Scammers Taking Big 5 Publishers’ Names in Vain: A Growing Trend

I’ve been doing the Writer Beware thing for quite some time, and I Have Seen Some Shit.

But this solicitation from a Philippines-based publishing and marketing scammer calling itself Right Choice Multimedia (among other names) is one of the most disgusting things that has come across my desk in a while…and that’s saying something.

Here it is in its entirety. Read it and boggle. You can also scroll down directly to my (far more grammatical) debunking. Be sure to read all the way to the end, because I have some things to say about why Big 5 publishers should care that their trademarks and reputations are being co-opted in this way.

Right Choice Multimedia may not be able to produce a grammatical email, but it has a keen grasp of author psychology. Not only are writers being offered a shortcut to the glorious goal of traditional publication, they’re specially invited (You’re Exceptional!), and success is virtually guaranteed (Money Well Spent!)

Of course, this is not how things work in the real world. Consortiums of major publishers don’t “sponsor” vast collective slush piles, or solicit random authors to submit to them. Literary agents don’t create “endorsement letters” at the behest of nameless committees, or acquire clients by assignment. There is no such thing as The Literary Review of Books Magazine. (There is a  Top Ten Magazine, but I’m guessing it would be surprised to find itself included here.)

The whole point of the scam is to get writers to buy a “ticket”–from which nothing will result, other than, perhaps, demands for more money for more worthless “services”:

Check that “VIP Suite”! Accompanying the tickets is a series of obviously fabricated testimonials, to which the names of real authors have been attached:

As is often the case with this type of scam, it is operating under more than one name. Account Executive Sam Deeds of scammer Right Choice Multimedia touts his “Official Hollywood Profile”, but if you click on the link, it delivers you to the IMDb page of Victor Ross, also of Right Choice Multimedia, but doing double duty as a “literary agent” for scammer West Literary Agency (I’ve written about West Literary Agency here). All four of the “in development” projects claimed by “Sam” show up on “Victor’s” profile; all four have been published by an Author Solutions imprint (Author Solutions authors are overseas scammers’ favorite targets), and all four show West Literary Agency as the production company.

Needless to say, these projects are as fake as the testimonials–although the authors who have paid a bundle for their books to be turned into screenplays or films or whatever “service” was pitched to them may not yet know it.

As regular readers of this blog are aware, I’ve written extensively about the class of scams of which Right Choice Multimedia/West Literary Agency is a part, and collected reams of documentation, including solicitation emails, contracts, and other materials. In 2014, when I first identified them, the scams focused primarily on selling overpriced publishing packages and junk marketing, especially book fair “representation” and display.

As time has passed, however, increasing competition (there are now more than 125 of these companies, and I’m certain that’s an undercount), efforts to expose them (primarily my own), and more recently, the pandemic-fueled shutdown of book fairs and other in-person events, have pushed them to employ different techniques (book-to-screen packages and vanity radio) and more baroque schemes: impersonating real agents and literary scouts; creating a stable of fake agents complete with websites and biographies; and the solicitation that’s the subject of this post, in which Big 5 publishers are presented as sponsors of an elaborate pay-to-play submission scheme.

The scams–virtually all of which are based in the Philippines, despite their apparent US addresses and phone numbers–largely fly below the radar of the traditional publishing industry. In part, this is because their targets–writers who’ve self-published with exploitative companies like Author Solutions, small press authors, and vulnerable groups such as the elderly and disabled–are not really that industry’s constituency (unless, of course, they’re being recruited to a Big 5 pay-to-play division), and the scammers’ activities have little to no impact on the business of traditional publishing. There’s not a lot of incentive, therefore, for publishers to take action or push back–or even, really, to take notice of what’s going on. (One writer who contacted PRH about a scam solicitation using the PRH name received a response from someone in administration who assumed the writer was referring to phishing scams on Upwork. Several others who tried to alert other Big 5 houses told me they received no response at all.)

The scammers rely on this, and their overseas location, to protect them. And they are getting bolder. It used to be rare for them to purport to be in “partnership” or “created by” or otherwise connected with or acting with the approval of Big 5 houses, but in the last year it’s become common. I’ve seen faked-up emails from HarperCollins, solicitations claiming to be from Picador (an imprint of Macmillan), contract offers from an outfit called Stephenson and Queen that pretends to be an “imprint” of Thomas Nelson (it has registered a domain but as yet has no website).

