Preditors and Editors
A guide to publishers and publishing services for serious writers since 1997.
Some General Rules for Spotting a Scam Publisher
- Openly advertises for writers in print or online publications or both.
- The publisher claims that it's seeking to publish first-time authors.
- Openly claims that it's not a vanity or subsidy publisher.
- Claims that it has a new business model that will bring success, but never explains why successful publishers aren't utilizing it.
- Claims that the established publishers and published writers are trying to block new writers from being published..
- The publisher gives no or very low advances for books it buys. When it claims to have given higher advances, it never reveals the names of the authors who received those higher advances so the publisher's claim can be verified.
- The publisher's books are rarely in any bookstores, particularly the large chain stores that carry books from just about all reputable commercial publishers.
- The publisher's books have never been seen on a bestseller list published by a reputable source such as the New York Times, especially when said publisher claims to be large.
- The publisher's books rarely sell more than 5,000 books to readers in individual purchases and more often fail to reach that number with most of their books in the double-digits or low triple digits in sales.
- The publisher refuses to release even approximate sales figures for its own bestsellers.
- When confronted with very low or non-existent sales, the publisher refuses to release the book from contract.
- Books it claims to have published were actually published by another publisher, now defunct, that used the same business name.
- Its contracts contain provisions that prohibit complaints by its authors about its service and product.
- Postings in online forums never seem to include anyone who was rejected.
- Online forum criticism is frequently immediately responded to by a defender of that publisher.
- Acceptances usually take place in less than a month. Even less than a week is not unusual.
- Acceptance letters tend to be identical when compared with what other authors received.
- Contract provisions are specific as to how termination can be invoked, but the publisher disdains using anything other than some other method of communication.
- Communications from the publisher are frequently unsigned by any individual using a department address so that no one can be pinned down as responsible for any comments made to the author.
- The publisher never gives a direct answer to any direct questions. Instead, the publisher points to others who are satisfied with policy, procedures, contract, or sales as proof that everything is fine.
- The publisher has a no return policy on its products.
- The publisher regularly offers special discounts to its authors so they can self-purchase their own books in bulk quantities to resell but fails to offer regular discounts to the buying public.
- The publisher threatens to blacklist its authors within the industry should they mention leaving.
- The publisher points out to authors that it's a member of its local BBB. (The BBB is for consumers. Authors are considered businesses.)
- The publisher doesn't offer its own editing services.
- The publisher states the author doesn't have to buy books and sell them, but with their business model it's more profitable for the author to do so.
- The publisher places its writers' books on self-publishing sites though the publisher claimed it offered a "traditional" contract.
- The publishers claims to be a traditional publisher but your ISBN won't be registered until you've sold some quantity of books.
Some General Rules for Spotting a Scam Literary Agency
- Openly advertises for writers in print or online publications or both.
- The agency claims that it's open or seeking first-time authors for representation.
- Claims that it has new methodology for gaining access or acceptance with book publishers, but never explains why successful agencies aren't utilizing it.
- Does not list any sales or refuses to divulge the titles of sales for confidentiality reasons.
- Claims it performs reading and gives recommendations to agencies but does not list any sales or refuses to divulge the agency names for confidentiality reasons.
- The only sales it lists are for vanity or subsidy publishers or the sales it lists were made by the author before the author signed with the agent, often years before representation.
- Sales it claims to have made cannot be found listed in any reference lists of books that were printed by the supposed publisher.
- Sales it made were mostly to a publishing house wholly or partially owned by the agency.
- Requires an upfront payment for administration or for a web display or for later postage and copying.
- Online forum postings never include anyone who was rejected.
- Online forum criticism is frequently responded to by a defender of that agency.
- Representation is usually granted in less than a month or even less than a week.
- Representation acceptances are usually worded identically.
- The agency name has changed, but the same personnel still work at the same address and there was no conflict with another agency with the same or a similar name and no merger to warrant a change.
- The agency never provides original comments from publishers that manuscripts were allegedly submitted to.
- The agency never provides original invoices or receipts for postage or copying expenses it claims were made on behalf of the author.
- The agency suggests that it will grant representation if the manuscript is first given professional editing. Frequently, it will suggest who should do the editing or offer to make its own in-house editing service available for a discount price.
- The agency threatens to blacklist its authors within the industry should they mention leaving.
- The agency points out to authors that it's a member of its local BBB. (The BBB is for consumers. Authors are considered businesses.)
P&E recommends that writers keep in mind that these rules are based upon the known behavior of scams, but that some legitimate businesses occasionally skirt on some of these rules in their own normal activities. Writers should keep in mind that most scams will follow or break more than a few of the rules we recommend for spotting them. Legitimate businesses rarely break more than two.
Warnings to Writers
Preditors & Editors is not stating that the following listed businesses or people should be avoided by writers. What we are stating is that complaints have been circulated about them. Therefore, you should use caution if dealing with any of the following. Follow the links for more information on what complaints exist. Not all warnings will have a link to what complaints exist because in some instances our sources do not want to be identified.
Most of our warnings have been moved to our regular listings so you won't have to check here to find out if anyone has a complaint lodged against them. This section will contain only those businesses for which we don't have a category established.
- Angelfire: this service provider has a provision in its service agreement that threatens copyrights.
- AOL: this service provider has placed a provision in its service agreement that threatens copyrights.
- Cyber Patrol: visit this link for more information.
- Cybersitter: visit this link for more information.
- Google: Check out 6 Sep 06 entry in Scrivener's Error to read how Google expects to take control of some works despite the fact that Google doesn't own the copyright.
