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Scam Publishers…Beware, by Victoria Strauss (Writers Beware)

Posted by Victoria Strauss for Writer Beware®

I’ve been expending a lot of words and time lately warning about the latest scam phenomenon to hit the writing world: fake publishing and marketing companies that, through outrageous prices and worthless services, extract enormous amounts of money from unwary writers.

Based in the Philippines (despite their apparent US addresses, phone numbers, and telemarketer names) and focusing primarily on small press and self-published authors (particularly authors who’ve published with one of the Author Solutions imprints), these companies recruit writers with relentless–and highly deceptive–phone and email solicitations. Some do provide the services authors pay for, albeit at seriously inflated prices and often of poor quality. Others just take the money and run. I’m hearing from a growing number of writers who’ve paid five figures in fees to one–or, in some cases, more than one–of these scams, with next to nothing to show for it.

Given how fast the scams are proliferating (I learn about a new one every few weeks), I thought it would be helpful to gather all the information I’ve put together about them in one place.

I’m continuously updating this list–adding new companies as I discover them, deleting the ones that disappear.)

MORE DETAILS HERE

44 comments

  1. My first book was published in print by Authors Solutions. When I querried the price they were going to charge, I said it was far to high. The saleslady said, no problem, You can change this. However, once I had sgned up, I was told I could not adjust the price. Therefre, take care and find out exactly what you are agreeing to before you sign a contract.

    1. Totally agree. With my company I do Author Assist and Invoices go out after FINAL approval of work. This means you as the client get to see the work prior to paying. People say I should do a deposit, though so far I haven’t. I’ve also never hand anyone refuse to pay for work done. Though this would be mentioned in a contract.

      1. Rushmore Press has been the best publishing company I’ve been with. They’ve fulfilled everything they said they would do. And I’m doing 100x better than I was compared to the previous publishing companies I’ve been with.

    2. Dear Sir/ Madam.
      Thanks for the info, however, after receiving mountains of solicitations, I now have a new one… Please advise? Radio interview, invitation with America Tonight? Ella Jones, from Booktrail Agency, claiming, Kate Delaney, Emmy award, winning journalist, hosts, of The Kate Delaney Show and Forbes Book Radio, wants to interview me? The email claims, they received a press release, about my novel, ‘Kututu’. However, as far, as I’m aware, the last and only, press releases, on my novel, were, 2014…? Yes, I would be lovely, to promote my book on American radio, Ha ha… but why would, they solicit, an Australian author, out of the blue? If not a scam?
      kindest regards
      Olivia Osborn

      1. You may like to get in touch with Writers Beware, which is where this article was shared from. I have no idea about radio interviews. I hope they may be able to assist you with this.

      2. Hi Olivia and all,
        I’ve just received a phone call from the very same people with the same details – Kate Delaney US radio show, America Tonight interview etc. – about books written by my (sadly deceased) Dad from a few years ago. Sounded wonderful until I was asked for the $1000 payment required for airtime, segment and sound engineer.

        Thinking about the boxes of unsold self-published books in the garage and trying to promote them in the USA seemed a logistical nightmare even if the phone call and radio interview was legit. Probably one to avoid!

        Kindest regards
        Caroline Evans

      3. @CAROLINE EVANS It’s almost always a scam if they ask for any kind of payment upfront, especially via phone call. It’s better to just block the number and maybe report them to authority. It will be good to share what number they were using when they called you, maybe to phone number directory websites like http://phonebook.ai, so that more people will be aware of these scammers.

    3. Why would you pay to publish a book? None of the authors in the bookstores had to pay to publish their books!
      Either, A) keep the faith and keep trying to go traditional; B) use Amazon KDP free self publishing services; or, C) get ripped off!

  2. I’m reporting a fraudulent company called “Bright Lights Distribution LLC” that is cold calling authors, collecting financial information over the phone and the non-delivery of goods or services that have been paid for.

    Their website: https://brightlightsdistribution.us/

    They are based in CEBU CITY, PHILLIPINES disguised as an American marketing firm located in 16 Boxwood Lane Hicksville NY 11801 and 9422 Phillip Avenue Norfolk VA 23503.

    They are “highly trained scammers” and are led by the owner Raphael “Ralph” Mariño and goes by the phone name: “Darren Matthews” and is usually the one you get to talk with when you give out your credit card information. He also uses another phone name: “Zack Daley” when calling VIP LEADS to make a sale of his own.

    I hope that this can help you and many more others that may fall victim to these scammers.

  3. I was scamed by author house. they have kept all my roalities. I would like to get from under them but don’t know who to get to help.

