This post has many updates. Be sure to scroll down.
Writer Beware has been getting complaints about Silver Ink Literary Agency for some time. It’s included on our list of more than 100 similar Philippines-based publishing/marketing/fake literary agency scams. (UPDATE 10/28/21: Silver Ink is currently soliciting from a “silverliteraryagency.com” email address.)
The Authors Guild isn’t the only group whose name Silver Ink has taken in vain. It has also faked emails from Penguin Random House…
…in order to share an equally fake memorandum about PRH’s supposed new submission guidelines…
…in aid of lending false credibility to the editing and other overpriced and substandard services Silver Ink pushes on its victims.
Here’s what else Writer Beware has found out. (Note: Silver Ink has changed its website since I published this post, so some of the links below will be to archived pages.)
Interesting parallels exist between Silver Ink and another self-styled publisher/agency, Editors Press and Media, aka Editors Creative Media. There’s identical website content (compare the content on their marketing pages), identical (and seriously ungrammatical) language in contracts and other documents, and both have used Heather Allen’s name in faked-up emails. (Ms. Allen, who now works for Abrams, has posted an alert on her LinkedIn profile.) I’ve also had confirmation of the connection from a couple of the snitches who occasionally contact me to blow a whistle or rat out their competitors.
Editor’s Press is actually the earlier scam; its US business registration was filed in November 2019, while Silver Ink’s was filed a year later, in October 2020. Whoever ported Editor’s Press content over to Silver Ink’s website slipped up in the proofing department:
Like Silver Ink, Editor’s Press plays the impersonation game to bamboozle writers into paying for editing. Its chosen target for fakery is HarperCollins:
You can read more about Editor’s Press’s impersonation scheme here.
Editors Press was registered in the Philippines on June 28, 2020, as Editors Press and Media LLC Marketing Campaign Services, owned by Gary Agaton Serdena.
Silver Ink has a sibling, Global Review Press. Both are registered to the same individual, Sandra Herrera of Reno, NV.
Global Review is the youngest of the three; its US business registration was only filed in April 2021. Again, there’s identical content on Global Review’s marketing page–including, amazingly, the same uncorrected proofing error noted above:
One person claiming to be the CEO of all these ventures is Gary Agaton Serdeña, aka Shawn Serdeña, aka Shawn Gatewood. According to his Facebook profile, Shawn (the name he apparently prefers) is from Tacloban City in the Eastern Visayas region of the Philippines, and enjoys posting photos of himself conspicuously consuming the income generated by his author-fleecing companies.
Shawn’s personal FB feed includes many references to Editor’s Press, such as this pose in front of the Editor’s Press logo, and this post from a couple of months ago celebrating a brand-new business location. There’s even a first anniversary party video! Ripping off authors is lucrative!
Shawn is not an island: he acknowledges the help of two others in lifting his business into the stratosphere. Here’s the text of a recent speech, which he delivered on the second annivarsary of Editor’s Press and Media (the event also generated this awesome video). You don’t have to read it all–just this snippet:
“He”, in context, is God. Editor’s Creative Media appears to be the name under which Shawn does business in the Philippines (actually Editor’s Creative Media OPC). But who are “BM” and “SH”?
Well, as noted above, Editor’s Press and Media was registered in Virginia in 2019 to one Bobby Morrison (Shawn has thanked Morrison by name in at least one other video speech). Approximately a year later, in 2020, Silver Ink filed its Nevada business registration, with Sandra Herrera designated as registered agent (she is also the registered agent for Global Review Press). Under the circumstances, it’s not a huge stretch to guess that the “SH” Shawn thanks so fulsomely is Sandra Herrera.
I confess I don’t understand the exact nature of the relationship between Shawn and BM/SH. Are they donors? Investors? Beachheads for US operations? Just figureheads? Regardless, it’s pretty clear that both BM and SH, whoever they are, are key components of Shawn’s business empire.
(In a letter from her attorney, Sandra Herrera claimed to be the sole owner of Silver Ink and Global Review.)
