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August 16, 2019

From the Philippines, Not With Love: A Plague of Publishing, Marketing, and Fake Literary Agency Scams


Posted by Victoria Strauss for Writer Beware®

I've been expending a lot of words and time lately warning about the latest scam phenomenon to hit the writing world: fake publishers, marketers, and "literary agencies" that, through outrageous prices and worthless services, extract enormous amounts of money from unwary writers.

Based in the Philippines (despite their apparent US or Canadian addresses, phone numbers, and telemarketer names) and preying primarily on the elderly and on writers who've self-published (particularly with one of the Author Solutions imprints), these companies recruit authors with relentless--and highly deceptive--phone and email solicitations. 

The scams' focus has shifted over the years. When I first discovered them in 2014, they were primarily selling publishing and marketing services, but currently they're more likely to approach potential victims by posing as literary agencies that can transition authors to traditional contracts, or companies that can market books to major film studios and streaming services. They may also impersonate real, reputable agents, editors. and publishers, or falsely use the logos of major publishers and publishing industry groups like the Authors Guild.

Some of the scams do provide at least some of the services authors pay for, albeit at seriously inflated prices and often of poor quality. Others just take the money and run. I've heard from writers who've paid thousands, or even tens of thousands, to one--or, in some cases, more than one--of these scams, with next to nothing to show for it. 

The scams share a cluster of characteristics that make them reasonably easy to identify. If a company exhibits three or more of these characteristics--especially if it has contacted you out of the blue--be extremely skeptical.

- Cold-call solicitations by phone and email (this is the number one sign of a scam: real literary agents and publishers do not typically reach out to authors they don't represent, while for scammers it's their main mode of recruitment)
- Re-publishing offers (since most of their targets are self-published authors)
- Claims of expertise that can't be verified, since staff names and biographies are not provided, or can be easily refuted (for instance if they claim years of experience but their web domain was only registered a few months ago)
- English-language errors on websites and in emails, and telemarketers with foreign accents (since the scams are owned and staffed primarily by people for whom English is a second language)
- A catalog of junk marketing services (services of dubious value that are cheap to provide and can be sold at a huge markup, including press releases, email blasts, book trailers, social media posts, paid reviews and radio interviews, and the like).

A few of my posts about the scams--where they come from, how they work, and how to recognize them:

- Army of Clones: Author Solutions Spawns a Legion of Copycats
- Army of Clones Part 2: Twenty-One (More) Publishing and Marketing "Services" to Beware Of
- Vanity Radio: Why You Should Think Twice Before Paying For an Interview

Below is a list of the scams themselves--at least, the more than 125 I've identified so far (the list is also posted in the sidebar of this blog). You'll note that a number of them operate under more than one name--I suspect the interconnection is much greater than this, but I've only indicated additional names where I've been able to reliably document them.

Some have perished since I began the list--I've noted this, but left their names for the sake of authors who may have been scammed while they were operational.