    1. Hugs. I’m sorry this happened to you. First of all if you signed a contract with them, there is a get out clause…It’s usually something like 90 days. I suggest you read the paperwork. Once you find it, send them notice to end the contract and they should give you all your rights back. I’ve no idea about your royalties, it depends on your deal and how many books they’ve sold on your behalf. Once you have your rights back again depending on your contract, they will have to take your books down from any sales site they used. You can then self-publish. If you wish to know how, Give me a yell when you are ready. You will need to learn how to do things yourself or pay people for things like Editing, Book Covers and Formatting (Interior Design). Traditional Publishing is a bit different and a bit harder.

      Good Luck

      Claire x

  4. Reblogged this on Jeanne Owens, author and commented:
    I got a call and email the other day from Editors Press and Media, claiming they’d been contacted by HarperCollins because they were interested in one of my books. It all sounded suspicious to me, because I’d never heard of Editors Press and Media and it seemed funny that HarperCollins would contact them instead of me or the company that published my book (or that they’d solicit authors at all). So I did some searching and came upon this post that confirmed my suspicions that it was a scam. Be careful, everyone!

  5. I trusted LIfeRich Publishing to the tune of $4,000! They printed the copies I contracted for and sent them to me as promised. I bought an ebook copy and found they had left out complete sections of the manuscript! Their marketing of my 800 page, 420,000 word book was shadowy at best. It’s been 6 months since I released for publishing, and I have yet to see a royalty check, although I know people who have bought my book on Amazon. I ended my relationship with them and will never trust another publisher with my hard work.

    1. Glad it helped. I see too much Vanity Press still and it saddens me when people get caught out. If you look at the things we pay for in life, we always pay after the work is done, not before…so why change for a so called publisher?

      I have a few other blogs you may be interested in, though they were aimed at FIVERR Business there are some great ones there if you do your research. Each post gives ideas and questions to ask.

      Meanwhile, good luck.

      1. Westpoint Print and Media ate added to the growing number of parasites leeches low.life criminals. They ate good. I paid a massive amount for a package. They deliveted most of it and the work was O.K.

        Two years on. Mt first royalty payment was due. Westpoint made a song and dance about Ingram not forwarding the payment to.me. Finally they told me that Ingram sent the royalty cheque to them. It took approximately 3 months for them to deposit the money into my account. Six months on and the website dissappeares. I emailed and emailed them for two months, no response.

        I contacted Ingram to find out about how royalty payments are distributed. .I was told that Westpoint hold the account and that Ingram send the money to them. It’s up to Westpoint to pay it to the authors.

        It’s blatantly obvious they have no intention of paying my royalties to me.

        This also puts Ingram in a bad light. You could say they are assisting Westpoint in the theft of royalty payments.

        Please don’t sign up with Westpoint Media and Print

  6. Thanks for all of the intriguing revelations about these professional thieves. Can they be prosecuted for internet fraud?

  7. Thank you for this! I was just called by Page Turner Press and Media. They offered me all kinds of unrealistic things, trying to win me over with “movie deals” and “deals with traditional publishers.” Long story short, I called them out on their BS and he ended up saying, “I don’t want to do business with know-it-all clients anyway!” Then I hung up. LOL. I felt a little guilty about being sassy until I found them on this list. THANK YOU!

  8. I have been battling URLink Publishing over the book company’s exploitation of my very disabled, elderly mother who is an amateur poet. They call my mother at the crack of dawn when she is asleep. My mother’s caretakers have told them for nearly a year not to call at this hour because she is sick. URLink Publishing has swindled thousands upon thousands of dollars from my mother’s retirement account.

    I became suspicious when I was helping my mother pay her bills and found that in December 2020 alone, URLink had taken nearly one thousand dollars from her account. When I asked the “company” for an invoice, they said $600.00 was for a prize submission. I am actually a professor of literature and know that reputable, honest presses do not charge for prize submission. When I looked up the prize that they claim they needed $600.00 to submit her book, I found that the registration fee for the prize is only $100. They pocketed $500.00 for something that anyone can do for free. When I asked them for a refund based on astronomical, unethical charges, they said “no” because professional services had been “availed.”

    This first encounter lead me to find lie upon lie piled up: fake names, huge withdrawals, extensive coercion of my mother by individuals with fake names like “Jordan Baxter,” “Bella Dy,” and “John Keith.” The phone numbers on their own emails and webpage do not work.

    But the only wish of my poor mother who is terribly sick and in late stages of a disease is to have her poetry published. But this company is not to be trusted. And they have depleted significant sums from her retirement account that is vitally needed for her in-home care. I told them this fact and they were indifferent. They took the money (illegally) and ran.

    I have contacted the Better Business Bureau. I will also contact the FBI and federal consumer protection agency. If other people have been damaged to the extent that our family has, then please let me know if you are interested in a class action lawsuit.

