Attack of the Fake Literary Agencies: West Literary Agency, Stellar Literary Press and Media

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Much of what I’m going to talk about in this post, I think most of my readers already know. But I’m getting so many questions about these two scam “agencies”–both of which seem to be super-active right now with solicitations–and providing so many warnings about them, that I think a broader warning is in order.

First, though–because it’s relevant to what follows–some tips on evaluating a literary agency’s website.

1. There should be a website. A pretty basic starting point.

2. It should be grammatically correct, and free of spelling errors and typos. Also very basic points, but as you’ll see from what follows, their lack can be an important clue.

3. It should feature recent sales (this is how you can tell whether an agency is successful), with verifiable info (title, author, publisher) so you can assure yourself that the publishers are reputable (no vanity presses or “hybrids”) and the sales really are recent (you want an agency that’s selling books right now, no matter how successful it’s been in the past).

4. Not all reputable agencies’ websites include a client list, but many do; it’s an additional way to verify bona fides.

5. The agents should be named–with bios, so you can verify their backgrounds and experience.

6. There should not be any kind of upfront fee.

7. Also helpful: an agency history, including how long it’s been in business; clear submission guidelines; disclosure of commissions (standard is 15% for domestic sales, 20-25% for overseas and film [the extra is for co-agents’ commissions]); and recent media coverage.


West Literary Agency appears to be blanketing the internet with solicitations (at least, judging by the number of questions I’m receiving). “Agent” names–no doubt fictitious–include Rachel Williams and Celine Meyers.

Here’s one of West’s solicitation emails:

Pretty much all the warning signs you need are in this email:

– Out of the blue solicitation (not always suspicious, but much more likely to be than not).

– Reputable agents are highly unlikely to advance-shop the work of writers they don’t represent.

– As noted above, the overwhelming standard for commissions on domestic sales is 15%, not 10%. Bogus agencies sometimes offer lower commission rates, to encourage writers to believe they’re getting a better deal (a safe offer, since such agencies never actually sell any books).

– Reputable agents don’t double as PR people. (The “help” West offers involves large fees–the only kind of selling bogus agencies do.)

– No reputable agent charges a “$95 fee to sign you up” or indeed any other kind of upfront fee.

The contract attached to the solicitation presents additional issues. For instance, the solicitation indicates that commissions are 10%–lower than standard. But in the contract,

See the problem? Plus, if the 10% commission for subrights sales “includes” 10% for co-agents, West would be getting zero for those sales. Just saying.

Also, didn’t the solicitation mention a $95 fee? But in the contract,

$2 isn’t much of a discrepancy. But what does it say about a company that it can’t get its written materials to agree?

Last but not least, West Literary Agency’s website. (You should ALWAYS check an agency’s website before engaging with it.) (UPDATE 6/24/21: West Literary’s website is down as of this writing, so the link may not work.)

Other than the fact that it exists, the website fails every test mentioned above. Telltale grammar and proofing errors (like so many of the scams I’ve written about this year, this one is based in the Philippines and staffed by people for whom English is a second language). No sales. No client list (other than one featured author whose book, sadly, has been published and re-published by two notorious scammers). No agent bios–no named agents at all, or any verifiable information about the agency itself (though if you check its domain registration, you can see that it did not exist until 46 days ago).

And then there’s this:

I guarantee that when you look at a reputable agency’s website, you will not find a late night TV advertising-style LOW, LOW PRICE pitch like this.

UPDATE 3/3/21: The latest grammar-challenged solicitation from West:

Writers who ignore or refuse Sarah’s offer are contacted by “Victor Ross” of Right Choice Multimedia, who alleges that Sarah referred them for representation. Victor is in the movie biz; he even has an IMDb profile with what looks like several film projects. Like much of what scammers do, however, it doesn’t stand close scrutiny: all the projects are “in development” (which could mean anything but definitely means they aren’t movies), the production company for all four is West Literary Agency, and the names attached as writers and producers have no IMDb presence other than the projects themselves.