- Access Media Group (aka Quill Space Media) (Quill Space Media is defunct)
- Ace Media Creative Publication / Ace Media International / APM Media Production (aka Pearson Media Group) (defunct under the Ace name, still doing business as Pearson Media)
- Adaptations Tide
- ADBooks Press (aka Coffee Press / Okir Publishing) (all three names are defunct)
- Adverters, The (aka Sherlock Press)
- Alpha Books Solutions
- Alpha Books United
- Amelia Book Company (defunct) (aka Amelia Publishing / Litfire Publishing / GoToPublish)
- Amelia Publishing (aka Amelia Book Company / LitFire Publishing / GoToPublish)
- AnalytIQ (defunct)
- Ascribed LLC (defunct)
- Atheneum Literary
- Author Aide
- Author Codex (aka BookSpine Press) (BookSpine Press is defunct)
- Author Media Express (aka Book Art Press Solutions / Booktimes / Bookwhip / Carter Press / PR Media Solutions / Pearson Media Groups / Stephenson and Queen / Window Press Club) (Carter Press, PR Media Solutions, and Window Press Club are defunct)
- Author Pro Creatives and Marketing (aka Matchstick Literary) (Author Pro Creatives is defunct)
- Author Reputation Press
- Author Shack (defunct)
- Author University
- AuthorCentrix (formerly BookBlastPro) (defunct)
- AuthorLair
- Authors Avenue Media Group
- Authors' Breakthrough Solutions
- Authors' Fortune Press and Media
- Authors Legacy (defunct)
- Authors Note 360 (website still online, but mostly nonfunctional)
- Authors Press (aka Westwood Books Publishing [formerly Greenberry] / Creative Books)
- Authors' Tranquility Press
- Beacon Books Agency (aka Fact & Fiction Entertainment and Literary Agency)
- Bennett Media & Marketing
- Best Books Media (aka Global Summit House / The Universal Breakthrough)
- Black Lacquer Press & Marketing
- Blue Ink Scribble
- BooConn Marketing
- Book Agency Plus (aka BookTrail Agency)
- Book Art Press Solutions (aka Author Media Express / Booktimes / Bookwhip / Carter Press / PR Media Solutions / Pearson Media Groups / Stephenson and Queen / Window Press Club) (Carter Press, PR Media Solutions, and Window Press Club are defunct)
- Book Avenue Publishing (aka Nivra Press) (both are defunct)
- Book Chambers, The (aka LitHub, whch is defunct)
- Book Magnets
- Book Masters, The
- Book Reads Publishing (defunct)
- Book Vine Press
- BookSpine Press (aka Author Codex) (defunct, but still doing business as Author Codex)
- Booktimes (aka Book Art Press Solutions / Book Art Press Solutions / Bookwhip / Carter Press / PR Media Solutions / Pearson Media Group / Stephenson and Queen / Window Press Club) (Carter Press, PR Media Solutions, and Window Press Club are defunct)
- BookTrail Agency (aka Book Agency Plus)
- Books Scribe
- BookVenture Publishing
- BookWhip (aka Author Media Express / Book Art Press Solutions / Booktimes / Carter Press / PR Media Solutions / Pearson Media Group / Stephenson and Queen / Window Press Club) (Carter Press, PR Media Solutions, and Window Press Club are defunct)
- Box Office Media Creatives (aka Buzz Media Creatives) (Buzz Media Creatives is defunct)
- Braintree Interactive Media (aka Bright Lights Distribution)
- BrandingNemo
- BridgeBooks (business name in the Philippines for Chapters Media and Advertising / PaperBytes Marketing Solutions)
- Bright Lights Distribution (aka Braintree Interactive Media)
- Buzz Media Creatives (aka Box Office Media Creatives) (defunct under the Buzz name, still doing business as Box Office Media Creatives)
