Tuesday, February 11, 2020

Writer Beware! plus, if this happens to you, what to do

I was HORRIFIED to read that Jennifer Jackson's name and reputation have been used by filthy scammers to promote themselves.

Details here on the Writer Beware blog.

All of us are vulnerable to this kind of thing.
You, getting the email.
Agents, being used as cover.

So, what to do.

First, it's true that, while rare, agents do reach out to authors if they've seen something they like. It happens more often with agents who are building a list, but experienced agents do it as well. Nat Sobel often found writers by reaching out to short story writers. (I remain insanely envious of the talent he scooped up this way.)

So, if you hear from an agent, do not just assume it's a hoax.

How to investigate?
See if the email address matches for starters.

My email address has my name and no  one else's.
The email address I use matches the one on my website, and on Publishers Marketplace.

Use the email on the agent's website to follow up on these kinds of pitches.

You can always Tweet to the agent as well: Hi Janet, I got an email offering marketing plans that says it's from you. Is it?

After I extinguish the blaze on top of my head, I'll let you know it isn't.

Trust your instincts. If you read this blog you know a lot about publishing by now, and you know when something looks off.


E.M. Goldsmith said...

This sort of stuff is most annoying. There are quite enough land mines to navigate in publishing without the scammers. Writer Beware is a good site to make writers aware of the most recent insidious plots to take advantage to our oft desperate state.

Kitty said...

Be very careful because scammers have become very talented at spoofing. I received what appeared to be an email from Amazon warning me that my Apple products and my cloud account had been hacked. The thing is, I don't own any Apple products and I don't have a cloud account. So I did a bit of checking and discovered the email address and the phone number were the correct ones listed on Amazon. So I contacted Amazon directly. They told me it was a scam. I googled and discovered lots of people had received the same email.

Irene Troy said...

I belong to an online writer's workshop. It's a rare week that someone doesn't come to the general forum to ask about some new wonderful "how to get published" opportunity. Too many people, particularly those new to serious writing, fall victim to these scammers because they are so desperate to be published. Some victims reject any attempt to steer them away from scammers maintaining that they've heard of someone, somewhere, who used the service and achieved great success. Sadly, it often turns out the "success story" was created by the scammer. It's vital to educate yourself about the publishing process before soliciting help from any supposed "professional." Certainly before sending any money to someone claiming to work on your behalf.

roadkills-r-us said...

WRT Kitty’s experience, many scams display a legitimate email but if you click on it, a different email is used.

Elissa M said...

It never hurts to contact the supposed sender directly, using contact info garnered from other sources (such as an agency web site). If the original contact was legit, the sender will happily reassure you. And if it's a scam, the real person would be grateful for the heads-up that someone is using their name to scam people.

Jennifer R. Donohue said...

I mean...if you want to pick up a short story writer who also has at least one novel ready to rock (well ready enough to send to agents) *clears throat*


I love Writer Beware and am very thankful for the work that they do. Sometimes, for a writer, the whole unwieldy publishing machine seems weight not-in-the-writer's-favor, and if a break like being solicited rather than having to query comes along, that dopamine spike probably overrides a whole lot of reason. Which is, of course, what a scammer relies on. Don't look too close! Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain!

I read a couple of books by Kevin Mitnick a few years back; at one time he was the FBI's Most Wanted hacker, and now he work in security, teaching people to avoid the strategies that were so successful for him. Because it wasn't necessarily tech know-how that made him so successful, but rather social engineering, which is a fascinating topic (and a super successful tool in getting people to do what you want.)

AJ Blythe said...

It's like a game of snakes and ladders. You climb each rung of that ladder to your dream of publication, all the while trying to avoid the snakes.

Emma said...

Totally late to the game here, but I had the opposite experience once. One of my short stories was published in an anthology, and, unbeknownst to me, the publisher submitted the story for an award.

I won, along with a few other writers, and got an email asking for my social security number so I could get my award money. Can you imagine my response? I immediately forwarded the email to my editor with a big, giant important flag on it telling her that a scammer was targeting the anthology writers.

She said, wait a minute. That's a real thing.

So there you go.