Scammers are using the names of real Big 5 editors and other staff to pitch their “services”. Just the other day a writer told me that they received a phone solicitation from someone claiming to represent Penguin, who then referred them to scammer SPARK Literary and Marketing “for the details on securing a contract.” And check out these “new submission guidelines”, also supposedly from Penguin, but really created by Silver Ink Literary Agency to convince writers to pay for editing so their books can be “endorsed”:

As poorly put-together and obviously false as many of these efforts are, people do fall for them. A lot.

The authors whose names have been attached to the fake testimonials above would surely object to their identities and reputations being used to defraud unsuspecting writers. Shouldn’t the Big 5 houses also be concerned about the blatant misuse of their names and trademarks, even if the scams don’t affect their bottom line? I’m not suggesting that PRH and Harper and the rest rush out and file lawsuits in the Philippines. But it would be nice if they focused a fraction of the attention on these scams that they’ve devoted to a different solicitation-and-impersonation scam that targets trad-pubbed authors.

Public warnings would be a good place to start–ideally on publishers’ home pages, but at least on submission pages and on the websites of targeted imprints like Picador and Thomas Nelson. If the Combined Book Exhibit could post a scam warning when it discovered that Filipino scammers were misappropriating its name and services, surely PRH et al. can do so too. And how about outreach to an organization like the Alliance of Independent Authors, which advocates for self-publishers–or even to Author Solutions, from which the scammers draw their largest victim pool–and with which three of the Big 5 already have or have had a relationship?

Contact me. I’ll be glad to assist in any way I can.

UPDATE 4/11/21: I’m thrilled to announce that all five publishers have contacted me to express their eagerness to do all they can to warn authors about the scammers that are misusing their names and logos!

Just kidding. I haven’t heard from a single one.

In other news, Right Choice Multimedia has torn another leaf from the Author Solutions playbook, and established its own fake publisher/agency matching site.

26 Comments

  1. Writers' best defense is to join writers' groups, like the Alliance of Independent Authors, or genre-specific ones like MWA, RWA, SFWA. Get into their online groups and be involved, at least a little. Then when one of these really exciting offers comes your way, you'll have colleagues to give you a reality check. Lots of other benefits to a good association, but protecting yourself from tempting scams has to be one of the most important.
    Thanks for all you do, Writer Bewarians!

  2. I keep reading your updates in my emails and marveling. This is the first time I'm commenting.
    My guess would be that one of the reasons why the big five (or maybe big four) aren't doing anything is their passive-aggressive way of dealing with indie publishers who dare to dream to be traditionally published. They probably see daring as an act of insolence. I see it as a foolish and outdated choice.
    The official reasons are probably because, just like piracy, it's a costly and probably fruitless fight.
    Just my guesses. Maybe I'm wrong or too cynical. I'm not cynical enough not to be outraged of the audacity of the scammers.

  3. Thank you for what you do! I've worked years to complete my first novel. Now as I struggle to find my way through the labyrinthine underworld of publishing it, you are my guardian angels and guides. Keep up the outstanding work you do exposing these low-lifes.

  4. Thanks so much for another great expose. Glad someone besides wolves is watching the hen house. Scammers are clearly upping their game because it's such a lucrative business. And even when you try to warn people, some get defensive because they don't want to believe it; denial is often a happier place to live than reality. It's infuriating how many scammers are out there squelching people's dreams with some making six figure incomes doing it. Once again, BUYER BEWARE. And yes I'd sure like to see the publishers taking action to warn aspiring writers and to go after the scammers! If it's a felony to impersonate a celebrity, politician or police officer in many states, why isn't it a felony to misrepresent yourself as a publisher or employee???

  5. That is a shocker Victoria, so well done Ms Sherlock!
    When I read the name I actually read Scam Deeds, which is fitting!
    Keep up the astonishingly valuable work.
    How can authors actually ever thank you enough!

    Marie

  6. The question that remains, my dear Ms. Sherlock, 'what will they think of next?'
    The article caught my eye because I have been getting emails offering book reviews and marketing solicitations in my email. I'm not sure where they are getting my email address, but I need to investigate and change some passwords.

    I received several of these now, and my first instinct was this is weird. I am on a Goodreads forum for authors looking for reviewers, so the finger points there. What is uncanny is that they use very common English names, but they sent me emails without any links to their website. When I googled those names, nothing came up related to what they were suggesting, which is weird because I can google myself and come up with something.
    Thanks for sharing, and it was very informative.

  7. Hello,
    Thank you for the excellent information.
    I have received a few telephone calls from Literary Agents offering me great deals to have the represent my books.

    NEW AGE LITERARY AGENCY and Mark Slater is the representative name.
    Neither New Age or Mark Slater exists in any Social Media source.
    Not on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, You Tube.
    Nothing!!!
    No media presence that I can find!!!