- Capstone Media Services (aka Stampa / Stampa Global) (defunct under the Capstone name, still doing business as Stampa)
- Carter Press (aka Author Media Express / Book Art Press Solutions / Booktimes / BookWhip / PR Media Solutions / Pearson Media Groups / Stephenson and Queen / Window Press Club) (defunct, but still doing business as Author Media Express, Book Art Press Solutions, Booktimes, BookWhip, and Pearson Media Group)
- Chapters Media & Advertising (aka PaperBytes Marketing Solutions / Fresh Pages Media and Advertising (defunct) / TechBooks Media (defunct)) (does business in the Philippines as BridgeBooks)
- Coffee Press (aka Okir Publishing / ADBooks Press) (all three names are defunct)
- ConquerPress
- Creative Books (aka Westwood Books Publishing / Authors Press)
- Creative Titles Media  (aka TrueMedia Creatives) (both defunct)
- Crest Media Distribution (defunct)
- DC Media Creative
- Diamond Media Press
- Dream Books Distribution (website is dead)
- Dreamer's Point
- EC Publishing
- Editor's Creative Media (website is dead) (aka Editor's Press and Media / Silver Ink Literary Agency / Global Review Press / Quantum Discovery)
- Editor's Press and Media (aka Editor's Creative Media (website is dead) / Silver Ink Literary Agency / Global Review Press /Quantum Discovery)
- Experttell (aka Fox Media Studios Agency / Silver Fox Media / Orions Media Agency / Pioneer Media Productions / Page Turner Press and Media / Innocentrix) (Orions Media Agency and Pioneer Media Productions are defunct)
- Fact & Fiction Entertainment and Literary Agency (aka Beacon Books Agency)
- FilmHatch Media Productions
- Filmways Pictures Media / Filmways Pictures Agency
- Folio Avenue Publishing
- Fox Media Studios Agency (aka Silver Fox Media / Orions Media Agency / Experttell / Pioneer Media Productions / PageTurner Press and Media / Innocentrix) (Orions Media Agency and Pioneer Media Productions are defunct)
- Fresh Pages Media and Advertising (defunct) (see Chapters Media & Advertising)
- Ganpi Media
- Get Started Books (aka Legaia Books / West Literary Agency / Right Choice Multimedia) (Legaia Books and West Literary Agency are defunct)
- Glasslink Solutions (aka Harper Media /Harper Partners LLC)
- Global Review Press (aka Silver Ink Literary Agency / Editor's Press and Media / Editors Creative Media (Editors Creative Media is defunct) / Quantum Discovery)
- Global Summit House (aka Best Books Media / The Universal Breakthrough)
- Gold Touch Press
- Golden Ink Media Services (website has a "dangerous page" warning) (aka Great Writers Media / Green Sage Agency / Pen Culture Solutions / P One Media Marketing Consultancy)
- Goldman Agency
- Gotham Books
- GoToPublish (aka LitFire Publishing / Amelia Publishing / Amelia Book Company)
- Great Writers Media (aka Golden Ink Media Services / Green Sage Agency / Pen Culture Solutions / P One Media Marketing Consultancy
- Green Sage Agency (aka Golden Ink Media Services / Great Writers Media /  Pen Culture Solutions / P One Media Marketing Consultancy)
- Happy Media Consulting (website is dead)
- Harper Media (aka Glasslink Solutions / Harper Partners LLC)
- Harper Partners LLC (aka Glasslink Solutions / Harper Media)
- Haynes Marketing + Media
- Haystack Creatives (aka Rustik Haws) (Rustik Haws appears to be defunct)
- Identiqa Solutions (aka Lime Press LLC)
- IdeoPage Press Solutions (aka The Writer Central) (defunct under both names)
- InfusedMedia LLC