UPDATE 3/26/21: Right Choice Multimedia (aka West Literary) is selling “tickets” for a “commissioned literary agent” to write an “endorsement letter” that will be sent to traditional publishers, supposedly to enhance writers’ chances of being discovered. This endeavor is purportedly “sponsored by Major US Publishers.” This is one of the more egregious schemes I’ve seen; I unpack it here.


Stellar Literary appears to be soliciting at least as energetically as West Literary Agency, if not more so.

Here’s an example of what you might receive from “Senior Literary Agent” Charlie Dunn or Aaron Williams.

Red flags:

– Solicitation.

– Grammar lapses and typos.

– Pengiun. Need I say more?

– It’s HarperCollins Publishers, not Harper Publishing. Not a mistake you’d expect a real agent to make.

– Note how the solicitation defaults almost immediately to a pitch for re-publishing the recipient’s book. You hire an agency to get you published, not to publish you itself. Also, as I’ve said in other posts about scams that push re-publishing offers, re-publishing an already-published book so that another publisher can publish it a third time makes absolutely no sense (and is not how things work, in any case).

– What recommendation? Who made it? Here’s Stellar’s nonsensical reply to one writer who asked:

Note the ongoing problem with the spelling of Penguin.

Like West, Stellar offers an author-agent agreement, which looks fairly standard until you get to this:

I’m imagining all the subagents lining up for that 3% commission.

On Stellar’s website, the whole “literary agency” pretense comes crashing down. There’s nothing there that you’d find on a real agency site: no word on who is actually part of the “team with a vision“, no sign of the “countless” writers the team has supposedly guided “from query letter to published book for over 20 years.” No sign of the books, either. In fact, from the fractured English…

…to the pay-to-play publishing packages…

…to the gigantic markups on marketing services (a Kirkus Indie review will cost you $575 at most if you buy it yourself)…

…it’s the very portrait of a scam.

Stellar has been around a bit longer than West, but not 20 years longer. Its domain was registered just this past August.

UPDATE 5/9/22: Stellar Literary is still soliciting with re-publication offers, but now it’s using the name and biographical information of a reputable agent, James Mustelier of The Bent Agency (it is also making multiple false claims to have brokered deals for trad-pubbed books, including former Attorney General William Barr’s One Damn Thing After Another). This kind of impersonation is not uncommon with Philippines-based solicitation scams.

UPDATE 2/17/23: Stellar is impersonating Scott Miller of Trident Media Group. How do I know? The text of Fake Scott’s email is identical to others sent out under Stellar’s name.


For many of my readers, all of the above will seem very obvious, and these warnings may seem redundant because you’ve heard them so often.

But I’m hearing from an awful lot of writers who’ve been solicited by these two scammers, and sense that there’s something off (at least enough to contact me) but are tempted enough, or unwary enough, to believe West and Stellar just might be real. I worry that there are many more who won’t smell a rat. (Note: West and Stellar are not isolated examples: they are part of a scam phenomenon that burst into being in 2014 and has been growing exponentially ever since.)

Some tips to protect yourself:

– Be an informed writer. Understand how literary agents (and publishers) really do things–preferably before you start trying to get published (I provide some suggestions for that here). It’s a step that too many eager new writers skip.

– Be suspicious of direct solicitation. It’s not always a scam. But it’s a scam often enough that it should always prompt caution.

– Don’t take anything at face value–not solicitations, not offers, not websites. Research. Do some digging. See if you can verify any claims (and if there’s no way for you to verify them–no staff names or book sales to back up claims of success and expertise–be suspicious). You can contact me at Writer Beware, and I’ll tell you if I know anything:

– Don’t ignore warning signs like the ones identified above. I’m constantly amazed, for instance, at how many writers overlook the glaring English-language errors in scammers’ emails and websites (a product of the scams’ overseas origins: most are based in the Philippines). If an agent purports to be able to rep your English-language work, they should be able to speak and write correct, grammatical English. This isn’t bias: it’s professional competency.

