Victoria Strauss for Writer Beware®

The New York Times has published the story of a strange international phishing scam: unknown actors targeting traditionally-published writers, posing as their agents or editors to obtain copies of their unpublished manuscripts.

Earlier this month, the book industry website Publishers Marketplace announced that Little, Brown would be publishing “Re-Entry,” a novel by James Hannaham about a transgender woman paroled from a men’s prison. The book would be edited by Ben George.

Two days later, Mr. Hannaham got an email from Mr. George, asking him to send the latest draft of his manuscript. The email came to an address on Mr. Hannaham’s website that he rarely uses, so he opened up his usual account, attached the document, typed in Mr. George’s email address and a little note, and hit send.

“Then Ben called me,” Mr. Hannaham said, “to say, ‘That wasn’t me.’”

Mr. Hannaham was just one of countless targets in a mysterious international phishing scam that has been tricking writers, editors, agents and anyone in their orbit into sharing unpublished book manuscripts. It isn’t clear who the thief or thieves are, or even how they might profit from the scheme. High-profile authors like Margaret Atwood and Ian McEwan have been targeted, along with celebrities like Ethan Hawke.

But short story collections and works by little-known debut writers have been attacked as well, even though they would have no obvious value on the black market.


I don’t know why anyone are just now mentioning this subject. This is a very old tactic of getting fresh new work without paying for it. It happens every year when the new year rolls in and every one is looking for fresh new material.

That’s what my annual mean-mugging certain people is all about. It’s no coincident I’m nice all year long and turn into a warring Amazon during a certain time of the year.

That’s one of the things that tick me off about the Princess Pea People who swear they can’t read the work of small press or indie authors without breaking out in hives. The imbeciles doesn’t know it, but they’ve probably have always been reading books or watching a sitcom created from the idea of small time writers; Been reading or watching it all their lives.

No, I’m not talking about ghostwriting. Ghostwriting is nothing more than someone else putting the author’s ideas into words. The person doing the actual typing most likely didn’t come up with the idea of the story. If they did, then, they aren’t a ghostwriter. They are the author.

This is perhaps the first time the big boys been hit but the small press and indie authors already knew about this about this scam.

That’s why I disagree with the statement”

[“But short story collections and works by little-known debut writers have been attacked as well, even though they would have no obvious value on the black market.”]

If it had no black market value then they wouldn’t steal it. Thieves don’t steal what’s useless.

The little-known debut writers’ work can be sold and another name slapped on the cover. The name of someone likely to pull the punch to draw in the dough. This practice has been going on since forever.

Unpublished manuscripts are less likely to be copyrighted. 

For years, the little guy or gal, didn’t have the power to defend his or her work if stolen and used. You were simply out of luck. Nowadays, they can publish it, claim it, and market it themselves making it harder for these thieves to steal it and sell it.

The grammar obsessed crowd may rebuttal this saying. “No one would steal work by an indies author because of the grammar errors.” That shows just how little they know about the publishing world. Or the real world. Which is why they should SDASTFU!

Those looking for fresh work to sell don’t give a flying hoot about your grammar errors. They are going to correct them, polish it up and sell the hell out of it if the ideas appeal to a buyer. I don’t know the full chain of command in how this black market work, but it can be done.

The global entertainment business is over an 11 trillion dollar market. In the US alone, it’s worth over 2.5 trillion. Now, do you understand why they ‘need‘ fresh material every year?

Yes, the moral thing to do is buy the work and pay the author if their work will sell. But greedy people aren’t going to do that.

I whole-heartedly agree with the author on this part:

This is a sophisticated scheme by a person or persons familiar with the publishing industry (including its lingo) who understands the ins and outs of acquisition and production and has access to inside information. There’s also no obvious monetary angle–unlike the impersonation scams I’ve previously reported, where the whole point is to screw as many thousands of dollars out of unsuspecting writers as possible.”

Whomever is behind this knows exactly what they are doing.

About unholypursuit

A. White, an award winning former librarian, who is also a long time member of Romantic Time and Publisher's Weekly. A. White has been writing for over fifteen years. She took classes in creative writing in college, specializing in ancient myths and legends. and later at a local community center while living in Chicago. In college she won the national contest to verbally list every country in the world, it's capital and ingenious language. Her works are mainly horror, fantasy, extreme, and sci-fi as well as, as some may says, "the truly strange predicament and puzzling." Books that I've written are "Clash with the Immortals, and eleven others which are part of the "Unholy Pursuit saga,". She has been working on the Chronicles since 2007. She wished to complete them all before introducing them to public so the readers wouldn't have to for the continuation to be written. The ideas of the book come from classic literature such as whose work greatly influence the world world such as Homer, Sophocles, Herodotus, Euripides, Socrates, Hippocrates, Aristophanes, Plato, Aristotle and many more. The "Book of Enoch" influenced the usage of Azazael as a main character and love interest. I created the primary main character from the Chronicle of Saints. I wanted to show them as real flesh and blood with thoughts, desires and yearning as any human. Not as they are so often depicted. So I created one of my own to show her as a real human that everyone can relate to.
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  1. craig lock says:

    Reblogged this on Minerva Press (UK).

    Liked by 1 person

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