Writer Beware

I don’t usually glance in at Writer Beware unless I’m suggesting that someone else do so because they’re contemplating signing a contract with a predatory platform such as Goodnovel.

However, every now and then when I suggest that someone read the Writer Beware post about Goodnovel’s contracts, I take a moment to see what else Writer Beware is discussing. Here is the summary post for 2023.

Starting around 2018, a new wave of scams arrived from overseas, primarily targeting self-publishers. These have become so numerous, and so brazen, that they now pose one of the top dangers writers are likely to encounter–especially writers who’ve self-published.

Goodnovel is probably one of those. It’s based in Singapore. I really do not see how a scam company in Singapore can enforce an obviously predatory contract for some naive would-be author in the US, but I sure wouldn’t suggest that anybody try signing with Goodnovel to see how easy breaking the contract might turn out to be, because seriously, it’s a doozy of a contract. You could potentially be signing away all your rights to everything you write in your life, ever.

Here’s the one I think might be most dangerous for naive authors who want to self-publish:

How Scammers Are Using Amazon and Amazon Trademarks to Rip Writers Off. A subset of the ghostwriting scams that I exposed last year, these scams use the Amazon name and Amazon trademarks to try and fool writers into believing they’re working with the real Amazon (which is currently suing a number of them).

If you really don’t know what KDP’s website looks like, then the more persuasive of these could be bad news. I’m glad Amazon is trying to destroy some of these scammers. Oh, by the way, I hear a LOT of Amazon gift cards are fake and you need to be very careful with those unless you bought them yourself directly from Amazon. Even the ones you may see in a store could be fake. People are having their Amazon accounts suspended or banned because they bought or were given a fake gift card, or so I hear.

The most common and basically harmless scam offers I get personally are useless promo services offering to promote a book of mine with their newsletter or with Twitter posts or something. The reason these are basically harmless is that they are cheap. They may be useless, but they are charging five bucks, maybe fifteen, which puts them in a different category than the scammers who try to get naive authors to drop a couple thousands dollars, like here:

Scam Alert: Scammers Impersonating the Strand Bookstore. Reported to me by Strand staff, this scam uses staffers’ names, as well as the name and images of the store, to pitch an AMAZING offer: the Strand wants to order a ton of books to stock on its shelves! All you have to do is pay four figures for shipping and handling!

I have also had offers to write book reviews and post them on personal book review blogs for a small fee. The one that was most creatively dishonest engorged its comment threads under each review with a whole bunch of comments that could have been real people having a conversation with the author of the blog posts, except they would produce fifty very short comments each and create this absolutely massive number of comments. This made the blog look popular and the book reviews look like they were getting a large amount of interest.

Tips for 2024: Don’t buy any bridges, don’t buy your grandson a Walmart gift card so he can somehow use it to pay a fine, don’t send money to an orthopedic surgeon in Yeman who tells you that you have beautiful eyes, and be sure when you look at the KDP website, it really is the KDP website.

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