– Beware of shortcuts. If you’re a celebrity, you may be able to skip the intervening steps between a completed manuscript and a publishing deal. But for regular people, there’s no sure-fire way to shorten the process or jump the line. Don’t trust anyone who tells you that there is.

For lots more information on literary agents, including how to vet them, whether you need one, and links to helpful resources, see the Literary Agents page of Writer Beware.

UPDATE 12/16/20: These agency scams are like cockroaches: if you can see two, you know there are dozens more you can’t.

Case in point: Authors Legacy, which has no website or Facebook page (as of this writing, at any rate) but is busily soliciting writers with transparently bogus offers (among other things, there’s no such thing as a “Literary Agency License”).

Bogus offer 1
Bogus offer 2


  1. Thank you for this blog post Victoria! I receive a lot of solicitations regarding my book so am usually quick at spotting a scam, but GreenDot Films has upped their game, as their email was quite convincing…especially since it appeared very professional, and they never asked me for money. I did a web search to find out more about them and came across your blog post, which confirmed that GreenDot is indeed a scam. For your own–and your readers’–information, here’s the email I received from them last night:

    Hi Jodi,

    I hope this email finds you well.

    This is Glenn Baines, senior film scout with The GreenDot Films. I am reaching out in reference to your book “Chasing Echoes”. We are thrilled to inform you that your book has been selected as one of the very few titles to be represented for the upcoming Producer’s Pitch event in October for a potential film or TV adaptation.

    One of our Executive Producers – Mr. Paul McLean is eager to develop a pitch deck based on your book, which will be presented to the producers pitch festival in October. The event is the first opportunity for a producer to present their idea for a film or television show to potential investors, studios, or networks. It is the producer’s chance to convince decision makers that their idea is worth investing in and that they are the right person to bring it to life. A good pitch should be clear, concise, and compelling, highlighting the unique elements of the story and the producer’s qualifications and vision for the project.

    Additionally, a good pitch should also convey the potential audience and commercial value of the project, as well as the budget and timeline for production. It can be the key to getting a green light for a project and launching a successful production. This is an incredible milestone in the journey of bringing your work to the big screen and we are honored to be a part of this exciting adventure. To move forward, we request you to submit Hollywood standard materials that Mr. Paul McLean will review so he can strategize the best pitch of your story in front of the major Hollywood decision makers.

    Here are the film adaptation materials required for you to submit a month before the actual event in October:

    1. Film Synopsis: A summary of the plot and main themes of a film, typically a few paragraphs in length.
    2. The Logline: A brief, catchy summary of the main conflict or plot of a film, used to entice audiences and industry professionals.
    3. Storyboard Structure: A visual representation of the sequence of events in a film, often depicted as a series of illustrations or images arranged in a grid or timeline.
    4. Characters / Actors: The people or fictional beings who populate a film and drive the story. Actors are the performers who bring the characters to life on screen.
    5. Film Treatment: A detailed outline of a film’s story and characters, written in prose form.
    6. Mood Board: A collection of images, colors, and other design elements that capture the overall aesthetic and mood of a film.
    7. Target Audience: The group of people that a film is intended to appeal to, based on factors such as age, gender, interests, and cultural background.
    8. Screenplay: The written script for a film, including dialogue, character descriptions, and stage directions.

    For now, please focus on submitting a professional screenplay and film synopsis that will be used for the pitch deck. The other materials can be submitted at a later date. Once again, let us extend our heartfelt congratulations on this fantastic development. We cannot wait to see what the future holds for your work and look forward to the next steps in this exciting journey.

    In order to meet the Hollywood standard materials, we recommend reaching out to Professional Screenwriters to procure the above-mentioned requirements. We cannot compromise this once in a lifetime event as not every author gets the same opportunity.

    Deadline of submission: Last week of September 2023

    To submit your materials or for any other questions or concerns, you may contact me at (669) 201-8078.

