Little Ray & Shark Patch Things Up
June 2018 by V. R. Duin


All eyes were on the frightening beast.
Nobody wanted to be its next feast.
It was drawing terribly near,
Making the future less than clear.
(“Little Ray & Shark Patch Things Up”)

Online publishing predators include fraudulent agents, book promoters, fly-by-the night publishing houses with overpriced publishing packages and too-good-to-be-true creative writing competitions that pirate the work of promising writers.

Beware of Book Marketing Services: Services that do not read and screen books to determine the potential for success may be organized just to make money for inside administrators. Writers are unlikely to recover the cost of one-size-fits-all junk marketing. It cannot work for vastly dissimilar books.

Publishing insiders rarely initiate communications with outsiders. They are understaffed and overworked. Traditional publishing moves at a snail's pace. Publishers seek innovative, electrifying and sales-worthy concepts within their playing field. Name matters. Known authors can sell any book.

Beware of sham agents. They tie up writers for a year, for a fee, with poor customer service. They may have no connections, background or knowledge about publishing. The rate of book placement is very low. These fraudsters do nothing, but wait. Money seldom buys representation.

Beware of fake freelance jobs. Online sources of work that require upfront bank account information may be hoaxes. Writers seeking freelance writing work online, should carefully research job postings. Every offer of assistance should be considered suspect.

Beware of pay-to-play publishing houses. They open with an empty promise and close with enough money to move to a new scam or the same scam under a new name. Behind overpriced publishing packages, there may be no marketing assistance, distribution network or partnership opportunity.

Beware of online magazines. Some business models prosper from rights grabs. With small payments, they take control of past, present and future earnings or divert writer's derivative rights to another predator. A good resource for information on bad actors is Writer Beware.

Beware of online clearing houses. Writer placement services build contact lists for sale to sellers of corrupt goods and services. These organizations want to know how much a writer is willing to pay to find a publisher. The more a writer pays, the more solicitations are likely to be received.

Writing contests may be rip offs. Study past winners. Were they from the same publishing house? Outside writers may contribute to awards destined for insiders. Read the fine print. Who owns the story when the contest ends? Scams transfer ownership rights from writers to online publishing predators.

Beware of the Government. Book sales are whacked by copies that become public record. Never submit PDF files to the Library of Congress, United States Copyright office or the United States Patent and Trademark Office. Private work product is widely, freely and publicly distributed on request.

Understand the Freedom of Information Act. Anyone can get records in digital or print form from the U. S. Copyright Office and in bulk from the Library of Congress. Requests to these massive stores of information and knowledge cover documents created since 1978, including recorded books.

Protect yourself from the government. Send printed book specimens for filing, recording or documentation. Print versions are not as easily pirated as PDF files. It takes cost or effort to copy or scan and ship print books. Interactive audio books with board pages may offer theft protection.

Fraudsters upload books to websites, where downloads are free. Free goods generate traffic to websites. Popular sites are monetized through advertising, membership fees or other means. When books are free for reading, without permission, the writers and publishers lose out on royalties.

Online title searches uncover pirated offerings. Creative writing competition takes on new meaning when writers charge for books freely offered online. Piracy continues to expand and evolve with emerging technologies. Independent writers rarely can afford to fight this battle.

Writers victimized by online publishing predators have little recourse. The International Publishers Organization works with officials from government agencies, including law enforcement to spread awareness and lobby for effective anti-piracy laws for intellectual property.

Writers have some hope. Users may be reluctant to download pirated copies due to fears of malware. Legitimate copies may be purchased after preview of pirated versions. Mainstream publishers may take into account readers' comments on these unethical sites when evaluating the books.

Beware of social media. Fan pages and game applications can be toxic traps. A click on a malicious link can redirect control of a writer's computer or browser to a malignant source. Victims may infect their own computer or entire networks of connections with malware.

Shadowy companies illegally hawk phony followers. They steal personal information to sell, endorse or misrepresent things or activities. Profit-focused companies create armies of fake profiles. Celebrities and others buy them to pad numbers for impact.

Selling fake profiles is illegal, deceptive and unethical. When these businesses are found, for now they are shut down. New laws are under consideration. Things may get worse for phony social media creators and their purchasers.

Fake followers are only helpful to those who sell them. Low follower interactions gives clue that a high number of followers in a social media account may be bogus. Social media companies are monitoring their platforms for fake news and accounts.

The value of smaller accounts is diminished by fake traffic to celebrities. Mainstream recognizes and respects the potential in real numbers of followers obtained for quality and trending content. The problems with social media make a book writing website more important.

Social media platforms are under fire. Collection and leaks of private information for targeted marketing have led to customer distrust. Concerns for protection of personal data from unrestrained and uncompensated commercial use have created a scramble for new ways to target this lifeblood.

Beware of website hackers. They often use small, non-secure sites as a springboard to larger target sites, leaving destruction in their wake. These sites are set up to look legitimate. Phony reviews and contact links are used to get passwords, banking and credit card numbers and other information.

It is not necessary to steal devices or passwords for cyber attack. Denial-of-service attacks can originate with unsecured home appliances or services. Simple default passwords are online for anyone to find. The weight of these linked systems can bring down the Internet.

Online fraud and concentrations of power need new regulations. Efficiencies of algorithms, data and interconnectedness have been upended by unscrupulous and reckless applications. Strong legal consequences may stop online companies from selling private data to predators.

Understand how online fraud works. This is the only way to avoid becoming unwitting agents for toxic disaster. Assault from online publishing predators add to the woes of promising writers. Online attacks are launched through the written word. Unlike writers' goals, the mission may be unclear.

Predatory Highlights for Writers

  • Promising Writers V. R. Duin says:

    Optimistic efforts to sell books can ensnare promising writers in problems with predators lurking around book writing, marketing and publishing ventures.

  • Creative Writing Competitions V. R. Duin says:

    Entry into most creative writing competitions is done by contracts, which may infringe upon a promising writer's copyrights and trademarks.

    • Fraudulent agentsV. R. Duin says:

      Fraudulent agents charge writers for services, contrary to the contingent fee arrangements that reign in the literary world.