Literary Scams

Unfortunately, literary bad deals, not to mention outright scams, are far more common than one might hope. Although it is always difficult to estimate the costs of systematic fraud—and particularly so in economic segments that so jealously guard information about the way "The System" really works as the publishing industry—conservative estimates throw $20 million a year down the drain at literary scams.

No, that is not a typographical error. I wish it was.

One mantra that can help authors protect themselves is a simple one:

Money Flows Toward the Author.

In the publishing business, legitimate publishers and agents, and most editors, do not generally ask for money before performing services. Not everyone who does is a scam artist or bad deal. However, information and context are so difficult to come by that an inexperienced author—one with fewer than two to four prior publications from legitimate publishers in a given market segment—should avoid them like a non-mechanic should avoid used car dealers; there are some honest ones, but inexperienced authors do not have sufficient knowledge to protect themselves from the majority who are not.

This set of resources will grow over time, and includes both external resources and articles on this site.

Last updated 10 July 2005

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Charlie Petit

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