    I look forward to hearing from you soon.

    Best Regards,

    (The end of this email contained a very professional digital signature, and a list of “Recent Media Release” links that take you to legitimate-looking sources).

  2. I get so many of these solicitations, but just received my first from The GreenDot Films. It felt wrong to begin with (i.e. they congratulate me on my book, but never once mention the name of the book). A search turned up your blog and it confirmed what I thought. Read the whole blog. Thank you for doing this.

  3. I fell for the GreenDot scam. I’m in the hole $49,000.00. I am disputing my most recent charge of $20,000 with Bank of America, and getting my lawyer involved to see what recourse there is. Avoid GreenDot and BetterBound at all costs! I can’t believe this.

    Justin O’Donnell

  4. I found I-universe reputable and competentto publish my twobooks. My beest friend, abookdesigner , bought samples from several sources and selected them ojn thebasis of quality. However, on my 2nd book, I purchased a review and promote package, and they assigned it to a reader who did not care for the subject of the background of my book. Since then, I have decliined every pitching service they offer.

  5. Vellume Innovations is indeed a scam; I've gotten several questions and all the signs are there. I've added it to my list of predatory publishing/marketing/fake agency scams.

  6. www . vellummeinnovations . net does look like a scam: the "business" address is a person's house; only gmail email addresses; no names on the web site; the same telephone number is used for other scam web sites; it used and/or uses robot telephone calling; web site created three months ago; mailing address listed as "leyte {sic}, PH" which is in the Philippines.

    It is not merely "as bit" suspicious. 🙁

  7. Hi Victoria

    Thank you for your article, it is very helpful. I got a solicitation from a company call vellume innovations, that sounded a bit suspicious like the company's you mentioned. have you heard of them by any chance? thank you

  8. "I've written about Quantum Discovery here…."

    I have read the blog post. I weep for the writers / authors who get conned.

    There is an episode of Star Trek: Voyager that has an alien that is able to tap into human brains and learn what each individual desires most. The alien then makes each individual believe their desires have come true by injecting false experiences in their brains. The alien's goal is to digest the humans.

  9. I've written about Quantum Discovery here. It's part of the Chapters Media & Advertising/Paper Bytes Marketing Solutions/Blueprint Press complex, and does business in the Philippines as Bridgebooks.

  10. Quantum Discovery contacted me to get my book re-licensed. They forwarded their website, which looks legit until you call the phone number listed and it goes right into a voicemail. They want $800 to re-license your book and then supposedly work on a commission-only basis once it gets picked up by a major publisher. The literary agent, Nick O'Neill, is also in a hurry to get this book ready to "pitch" to publishers and media outlets, so all the more reason to pay for the re-licensing fee and get the ball rolling. Total scam.

  11. "Victoria, so Quantum Discovery literary agency is another scam agency?"

    I am not Victoria, but the answer is HELL YES. Note the lack of any names, and the expensive "plans" whereby you fork over your money— that is a predatory vanity press, not a literary agent site.

  12. Wow I had a gentleman by the name of Joe with an accent and he said his company was in Colorado called writers media which address was a UPS but he lives over seas, he couldn't validate anything and months later I get a message from another company with a guy named Joe with the same accent? I cannot forget his voice, I believe its the same person

  13. Unknown 5/02,

    Silver Ink Literary Agency is exactly the same kind of scam as the two "agencies" discussed in my post. It's a front for referring writers to various paid services, such as editing or re-publishing. See the sidebar: it's listed there with the many other, similar scams based in the Philippines.

  14. Yeh, I got an email from Right Choice Mulitmedia, promising to find me a traditional publisher for my book, 'Black Passenger Yellow Cabs.' I then rang the number and spoke to a filipina sounding person. I promptly assured her that, I was born on a night, but not last night.

  15. I received the same email today from West Literary Agency as Unknown 2/27/2021, with two exceptions. Michael now has a last name (Ferry), and he's cleaned up the penultimate sentence to correct "speak" to "speaking". Does this mean these scammers are getting smarter as they go? Horrors!

