How many writers have had ‘agents’ or ‘publishers’ or any other unsolicited book marketers or experts approach them saying they can get you published or help you earn gazillions, guaranteed?
The answer: loads. And it's happening more and more.
This came up in one of my writer's groups the other day. It really is a genuine issue that impacts a lot of new writers all the time.
What is it?
Well, with the advent of self-publishing, there are more and more scammers out there, trying to sell services to new writers and self-published authors. They will email you, saying that they have seen your work and that it is excellent, but that perhaps it isn’t selling enough, maybe because the price of the book is too high, or it needs editing or a different marketing approach.
They might try to get you to pay for services up front (agents and traditional publishers don't do that), or they may try to be more subtle and tell you they can guarantee more sales if you sign up with them. Some are even pretending to be legitimate organisations by having very similar website names to well-known agents and using addresses in the US.
However, they are all completely fake.
Big agents don’t go trawling Instagram for the next big thing. They certainly would never ask you for money. And they won’t promise the earth, guaranteed. There are never any guarantees!
Big agents do hold twitter events where you get to pitch your book to them. They do provide training programmes (the bar for which is set very high and only a few applicants are successful in joining) where a lucky couple of talented authors will get picked up. They do critique workshops and 121 interviews that you can book through legitimate sites such as Jericho Writers.
So if you get any unsolicited emails from people (who usually have very poor grammar, which is a dead giveaway) pretending to be an agent, check them out first. A simple google search should be sufficient, or drop me an email and I'll check them out for you (for free of course).
Chances are, they are not who they seem.
Things to look out for:
They claim to be an agent who has read your book and want to represent you or provide additional services to increase exposure, revenue or sales
They make statements guaranteeing returns
They have very similar names to existing reputable agents, or claim to be a branch of an agent
They may say they want to make a film of your book and ask you to use their services to make a short 10-15 minute sample video
They approach you unsolicited
They have poor grammar and use of English
They ask for fees upfront
They may hassle you over and over again
They may have US or UK addresses