Monthly Online eZine  
News And Views For Working Writers

 INside Scoop
 IN Her Own Write
 Pen IN Hand
 Write On!
 Screen & Stage
 Top 10 Resources
 Book Reviews
 Items Of INterest
 Global Offerings
 INside Services
 Bill The Bard
 The Writer At Work
 Games & Puzzles
 Classic eTexts
 Free Software
 IN Banners
 Who's IN
 What's IN
 Editorial Calendar
 Join IN's Team
 Contacting IN

IN Front Cover


Learn To Be A Better Journalist

Buy Classic Literature Collections

Acclaimed Screenplay Writing Software

Books On How To Write Fiction

Become A Well Paid Travel Writer

Vote daily and raise our ranking!

IN Her Own Write
January, 2008

Food of Love

Update Your Scam Protection For 2007
An important resolution
By  Anne R. Allen

Did you make a New Year's resolution to find a publisher for that masterpiece moldering in your files? Have you vowed to polish your synopsis, write a killer query, research agents, and spend your Christmas money on #10 envelopes and stamps?

Congratulations! That takes courage. You're launching your baby out there.

Unfortunately, the scamsters who prey on writers' hopes and dreams will be out there, too.

So many of us are writing books for an ever-shrinking market that none but a charmed few will ever reach that goal of big-house publication. The rest become irresistible chum for the scam sharks.

I gave some basic rules for avoiding bogus agents in my first Agent Hunt article last October I also warned against underhanded vanity publishers like PublishAmerica in July '05.

OK, you've read all that stuff. You've also heard the caveat from established writers: "Never pay an agent up front."

But you're thinking: "Easy for them to say when theyve already got agents. Publishing is tougher today. I'm not going to quibble over a few hundred bucks for expenses when I've finally found an agent who loves my work – an agent with a cool website and testimonials from satisfied clients. Agents negotiate contracts, just like lawyers. Lawyers charge retainers, don't they? My prospective agent knows an editor at HarperCollins who's dying for a book like mine. After I pay the retainer and hire their in-house editor, I'm gonna be the next Dan Brown . . . ."

Cue the theme from Jaws.

Recently, several scam operations dispensing this kind of misinformation set off alarms in the publishing blogosphere.

Scam #1) The Hill and Hill saga that unfolded in 2005-06 was bizarre – and tragic. A Scottish "agent," using dozens of aliases, not only bilked hundreds of writers with up-front fees, but emotionally manipulated them in a labor-intensive and sadistic scam that involved manuscript evaluations, monthly reports, phone calls, and faked messages from real publishing houses promising imminent sales. Absolute Write's Victoria Strauss, who broke the story, said his motivation for the relentless control of his victims wasn't only financial. She speculated "some degree of mental illness . . . think Jim Jones."

Scam #2) The Sobol Agency Contest. The jury's out on its legitimacy, but industry professionals think it looks iffy. It's a writing contest (closed Dec 31 '06) with an $85 entry fee and a prize that includes compulsory representation by "the Sobol Agency" – which has no recorded sales.

Newsflash: As of 1/8/07 The Sobol award has been cancelled, and all participants are to be refunded their $85 entry fee.

Scam #3) The International Independent Literary Agents Association (IILAA). Several notoriously dishonest agencies formed this bogus organization last October. Their website claimed the industry watchdogs who had previously outed them as scammers were "a hate organization" run by a "dragoon" called Miss Snark.

They drew immediate ridicule from the divine Miss S and other legitimate agents. In high dudgeon, the IILAA webmistress retaliated: first with e-mail suggesting Her Snarkiness had passed her sell-by date, and then—apparently displaying the IILAA's literary credentials—posting a picture of the webmistress's naked posterior on the IILAA site.

I missed that high mark in publishing history: the website came down within hours. But I didn't miss the podcast by the queen mother of IILAA detailing the "conspiracy" against her – an amazing contribution to the art of spin.

IILAA looked almost legit. Some member agencies listed published clients. But a Google search revealed the clients were published by imprints of vanity presses owned by the agencies themselves. Other agencies didn't exist. One listed an address in my own small hometown, on a non-existent street, with a bogus phone exchange.

So how do we protect ourselves from these sharks? Here are a few tips:

1. Check sites like Preditors and Editors and Writer Beware.

2. Remember that a web presence, or even an entry in Wikipedia, is not a mark of legitimacy. Anybody can put up a website and the Wikipedia folks need time to research and take down bogus posts.

