Shining a bright light into the dark corners of the shadow-world of literary scams, schemes, and pitfalls. Also providing advice for writers, industry news, and commentary. Writer Beware is sponsored by the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America, Inc.

December 14, 2018

Amelia Publishing and Amelia Book Company: Sons of Litfire Publishing


Posted by Victoria Strauss for Writer Beware

In 2014, I wrote a long (and recently updated) blog post about LitFire Publishing, a publishing and marketing service provider that copied the Author Solutions business model (overpriced publishing packages, junk marketing services, and aggressive solicitation), and was founded and run by former Author Solutions call center employees in the Philippines.

I didn't know it then, but LitFire was in the vanguard of an invasion of Philippines-based Author Solutions copycats (I've written about some of them here). These predatory schemes are a major danger for the self-published and small press authors who are their main target. Not only are their "services" expensive, falsely presented (phone and email solicitors often claim to be literary agents or book scouts or to have connections with major publishers), and frequently substandard, they are everywhere. I know of over 30 of them at this point, at least half established just in the past year.

LitFire is one of the oldest of these ventures, and like any outfit whose main aim is extracting cash from vulnerable writers through misdirection and hype, word has gotten around. Complaints are accumulating online, along with commentaries and exposes (not to mention all the reports and complaints Writer Beware has received). Even Wikipedia has taken note.

Now LitFire may be doing what dodgy businesses often do to escape a bad reputation: changing its name. Introducing Amelia Publishing and Amelia Book Company

Amelia Publishing is a general purpose publishing and marketing company, with a suite of Author Solutions-style publishing packages (black and white, color, and "special"), junk marketing services (press releases, video trailers, pay-to-play book reviews), and add-ons such as editing. In other words, it's a lot like LitFire.

Amelia Book Company (ABC--get it?) targets children's authors. It too sells publishing and marketing packages, as well as merchandise (magnets! Stickers! T-shirts!) and illustrations. It also has a "subsidiary" generically titled Children's Publishing, a grab bag of poorly-written and in some cases oddly terse articles interspersed with ads and links to Amelia.

The Amelias' About Us pages feature conveniently vague information that can't be verified, and their websites include the frequent English-language lapses that are typical of Philippines-based publishing and marketing scams ("Amelia Publishing. Your Self-Publishing Headquarter.") Both Amelias' domains were registered on May 24, 2017, and they both have business registrations in the state of Georgia. They also share an address and phone number. (I'm including so many screenshots because I expect that at least some of the evidence will vanish after I publish this post.)



So how do I know that the Amelias are LitFire? Well, a little bird told me. But also, Litfire is really, really sloppy.

Amelia Book Company (the one for children's authors) has a bookstore, though it's not linked into the main site; I found it on a Google search. The first thing you might notice is how few of the books are for children. There's a good reason for that: they're all LitFire books. For example, here's a book at Amelia:


And here's the same book at LitFire:


Inspecting a page's source code can also yield clues. For instance, on one of Amelia Book Company's book pages, this snippet of code:


Or this relic of LitFire's footer, complete with LitFire's street address, which is on every Amelia Book Company book page that I checked:


Similar lapses are all over Amelia Book Company's website.

By contrast, Amelia Publishing's website has been more carefully vetted. But an apparent effort to convert the LitFire blog into an Amelia Publishing blog wasn't so successful, which likely is why it has been removed. It still shows up in a Google search, though:


And then there's this. LitFire apparently caught it and got rid of the page where it appears (the link is to a Google cache)--but I had to laugh. Whoops.


Apparently I'm not the only one who has figured it out.
LitFire appears to be alive and well at present, so there's no way to know whether it's planning to ditch the LitFire name entirely and become Amelia, or whether the Amelias are just an attempt to establish additional income streams. Either way, Writer Beware will be watching.

December 4, 2018

SFWA Statement on Concerns/Complaints Regarding the Writers of the Future Contest


Posted by Victoria Strauss for Writer Beware

The Board of Directors of the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America have unanimously decided to formally and publicly acknowledge the multiple complaints and expressions of concern made both publicly and privately in recent months by former Writers of the Future finalists who state that they have had negative experiences during or after the event.

As a result, SFWA has formally contacted the WotF administrators, in hopes of launching a private dialogue between our organizations, and ensuring that these concerns are meaningfully addressed. In this effort, SFWA’s goal is to protect the rights of creators, thus strengthening all of science fiction and fantasy publishing, now and in the future. SFWA advises all writers to research carefully before participating in any literary contest.

For more information on contests, please visit SFWA’s Writer Beware page located here: http://www.sfwa.org/other-resources/for-authors/writer-beware/contests/.

Originally posted on SFWA website, December 03, 2018

 
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