    I have half a mind to reply with "Hahahahahahahaha!" I'll try to restrain myself.

  16. I just got one of these from West Literary Agency.

    It's a scam. And a scond order one — these guys aren't even vanity publishers. They're just parasites.

  17. I got the same email as above yesterday from "Michael" at West Literary Agency. I'll paste it below (and redact my book's title). The email overall sounded suspicious to me, but the most suspicious were the lack of a last name and the bad grammar. A quick Google search brought me to this post.


    "This is Michael, from West Literary Agency, we represent authors to major book publishers and production companies in the US and UK. Your book [REDACTED] qualified as part of the shortlisted titles that passed the 2020 guidelines and market research from different Literary Agencies all over North America. All books who are entered are exclusively invited to the 2021 Review of the Literary Agents and to be passed on to multiple major publishing companies in the US. Your book if you decide to join this year's entry, will have an opportunity to be read by Major Book Publishers here in the US, a number of these publishers is guaranteed to receive a copy of your book's endorsement and will have the opportunity to acquire your book before it launches in December's Final 2021 Top Ten Books list.

    If this is something that you're interested in please let me know. Let us schedule a phone discussion, what's the best time and phone number to reach you? You may also call us at (847) 957-6946 so we can discuss the best publishers that matches your book's genre and your options in our program.

    I look forward to speak with you.


  18. I got an unsolicited email from "Michael" at West Literary today. I thought it might be a scam, so I googled it and landed here. I am amused to note that they apparently haven't updated their website, as they're still touting their $97.00 one day special. I pasted the email below with my book title redacted:

    This is Michael, from West Literary Agency, we represent authors to major book publishers and production companies in the US and UK. Your book –REDACTED– qualified as part of the shortlisted titles that passed the 2020 guidelines and market research from different Literary Agencies all over North America. All books who are entered are exclusively invited to the 2021 Review of the Literary Agents and to be passed on to multiple major publishing companies in the US. Your book if you decide to join this year's entry, will have an opportunity to be read by Major Book Publishers here in the US, a number of these publishers is guaranteed to receive a copy of your book's endorsement and will have the opportunity to acquire your book before it launches in December's Final 2021 Top Ten Books list.

    If this is something that you're interested in please let me know. Let us schedule a phone discussion, what's the best time and phone number to reach you?

    I look forward to speak with you.

  19. I was approached by a Victor Ross. I wrote to him, and told him that I am broke, unemployed, and can't pay him. Truth helps right?.

  20. Anonymous 12/30,

    An agent does need to know which publishers your ms. has been submitted to (if any) because that potentially closes off submission opportunities for them, and may affect their decision on whether to offer representation. If you've had an agent in the past, it's also helpful for a potential new agent to know that as well. But there's no reason why they should know which other agents you've queried.

    It's odd for an agent's website to be so uninformative. Email me the agent's name, if you like; I'll see if I have any information.

  21. Why would an agent (found in Publishers Marketplace but no Member page) request my agent submission history? From my first question put out in one of this agent's client message box, there was only a three-hour turn around to the agent himself requesting my first fifty pages and a history of previous agent/publisher submissions.

    BTW, the agent website has only one page with no links to anything, only a notice that says "By Referral Only" with a phone number and a short article link on this page about deals made.

  22. Victoria, thanks for all your great work. Just a minor nitpick, the first solicitation email does list $97 fee, not $95 as you claim, so there is no mismatch with the contract. Other than that, great write up of the scam.

  23. Good gods. Charging their victims around ten thousand dollars for a book that might not sell any copies, for services real literary agents do on commission. >ANGRY!< The average self-published book, if it is a "good book," is about 300 copies sold. A *GOOD* book must sell 300 copies for about $35 a copy JUST TO BREAK EVEN with this vanity press— and the odds are excellent that their victims will never write a good book.

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