    I tracked his website. It is registered in Singapore from Jan. 24, 2020 to Jan. 24, 2022. The ownership is redacted and is an agent in Singapore.

    Any ideas???

    Your assistance is appreciated.

    Chris
    damiangarciathebook@yahoo.com

  8. Hi FROM NOEL
    DO NOT GO NEAR BOOKMAGNETS OR READAPPLE OR SILVER INK LITERARY AGENTS
    SPECIFICALLY BASTE GOMEZ
    AAlso part of the scam were patricia bush. john baldwin and Klay Anderson who used fake emails of a legitimate compay called BOOK TO FILMS CO.
    These are clever con artists so BEWARW

  9. Thank you Victoria for your help. I just received today a similar "proposal" via email from Right Choice Multimedia:"This is Aleister Lee, thank you for taking my call earlier. As promised, I’m sending you this invitation to the Top Ten 2021 Literary Book Review. Being the main reference of the publishing industry, this event is an invite-only to some shortlisted titles done by major literary agencies in North America. The program showcases the rise of some of the most influential authors, books, and poetry in the industry." Similar to all life's domains, the Literary domain, too, is invaded by 'rats' that are attacking us, the struggling authors, not with their teeth, but with the most modern devices.

  10. Thank you for saving me from the scammers. I was so flattered to see that someone was "eager" to publish my book. I called and talked with a person with a heavy accent that was working so hard to get me to sign up for their services. I am hardened enough not to give them anything they could use. But I got the name of their service and immediately went online, and first thing that came up was your post. I am so thankful for people like you that see a wrong and go forward to protect other people that might fall for their pitch. Thank you again.

  11. Thank you for your blog. I come by about once a quarter to see what is new.

    I just got 2 phone calls and email from Chloe Martin, reportedly a literary agent with New Age Literary Agency, newageliteraryagency.com. Of course I cannot find Chloe Martin in any listing of agents. The web site does exist, but feels like the typical scam.

    I see another person has also written about the same "agency." ICANN started 2020-01-24. all info is private- so no idea where this originates.

    I just wanted to report the typical phone call and email as the name is generic enough to fool people. I run a micro publishing co. just to aid our colleagues to get over the technical hurdles of self publishing. We started it to self-publish our >20 books. We don't look for authors.

  12. I was also approached by a literary agent from New Age Literary Agency. Mason Gardner. Is this also a scam?

    Thanks!

    Douglas Hoff
    Honoring Anna

  13. Yes, New Age Literary Agency is a scam–not a literary agency at all but a front for roping writers into high-priced, worthless "services".

  14. I too was sent an email from Right Choice Agency. The contact person was Megan Heart. Initially, I was excited, until I started researching and your website came up. Reading all the tactics they employ just to scam someone is beneath the scum they portray. In this day and time, evilness is running rampant, so hat's off to you for exposing them for who they are; just scum!!

    Janice M. Fair-Salters
    Voices From Beyond

    5/18/2021 9:42 pm

  15. Opps lost my last comment. I was looking for Orions Media Agency with June Michaels as agent and it sent me here. Seems that one of my short story books made Universal Pictures!!!It looks like the same kind of scam.

  16. Just received this one:

    Get Started
    To:
    manrikigusara@yahoo.com

    Wed, Jul 21 at 9:38 PM

    Hi Christopher,

    I love what you’ve done so far with your book Tremulous Prism.

    Your modest approach enhanced the clarity of your message and, quoting my reviewing team’s comments, “line by line, the book feels like a journey I’d redo again and again – it was so much fun.” I’m glad I stumbled upon Tremulous Prism while checking Texas Book Festival.

    Christopher, I’m an acquisition officer from Get Started. We are a specialized marketplace for independent authors looking for a literary spotlight for their books. This marketplace is a platform where authors can easily set up a bookshop to sell their books directly to book readers and maintain an author-reader relationship. This platform exists because we understand that you would need to present market data to convince traditional publishers like Penguin or Hay House.
    Yes, it is necessary to have a good book (which you currently have right now), but it is as essential to have a social proof for traditional publishers to see that people are interested in what you have and why with their help, you’ll be able to grow that market further. Here at Get Started, you’ll have the capability to build that social proof through our list builder. This list-builder automatically stores book reader’s email after buying a copy of your book and maintain communication with them.

