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Author Topic: How to spot a scam  (Read 42011 times)
DaveKuzminski
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« Reply #15 on: November 30, 2007, 09:24:27 PM »

In addition to what was stated above about contests, writers should read carefully the rules. In many, there are sometimes allusions that aren't what writers expect. One contest not too long ago promised publication with a major publishing company. When the announcement was made, turned out that publication would actually be by a small publisher with several conflicts of interest. In fact, it was the publisher conducting the contest, so that right there was at the very least a misstatement of facts and a conflict in addition to an entry fee. Another conflict was that there was a financial relationship between the winner and the judges.

So always look for statements of fact that can be verified. If publication by a major publisher is promised, the major publisher should be named. The judges should be named ahead of time and individuals who have dealt financially with the judges concerning literary work for editing, reviews, or other services should be ineligible.
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DaveKuzminski
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« Reply #16 on: December 03, 2007, 06:20:33 PM »

As always, your spidey sense should go off whenever you see an ad for a publisher or literary agency. Almost always, they have a fee hidden in their services. And it doesn't matter if you see the ad in a publication you trust such as Writers Digest (WD). Many writers trust it, but the ads are not backed by WD. Those ads pay the bills beyond what WD brings in from counter sales and subscriptions. In fact, if you read enough of their articles, which are generally good, you'll quickly discover that they're telling you what the red flags are that you should watch out for in order to avoid becoming the victim of a scam.

So, ads on Google pages are paid for by the business hoping to rope more writers in. Ads on the margins of various sites are again paid for by those businesses. Ads in Writers Digest are intended to rope in the newbies who were smart enough to get hold of a publication telling the ins and outs of publishing.

So, what about the others that advertise, such as editing services and promotion businesses? Again, look for the red flags. Do they point to any published books that they claim they edited or promoted? Can you contact the author to obtain verification? Or has some trustworthy source verified that already? If their efforts can't be verified, then those red flags should be waving you off.

Remember, never trust any ads without verification of their claims. Regardless of what they're selling. And remember that the majority can't provide any verification. So keep your running shoes on when you view those ads so you can vacate the premises promptly.
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DaveKuzminski
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« Reply #17 on: December 30, 2007, 10:09:57 PM »

Another flag to watch out for is overly busy sites with lots of whole pages and articles from recent postings on other sites. Besides making certain that the postings are attributed, there should be a statement to the effect that the posting was copied with permission. After all, if the site doesn't abide by copyright restrictions for property belonging to others, particularly professionals and businesses, then how can you be certain that anything you write and share with them will be respected? When in doubt, visit the site where you know the material came from and ask if it was copied and posted with permission. Also, make certain that it's no longer protected by copyright if it's the whole work. Written work from the 19th Century and before is almost certain to be in public domain. Work written after approximately 1923 should be researched carefully. It could still be copyright protected.

HOWEVER, keep in mind that excerpts are different. Small quotes can be copied particularly when it's for fair use purposes. You can determine fair use by looking at how the quote was used. Was it to show how to critique work, educate writers, or show an example of something? If so, then it's probably fair use.
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DaveKuzminski
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« Reply #18 on: March 21, 2008, 12:56:22 PM »

"On Thursday, March 20th, 2008 Irene Watson and Victor R. Volkman spoke with  Dave Kuzminski, creator and manager of Predators [sic] and Editors, the infamous website where scammers and companies with a record of complaints are recorded. Dave helped us distinguish the dark side of book promotion, agents, and publishing by covering such thorny topics as: the difference between a bad business deal and a scam, the evolution of a scam and what types of people are running them, how to avoid a scam, and what to do if you think you’ve been had."