- Ingress Advertising
- Innocentrix (aka PageTurner Press and Media / Silver Fox Media / Fox Media Studios Agency / Orions Media Agency / Pioneer Media Productions / Experttell) (Orions Media Agency and Pioneer Media Productions are defunct))
- Inspirium Press and Media (aka Word Art Publishing)
- International Book Media
- Jurnal Press
- Kilmer Press Solutions
- Legaia Books (defunct) (aka Get Started Books / West Literary Agency (website is down) / Right Choice Multimedia)
- Lettra Press (aka Pen House LLC)
- Lime Press LLC (aka Identiqa Solutions)
- LitFire Publishing (website is mostly nonfunctional, except for a Bookstore page) (aka Amelia Publishing / Amelia Book Company / GoToPublish)
- LitHub (defunct) (aka The Book Chambers)
- LitPrime Publishing / LitPrime Solutions
- Mainspring Books
- Maple Leaf Publishing
- Marshall and Macmillan
- Martin and Bowman
- MatchStick Literary (aka Author Pro Creatives and Marketing, which is defunct
- McNaughton Books / McNaughton Publishing (website is currently dead)
- The Mulberry Books
- Netsfilm & Media Press (defunct)
- New Age Literary Agency
- New Leaf Media LLC (aka TransMedia Agency)
- New Reader Media
- Nivra Press (aka Book Avenue Publishing) (both are defunct) 
- Odyssey Media Press
- Okir Publishing (aka ADbooks Press / Coffee Press) (all three names are defunct)
- Optage Publishing (defunct)
- Orions Media Agency (defunct) (aka Fox Media Studios Agency / Silver Fox Media / Pioneer Media Productions / Experttell / PageTurner Press and Media / Innocentrix) (Pioneer Media Productions is defunct)
- Outstrip (defunct)
- P One Media Marketing Consultancy (aka Golden Ink Media Services / Great Writers Media / Green Sage Agency / Pen Culture Solutions)
- PR Media Solutions LLC (aka Author Media Express / Book Art Press Solutions / Booktimes / Bookwhip / Carter Press / Pearson Media Group / Stephenson and Queen / Window Press Club) (defunct, but still doing business as Author Media Express, Book Art Press Solutions, Booktimes, BookWhip, and Pearson Media Group)
- Pacific Books Publishing (defunct)
- PageClapp Media (defunct)
- PageTurner, Press and Media (aka Innocentrix / Fox Media Studios Agency / Pioneer Media Productions / Silver Fox Media / Orions Media Agency / Experttell) (Orions Media Agency and Pioneer Media Productions are defunct)
- Paper Bytes Marketing Solutions (aka Chapters Media & Advertising / Techbooks Media (defunct) / Fresh Pages Media and Advertising (defunct)) (does business in the Philippines as BridgeBooks)
- PaperChase Solution (defunct)
- Parchment Global Publishing (aka Word Dominion International, which is defunct)
- Paradigm Print (no longer has a website)
- Paramount Books Media (website is dead)
- Pearson Media Group (aka Ace Media Creative Publication / Ace Media International / Book Art Press Solutions / Booktimes / Bookwhip / Carter Press / Window Press Club) (Carter Press, PR Media Solutions, and Window Press Club are defunct)
- Pearson's Media and Consultancy
- Pen Culture Solutions (aka Golden Ink Media Services / Great Writers Media / Green Sage Agency / 
P One Media Marketing Consultancy)
- Pen House LLC (aka Lettra Press)
- Picador Media Works
- Pioneer Media Productions (defunct) (aka Silver Fox Media / Fox Media Studios Agency / Orions Media Agency / Experttell / PageTurner Press and Media / Innocentrix) (Orions Media Agency is defunct)
- Pixar Film Agency
- Polaris Interstellar
- Press To Impress Publishing (defunct)
