Literary Scams: Writers Watch Out!

Credit card scams, lottery scams, internet scams, investment scams, domain name registration scams, and adding to this quite endless list of scams are even literary scams. It seems that scammers spare no one. Not even writers.

Literary scams include everything from scammers persuading potential writers to purchase pointless services to surrendering their legal rights by providing false information and promises of publication.

Victims of Literary Scams

The victims of literary scams are often new writers' eager to enter the publishing world with little or no idea about how the publishing industry works. New writers should be aware that publishing requires a lot of research from writing a good proposal to finding out what a publisher or agent is looking for. Also susceptible to these literary scams are writers who have been submitting their works for years with no or little success.

How to Avoid Literary Scams

Writers can avoid scams in the literary world by simply being aware of the tell-tale signs of the scams. These signs include:

  • Recommendations of all and any sorts: A red flag should be go up if you send your work to an agency or small publisher and receive a reply praising your work and recommending you to pay a certain agency to "fix-up" your work before publishing.
  • Requests for a fee: Any agency requesting a fee—a reading, marketing, or contract fee—upfront, is only interested in your money and not your work.
  • "Co-publishing" or "Joint venture": Beware of publishers asking you to share the risks and rewards of publishing and/or publishers willing to publish anything backed by a cheque for a huge sum of money.
  • "Purchase this and you're in": Be cautious of literary agents asking you to pay to receive a copy of the book that features your writing.
  • "We're looking for writers…":Regard these advertisements from literary agents with skepticism. Successful literary agents never have to ask for submissions.

Along with these signs writers and poets should also keep in mind that if something sounds to good to be true, than it probably is.

Legitimate Publishers and Literary Agents:

Do and Don't

  • Real publishers don't tell writers to pay for services to polish their work before publication.
  • Good literary agents don't charge fees upfront.
  • Real publishers pay writers and poets for their work. Or at the very least give writers and poets a free copy of their published work.
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