3. Beware sock puppets: scammers who pose as writers to praise their own operations on blogs and review sites. A similar writing style may tip you off.

4. Google the agent's name and follow the leads. Try putting the word "complaint" or "warning" in your search window along with the name.

5. Check for misspellings and grammatical mistakes. Anybody who doesn’t know how to use an apostrophe is probably not selling books to Knopf.

6. Beware gushing praise, slams against the publishing industry, or recommendations to hire in-house "editors."

As the Great Snark hath taught us, "Don't confuse "yay someone likes my work" and "yay it's not my mom" with "yes, I'll sign with you."
IN Icon

Anne R. Allen is a California novelist and book editor who has been living part time in the UK. Her latest comic novel, The Best Revenge, An Historical Novel Of The 1980s, (Babash-Ryan) debuted in the UK in 2005 and is available from and most UK bookshops. Her first novel with Babash-Ryan, Food Of Love is available from and as well as

Sign Up and Use Our New Forums! Voice Your Opinion! Discuss Our Content! Ask for Writing Assistance. Post Your Successes, Queries or Information Requests. Collaborate with Other Writers.

© Freelance Writing Organization - International 1999-2049

IN Her Own Write
IN This Issue
For Whose Eyes Only?
Rewrites Without A Contract?
What's Your Genre?
Who Needs An Agent?
Lots Of Plots
Writers' Conferences?
Writing The Dreaded Synopsis
Hooks, Loglines, and Pitches
Landing An Agent

Support IN
Receive Free Gifts
$20.00 Voluntary Contribution
$35.00 Voluntary Contribution
$50.00 Voluntary Contribution

New Novelist Software

Effectively Manage Your List

Writers Digest 101 Site Award

Your Ad Here

Traffic Swarm For Writers

Hottest Books This Month!

Whose Books Are Turning Into Movies?
Bald Ego
Mouse Over To Pause

Writer’s Block
The path to inspiration starts
Upon the trails we’ve known;
Each writer’s block is not a rock,
But just a stepping stone.

Poetry Is Not
Penned to the page
Waiting for us to admire.
It is only a lonely thought
Caught by tears on fire.

Silent Echoes
A quiet rhyme upon a page
Is what a poet gives;
Some gentle words whispered in trust
To see if memory lives.

Bard From Deadlines
What makes a poem finally work
Is not the time it takes;
It’s how the poet used the muse
To prophet from mistakes.

Be Mused
The art and craft of poetry
Are not so far apart;
The craft comes from the cunning,
The rest comes from the heart.

Fine Vintage
Don’t plant your poem on the page
As though you’re hanging drapes;
It’s shape and flow should come and grow
Like wild summer grapes.

Getting It Write
Writers write what they know best,
Their passions, fears, and dreams;
Writers rarely write about
What other call their “themes.”

Double Vision
A writer’s life is paradox,
It’s more than what it seems;
We write of our reality,
The one inside our dreams.

The echo of a promise,
The thunder of a sigh,
The music of a memory,
A child asking why.

Letter Perfect
Twenty six symbols arranged on a page
Can send a soul to heaven or torment it with rage,
Can free a fragile world or hold it in its net--
The power and the magic of the mighty alphabet.

The Write of Passage
The jump from writing just for fun
To getting paid for it
Begins when you first realize
You know you’ll never quit.

It is not the magic of his wings
That sets us free from our bond.
It is the muse within ourselves
That lets our words lift us beyond.

Photo Poet
Consider your mind the darkroom,
Consider your life the lens,
Consider your eye the camera
On whose focus the poem depends.

Rising Moon
A poem is a rising moon
Shining on the sea,
An afterglow of all we know,
Of all we hope to be.

Star Light
Writing a poem,
Reaching a star,
In making good art
We find who we are.

Spider Web
A poem is a spider web
Spun with words of wonder,
Woven lace held in place
By whispers made of thunder.

The final draft upon the screen,
At last my poem’s through;
A verse of only four short lines--
I rewrote twenty-two!

Read All Of Charles Ghigna's Poetry at

Our Own Banner Rotator System
Any banner seen below is either our own or one of our members.
Support the cause - click a banner.

Want Your 468x60 Banner Above? It's FREE For Newly Published Books

© Freelance Writing Organization - International 1999-2049
All Rights Reserved. Copying in any way strictly forbidden.
Our Disclaimer Is Based Upon McIntyre's First Law: "Under the right circumstances, anything I tell you may be wrong."