The Latest Writing Scams Authors Need to Watch out For

From: Anne R. Allen’s Blog… with Ruth Harris

Writing scams aren’t just for newbies anymore. A few weeks ago, publishing guru Jane Friedman discovered unfamiliar books on her Goodreads author page. She also found them on Amazon — published in her name. She realized they were probably AI written and very low quality.

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As soon as she posted about the scam on social media, she heard from a lot of authors who had experienced the same thing. One author discovered nearly 30 fake books with her name on them. Authors have had complaints from readers disappointed in the quality of their latest books. But the authors didn’t have any new releases and didn’t recognize the titles.

Some authors were able to get the books taken down. John Doppler of Alli advises them to use the words “misleading customer experience” when dealing with Amazon. If you’re trad-pubbed, your publisher should be able to deal with the scammers. If you’re indie, do contact Alli — The Alliance for Independent Authors — for further help.

As Jane said, “What’s frightening is that this can happen to anyone with a name that has reputation, status, demand that someone sees a way to profit off of.”

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Authors are getting phone calls from charming people with Filipino accents who tell them Emmy-award winning actor Logan Crawford loves their book and wants to interview them — for the small fee of $1000+.

Logan Crawford is a real actor. But even when on strike, I doubt anybody could read as many books as this man has supposedly read.

He apparently does interview authors, and his interviews appear on some free streaming services like Roku TV. But this is not like being on NPR, network TV or the big streamers. The interview isn’t likely to be seen by 1000 people who read books, much less generate the money to cover the cost of the interview.

Actors are on strike because they are so wretchedly underpaid in the days of streaming. So I don’t blame Mr. Crawford for accepting a job to pay a few bills. But I’ll bet he doesn’t get much of the money generated by this outfit.

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Another gang are impersonating high-profile agents and editors in order to hook victims into another “republishing” scam. They have even impersonated author and industry watchdog Victoria Strauss of Writer Beware, portraying her as a literary agent and publisher (which she’s not) who’s dying to republish your failed self-published book. And please send lots of cash.

These scammers use a real agent’s name and a photo or logo stolen from the real agency’s website. Then they contact indie authors of moribund books in order to con them out of 1000s of dollars.

This is a version of a writing scam that’s been around for a few years. They con writers with the myth that republishing a failed title will magically get it into the Big 5 publishing companies. But now they’re stealing the names of well-known editors and agents to do it.

And, as I have said before, “republishing” isn’t a thing. That’s not how the publishing industry works. Nobody in the Big 5 is interested in a book that has failed to sell. If a book never sold and never got good reviews, write another book. That one’s dead. You can unpublish it and give it a new title and an extensive rewrite, or you can let it rest in peace.

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Back in the early 2000s, there were a lot of fake literary agencies who made their money by charging writers fees for “reading” and “copying and mailing.” They also got kickbacks from substandard editing services where they referred their “clients.”

These faded in the digital age, when copying and mailing went the way of the Blockbuster store.

But there’s a new kind of fake literary agency afoot, jumping on the republishing train. Like the agent-impersonators, they don’t wait for a slush pile to come to them. Instead, they troll Amazon for low-selling indie books.

They contact the authors, saying they have an editor or Hollywood producer champing at the bit to acquire their deathless prose.

Once authors are hooked, they’re asked to jump through one hoop after another. Each one requires a payment of several thousand dollars. First, there’s editing, which will be provided by their own scammy partner — just like the old days.

But then you’ll need “book insurance,” a “foreign market license,” “advertising fees” and as many other bogus fees as their rich imaginations can come up with.

Link to the rest at Anne R. Allen’s Blog… with Ruth Harris