Out of the Blue, Too Good to Be True: Beware Soliciation Scams

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From Writer Unboxed:

When I do presentations and Q&As, I’m often asked to name the most common scheme or scam writers need to watch out for.

Usually, I have to think a moment before I answer—not just because the universe of writer-focused predation is constantly evolving (for instance, there are far fewer fee-charging literary agents now than there were when Writer Beware was founded), but because the ways in which writers can be tricked and exploited are so many and various that it’s hard to choose.

These days, though, I can respond without hesitation. By far the most prevalent writer-focused scams are solicitation scams.

Solicitation scammers contact writers out of the blue with publishing-related offers that seem too good to be true. A literary agency is interested in your work! A prestigious publisher wants to acquire your book! A film producer wants to turn your novel into a movie! A marketing company can expose you to millions of potential fans!

You know the old adage, though: if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. In reality, these offers are not about boosting your career or raising your profile. Whatever enticing carrot a solicitation scammer may dangle before you, the real aim is to get your money.

Solicitation scams and schemes are not new. Back in the days of snail mail, costly print vanity publisher Dorrance Publishing was notorious for soliciting submissions from copyright registration and magazine subscription lists. (Dorrance has re-tooled itself for the digital age, so its solicitations now come via email.)

Profiteering contest and awards programs have also long been prolific solicitors (for instance, J.M. Northern Media, which runs multiple high-entry-fee “festivals”), as have bogus Who’s Who registries. Predatory author mill Omniscriptum regularly solicits submissions to its many imprints, and if you write nonfiction, you may have been contacted by Close-up TV News, a pay-to-play “news” program that has been chasing customers for nearly two decades.

Over the past three years, though, the volume of solicitations has exploded, driven by a huge rise in publishing-related scams from overseas, and also by the pandemic, as in-person networking and marketing opportunities for writers have dwindled and online activity has increased. Self-published and small press authors are the solicitors’ favorite marks. But any writer can be a target.

Link to the rest at Writer Unboxed

PG says, in the era of the internet, if you don’t write a solicitation similar to ones mentioned in the OP, search for the publisher/author/festival/etc. online. If they don’t show up anywhere, you have your answer.

If you want to go further search on the name of the enterprise+scam or +beware or +warning, etc.

If you’re self-published and your book has a Best Sellers Rank on Amazon in seven digits, you especially need to hold on to your money.