Listen to the f-ree podcast at http://authorsaccess.com/archives/100
RSS podcast feed: http://authorsaccess.com/feed

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DaveKuzminski
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« Reply #19 on: June 17, 2008, 07:17:44 PM »

More and more vanity and self-publishing companies are using trade imprints to lure writers to their sites with the writers hoping that their work will be wanted in the trade imprint at no cost to them. However (and you knew this was coming), the vanity and self-publishing companies are using this as a form of bait and switch. Sure, they might even actually print one or more books with their trade imprint as an investment to give it credibility, but the odds are those have already been published. Odds are they don't really care if their investment books were carried by any brick and mortar bookstores because they've accomplished their goal. They've got a Judas goat to lead other writers into their den. Once the writer is led in, they read over the manuscript, then state it's just not quite good enough for their trade imprint. But it's a good manuscript and they think it could do well as a self-published or vanity published book. At that point, the writer has heard "IT'S A GOOD BOOK." They said so. Not great, but good, so why not invest in the book just to show them that it can sell and make back the money? After all, they said it's good and they're publishers who are careful about what they invest in publishing.

It's faulty logic, but it works because it ignores reality by not mentioning details like distribution, marketing, promotion, and sales to retailers. So please don't fall for this. Don't let your friends be taken, either. Point out that if it's not good enough for trade publishing (which means no investment of money, whatsoever, by the author), then maybe the manuscript needs more polishing and craft before it's truly ready or the niche it falls into simply isn't large enough to produce the profits needed to justify publication.
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Nina Kaytel
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« Reply #20 on: June 17, 2008, 07:49:40 PM »

Excuse me for being dumb - vanity publishing??
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DaveKuzminski
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« Reply #21 on: June 18, 2008, 06:13:55 PM »

Vanity publishing is where authors pay a company to publish their books. These companies have been in existence for decades, so they're not anything new that came along with the Internet. Only the number of them expanded with the availability of the Internet. One of the more well known vanity publishers is Vantage. Besides being known as vanity publishers, they're also called co-op and subsidy publishers.

What happens is most writers get desperate when they're turned down by trade publishers who pay the writers to publish their works. Those desperate writers turn to vanity publishers so they can get their work published in the mistaken belief that they can get their book distributed and into book stores once it's published because then it will be equal to other books. Stores know the difference because they know that vanity publishers do not select manuscripts on what they believe will sell in the marketplace. Vanity publishers select manuscripts based only on whether the author is willing to pay them.

And for the uninitiated, PublishAmerica is a hybrid vanity publisher. Their management has admitted in legal arbitration testimony that PublishAmerica's market target is their own authors. Also, their management stated in an interview with The Washington Post that they call PublishAmerica a "traditional" publisher in order to set it apart from vanity publishers. (In the publishing industry, traditional is not considered a proper term for describing publishers. The terms used to describe publishers are trade or commercial, university press, vanity, and self-published.) PublishAmerica is considered a hybrid vanity publisher because it gets money from its authors by inflating the cost of the books it publishes and placing obstacles between their books and retailers so that the authors find themselves forced to intercede on behalf of their books by purchasing them in bulk to keep their work from dying without finding an audience. Because the price is hidden in the cost of the books, many new writers fail to recognize PublishAmerica for what it truly is. In other words, they're still paying but it's after the fact.
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sarahjen
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« Reply #22 on: June 19, 2008, 11:06:23 PM »

Dave, thanks for looking after us! You're the best!
Sarah
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InBetween
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« Reply #23 on: January 29, 2010, 07:47:45 PM »

Hi,

Thanks a lot for your advice! Very helpful!

I would like to ask you a question about a specific contest.
Actually, I have a few concerns about ABNA (Amazon's Breakthrough Novel Award).

First, they ask to register with CreateSpece.com, a site mostly focused on self-publishing. Next, they ask for a 300 words pitch, 3000  to 5000 words sample, and at the end for the full manuscript!

Actually, what worries me is this last step, but also the "self-publishing" aspect of the site. Considering the high number of entries, I don't think it is realistic to expect the judges to read the full manuscripts. So why do they need to have the novel in full? Plus, they mention that the first round elimination is solely based on the 300 words pitches.   
I've spent 3 years working on my first novel, and I've already been looking for a literary agent. My work is copyrighted but still, I have my doubts!
I wonder whether I should participate in the contest or not.

Any idea?
I would truly appreciate any thought about it.
Thanks!
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Magic_Seeker
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« Reply #24 on: January 29, 2010, 11:26:27 PM »

Hmmm.  I have similar concerns.  I've 95% decided against entering.

Here is the site:  http://www.amazon.com/b?node=332264011

Does anyone else have an opinion?
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