Miss Snark is Dismayed

A Snarkling with some experience writes in the comments section:

I've found it very interesting over the past decades that I've been pursuing publication for my work that the scam agencies almost always offer a written contract and that many of the legitimate agencies do not. I gave it some thought after encountering how some of those scams used that in their dealings with writers.

Essentially, it has several purposes. One is to assure the writer that the scam agency isn't a scam. A second is to furnish the scammer with a tool that can be used to threaten the writer should the writer get wind of what's going on and attempt to refuse payment. That's why a lot of scams that do submit to publishers send the work to publishers that are a) not appropriate for the kind of manuscript content, b) sure to pass on a query so the scammer doesn't have to actually send in a full copy, or c) inappropriate and accepts queries so that there's no chance of a slip-up.

Then the scammer can produce some rejections, keep the money, and drag the writer along for as much money as can be coughed up. This way, the scammer can contest any court challenge with proof that he tried to sell the manuscript and that there was no lack of performance on his part according to the contract which the court would then have no recourse but to enforce. Unwritten contracts, scammers have learned, are harder to enforce when it comes to up front fees.

Holy shit.
This never occurred to me.
Yet another reason to remember the First Rule of the Snark: Don't Pay An Agent before s/he sells your work. Ever. No exceptions. Never.

Thanks for a the bucket of cold water on my head.


Anonymous said...

Geez, Miss Snark, you are an avalanche of information! And the St. Bernards are off getting groomed.

You've got some serious stamina.

pinch said...

I sent out my novel to agents for about 3 months under a pen name. I now have wonderful agent. Today I received an e-amil from Xlibris, the Random House Ventures- yes, self-publishing - sent to my e-mail, the name on my e-mail address not even close to my pen name. The e-mail states that they have information about my wonderful writing. I have never had any communicaton with Random House for any reason, and the only people I ever used the pen name for any communication were agents. So, logically, who could have given my pen name out and my e-mail address? I chose only reputable agents, so am somewhat pissed that I even received this. Are there agents out there giving out names to Xlibris? do they get a cut?What does Miss Snark think before I drink the entire bottle of Grey Goose as an antidote for cynicsm.

Saundra Mitchell said...

Is your e-mail guessable? A name? A statement? Xlibris has sent me mail at writer@myisp.com and family@myisp.com both- one address, I plainly use for writing, but the other, never at all (and not on the web, either.) I'm pretty sure Xlibris buys and/or harvests addresses from generated spam lists *and* writers' websites- another reason to avoid doing business with them!

ssas said...

You'd think these scam agents would find a way to make a whole lot more money. But then, we writers are a desperate lot, aren't we?

Sal said...

I feel a bit left out. No e-mails from Xlibris for me.

... but then, when Xlibris shutdown inkspot.com, they never paid my invoices for work I'd done for inkspot.com. Maybe they put me on their "do not solicit" list for fear of stirring angry ol' hornets.