- Primeway Media Services (website is dead)
- Pubkits.com
- Quantum Discovery (aka Silver Ink Literary Agency / Editor's Press and Media / Editor's Creative Media (defunct) / Global Review Press)
- Quill Space Media (aka Access Media Group) (defunct, but still doing business as Access Media Group)
- Rainbow Experts
- Readers Magnet
- Right Choice Multimedia (aka West Literary Agency / Legaia Books / Get Started Books) (Legaia Books and West Literary Agency are defunct)
- Royale House (defunct)
- Rushmore Press
- Rustik Haws (aka Haystack Creatives) (Rustik Haws website is dead; Haystack Creatives still in business)
- Sherlock Press (aka The Adverters) (Sherlock is defunct, Adverters still in business)
- Silver Fox Media (aka Fox Media Studios Agency / Orions Media Agency / Pioneer Media Productions / Experttell / PageTurner Press and Media / Innocentrix) (Orions Media Agency and Pioneer Media Productions are defunct)
- Silver Ink Literary Agency (aka Editors Press and Media / Editor's Creative Media (defunct) / Global Review Press / Quantum Discovery)
- SPARK Literary and Media
- Stampa Global (formerly Capstone Media Services)
- Stellar Literary Press and Media
- Stephenson and Queen (aka BookWhip / Author Media Express / Book Art Press Solutions / Booktimes / Carter Press / PR Media Solutions / Pearson Media Group / Window Press Club) (Carter Press, PR Media Solutions, and Window Press Club are defunct)
- Stonewall Press (aka Uirtus Solutions) (both defunct)
- Storium Press
- Stratton Press
- Supreme Media Corp 
- Techbooks Media (defunct) (see Chapters Media & Advertising)
- Toplink Publishing
- TransMedia Agency (aka New Leaf Media)
- TrueMedia Creatives (aka Creative Titles Media) (both defunct)
- Truman Publishing
- Uirtus Solutions (aka Stonewall Press) (both defunct)
- Universal Book Solutions (website is dead)
- Universal Breakthrough, The (aka The Universal Pages / Best Books Media / Global Summit House)
- Universal Pages, The (aka The Universal Breakthrough)
- URLink Print and Media
- VHawk Solutions
- Vivlio Hill Publishing (aka Vivlio Solutions / Vivlio Marketing Solutions)
- West Literary Agency (website is down) (aka Right Choice Multimedia / Legaia Books (defunct) / Get Started Books)
- WestPoint Print and Media
- Westwood Books Publishing (formerly Greenberry) (aka Authors Press / Creative Books)
- Window Press Club (aka Author Media Express / Book Art Press Solutions, Booktimes, Bookwhip / Carter Press, PR Media Solutions / Pearson Media Group / Stephenson and Queen) (defunct, but still doing business as Author Media Express, Book Art Press Solutions, Booktimes, and BookWhip)
- Word Dominion International (defunct) (aka Parchment Global Publishing)
- Word Art Publishing (aka Inspirium Press and Media)
- WorkBook Press
- The Writer Central (aka IdeoPage Press Solutions, which is defunct
- Writers Apex
- Writers Book Advertising Services (aka Writers Book Publishing House / Writers Desks LLC / Writers Republic)
- Writers Book Publishing House (aka Writers Desks LLC / Writers Book Advertising Services / Writers Republic)
- Writers' Branding 
- Writers Desire Innovation Agency
- Writers Desks LLC (aka Writers Book Publishing House / Writers Book Advertising Services)
- The Writers Gallery (website is dead)
- Writers Republic (aka Writers Desks/ Writers Book Publishing House / Writers Book Advertising Services)
- YourOnlinePublicist (aka YOP)
- Zeta Publishing