    Having enough people registered on this list can be used to present Traditional Publishers the marketability of your book. I want to invite you and give me a call to help you take a shot at your book and do this the right way. You are very talented, and I want to help you win a publishing deal. After we build your readership, we can tap these Literary Agencies:

    Writers House
    Donald Maass Literary Agency
    BookEnds Literary Agency

    They are currently accepting submissions, and prepping you and the book before submitting it could mean a contract for you. Our list of available agencies could change since we don’t have control over their acquisition quotas. Call me as soon as you get this so we may start working together, my name is Rod Taylors and my number is (307) 227-4913. You may also email me at rod@getstartedbooks.com.

    Thank you!

    Get Started – A Marketplace for Authors
    +1 (800) 419-0551

    There is a related blog: https://bookendsliterary.com/2006/06/15/writer-beware-2/
    I assume this is another scam, dressed up like something real.

  17. You're right: it is another scam. Get Started Books is the new face of Legaia Books, which has abandoned that name (along with another name it used, West Literary Agency), possibly due to warnings on this blog. It's currently still functioning as Right Choice Multimedia (which I've also written about) and Lemon Creatives LLC. It's also still using the Rod Taylors name, which was used in many Legaia solicitations.

    Get Started has the veneer of a new approach, but the email reveals it's the same old scam, with the pitch for approaching traditional publishers and literary agencies (not mentioned: the probably very large fee this will require).

    BookEnds is a real, reputable agency, and that's it's real blog. No relationship whatever with Get Started Books, under any name.

    Could you forward that email to my email address, beware@sfwa.org? Thanks!

  18. I wished I had come across this site 2years ago. I was scammed by a Literary agent in Virginia and they promised to promote my book to all the leading publishers such as Harper and Collins who would pay me tens of thousands of dollars for my book to be republished. The Lit. Agent said I would only have to pay a figure and then there would be no other payments. Well that didnt happen. I had to keep paying out until the book was ready to go to Harper and Collins then never heard from them again. I lost $7000.00 Australian Dollars and will never be recovered unless someone out there knows a good Lawyer in the States. Her name was Samantha Browne of Editors Press Media and are also associated with Silver Ink Literary Agency. I am so depressed about the whole situation. Dont trust Editors Press Media or Samantha Browne. Thats if thats her real name. Thought I would let any new authors out there before they are trapped. Terry

  19. Terry the Wombat,

    I'm so sorry to hear about your experience with Editor's Press and Media. You aren't the only one who has reported losing money to this pernicious scam, via fake offers from HarperCollins (in fact I wrote a blog post about this).

    Can you tell me more about Editor's Press's association with Silver Ink Literary Agency? I'm looking for evidence tying these two scams together. Please email me: beware@sfwa.org. Thank you.

  20. I heard a "new" pitch this year.
    "Goldmanagency.net" offered to provide 100 different consumer reviewers to be posted on Goodreads only for ca $1000-$3000 dollars.
    The author could decide whether or not to accept or reject the review for posting.
    I took a look at the "authors' who were quoted as examples and did find clusters of reviews during a time period.

  21. Thank you. These scammers have made life miserable for many authors, myself included. It is almost impossible to know who to trust in the literary world.

    Douglas Hoff
    Honoring Anna
    Honoring Anna The Winds of Time

  22. Hello,
    I also received a call from Megan Heart from Right Choice Agency, but I didn’t answer, so she left a voice mail and sent me an Email. I was having thoughts of contacting her, but now with your information that you provided saved me from it happening to me. So, thank you

  23. Hi C.J. Cousins,

     

    This is Christian Kyle the one that you talked to phone a minute ago a literary agent of New Age Literary Agency. This is a company that focuses on self-publishing where we agents can work with self-published books. I have worked with other literary agencies before for more than ten years and came to venture into this industry for a change.

     

    ABOUT THE COMPANY:

     

    New Age Literary Agency (NALA) is a prominent literary agency in posh Beverly Hills dedicated to championing authors throughout their careers. Founded in 2000, NALA represents a wide range of bestselling and distinguished authors and newly emerging authors. Our clients have won major literary awards and prizes, including the Pulitzer Prize, the National Book Award, the National Book Critics Circle Award, the P.E.N. Faulkner Award, the P.E.N. Hemingway Award, and The Booker Prize, among others.

     

    Our diverse group of literary agents is skilled in all genres of fiction and nonfiction. With an eye toward innovation, our clients are supported by dedicated departments in all areas of rights and career management. NALA’s robust Foreign Rights Department leads the industry in sales of both fiction and nonfiction abroad. Our author services include Digital Media & Marketing, Business Affairs & Administrative services, and Film & Dramatic rights sales.

    As a literary agent, same as I work with writers and manuscripts, my service is for free and will work for commission. I get 15% of the upfront payment for the rights of the book when you get a deal with a publisher. I’m hoping that you’re open to this and will consider working with me on your book(s). 

