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Shortlisted for a Traditional Publisher’s Contract? – A Case Study in Scamming Practices

Posted on the 27 December 2022 by Cendrinemedia @cendrinemedia
There was a time, no so long ago, when I used to receive about 1,500 emails every day. Most of them were spam messages, of course. But they were always quite amusing to read. One day, I started saving my favorites in a special folder so I could re-read them when I needed a good laugh. My plan was to send a humorous response to each spammer as well. But, I quickly realized that it would take too much time. So, I had an idea: Why not collect the most hilarious emails (with my answers) into a book? Bad. Pitches. Period. 30 Flavors of Spammy Emails was born a few months later! It was one of the most fun projects in my career. Readers have repeatedly told me how much the book brightens their days, which makes me even happier! Of course, I continue receiving hilarious spam messages. I am even considering making a second volume. But maybe before that, I should do something about the scamming attempts that land in my inbox… …Especially the ones sent by companies that take malicious delight in preying upon unsuspecting indie authors. The below exchange happened yesterday. As you will see in my responses, I don’t mince my words. To be honest, I have zero patience for unethical folks. While some people would choose not to engage, I prefer responding in order to create helpful case studies for my fellow authors. Subject: Shortlisted for Traditional Publisher’s Contract “Dear Cendrine, I hope this email finds you well. My name is XXXXXXX, I’m the Senior Literary Agent of PageTurner. Your book — Life’s Little Things has created a lot of noise in the industry and it is highly recommended by our scouts to be considered for endorsement. I worked as a literary agent and I endorsed books to Traditional Publishers. Cendrine, I’m reaching out to you to offer you a partnership. I would like to represent your book and include this in the submission. I am finalizing the list of projects for endorsement this 4th quarter of 2022. Also, we will explore other opportunities for this project as we see massive potential in this book. Just so you know, I’ve been a literary agent for 7 years now — 4 years as an independent and 3 years as part of a hybrid publisher in PageTurner. I am part of the publicity team that made Behind Her Eyes a successful TV series on Netflix and currently, I’m working on 2 book-to-film projects. You can check the links below: 1. 2. These are both multi-million dollar deals. I also hope to represent your book and maximize its full potential. The projected valuation of this project is between $580,000 — $800,000 when acquired by a Traditional Publisher. I would love to talk to you about this. I tried calling the number our scouts gave me but I can’t seem to get a hold of you. At your most convenient time, you can call me at 1XXXXXXX.” Below is a short list of red flags: Serious literary agents rarely content or call authors directly. Life’s Little Things is actually two photography collections, which I released years ago. If those had “created a lot of noise in the industry” and were “highly recommended”, I would know. I monitor my name. The name of the “literary agent” cannot be found anywhere. It is probably fake. Page Turner Press & Media is listed under a U.S. address, but is a Philippines-based company. Apparently, it has several other names too. I originally posted this article on Medium. Sarah Pinborough, author of Behind Her Eyes, saw it and confirmed that the sender was lying. Me: Thank you for the laughter, XXXX! How many people did you manage to scam today? Sender: Oh my goodness, you’re so mean. For sure you had bad experience with other agents that’s why you are acting that way. Me: Coming from the representative of a company notorious for its many scams, your reaction does not surprise me. You seriously think that someone in their right mind would fall for your offer? You haven’t read my book, it’s pretty obvious. Otherwise, you would not give me that kind of bogus numbers. Bolding words doesn’t make a message more attractive, it just makes the scam more obvious. Or is it what the self-proclaimed marketing guru you paid to train you taught you? We all know what PageTurner does: Now, go bother someone who cares. And stop calling me. I will report your number. NB: I pushed the envelope on purpose. People with bad intentions usually betray themselves quickly. Case in point, see below. Sender: I just called you once Cendrine and don’t worry as I am not here to force you to believe me at all. Talking about BBB? if you are that smart you should know by now that BBB is a private organization and in order for a company to get a good rating from them is you’ll gonna have to pay them a certain amount of money which is something we’re not doing just to manipulate authors. If you are indeed a wise woman you should know for a fact that Internet is a FREE ACCESS which means, EVERYONE can write something about SOMEONE online. Also Cendrine, I am not trying to seduce you with my first email. If you simply don’t like it you can simply reply not interested rather than saying false information or acting as if you knew everything. For your information, Take a look at the BBB you’ve been bragging about. Hope this helps. Ciao! NB: A common practice of trolls and bullies is to resort to insults (and gaslighting). They want to get their targets riled up. Me: Ok, fine: I am inured to insults from strangers. They are just proof that the person is out of arguments. “BBB is a private organization and in order for a company to get a good rating from them is you’ll gonna have to pay them a certain amount of money which is something we’re not doing just to manipulate authors.” — False: If they indeed closed their