Wednesday, June 12, 2024

Scams That Target Writers

by Sybil Johnson


It never ceases to amaze me how many people try to take advantage of others with various kinds of scams. If only they used the time they spent on them for something more productive. But then, of course, that means fewer possibilities for crime fiction, doesn't it? 

It seems I hear every day of yet another scam to separate people from their money. Writers are often targets. I subscribe to the WriterBeware blog, which alerts me to scams that are new or have resurfaced.

Here are 3 of the scams that are targeting writers:

Book-to-Film Scam 

According to Writer Beware, this one surfaces and resurfaces. A lot of writers would love to see their book made into a movie or TV show, but few know how this comes about.

The scam starts out with a solicitation email from some company saying they’re interested in making your book into a movie. You just need to submit a screenplay. Of course, most writers don’t have a screenplay handy. In that case, there’s a solution! They’ll pass you off to a company that will, for a fee of course, create the screenplay for you. And that’s where they get their money. 

Writer Beware has a post written by Jeanne Veilette Bowerman on How a Book Really Becomes a Movie. Understanding that will help you avoid such scams.

Book Licensing 

An author will get an email from a scammer saying it’s necessary for an author to have a “book license” in order for their book to be published or re-published. This is, of course, incorrect. From the blog post: “As the copyright owner of your work (which you are, by law, from the moment you write down the words), you have the power to grant licenses for publication, but you do not have to obtain any kind of license or permission in order to do so. By re-framing licensing as something authors have to get, rather than something they are empowered to give, scammers turn the reality of licensing on its head.”

Impersonation of Reputable Movie Production Companies, Literary Agents, Organizations... 

This blog post has a list of reputable people/companies who have been impersonated. It’s quite long. Makes me rather sad. The post also has a list of things you can do to verify if an email you’ve received is legitimate or not. Generally, unsolicited emails aren’t legitimate, but sometimes... 

I’m sure there are a lot of other scams. It’s always good to do your homework before acting on anything you receive. Beware, writer, beware.

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