Literary agent scam

Literary agent scam

Introduction to the literary agent scam

4 books. 1 standing up and on 1, 1 showing back cover. Front has a beautiful blue bird

A senior literary agent, Steven Fisher from Silver Literary Agency in Nevada, USA, contacted me with an exciting business deal. I previously self-published the book The Eighteen Point Five in 2020, and he had been contacted by Harper Collins USA, and they were interested in publishing the book with an upfront commission of between $50,000 and $80,000. I had no thoughts of being a victim of a literary agent scam.

How exciting! The book was written about 25 people living with a disability and disorder, and we couldn’t find a traditional publisher previously. The team would share the proceeds and I was excited for them. Steven needed to improve the book, via a new cover and editing, and it was going to cost around $5,000 US ($6,000 AUS).

It was pleasing to have a book that will be published by Harper Collins, however, I was almost the victim of a literary agent publishing scam. This blog shares details of my experience, and how the scam works, hoping that other people can use this information and not be a victim of the scam.

The email arrives

 

I would like to talk to you about this exclusive contract we are trying to get for you from one of our clients, the Traditional Publishers, for book acquisition. Last month I received a recommendation for your book to have very good quality content and a high possibility to land a contract with one of our clients, Traditional Publisher. Now, before contacting you, we did test the waters for you and did a preliminary endorsement to our clients, and luckily last week I received positive responses. 

Once you land a contract with one of our clients, they will be buying the publishing rights of your book and you will receive an upfront payment that would range from $50,000- $80,000. So our main goal is to GET you that exclusive contract. I was able to communicate with the Acquisition Managers of both companies and they have given me 2 criteria for your book to pass during the Final Book Endorsement:

 (1) remove you from a self-publishing company

 (2) have the book undergo developmental editing

In order for us to tailor-fit your book to what these Traditional Publishing Companies are looking for, we have created a strategic plan for your book and of course, this will involve expenses. This is just a courtesy to see if you will be interested in the opportunity and will give your book the recognition it deserves. This is the perfect time wherein all your time and efforts will finally pay off. The plan for your book is precise and simple because we already have an edge with our clients since they are already interested in your book. All we need to do is just to pass the 2 parameters they have set for your book. As early as now I wanted to congratulate you for passing the evaluation process and for becoming an official candidate for the Final Book Acquisition. Kindly let me know of your preferred callback time, so I could phone you, and let’s discuss the details of this opportunity.

Literary agent scam

I was excited but confused about the poor grammar and sentence structure in the email, and his signature had an email address that couldn’t be clicked to send him an email. The writing of a former journalist should be more professional.

I didn’t consider using an agent but did try finding a traditional publisher. Can you tell me what you thought about the book, and share the correspondence you received about the book when you tested the waters. I don’t know you and the answers will help determine if your email is authentic.

Literary agent scam – we swap emails and he calls me

 

 

Most traditional publishing companies, especially those big five, will require every author to find a Literary Agent who will work in polishing the manuscript before endorsing it to them.

This is not a usual thing for a Literary Agent to contact you regarding the potential of your book to be acquired. But since we all know that the global crisis is still ongoing, our book researchers are proactively seeking unique books through the Ingram database. They found your book there and endorsed it to me and I did a preliminary submission of your manuscript to the Traditional Publisher, together with the other book titles I’m handling, before contacting you. Now, the Publisher recommended those two things I mentioned in my previous email since their book scouts have reviewed your book already. They found some underlying issues with your book that needs to be addressed. I want to talk with you more about this so we can strategize this book project.

 

Literary agent scam

My excitement levels increased after receiving a long and informative phone call with the agent. Steven sounded very professional, however, I had no experience with literary agents, and I asked five people from the 18.5 book team for their advice. Two are excited by the news, one is not sure and the other two believe it to be a scam.

Steven sends me the process that needs to be followed to obtain a traditional book publishing contract. He didn’t answer my questions about his thoughts about the book and didn’t send me the email he received from the traditional publisher. I asked him a few more questions – Who are the editors mentioned? And the republication team? I assume they are third parties that need to be paid. What would this cost? What percentage of books are sent to the traditional publishing company for deliberation by you, are actually published by the traditional publisher. I asked that communication be via email only, to allow me to have an audit trail.

Steven suggests that the cost would be around $5,000 US to provide a new cover and perform editing on the book. He finally sends me the email he received from the traditional publisher, but I cannot see her email address. I wanted to contact her to confirm the details. Would a Harper Collins employee mention the following about me?

  • a true asset to my company
  • work is dependable and incredibly astonishing
  • an impressive writer who can give good content
  • all-round great person
  • a beneficial addition to our organisation

 

My Google searches

One of the team members was really concerned about the literary agent and he mentioned ‘It’s a scam! Bet my life on it!’, and that it was extremely rare that a literary agent would make an unsolicited representation.

We both started searching Google for confirmation and it didn’t take long for alarm bells to ring. My search for ‘Silver Literary Agency’ found a warning about ‘Silver Ink Literary Agency on a site.

