Latest Posts

Update: The Copyright Claims Board At the Three-Month Mark

Copyright Claims Board logo

As Writer Beware wrote about a couple of months ago, the US Congress has created a tribunal (the Copyright Claims Board – CCB) administered by the US Copyright Office for small claims-size copyright decisions. It began operations on June 16.

Its charter called for transparency of process and one of the fascinating things about it so far is that it is possible to see in almost real time the docket of cases that have been submitted to it. After 3 months, as of today, the 16th of September, there are 149 cases. They are a mixed bag, to be sure, but a few preliminary conclusions can be reached.

Of the cases that involve writers, only three may be of special interest to the readers of Writer Beware.

Scam Alert: Scammers Impersonating Acorn TV

Logo of the real Acorn TV

If you're a fan of British TV shows, you've probably heard of (or maybe even subscribed to) Acorn TV, a streaming service that offers a wide variety of commercial-free UK-made mysteries, dramas, comedies, and documentaries.

Scammers have heard of it too.

The scam begins with a DM on Twitter from someone describing themselves as a "headhunter" for Acorn TV. Here are some of their profiles:

Complaints and Changes at Parliament House Press

Parliament House Press Logo

Last week, authors logging into the Parliament House Press Facebook group found a surprise announcement: Parliament House had a new owner, and a host of other changes were in store.

In its current form, Parliament House Press will be dissolved due to a combination of personal and economic considerations from our founder, Shayne Leighton. Shayne has spearheaded the publisher since 2016 and has been a force in bringing this small indie press to a larger stage. Shayne will continue to work with our team in a design capacity. In her stead, Malorie Nilson will take over as the CEO of a reincorporated Parliament House Press. Business will continue uninterrupted, but several essential changes will transpire during this transition.

All existing author contracts will be dissolved and replaced with new contracts, as is required by law, but there will be no interruptions to the day-to-day functions of the house. Unfortunately, due to the increasingly competitive landscape of the industry, we will not be able to offer contracts to all existing authors. Many of our current projects were brought on under a different team and different leadership, forcing us to take stock of where we are and what we are able to accomplish. We want all our authors to be successful, including those who will no longer be with us. Unfortunately, we are currently unable to serve the entirety of our catalog, so we are forced to downsize to ensure that we can give every book the attention it deserves. If you are not offered a new contract, please know that it is not because we don't love your work, but rather that we do not have the capacity to give everyone the attention and care they deserve. We are working hard to bring more opportunities to our authors, which means narrowing our enterprise's scope.

We will continue our partnership with IPG for digital distribution, as well as our work with the Seymour Agency to sell subsidiary rights. Furthermore, we will be moving our entire print catalog to Ingram, which will give brick and mortar stores the ability to purchase books through Ingram's distribution program. Finally, we have revised our contracts to align with industry standards as we begin working more closely with literary agents for future acquisitions. As we invite authors back to the Parliament House Press, we will review the new contracts with you (which we have updated to reflect industry standard for royalties and terms) to ensure that each of you is comfortable moving forward. Of course, with the dissolution of the existing contracts, you are free to part ways with the Parliament House Press and seek other opportunities if you wish.

The abrupt announcement was a shock. But it didn't come entirely out of the blue.

Metamorphosis and Impersonation: A New Front For An Old Scam

Image of a wolf (scammer) hiding behind a smiling mask

A few weeks ago, the Bent Agency notified me that an email was doing the rounds falsely claiming to be from Jenny Bent.

Though it links to the real Bent Agency website and cites the correct address, this is clearly a scam. Real, reputable literary agents very rarely reach out to writers they don't already represent--and if they do, it's a personal approach, not a form letter that doesn't mention the writer's name or the title of their book (note also that there's no "To" category, indicating a mass mailing to multiple recipients). Other indications include ungrammatical text (apart from the last two paragraphs, which have been copied from the Bent Agency's Who We Are page)--not something you'd expect from a reputable agent--and an email address that doesn't match the agency's web domain.

Impersonating reputable agents, editors, and publishing people is a very common tactic for the fake literary agency scams that are so common these days. I've written a number of posts about this phenomenon.

America’s Next Great Author: The Author Reality Show Idea Rides Again

America's Next Great Author logo

No doubt publishing isn't the only industry where the same ideas crop up over and over again--touted each time as original and groundbreaking, with no regard to previous iterations.

Manuscript display sites (aka electronic slushpiles). Author-agent and author-publisher matching services. They spring to life with hope and hype, persist for a while with limited adoption and no notable record of success, and eventually sink into oblivion...until the next time.

Another of those perennially arising, perennially failing notions: author reality shows.