Latest Posts

How Scammers Are Using Amazon and Amazon Trademarks to Rip Writers Off

Header image: photo of Amazon headquarters showing the Amazon logo (credit: Sundry Photography /

In the past year or so, I've noticed an upsurge in scams that employ the Amazon name, or the names of Amazon trademarks, to try and trick hopeful writers into believing they are working with a company affiliated with Amazon, or even with Amazon itself.

As is common with scams these days, many of these questions come from writers who've been solicited via email or phone (you can see one such story here)--but also from writers looking to self-publish, who googled "self publishing" or "Amazon self-publishing" or "KDP publishing" or a similar search term.

Right at the top of such searches are sponsored links purchased by Amazon fakers. For example, here's what came up for a search on "Amazon Kindle publishing":

Small Press Storm Warnings: Adelaide Books, Propertius Press, TouchPoint Press

Header image: dark, stormy sky with lightning flash (credit: Den Rozhnovsky /

I've written two prior warnings about Adelaide Books, but it seems that a third is in order.

Background: Adelaide, which presents itself as a traditional independent publisher but has a long-standing practice of imposing extra-contractual book purchase requirements, has been the focus of author complaints for many years. These intensified in 2021 and 2022, with authors reporting a range of problems including lagging royalty payment/reporting, poor editing, production and release delays, and major communications issues, with questions and emails going unanswered.

In 2022 the Authors Guild got involved on behalf of members, and (after some initial difficulty getting him to respond) extracted some apparent concessions from Adelaide owner Stevan Nikolic: he agreed to revert rights for authors who wanted to get out of their contracts, to provide digital book files to those who requested them, to pay all royalties currently in arrears, and to refund authors who paid for books (remember, this was a requirement for publication) but never got them.

When the Copyright Trolls Came for Me

Header image: Troll casting dark shadow on a purple background (credit:  -Cheesyfeet- /

Today I'm once again blogging over at Writer Unboxed.

If you’re a writer who’s serious about a career, you probably have some form of online presence: a website, a blog, an Instagram account. You may make use of images and/or videos created by others--to add visual interest to your blog posts or newsletters, decorate your website, and/or engage your readers and followers. For example, the header image at the top of this post.

If you use images online, you need to be aware of copyright trolls.

Copyright, Contracts, and AI-Generated Material

Image Header: Neon image of a human brain embedded in a computer motherboard. Credit: vchal at

On March 16, 2023, the United States Copyright Office issued a publication: Copyright Registration Guidance: Works Containing Material Generated by Artificial Intelligence. The full text can be found here.

The Copyright Office’s Guidance does not have the force of law and will change as the situation evolves, especially as legal precedents are created under US law, but, as of the time of this post, it is effectively the policy in force in the United States.

The main takeaway from the Guidance can be summarized thus: the only parts of a work that are copyrightable are the human-contributed ones, and the work is not copyrightable if an AI technology determines the expressive elements of the work and the creativity is not the product of human authorship. In cases where there are both AI-generated and human-authored elements, copyright will only protect the human-authored aspects of the work, which are “independent of ” and do “not affect” the copyright status of the AI-generated material.

Call For Change: Current and Former New Leaf Literary & Media Authors Speak Out

Header image: Logo of New Leaf Literary & Media

If you're on Twitter, you may have seen the controversy that erupted several weeks ago when reports emerged that New Leaf Literary & Media had abruptly terminated representation--via email--for more than two dozen clients of an agent who had departed the agency that same day.

Conflicting reports added to the confusion: about the agent's departure (the agency described it as "amicable", but the agent subsequently indicated it wasn't voluntary) and about the status of the dropped authors (the agency described some of the dropped authors as "inactive", when in fact several had projects in progress). Publishers Weekly covered the controversy in an article (whose accuracy has been disputed), as did Publisher's Lunch. Concerned about the agency's apparent lack of a coherent succession plan, the Authors Guild met with New Leaf leadership to "discuss the agency’s plan to manage the transition for authors impacted by the shakeup."

On a more positive note, multiple agents invited submissions from the dropped authors.

Termination Fees in Publishing Contracts: Not Just Bad for Authors

Header image: "Contract" printed on concrete, with crack running through the middle (credit: Lane V. Erickson at

(A version of this post was first published in 2016.)

I'm often contacted by writers who are looking for an evaluation of a book or magazine contract they've just been offered (I'm not a lawyer--something I always mention upfront--but I do know a lot about publishing contracts, and am always willing to offer feedback).

Although they've often already spotted problematic language, nearly always there are also problem clauses that they've missed. One red flag clause that frequently flies below writers' radar: fees for early contract termination.