Victoria Strauss: Dealing with Scammers

You all know, of course, that Victoria Strauss is the power behind Writer Beware.

And you also know that Writer Beware is your first and best asset in checking publisher legitimacy. “Goodnovel Writer Beware” brings up this post, for example, which tells you a lot about what good contracts look like by way of contrast with this utterly terrible contract.


 – The grant of rights is really sweeping (see the Licensed Rights Terms clause). Not only does it include pretty much all subsidiary rights in the work, including film, TV and games, but any “prequel, sequel, special edition, continuation, series, or the like” that the writer may produce. 

In other words, writers aren’t just signing up for one work, but for any other works related to it. 

– The rights grab extends not just to related works, but, potentially, to all future work.

Taken literally, which contracts generally are, this requires the writer to submit anything they ever write to GoodNovel, forever.


And so on.

So here’s a new post from Victoria Strauss: Coping With Scams: Suggestions for Changing Your Mindset

Mindset 5: Phone solicitors can be convinced to take no for an answer. This one is specific to the publishing/marketing/fake literary agency scammers that are especially aggressive phone callers. I often hear from authors who are at their wits’ end thanks to constant repeat calls from scammers they’ve tried over and over to refuse.

Strauss’ advice: Say no, do not explain, do not offer reasons, say no and hang up. Do that as often as necessary until the scammer finally, finally gives up. She doesn’t offer a statistical analysis of whether you can get a scammer to shut up and leave you alone faster by saying No in a much, much more emphatic way, but personally, that’s what I would try. After the third time, I wouldn’t be saying No and hanging up, I would be saying


Or something along, you know, those general lines.

Strauss adds,

It’s not just a matter of avoiding annoying calls, either. Scammers sometimes resort to threats and insults upon being told no.

To me, this would not be a problem. A scammer in Philippines or wherever (apparently a lot of these particular scams are from the Philippines) is not going to be able to follow through with a threat. Who cares what they say?

Anyway, as always, if you’re not sure you’re looking at a legitimate publisher, check with Writer Beware, and if someone contacts you out of the blue and offers their services for money in advance, back away slowly.

Update: If you’re wondering about a specific publisher or agent, don’t email me about that publisher or agent. I don’t know. Click through to Writer Beware using the link at the top of this post and email Victoria Strauss.

However, if someone contacts you and asks you to pay them and then they will represent you, yes, that is a scammer. No legitimate agent does that, ever.

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