(I'm continuously updating this list--adding new companies as I discover them, noting the ones that disappear.)

I know my warnings are having an effect, not just because I'm hearing from writers who've found my posts or my list and have been able to avoid being ripped off, but because some of the scams are getting...a little defensive. Book-Art Press now includes this in its solicitation emails:
The links are to anti-Writer Beware screeds from people WB has exposed.

The grievance is definitely on display in this one, from MatchStick Literary (it also showcases the scams' trademark fractured English):

See ya at Writer Beware, scammers!

UPDATE 12/10/19: I want to highlight this recent comment, which illustrates how ubiquitous and persistent these scams are. Bottom line: if you self-publish, you can pretty much count on being solicited. Be on your guard. (By "GoTo", I'm assuming the commenter means GoToPublish.)

UPDATE 11/13/20: The latest scammer love note, left as a comment here. Good to know I'm still hitting a nerve!


UPDATE 12/30/20: They still love me! I didn't let these comments through, but I did memorialize them.

207 comments :

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Lewis Kempfer said...

I’ve had a steady stream of calls ever since I self-published my memoir two years ago. The frequency picked up once I started winning awards in book contests. All the calls start with the “Your book/you was/were referred to us…blah blah blah.” They always want to send an email with details and usually the emails read like they were written by someone whose native language isn’t English (that’s not a jab at people who speak other languages). The latest is Book Vine Press from someone named Zach who is the Senior Publicist and Marketing Consultant. Here’s his response when I called him out as being listed as a scam:

“I appreciate this email. I agree that those publishing companies that he mentioned on his website are all existing. However, it is very questionable why Westbow Press, Xlibris, Balboa Press and so other branches held by their mother company "AuthorSolutions" are not on his list. So maybe he is one of our competitors trying to destroy the reputation of a certain publishing company and is being paid to create bad blogs.

We are stepping on somebody's toes and these are big toes. Most authors from AuthorSolution are in our business enjoying and satisfied with the services that they have from us. We totally understand why they came to us since their publishing company has the most expensive services.

Now of course it will be up to you if you're going to believe that. As long as we know from our own selves and our authors that we are doing our best to fulfill every service that they purchase from us.”

The writing is better than most but still has odd syntax.

I self-published with BookBaby. They are legitimate and not a vanity press. They did everything they said they would and have always been reachable. My only problem with them is their in-house POD but that’s getting off topic.

Some of these companies sound so convincing. But why would I pay to re-publish a book I’ve already self-published?

Victoria Strauss said...

Lewis Kempfer,

That's one of their stock responses: that I'm a rival publisher badmouthing competitors, hence my "bad blogs". They never offer my supposed publishing company's name, though.

FYI, I've written plenty about the problems with Author Solutions--you can see all those posts by plugging "Author Solutions" into the search box.

Unknown said...

I too have been slammed with messages left on my machine since publishing my first novel in 2015, and they all have accents. They say they live in San Francisco or New York or San Diego yet do not know of any streets or landmarks.

They don't stop until you change your phone number which I don't want to do. They will send emails pretending to be a movie producer. So I write "Prove to me you are who you say you are." Crickets.

I have changed my message machine to say "unless you are a traditional publishing company, please do not leave a message." Some still do.

I agree. Why would I want to republish with a new cover etc. if I am pleased with the old cover? Stupid waste of money.

Rosanna Brand

Ian McKay Nunn said...

Recently I was contacted by Ali Stewart of Silver Literary Agency , Reno NV 89501 USA.
Subsequently I was sent a fraudulent copy of a letter of intent to acquire the rights to my book by Pengiun Random house. They confirmed it was a scam. posted by Ian McKay Nunn

Victoria Strauss said...

Ian McKay Nunn,

Would you share the fake letter of intent with me, along with any emails Silver sent you? You can forward it to beware@sfwa.org. Thank you!

"Silver Literary Agency" in Reno is actually Silver Ink Literary Agency, about which there are a number of online warnings (including mine).

Dchap2222@aol.com said...

Thank you, Victoria, You have identified several scam companies that I am personally and unfortunately aware of in my publishing efforts.
Can you comment on the following company apparently based out of Louisiana: The Ewings Publishing? They are offering an email campaign to help me with "marketing and sales campaign" to develop book sales and reviews for a "portfolio" to be presented to traditional publisher acquisition agents.
Thank you for your efforts, attention and time.

Victoria Strauss said...

Dchap222,

I haven't heard of The Ewings Publishing, but that's not too surprising, considering that its LLC wasn't registered until just last May (contrary to its claim to have been in business for five years).

The business is registered to a Honeylyn Ewing, at a Metairie address where other Ewings appear to live. Which would suggest that it's a business owned by a real US person (Philippine scammers sometimes use US persons as beards to hide their foreign origin, but the names of the beards doesn't usually match the name of the scam). However, given the scam markers evident on the website--faulty English, lack of verifiable info about the company or staff, the lie about the amount of time in business, the array of junk marketing services, and the solicitation--I suspect that the work of building the website and providing the services has been outsourced to the Philippines

Regardless, the services that are offered are ineffective (vanity radio and TV, book trailers, press releases) and hugely overpriced (for instance, they're selling Kirkus Indie reviews, which will cost you around $500 if you buy one yourself, for nearly $2,000).

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