    Please do read this email so you could truly understand my purpose and goals for the book

    To make a LOT of book sales is to get your book to a Bookstore Placement because we need a Good Sales Record to present to a Traditional Publisher,

     

    BOOK PLACEMENT :

     

    We want to get your book displayed in local and international bookstores. We will make sure to personalize our pitch on this endeavor. Keep in mind that we will most likely be starting a discussion or setting up a meeting with your booksellers or librarians, so we have to go beyond the typical elevator pitch.

    First, we need to strive to make a great first impression. By doing so, not only do you have a chance to get shelf space for your book, but we also might acquire new professional contacts in the process.

    We need to be ready for a Q&A session. If we are successfully hooked booksellers and librarians with our pitch, they’ll probably want to know more about you and your work. We need to think of the questions they might ask, and prepare the corresponding answers.

    We need to make sure to include all the necessary information. I will make a pitch that should include enough information that booksellers, will have a good idea of where your book should be displayed. We should also include a brief profile of our target market, so they can easily recommend your work. 

    SELF REPUBLISHING : 

     

    I want you to be on the same page with me, a lot has changed in the publishing industry, in general, nowadays. After 50 Shades of Gray, a once self-published book, comes to the spotlight, a lot of movie companies and big publishers are now scouting for self-published books. Thus, I have received this recommendation about your book.

     

    In order for us to easily get the attention of these book decision-makers in the industry, you need to have a verifiable track record of sales. After doing further research on your book, Bailey and Friends Christmas Story and Bailey and Friends Have a Party, it is indeed expensive. It should only be selling at $5 to $6 per copy. Also, you have not even generated any reviews to build its credibility. 

     

    You can definitely do something about this and I can help you get the book priced accordingly. You own the rights to the book if that is what you are worried about. If you get a copy of your book, on the very first page, you will see that the Copyright owner is you. You have an open contract with AuthorHouse and Xlibris republishing the book will conflict with NOTHING at all.

    Being in the publishing industry for more than a decade now, I personally see the growing number of self-published titles released in the market, and together with that is an increasing number of complaints that authors rarely sell a copy or do not sell a copy at all. It’s one thing to have a book and it’s quite another to have one that actually sells. You have probably heard this from other authors, or even experienced it yourself. Your book gets added to Amazon, full of pomp and circumstance, and then, nothing. It’s disheartening to see your hard work just sit there.

    With this, I would like to initially offer our help in republishing the book. Below are the specifics:

    Paperback version eBook Version Unlimited Corrections Professional Done Book Cover subject for your review and approval Set the price at the lowest possible to generate more sales New ISBN for Paperback and eBook Versions Copyright registration Print and digital full distribution through Ingram to 39,000 bookstores and online retailers such as Amazon and Barnes & Noble, etc. Library of Congress registration 100% royalty ( Independently published under your name ) Author Volume Discount Book Returnability Program

     

    Let me know and talk to you soon. Please check the attachments for the pictures so you could know that we are legitimate literary agency

    All the best,

     

     

    Christian Kyle

    Literary Agent

    Phone: +1 (424) 317-8067

    Office:  +1 (424) 600-3399 ext. 1010

    Email: christian.kyle@newageliteraryagency.com

    Western Address: 9461 Charleville Blvd. #750 Beverly Hills, CA 90212

    1. This solicitation from “Christian Kyle” (likely a fake name) is an illustration of the fraudulent way Philippines-based scammers present themselves. In just a few minutes, I confirmed that the email includes a lie (“Christian” says the company was founded in 2000, but its web domain was only registered in 2020) and plagiarism from a reputable agency’s website (compare paragraphs 1 and 2 of the email with Trident Media Group’s About page) ,

      This is a bait and switch: “Christian” is offering his services for free–but it’s all in aid of getting the recipient of the solicitation to agree to the re-publishing offer…which will cost a bundle.

  24. I received an offer from OmniBooks Co. to market my book, and recently I paid almost USD 11,000 for a secured website. They have not provided an update ever since. Can you please confirm if they are legitimate? According to them, they are located at 99 Wall Street, Suite 118
    New York, NY 10005

    1. Do you mean this company? . If so, I’m afraid I think that you’ve been scammed. There are a number of scam markers on the website: poor written English, no verifiable information about the company or staff (just vague claims and no names), Author Solutions-style publishing packages, a big range of junk marketing, and no portfolio of previous projects or successful clients (a legit company would provide this info).

      $11,000 for a website sounds like major overcharging, even if the service is eventually delivered.

      How did you pay? If by credit card or Paypal, and you’re still within the window to file a chargeback dispute, you might consider doing that.

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