Little Ray & Shark Patch Things Up
June 2017 by V. R. Duin

ONLINE PUBLISHING PREDATORS

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 the fraudulent agents, book promoters, fly-by-the night publishing houses and too-good-to-be-true creative writing competitions encountered by promising writers before and after publishing and while marketing their books.

Beware of Online Publishing Predators: Fraudulent agents often tie promising writers up for a year, for a fee. They may have zero connections in the industry. Writer clients merely are being exploited. The rate of book placement is very low. Therefore, these fraudulent “agents” need not do anything, but wait until the end of the year to report that the creative fiction or nonfiction work of the writer client cannot be placed.

Publishing houses also target promising writers with promises of professional marketing assistance and vast distribution networks. Often, these are fly-by-night, online publishing predators with no physical address or tangible business. They open with empty promise and close once they have pocketed enough money to move on to another scam. Beware of promoters who ask for bank account information. The promise to pay for a writer's work may be a hoax. Entire industries prey on writers who want to publish or sell their writing.

Writing contests also may be a rip off. Writers hear of award-winning work and believe their own work is equally worthy. Before entering into creative writing competitions, it is important to study past winners. Did they all come from the same publishing house? If so, outside writers merely will contribute to the awards in a writing contest destined for insiders. Writers must read the fine print. Who owns the story when the contest ends? Everyone must be alert for scams that unfairly transfer ownership of written work from promising writers to online publishing predators. A good resource for information on bad actors is Writer Beware.

Beware of the Government: Promising writers' book sales are getting whacked by pirated copies offered free of charge by the government. No writer should ever submit PDF files of their work to the government. These are readily requested and received by anyone who asks for them, including online publishing predators. Send printed book specimens. These are not easily pirated, because cost or effort must be applied to copy or scan and possibly to ship them.

Thanks to Freedom of Information Act requests, online publishing predators can receive records in digital or print form from the U. S. Copyright Office and in bulk from the Library of Congress. Requests cover all documents created since 1978, including recorded specimens of promising writers' books. Creative writing competition takes on new meaning when writers charge for books that are offered elsewhere for free, thanks to the government. Curiously, for 64 years, the Congressional Research Service, which is part of the Library of Congress, was banned from releasing non-confidential reports about government policy proposal, productivity, background information and other unbiased analysis.

Withholding Congressional Research Service reports stemmed from the cost of making “photostatic copies”. That ban made no since in the digital age. It has now been reversed. However, there was no ban on releasing private work product to online publishing predators. While only members of Congress, some lobbyists and some reporters had access to the massive store of in-house knowledge, PDF files of private work product have been widely, freely and publicly distributed by the Library of Congress, upon request. Subsequently these PDF files may be uploaded to websites, where downloads are available to users at no charge. This also may be the destination of scanned books, which are made available by the government.

Free goods generate traffic to websites. Popular sites are monetized through advertising, membership fees or other means. An online search for specific book titles should uncover the pirated offerings of promising writers. The writers victimized by these online publishing predators have little recourse. Their work is public record. These victims of the system can only hope that users will be reluctant to download these pirated books, due to fears of malware, or that legitimate copies will be purchased after preview of the pirated versions. Mainstream publishers may take into account readers' comments on these unethical sites when evaluating the potential for these books. In the meantime, of course, the book sales of promising writers may suffer, thanks to online publishing predators.

Beware online: Online publishing predators, spammers, scammers, and cyber attackers lurk everywhere. These bots and beings find readers, writers and educators on social media. They attach themselves to promising writers' websites. Hackers often use small, non-secure sites as a springboard to reach larger target sites, while leaving destruction in their wake. They direct traffic from victims' sites to those trumpeting their noxious purposes.

Fraudulent agents steal identities. They attack entire networks with contagious, malicious code. Problems originating online are becoming common. Social media may not be aware of attackers who locate promising writers within their networks with lures of fake pages, fake groups, fake news and fake profiles. These attacks may also come from the outside via email or cellular phone, as personal contact information made readily available by social media administrators for mercenary online purposes. Personal information is of great value for marketing and other purposes, so it is widely sold.

It is not necessary to steal devices or passwords for cyber attack. Denial-of-service attacks can originate with attacks on unsecured home appliances or services that post simple default passwords online for anyone to find. The government is beginning to look into online fraud. Only the government can sanction into law the strong legal consequences needed to deter the predators who lure innocent tech users into toxic disaster online from malware pushed or pulled onto unprotected surfer's devices.

However, as online users, promising writers must understand how online fraud works. This is the only way to avoid becoming unwitting agents used to spread online fraud. Fraudulent agents have a myriad of ways to attack the networks attached to promising writers' businesses, stories, events, organizations and causes. Creative writing competition does not always come from other writers. Assault from online publishing predators add to the woes of promising writers.

3 comments

  • Predators admin says:

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

  • Creative Writing Competitions admin says:

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

    • Fraudulent agentsadmin says:

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