- JC-Hosting: Strongly not recommended. Poor behavior toward writers. Contact at:TotalWeb International Net Consulting
4037 Navaho Trail
Nashville, TN 37211
- Prodigy: this network has blocked web sites more than once without giving the owners warning, notice, or an explanation.
- Tripod: this service provider has a provision in its service agreement that threatens copyrights.
- U.S. Consumer Protection Agency: this appears to be a sham since the US government doesn't license people for a fee to work for the real Consumer Protection Agency. Our heartfelt thanks to the FTC who pointed this site out to us since we had it listed for awhile as the real thing. Our apologies to anyone who went to this site seeking real assistance or information.
- XOOM: this service provider kicked off a publisher site based on unsubstantiated complaints and without any apparent investigation. Also, this service provider has a provision in its service agreement that threatens copyrights.
- Yahoo/GeoCities: this service provider has placed a provision in its service agreement that threatens copyrights.
Other Sites With Useful Warnings
- Absolute Write: Check the Bewares and Background Check forum. Highly recommended.
- Anti-Phishing Working Group: Well worth the visit. Recommended.
- C Sign Page, The: Rates businesses. 1/22/09: a writer reports encountering a virus on this site.
- Christianity for Thinkers: The Truth about PublishAmerica: A well-documented case history concerning vanity publisher PublishAmerica.
- CIAC Internet Hoaxes: List and explanations of recent Internet virus hoaxes. Link broken. Probably closed.
- Copyscape: Online copyright protection and detection. Recommended.
- Cruel Site of the Day: Need I say more?
- Crusader Rabbit's HP: More info on Woodside Literary Agency. Link reported broken.
- Ethical Spectacle, The: Tracks censorship and other injustices. Link reported broken.
- FictionAddiction.Net's Watchdog: Recommended. Provides excellent coverage of some publishers and agencies that writers should be aware of. 1/22/09: a writer reports the site is unresponsive to IE6.
- File Room Censorship Archive, The: Site interested in preserving the First Amendment. Link reported broken.
- FindLawNet: Features blogs, legal definitions, legal news, and more.
- First Amendment.Org: Site interested in preserving the First Amendment. Site URL reported now linking to XXX porn site.
- Free Expression Clearinghouse: Site interested in preserving the First Amendment.
- Freelance Writing on the Internet: a resource site worth visiting. Be sure to check out the info on agents. Link reported broken.
- Frequently Asked Questions About Edit Ink: here's a site to check before picking an agent or publisher. Link reported broken.
- Internet Fraud Complaint Center (IFCC): "a partnership between the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and the National White Collar Crime Center (NW3C).
IFCC's mission is to address fraud committed over the Internet. For victims of Internet fraud, IFCC provides a convenient and easy-to-use reporting mechanism that alerts authorities of a suspected criminal or civil violation. For law enforcement and regulatory agencies at all levels, IFCC offers a central repository for complaints related to Internet fraud, works to quantify fraud patterns, and provides timely statistical data of current fraud trends." Recommended. Link broken.
- Internet ScamBusters: Tracks scams. Offers free ezine.
- Jim Fisher: A site operated by a former FBI agent. Contains an informative section about writing scams.
- Karen's World: Rates businesses. 1/22/09: a writer reports encountering a virus.
- Literary Contest Caution: The truth about many of the poetry contests. Provided by Wind Magazine. Recommended.
- Literary Scams: Appears to be dead. Looks like a new site dedicated to tracking down scams for the benefit of writers.
- MIT Student Association for Freedom of Expression (SAFE) Home Page: informative site about net-blocking programs and threats to freedom of expression.
- National Consumers League: Consumer protection advocacy group.
- P E A C E F I R E: Informative site about net-blocking programs. 1/22/09: virus encountered by writer.
- PEAR Group - anti ebook piracy group: "The group's focus is to educate members and readers about ebook piracy and why it's wrong." PEAR stands for publishers, editors, authors, and readers against ebook piracy. 4/24/08: Site appears defunct.
- Plagiarism Watchfires: A site tracking plagiarists.
- Poetry Scams: Looks like some interesting statistics and decent advice here. Worth a visit. Link reported broken.
- PublishAmerica Sucks: "Knowledge is power -- PAS gives authors the information they need before making the decision to sign with PublishAmerica, while having a little fun in the process." Although this site provides warnings against only one publisher, it is one that has harmed many writers in our opinion. 8/14/06: the site appears to be defunct now.
- Publishing Scams: Features lots of input from writers. Highly recommended.
- The Renaissance Papers / A.L. Sirois: Worth a look.
- Rip-off Report™: "ALL complaints remain public in order to create a working history on the Company or Individual in question; unedited." Recommended.
- RRP Implosion:
An authors group providing support to other authors of Red Rose Publishing.
- Scab Busters: Defunct. A site that purports to target watchdog sites. P&E wishes them well, but we believe they're in over their heads based on the fact that the site operator routinely deletes posts expressing views contrary to the site's conclusion.
- Short Order, The: this writers' magazine has a scam alert column.
- SongShark: A must visit site for musicians and lyricists that warns of various music scams. Link reported broken.
- Speculations.com Rumormill: Look in the Caveat Scrivener section. Highly recommended.
- Tony Pittarese's Business Sense: rates businesses. Link reported broken.
- Write Connection: check this site for great information about agents. Editor's note: regrettably, this site has closed shop.
- Writer Beware: Features excellent advice. Highly recommended.
- Writers Net: Besides the Discussion forum, check their main page for a listing of topics. Highly recommended.
- WritersWeekly Whispers and
Warnings: Well worth the visit. Highly recommended.
- Yahoo's Censorship Site: worth visiting.