Little Ray & Shark Patch Things Up displayed at 50% of viewport width
June 2019 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, editors and fly-by-the night publishing houses with overpriced publishing packages.

Beware of Book Marketing Services: Bona fide services read and screen books to determine potential for success. Profiteers accept vastly dissimilar books, which cannot be served by one-size-fits-all junk marketing.

Publishing insiders only seek inside players. They are understaffed, overworked and move at a snail's pace. Innovative, electrifying and sales-worthy concepts come with known names. Superstars can sell any book.

Beware of sham agents. They tie up clients for a year, for a fee, and do nothing. The rate of placement is low, so they get away with poor customer service and no connections, background or insights into publishing.

Beware of contributing editors and illustrators. By small print contract, they take ownership of any edits and art they add to original work. Publishing houses reject complications of these royalty splits with joint actors.

Beware of fake freelance jobs. Online resources that require upfront bank account information may be hoaxes. Carefully research job postings. Every offer of professional assistance should be considered suspect.

Beware of pay-to-play publishing houses. They open with overpriced publishing packages, then move to a new scam or the same scam under a new name. There is no book selling expertise or distribution network.

Beware of online magazines. Some models are rights grabs. With small payments, they take control of past, present and future earnings or divert rights to another predator. SFWA tracks bad actors in Writer Beware.

Beware of online clearing houses. Writer placement services may be click-bait agents for corrupt goods and services. The more a writer is willing to pay to find a publisher, the more solicitations are likely to be received.

Beware of writing contests. Were past winners from the same publishing house? Outside writers may contribute to awards for insiders. Who owns the story at the conclusion of the too-good-to-be-true competition?

Most creative writing arrangements are done by contracts. These may infringe upon copyrights and trademarks. Unforeseen delays and problems may result in claims for expanded interests for contributors' share of work.

Beware of hackers. Non-secure sites serve as springboards to larger sites. Phony reviews and contact links are made to look legitimate. They get passwords and banking or credit card numbers for financial destruction.

Credit card issuers are fighting fraud. Swiping is being replaced by chip and fingerprint readers. It is increasingly difficult to duplicate cards. Skimmed credit details were readily cloned and used for bogus purposes.

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

Shadowy companies hawk phony followers. They steal personal information to sell, endorse or misrepresent things or activities. The value of small accounts is diminished by the fake armies behind celebrity numbers.

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

Artificial intelligence is identifying abusers. Platforms also reward users for uncovering system vulnerabilities. Systems are in place to detect spam and attempts to steal passwords. Human review confirms content for removal.

Beware of the Government. Specimens filed with the Library of Congress, United States Copyright office or the United States Patent and Trademark Office, as private work product, become public record information.

Understand the Freedom of Information Act. Records in digital or print form from the U. S. Copyright Office and in bulk from the Library of Congress are widely, freely and publicly distributed to anyone by request.

Fraudsters benefit from government largess. Pirated goods offered for free pull traffic to sites. Advertising or membership fees further monetize this opportunism. Writers and publishers lose out on royalties.

Protect your rights. Send printed specimens for filing, recording or documentation. Print versions are not as easily pirated as PDF files. Interactive audio books may offer the best theft protection.

Online title searches uncover pirated offerings. Creative writing competition takes on new meaning when writers charge for books available for free online. Independent writers rarely can afford to fight this battle.

Writers victimized by online pirates have little recourse. The International Publishers Organization works with government agencies to lobby for effective anti-piracy laws for intellectual property.

Online fraud and concentrations of power need regulations. Efficiencies of algorithms, data and interconnectedness are upended by unscrupulous and reckless applications. Strong consequences may stop predatory abuses.

Device manufacturers update operating systems in the background. Users are not alerted to or involved in these security upgrades. Companies also encrypt and store back-up files on cloud drives to ensure access.

Cell carriers are adopting screening technology. They can detect and black calls from area codes disguised to look like local calls or made in unusually high call volumes from an individual line.

Writers with Book Smarts and tech skills help spread awareness. To protect books in the market requires real-world security. This will not happen unless interested parties lobby for proprietary hardware protections, too.

Internet Service Providers generally are not secure. There is no authority in charge of broadband security for consumers. Hardware offers the only protection against threats operating freely on this information free-for-all.