(UPDATE: Scammers like Shawn are among my most faithful followers. Shortly after I published this, Shawn deleted all the posts and video I initially linked to in this article [lucky I have backups!]. He also appears to have deleted the original Facebook page for Editor’s Press and Media [unfortunately not archived by the Wayback Machine], and created a new one [currently with almost no content]. Additionally, he has changed his name on Facebook and Instagram: he’s now going by Denzel Agaton, and claiming to live in California [a claim somewhat contradicted by his many posts and check-ins referencing Cebu]. The URLs of his FB and Insta presence memorialize his real name, however, and you can still see him posing in front of the Editors Press and Media logo.)
Shawn is an interesting example of how these publishing/marketing/fake agency scams evolve and spawn. He has posted photos of various awards he has won; in addition to documenting the several names he uses, they show that he worked for Author Solutions (the progenitor of the scam phenomenon of which Silver Ink and its siblings are a part) and then for Innocentrix–the name under which scammer Page Turner Press and Media does business in the Philippines–before starting Editor’s Press in 2019.
Editor’s Press has a C- BBB rating, due to one unanswered complaint; it has also acquired a number of complaints on its Bizapedia listing. No online complaints currently exist for Global Review…likely because it’s new enough that they haven’t yet started stacking up.
Last but not least…I know I’m a bit of a broken record here. But the number one way to protect yourself against scammers like Silver Ink is to assume that ANY out-of-the-blue solicitation is a scam.
Sound extreme? It’s not. Reputable publishers and literary agents rarely reach out to authors directly. For scammers, on the other hand, it’s their primary recruitment method. With Silver Ink and the more than 100 outfits like it aggressively trolling for victims, you are safest if you treat all solicitations as non-legit, at least until you’ve investigated (you can search this blog, or email me).
Mistrust, and verify.
UPDATE 9/21/21: Somewhere a tiny violin is playing.
UPDATE 10/12/21: That didn’t last long. On his Facebook page, Shawn is Shawn again, sharing inspirational thoughts and evidence of conspicuous consumption.
UPDATE 10/29/21: The impersonation game revolving around Silver Ink Literary Agency is alive and well. Check out this bogus “letter of intent”, supposedly from Penguin Random House (bonus bogosity: the “certified true copy” stamp at the bottom). The carrot: a supposed $30,000 “initial author royalty”. The stick: in the contract attached to the letter, the author was required to pay a $2,000 “rights and licenses” fee (there’s no such thing).
(In a letter from her attorney, Ms. Herrera denied that the Letter of Intent was sent by Silver Ink. She provided no information on who she believed did send it, stating only that its origin was “unclear”. You’d think, if someone out there were sending out fake letters with your business name on them, you’d be a bit more more concerned. But that’s just me.)
UPDATE 12/1/21: Silver Ink has updated its website. Among other things, it has re-worded some of the text on its Advertising Services page ;so that it’s not quite so obviously a carbon copy of the text on the equivalent pages of the Editor’s Press and Media and Global Review Press websites…and also to correct the embarrassing proofing error noted above (which as of this writing still survives on the Global Review Press website).
UPDATE 4/5/22: As sometimes happens when too much negative information gets out there, Shawn has decided to retire the Silver Ink Literary Agency and Global Review Press names. Here’s the “closure” notice posted on the SIlver Ink website:
An identical notice appears on the Global Review website.
Note how these closure notices confirm the information Writer Beware has been providing about these scams–despite their denials to be based in the Philippines and to have no relationship with Editor’s Press and Media (information for which Sandra Herrera threatened to sue me).
Shawn/Gary & Co haven’t shut up shop, though: Best Writers Publishing House is alive and (for now) well.
UPDATE 5/16/22: Shawn & Co appear to be doing business under another new name: Scriptor House. I’ve gotten a number of reports of solicitations offering re-publishing and movie pitches.
UPDATE 7/29/22: Shawn & Co (as Best Writers Publishing House) have a new impersonation scheme. They’re falsely attaching the names of various reputable literary agents to solicitations that use the email address @directacquisitionsteam.com. Names I’ve spotted so far include Jenny Bent, David Dunton, Jamie Carr, and Elisabeth Weed. More detail in my followup blog post, here.
UPDATE 9/12/22: Shawn & Co are using a new set of false names: Allison Summers and John Morris, with the email address email@example.com. How do I know this? Because they send out fake “letters of intent” that are largely identical to the one pictured in my 10/29/21 update, right down to the Reno address and the bogus “certified true copy” stamp.