Publishing Spot has become aware of widespread scams and misrepresentations frequently targeting self-published authors in which bad actors are providing incorrect and misleading information and/or impersonating publishing companies, literary agents, editors, and other professionals in the literary industry, often using real names, trademarks and logos to appear legitimate. Some of the more common fraudulent schemes include:
- Using the name of an actual person in the publishing industry or logos from a legitimate company. Individuals from publishing companies would almost never reach out to an author directly. Typically a book would be forwarded through a literary agent. So if you see the name of a person who you can Google or logos from publishers, it is most likely a scammer.
- Using the title, “literary agent” and claiming they will represent your book to the publishing industry for a fee. Legitimate agents will never ask for money upfront.
- Claiming to see marketing potential and seeking payment for services they may or may not intend to fulfill;
- Falsely claiming that a traditional publisher is interested in publishing the author’s work and seeking payment in exchange for negotiating a publishing agreement.
Some of the more common misrepresentations’ include:
- Getting your book in book stores. Most bookstores require books to be returnable so if the company does not have a way to make your book returnable, they will not likely be able to fulfill the service.
- Claiming to represent your book to literary agents and publishers. Most publishers do not accept unsolicited manuscripts, and agents typically have specific requirements as to how a book should be submitted. So spam-mailing people in the industry is a complete waste of time and money
- Saying their book scouts have highlighted your book and see marketing potential. If they claim this, ask them to see what the book scouts report or email said about your book. Chances are the person on the phone has no idea what your book is about and there are no legitimate book scouts that work for the company
- Claiming they can get you broader distribution or your own ISBN. Unless you did something to limit your distribution, your book will be available for purchase on all online platforms in both print and digital formats. Also, you own your content, so there is no limit on who can buy your book. This tactic is often used to create unmerited fear in authors to suggest some how they are missing out.
Tips to Avoid Scammers:
- Reputable literary agents will not request a fee up front to represent a client, and will not send unsolicited emails claiming to be interested in a book. If you receive an email like this, treat it with extreme caution. Also legitimate agents will have a web site that shows what authors they represent and the books they have sold to traditional publishers. These scammers have no such thing. Rather than responding to the email or engaging through information provided in the email, research the company or individual independently and verify the offer through their website or publicly available information.
- Traditional publishers will not send out “letters of interest” or similar documents claiming to be interested in publishing a book, nor will they seek a fee to read or consider a manuscript. Traditional publishers do not need a book trailer or promotional video to consider a manuscript. As with literary agents, research the company or individual independently, and verify the offer through their website or publicly available information.
- Reputable literary professionals and publishers generally will not communicate with potential clients through:
- Social Media.
- Personal email addresses. Pay close attention to domain names and to emails from addresses with common providers, such as Gmail, Yahoo, and Hotmail.
- Unsolicited phone calls
If you receive contact from some claiming to represent a company or agent, verify their identity through publicly available information before engaging in discussion with the individual or purchasing any services.
- DO NOT provide payment information or bank information to any person or entity whose identity you have not verified.
- If you are unsure of the identity of the sender of a communication, DO NOT click on any links in the email.
Bottom Line: If it sounds and looks too good to be true, it probably is, so be very cautious if the email or phone call has any of the above-mentioned claims.