Scams and other crimes related to the book world is nothing new. Unfortunately, scams are so common that websites such as Writer Beware and Preditors &Editors have been around for some time. If you’re new to the writing business, you might not know about them, so I thought I’d provide a little more info.
First, however, is news from cbs/Pittsburgh, warning people about a thief who’s been stealing hundreds of bestselling novels from libraries and selling them online. It seems he knows how to bypass security systems. The police have a pretty good idea who he is, and the sooner he’s caught the better. One library alone has lost $6,000 worth of books. I imagine that insurance coverage will only go so far.
As far as scams go, I came across an interesting piece by author and designer Dave Bricker who was contacted by someone eager to hire him as an editor. After taking a look at the document, which had plenty of errors, Dave told the client that it would take a lot of work and be expensive. The client was not deterred. He wanted the edited document in thirty days and mailed a check. He then wrote to say that he’d made a mistake on the check and had written too high an amount. Could Dave please deduct his payment and mail him a check for the balance? And that, folks, is the scam, one already filled with red flags, which you can read about in Dave’s blog. This type of thing has been happening to other businesses and now the crooks are trying it out on editors. Let’s hope most of them are too smart to fall for this crap.
Now, for the resources. One of the most popular is Preditors & Editors. Founded in 1997, this Colorado-based non-profit organization is basically an information resource for writers, composers, artists, and game designers. It also contains a page of warnings about scams and unethical practices from editors, publishers, and agents. Their warnings page lists links to other resources that caution people about unethical publishers, agents, or editors.
Another good resource is Writer Beware, and I’ve added the link to their “About Us” page. As stated on their page, the site is devoted to warning writers about scams, schemes and pitfalls. It’s sponsored by the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America and also supported by the mystery and horror writers organizations. It provides not only warnings, but helps aspiring writers avoid the pitfalls that are out there.
Be mindful that the sites aren’t perfect. Although they try to do their due diligence before posting a warning, sometimes errors are made. If you hear something negative, remember that it’s always a good idea to dig a little deeper.