"Required reading" for today's smart writer.

"Required reading" for today's smart writer.
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Friday, October 6, 2023

Fake Agents Contacting Authors online* David Litwack

I share this experience to serve as a cautionary tale for today’s authors. Scams and solicitations are sometimes a work-related hazard. But being informed can help you to be more discerning and protect your bottom line. “Knowledge is power.” 

Read on...

July 19, 2023

I received this letter from a person purporting to be an agent from Knight Literary Agency, it reads in part:

I recently received high praise for your book, "Land of the Sun, Land Without Light". It was commended for its outstanding content and recognized for its significant potential to secure a contract with one of our clients, Traditional Publishers. As I am actively seeking new titles this year, I would like to discuss the possibility of representing your book. Let's further explore this opportunity.

I didn’t find this unusual, since I had queried Knight some weeks before. I was a bit surprised, however, that they were interested in Land of the Sun, Land without Light, already published by iUniverse, rather than the sequel which I was pitching. 1st red flag, perhaps?

I finally had a pleasant conversation with the so-called agent—whose phone and email systems failed regularly. She did recommend a thorough editing (which my editor had already done.) We agreed to phone-meet again soon. I sent her the marketing material I had developed. She sent me a contract that looked pretty authentic.

However, after a long wait, I received this message (August 14):

I am sorry or the late reply currently I am very busy since I am handling few contract signing for my clients. I was not able to be with my author the past few months. But rest assure that your book will be handled by my associates properly, I sent your portfolio to my associate and her name is X.Y. from Bradford Literary Agency she is from a different literary Agency whom I hand pick for your project to continue since right now I am not able to handle further contract since  I am already in the Hollywood right now doing business. X. email me today and they are done reading and verifying your portfolio so she will give you a call today or on Monday. Note the syntax, spelling, and tense errors. I did. Sort of. Ding ding? 2nd red flag?

I let the presumed agent, from another agency—ding, ding, ding?—talk me into printing 1,000 copies which would be distributed to a plethora of book stores at a cost of $4.55 per copy. I pled starving writer in a cramped atelier and we agreed on a lesser initial payment, the rest to be payed in the near future. OK, so ding, ding, ding, ding? You’d figure, by now …

By now I should be ready to do some research. I put the payments on “dispute.” I notified administration at Bradford who declared the contract a forgery (my words; hers were less aggressive). They indeed had an agent named X.Y., but she had never dealt with this printer. Meanwhile, here’s the response from the printer with whom I had no contract.

September 3, 202 at 10:40:42 AM ETVia

From HPC Printing. This $500 is your second payment as stated from Bradford and Collins Literary Guild. David Litwack LAND OF THE SUN, LAND WITHOUT LIGHT dlitwack1@gmail.com Book Copies $4.85 Each 703-303-6593 2ND payment 300 copies $500 Please Confirm if you Authorized this transaction.

In the meantime, From Bradford Literary Agency: “A. . . new, but growing issue is fake agents contacting authors online. These fake agents will use the names of real agents to appear legitimate. But they are NOT (also, not posted, unfortunately, at an easily found web location)!" 

How to spot these crooks? 

The biggest red-flag is that they will ask you for money. A real agent never asks for money. NEVER! and for NO REASON!” 

I wish I had seen this before committing.


David Michael Litwack is an author, musician, and poet.

Image credits: Pixabay .com

Final note/disclaimer: 
The views expressed are those of the individual author.


  1. This is the most unfortunate situation and I hope this turns into a positive experience for you. I fear that artificial intelligence will increase such incidents and create more problems for people who just want to make their dreams come true.

    1. Thanks much, Marcie. This situation is definitely a "teachable moment."