  9. My name is Matthew Mayfield. I write as the CheezeBoy. I’m a 1st time author. I paid AuthorHouse UK about £10,000 to get 3 books published in 2020. I’ve never received any royalties and I think I got interviewed by Kate Delaney in the summer of 2021 on zoom. I cancelled 1 book with them. They’ve overpriced my book out of the market. They also only offered me 10-20% of what my book makes. Kate Delaney told me that after she found out. They still owe me thousands of pounds. They only contact me when they want more money. I tried to take my own life because of them. I’m a single dad on a very low income in a full-time job. I live just above the poverty line. They’ve not spoken to me since I made my final payment (that was in early 2021). I paid for 1 of my books to be republished with BookTrail agency. They told me I should get royalties in January 2022, but I’m still waiting. They contacted me today wanted another £550 (already paid them £2000). It’s completely ruined me financially and emotionally. I’m seriously considering suicide again. It’s destroyed me as an Author. I wish I’d never got published and just kept my writing as a hobby. I stopped writing because of this. I was writing my 20th book too, but I’m done with writing. My daughter’s the reason I’m still alive.

    1. I’m sorry to hear what they gave done to you. Don’t stop writing and self publish. I’ve been turned over by Xlibris. I had to make many amendments to my edited book. They published the unamended version. Booktrail have the publishing agreement now. I’ve been interviewed by Kate and I enjoyed it. Despite going out to 22 million listeners I had zero sales. Booktrail said I did not have a contract with them. I will not name the individual involved. I did. I have self advertised and had over a thousand hits on Amazon Books before Christmas. Result about 17 sales according to BookTrail. So you are not alone.

    2. I have had problems with BookTrail as well. I see the telephone numbers no longer work. I’m still writing and intend to self publish this time with Amazon,. It appears complicated at first but it’s not and there are many tutorials on YouTube. good luck.
      Incidentally, I was contacted by BT and was asked to the London and York Bookfairs. I was asked to pay them $1000 dollars to attend. It was a lie. They did not have a stand. Its about time the FBI investigated this type of company.

      1. I didn’t realise how bad they were. I’ve only recently looked into them as a business. Not finding much on their site, though hearing loud and clear from authors to stay away. Good luck with your publishing. I have a few tutorials myself though on this website rather than YouTube due to deafness. Happy to chat about publishing if you need though by sounds of things you’re going to be fine.

  10. Cancelled my other 2 books with authorhouse this morning. They emailed me today saying they can’t do the officials yet because of covid restrictions. Don’t think I’ll get royalties, or the £1,300 unfulfilled marketing package they owe me though. Don’t know whether to keep my other book with booktrail yet?

    1. I think you need to look through your contacts and maybe cancel them with both companies and get your copyright back for your books. Vanity press is a harsh lesson which is why I love Writers Beware website and mention it to as many new authors as I can. Can you see if you can get advice from the CAB… some have lawyers… or could tell you who to approach for free (not sure about in the UK) You maybe able to get a refund… though I’m not sure. On the covid thing… I thought all restrictions had been dropped in the UK? So not sure what they mean. Good luck.

  11. A word of warning. I’m currently with BookTrail Agency and have had to chase them for royalties. Just over a month ago I was contacted by a female in the Philippines – she made a mistake with the time. She wanted me to join them at the Olympia Book Fair in London which is in early April and York in Sept. She also wanted me to sign a sale or return contract to sell my book to Waterstones. This would cost me 2000 dollars. I asked her to send details. None arrived. I checked Olympia and BookTrail do not have a stand. I paid for a Kate Delaney interview and enjoyed it. According to BT I made no sales through it. In fact they said I did not have a contract with them. Then I did. I’ve had over a thousand hits on Amazon Books before Christmas and according to BT I’ve sold 17. BT report showed no e-sales which is odd. Plus I’m meant to get a 100% royalties on these sales. Also their HQ now appears to be in NY now. My telephone call was answered America Tonight. Why, I don’t know?

    1. I just got taken recently, as a writer, for a lot of money by BookTrail Agency/Agarwood Publishing House supposedly out of New York City. This is a very elaborate scam! I, certainly, would not trust these con artists with my Social Security number based on their bogus promise of the writer receiving 100 percent royalties. And I have been to the FBI, the Federal Trade Commission, my local police department, the Attorney General of my state, Writers Beware, and so forth, just for a start. These people are outright criminals! The reports I have submitted have been quite lengthy. I have a lot of details about these crooks.

      1. I am in contact with another author who has been scammed by Book Trail Agency. They are still waiting for royalties… I have no idea what their contracts look like, presuming they have one. There are no costs on their website either. Hopefully I can help this author sort out their books so they can safely self-publish.

  12. I am so happy I found this Blog
    I just got off the phone with one of their VAs
    and started googling the company.
    They use a lot of matching and pacing communication and it is easy to get seduced.
    I actually said yes to them but not now.

    After reading this blog and reviewing everything she told me on the phone I decided to block the number and put an email in the spam box. ad continue on my own!

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