chapter, it’s because that particular chapter was unethical. Most people check the BBB website before they hire or buy from specific companies. By the way, thank you for actually proving my point: Your company try (a stupid typo!!) to manipulate authors. I am talking about the very unfortunate “just” in your above sentence (I have bolded and italicized it for you). “If you are indeed a wise woman you should know for a fact that Internet is a FREE ACCESS which means, EVERYONE can write something about SOMEONE online.” — Technically, the correct term is “write ANYTHING about someone”. The Internet is also a very good place to find bad and unethical practices. When many links confirm said practices, it’s proof that something is up. “Also Cendrine, I am not trying to seduce you with my first email. If you simply don’t like it you can simply reply not interested rather than saying false information or acting as if you knew everything.” — So what exactly is an offer of half a million dollars? Unless you are using the verb to mean something else. In which case, I am not your gal. Newsflash: Authors are notorious for reading between the lines. Just because I am an indie author doesn’t mean that I am stupid. Hope this helps. Ciao! Sender: “I am not saying you are stupid at all, I just think you are definitely lack of knowledge and not wise enough. I’m not saying this to offend you but I am stating some facts. Why do we say bad reviews are irrelevant to success? Most self-publishing companies nowadays play dirty, especially when they see an upright company that is doing the right things. PageTurner has many successful authors who brag about our work. Why listen to the negative reviews when these reviews are written by the people in the Philippines? More or less, these negative reviews are coming from our competitors based there. Check these out for yourself: They wittingly say that we are from the Philippines, yet the author’s review is from the Philippines. Why are they doing this? The answer is fear. They fear that their clients will switch to the ones that are doing actual work for authors and their books. They don’t see the value of what we do for our clients. These are from a pissed consumer website. We asked that these fraudulent and negative reviews be taken down from their website, but we were told that we needed to pay $3,000.00 per negative review, which to us was ludicrous. Click on this link for you to see what our authors really have to say about us: What you know is a lie Who would have thought that one of the most trusted agencies is actually a private company? They receive payments for companies to get good ratings. Yes, I’m talking about the BBB or otherwise known as the Better Business Bureau. Here’s a little bit of information about them: The Better Business Bureau (BBB), founded in 1912, is a private, nonprofit organization whose self-described mission is to focus on advancing marketplace trust consisting of 106 independently incorporated local BBB organizations in the United States and Canada and are coordinated under the International Association of Better Business Bureaus (IABBB) in Arlington, Virginia. The Better Business Bureau is not affiliated with any governmental agency. Businesses that affiliate with BBB and adhere to its standards do so through industry self-regulation. To avoid bias, BBB’s policy is to refrain from recommending or endorsing any specific business, product, or service. — Wikipedia Most people rely on accreditation from BBB so that their company is labeled as “good.” We contest the rating system. Please look at these examples: Author solutions has 1.28 stars out of 5 and yet is rated with an “A+” rating. Doesn’t that seem misleading? And how does this make any sense? Two (2) complaints in the last three years, no star rating, and yet given an “F” rating. None of these make sense. Let’s deal with a little bit more sensitive issue: PageTurner was listed as a scam company by a group of authors “scammed” by Author Solutions LLC. What do they do? They list all publishers except for traditional publishers as scam companies. Innocent or guilty, they don’t care. Since the existence of “Writer Beware” is a blog, they earn from the traffic that they are getting. Saying that all listed publishers are scams, they have “featured books” on the right side of their website. The industry has become a vicious place to be. We cannot deny the fact that there are plausible facts in their blog because we, too, know of the Fly-By-Nights that have surfaced in the industry. We are registered with the IRS and DNB. As PageTurner is its own entity, we cannot forcibly close down the companies that shed a bad light on the industry. What we do instead is to do what we can to help make an author’s dream come true. We don’t promise the moon and the stars, but we promise to always do our best. No legitimate company will promise you results. This is the signature of scam companies. We do what we can — we make recommendations, we edit books, we market books, and all of that. The difference is that you will see the fulfillment. You are not misled. To give you peace of mind and heart, I am sending you the company’s IRS Business Registration to invalidate the claims. You may also contact the IRS to verify the existence of the business. Also, to further support the fact that the business is legit, I am sending you our latest bank statement to one of our banks. Having these documents would only mean we have a license to operate and provide business. We have valid checking bank accounts all under our company name to make sure the company’s stability. We know that anybody cannot just open a business bank account without presenting any legal papers. For further reference, you may check our authors’ success stories.” (The links are included...

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