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’s domain registration has expired, so many of the links below won’t work. It’s currently soliciting from a “silverliteraryagency.com” email address, but as yet there’s no website at that address.)

Steven’s email address matches the domain name in the scam warning. The website goes on to mention more information that helped me determine that I was dealing with a scammer.

  • There are a hundred similar Philippines-based publishing/marketing/fake literary agency scams
  • The scammers’ fake emails from traditional publishers, such as Harper Collins and Penguin
  • The goal is to add false credibility to the editing and other overpriced and substandard services Silver Ink pushes on its victims
  • The scam started being associated with the organisation ‘Editors Press and Media’
  • The businesses operate from Nevada

Although I knew Steve was a scammer, I continued to communicate with him for a few reasons. He will have less time to scam other people, and I wanted to gather as much information as possible for this blog and report the scam to the FBI.

Literary agent scam – the real Steve Fisher

I googled ‘steve fisher literary agent’ and found that he resides in New York, and not Nevada. I sent him an email.

Are you the Steven Fisher, literary agent, that works in Nevada, and has a recommendation from Harper Collins for my self-published book ‘The Eighteen Point Five’? The letter from Harper Collins is attached.

An email came back that mentioned ‘No’. The scammer had taken the name from an actual literary agent and moved to Nevada.

Literary agent scam – the emails continue

Harper Collins is waiting for your book since you are the last author that needs confirmation. If it’s possible for you to provide a confirmation amount it would be greatly appreciated. The confirmation amount would give us a slot to the deliberation team or the publishing board.

He wanted a deposit to ensure the money ‘would give us a slot’ and I had to delay him. One of his emails included a return email to Stacey Morton from editorspressandmedia which was an organisation that came up as part of the scam, and it was time to ask more questions. If he was intelligent, he should know that I have discovered his attempt to scam me.

Because the book has 25 owners, I can’t proceed with our 1) their permission 2) additional funding. I will be in contact when I have permission and the funding to proceed. Do you know Stacey Morton from editorspressandmedia.com ? Something weird happened to one of your emails and her name was included in it. And are you aware of a company called Silver Ink Literary Agency? They have a similar name to your company. They come up in searches that I performed.

Steve replied and said he declined the offer from Harper Collins and now Routledge Publishing was interested. And he supplied his bank details and confirmed that he was the literary agent I mentioned. He knew that I was asking 25 people with disabilities to contribute the funds for him, and he still wanted it.

Literary agent scam – another literary agent contacts me

I would like to talk to you about this exclusive contract we are trying to get for you from one of our clients, the Traditional Publishers, for book acquisition. Last month I received a recommendation for your book to have very good quality content and a high possibility to land a contract with one of our clients, Traditional Publisher. Now, before contacting you, we did test the waters for you and did a preliminary endorsement to our clients, and luckily last week I received positive responses. 

Once you land a contract with one of our clients, they will be buying the publishing rights of your book and you will receive an upfront payment that would range from $150,000- $180,000. So our main goal is to GET you that exclusive contract.

I was able to communicate with the Acquisition Managers of both companies and they have given me 4 criteria for your book to pass during the Final Book Endorsement:
 (1) Remove you from a self-publishing company
 (2) Have the book undergo developmental editing
 (3) Provide your own Intellectual Property Attorney
 (4) Professional Fee of the Publicist 

In order for us to tailor-fit your book to what these Traditional Publishing Companies are looking for, we have created a strategic plan for your book and of course, this will involve expenses. This is just a courtesy to see if you will be interested in the opportunity and we’ll give your book the recognition it deserves. This is the perfect time wherein all your time and efforts will finally pay off.

The agent’s name was Nathan Young, and from the same organisation as Steve! Nathan was offering a larger contract than the previous scammer. It was time to let the scammers know that I knew the truth about them.

Hi Nathan, or whatever your actual name is

However nice try and it didn’t work. It sounded great, particularly the $$$$$$. Traditional publishers and literary agents don’t work this way.  I’m choosing option (5) to report you to the FBI at https://www.ic3.gov/ Same for the fake Stephen Fisher, and the real Stephen Fisher confirmed he hadn’t contacted me.
When you were growing up did you ever think you would be a scammer? What hasn’t worked out in life for you to allow you to earn your way without ripping people off?

Literary agent scam – the end

I sent Steve, or whatever his real name is, a similar email to Nathan (whatever his real name is).

I’ve known for some time that you are trying to scam me. I thought by taking your time, you have less time to chat with other potential victims. I got contacted by your friend Nathan Young who tried to pull the same scam on me.

Maybe you shouldn’t try to scam the same person in the future? Have you thought of getting a job and not stealing? I need to report everything to the FBI. Thanks for the info.

Good scams sound feasible, with an exciting reward, but this scam was too good to be true. I hope this information can help you avoid a literary agent scam. Please share your experiences with scams on the net too. Read more about my blog here.

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