In Little Ray & Shark Patch Things Up a boating family faces an apex predator, displayed at 50% of viewport width.
June 2019 by Terry Verduin


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 Algorithms. Social media and search engines determine content relevancy. Algorithms rank, deliver and produce content. Platform operations favor paid and inside productions. Free content has a short, hidden life.

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.

Beware of publishing insiders. Understaffed and overworked, they seek inside players 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, but do nothing. The rate of placement is low. 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 most royalty splits with joint actors.

Beware of fake freelance jobs. Online resources requiring 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. They rarely have book selling expertise or distribution networks.

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 use misleading click-bait headlines with links to corrupt goods or services. Eager to get published, the unwary scurry to sites run by cons and unethical actors.

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?

Beware of contracts. Creative writing arrangements may infringe upon copyrights or trademarks. Unforeseen delays and problems may give rise to claims for expanded interests in contributors' share of the work.

Beware of hackers. Non-secure sites serve as springboards to larger sites. Phony reviews and contact links are made to look legitimate. The goal is to obtain passwords and bank or credit card numbers for theft crimes.

Beware of credit card fraud. Issuers are fighting it. Chip and fingerprint readers are replacing swiping. It is increasingly difficult to duplicate cards. Skimmed credit details too readily were cloned for use in 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.

Beware of shadowy companies. They hawk phony followers. They steal personal information to sell, endorse or misrepresent things or events. Small account value is diminished by fake armies behind celebrity-sized numbers.

Beware of fake profiles. Selling them is illegal, deceptive and unethical. Caught accounts are shut down. New laws are under consideration. Things may get worse for phony social media creators and their purchasers.

Beware of system abusers. Artificial intelligence is identifying and rewarding users for uncovering vulnerabilities. Systems are in place to detect spam or attempts to steal passwords. Human review directs content 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.

Beware of 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.

Beware of fraudsters benefiting 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.

Beware of rights' protection. 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.

Beware of pirated offerings. Online title searches uncover them. Creative writing competition takes on new meaning when writers charge for books offered by others for free. Independent writers rarely can fight this battle.

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

Beware of online fraud and power concentrations. Efficiencies of algorithms, data and interconnectedness are upended by unscrupulous and reckless applications. Few predatory abuses face strong consequences.

Beware of security. Device manufacturers are helping in the background. Users are not alerted about or involved in some security upgrades. Companies encrypt and store back-up files on cloud drives to ensure access.

Beware of third-party apps. Many are safe to download. All of them carry an ability to damage hardware, compromise privacy, waste resources and steal private information. Employee Theft Insurance exists for a reason.

Beware of callers. Carriers are helping with screening technology. They can detect and block calls from area codes disguised to look like local calls or made in unusually high call volumes from an individual line.

Beware of real world security. Writers with Book Smarts and tech skills help spread awareness. To protect books in the market, interested parties also must lobby for proprietary hardware protections.

Beware of SIM card swapping. Hackers dupe cell providers into activating stolen cards on other devices. They get full access to content, including email accounts. Once passwords are changed, the originators lose all access.

Beware of your ISP. These 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.

Beware of reboots. Applications, browsers and service providers forcefully interrupt operations and restart computer operating systems. This unwelcome disruption usually happens at night, while moonlighting writers are at work.