing industry should work" make about as much sense as saying they ought to build cars using the same techniques that they used to make Model T's.

    Another example - someone was using examples from the music industry to defend why an author needs to be constantly on the road promoting books. Well, that's because most musicians get the bulk of their money from public performances, not album sales. Authors don't make money touring the way musicians do. (And there are a lot of other rather nasty things about the music industry that no reputable book publisher would even attempt.)

  19. #69
    Writer Beware Goddess Absolute Sage victoriastrauss's Avatar
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    Matt, the kinds of justifications you cite are just as often the result of ignorance as of a deliberate attempt to mislead. For authors, the bottom line is the same, of course--you don't want an ignorant publisher or agent any more than you want a dishonest one. But stupid and self-serving comparisons don't necessarily point to scammery.

    - Victoria

  20. #70
    Grumpy writer and editor Absolute Sage Gillhoughly's Avatar
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    There's much on this thread on what to avoid in a scam agency, so here's a post on what to look for!

    1) Lists of books they have sold

    2) Lists of authors you have heard of

    3) Links to the authors' websites (where you may be able to write and ask THEM how they like their agent)

    4) Links to venues like Amazon where you can buy the books (where you may see who is publishing the book, if this wasn't mentioned on the site)

    5) Lists of books that are forthcoming

    6) Clearly set out submission guidelines

    Legit agencies won't be shy about blowing their horn on success stories!

  21. #71
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    Quote Originally Posted by Gillhoughly
    4) Links to venues like Amazon where you can buy the books (where you may see who is publishing the book, if this wasn't mentioned on the site)
    This isn't one I'd place much weight on. Good agents don't bother telling you where you can buy books they've agented. That's the publisher's job. A good agent will be selling books to publishers who get the books on bookstore shelves.
    Winner of Uncle Jim's Whoo Hoo Super Writer Award and Nomad's Most Use of Vowels in a Screen Name Award as well as Maryn's Only Person on AW Whose Name Anagrams to "I, Octane," "Act I (One)" and "Nice tao" Award in addition to batgirl's Culpeper Award for Botanically Erudite Screen Name plus awatkins' AW's Most Creative Srounger [sic] of Rep Points Award not to mention azbikergirl's Arizona Most Awarded Writer Award and also Dawno's Most Interesting Signature Line Award

  22. #72
    Grumpy writer and editor Absolute Sage Gillhoughly's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Aconite
    This isn't one I'd place much weight on. Good agents don't bother telling you where you can buy books they've agented.
    Point taken! Some do, some don't, and some will at least mention what publisher they sold to.

    The authors should have links to Amazon or the B&N site on their own websites, but it's easy enough for one to google a title and check it out.

    Being on Amazon is no guarantee that it's a good book sold by a legit agency. I get mighty suspicious about publishers I never heard of with dozens of 5-star reviews that could well be from the writer's "helpful" friends. (Or even the writer!)

    And titles sold exclusively from an agency's P.O. Box addy??? (Like BKNelson) Run away! Run away!

  23. #73
    New Fish; Learning About Thick Skin
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    I heard that a real agent should should not charge you any fees accept what they may off the sales of you book? is that true?

    Shar

  24. #74
    I heart Malamutes! :-) JerseyGirl1962's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by SHunter-Wilson
    I heard that a real agent should should not charge you any fees accept what they may off the sales of you book? is that true?
    Shar,

    Yes, that's correct. Reason? Why would they have to sell your book and make money (a commission) off of that when they've already got your dough?

    Money flows to the writer.

    ~Nancy
    Screw the new blog, I've resurrected my old blog: Writerly Stuff.

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  25. #75
    Gone
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    Quote Originally Posted by SHunter-Wilson
    I heard that a real agent should should not charge you any fees accept what they may off the sales of you book? is that true?
    Yes, it's true, but this is not the right thread for discussing that. Check out the thread listed on the Bewares main screen on avoiding scammers, and look in the very first post in this thread for links to articles on how to find reputable, effective agents. Follow and read those links; they'll get you up to speed.
    Winner of Uncle Jim's Whoo Hoo Super Writer Award and Nomad's Most Use of Vowels in a Screen Name Award as well as Maryn's Only Person on AW Whose Name Anagrams to "I, Octane," "Act I (One)" and "Nice tao" Award in addition to batgirl's Culpeper Award for Botanically Erudite Screen Name plus awatkins' AW's Most Creative Srounger [sic] of Rep Points Award not to mention azbikergirl's Arizona Most Awarded Writer Award and also Dawno's Most Interesting Signature Line Award

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