Agent Scams

Victoria Strauss at Writer Beware offers an excellent primer today on how to spot, and avoid, literary representation scams. As it turns out, the sample solicitation she's using was sent by Dan Grogan, an ex-employee of Jones Harvest, a two-bit and particularly sleazy vanity press. Clearly, Dan learned from the best. Here's some of Victoria's warning signs to watch out for:

– Cold-call solicitation. Reputable agents will sometimes directly approach an author whose work they've seen and liked (and if so, will reference that work). But they don't rely on mass email solicitation to build their client lists. 

– Multiple punctuation and spelling errors, both in the email and on the agency's website (missing apostrophes, "summery" for "summary," etc.). A literary agent should be able to write error-free English–and to proofread it once it's written.

– Claims of experience that can't be verified. There are more of these on the agency's website. Alleging "long term relationships with particular publishers and editors" or "connections in the film industry, publishing companies, and multi-media marketing companies" are meaningless without specifics. A real agent with real experience who wants to tout that experience will say exactly what it is (see, for instance, the staff bios at the Nelson Literary Agency, or those at the Waxman Agency).

– Promotion of services irrelevant to literary representation.Reputable agents help guide their clients' careers, but they don't typically double as "public relation [sic] representatives." And see this page of the agency's website, where they claim, among other things, to be able to provide an ISBN, list clients' books on Amazon, and "Copyright your work with the Nation [sic] Library of Congress." These are services important for self-publishers, but not relevant to authors expecting their agents to sell their books to reputable trade publishers. (And wouldn't you hope your agent would know that your work is copyrighted from the moment you write it down, and that what you do with the US Copyright Office–not with the Library of Congress–is register it?)

– A critiquing service for a fee. The publishing world is changing, and reputable agents are more and more branching out into other areas–including the provision of various paid services (I'm planning a post on that in the near future). However, offering a paid service to a potential client is a conflict of interest–never a good thing–and if you're cold-call soliciting that client, it suggests that maybe shilling the paid service is your main objective. 

The Mail I Get – The Crooks from People Magazine Edition

When my Mom died in November, and we were settling her accounts and subscriptions, we discovered that she'd renewed People Magazine through March 2015. We tried to get the magazine to cancel the subscription and refund the money, but they refused. So now we're getting the magazine here at the house. It's fine bathroom reading, let me tell you. What we couldn't figure out is what possessed my Mom to renew her subscription so far in advance. 

Now we know. She was tricked into it. 

Today, she got a bill from People Magazine, which I found pretty surprising, since my Mom was paid up well into the afterlife. 

People30001

Inside, I found an invoice that stated that her minimum amount due is $237.30, that her minimum current payment due is $158.20, and that it must be in by 1/16/11.  You can see the invoice yourself right here (I've redacted her account number and address).

People0001

You'll notice that nowhere on the "Summary of Account" does it state that this is simply a renewal offer, that she doesn't actually owe anything, and that her subscription doesn't expire for another four years.

My mother lived on a fixed income. She was tens of thousands of dollars in debt. And she had big medical bills. But I have no doubt that if she was still alive today, as ill as she was with "chemo brain," she would have paid this "bill" thinking that she owed the money and that she'd lose her subscription if she didn't. 

This invoice is an example of reprehensible business practices. You'd think that People Magazine would be required by law to say, clearly and in large letters, that this is a renewal offer and not a bill, that no payment is required at all, and that the current subscription is not in danger of expiring for a few more years.

The people at People Magazine are garden-variety swindlers, preying on the old and the addled, and they should be stopped from engaging in this kind of deception. It's shameful.

Does anybody know which government agency I can complain to about these scumbags? 

The Mail I Get

I got an email from a publicist yesterday. It began:

You've written several wonderful articles on the ways that technology has influenced reading and writing. May I interest you in news around HubPages, an online publishing community, that's generously rewarding writers – with money, readership and recognition?HubPages gives writers a free, search-enabled, online ad-equipped writing platform. HubPages then uses its in-house technology to run the best possible ads within the content, and – shares 60% of the ad revenue with the writer. In its 4th year, HubPages is now in the enviable position of helping writers of various levels make a living through the site. As the publishing industry tries to find a better business model, rewards for writers are getting more and more difficult. Here's a company that is going against the general trend, and is thriving while helping writers earn a living.

Apparently, she hasn't read my blog very closely, because I am the last person you want to pitch with another get-rich-quick scheme for writers. The way Hub pages works, you blog on their site, they load your post full of ads, and when you get hits, you get rich. They also offer to help you hone your writing skills by using feedback from other "hubbers" and taking advantage of their archive of articles on writing. So I took a look at one of their highlighted articles, this one on fighting writer's block.

Participate in the weekly HubMob: Every week, the HubMob team shares a new topic and challenges Hubbers to write Hubs on it! These topics are search-friendly and perfect for getting your writing back on track when you are running out of inspiration.

I guess another benefit of wasting hours of your life writing for Hub pages, so they have content to game search engines with, is getting to use the word "Hub" a lot in your writing and speech. Blogs are Hubs, writers are Hubbers, and I suppose Bullshit is Hubshit. (This reminds me of a producer I once worked for whose secret for writing science fiction was to stick the word "plasma" or "space" in front of everything. If you call a door a a Plasma Door or a Space Door, that makes it science fiction). A hubber left this sage advice in a comment: 

As I mentioned in my last hub if I get a hubbers block, I go out , visit the library, read, go shopping to fill the gap.

You can't get hub wisdom like that anywhere else. So I checked out what other advice this long-time hubber had on how to make Hub pages earn Hub money for Hub me.

Before HubPages, I was a blogger, I started blogging in 2005. I have learned the ins and outs of blogging but never really earn any cents. I knew I am doing something wrong but I don’t know what.

To be honest, my main purpose in writing online is to supplement my income. I have read a lot about full-time bloggers claiming that they support themselves through online writing, apart from blogging they also offer how to become successful through blogging by following what they have written in their e-books, I am sure you have hear about this story too.

[…] I discovered Hubpages in 2007 while looking for job ads at Problogger. I did not hesitate, I sign in at HubPages, which is a user content generated site. Writers are called hubbers and write individual webpages called hubs on any topic. Hubbers earns through Google Adsense which appears on individual hubs and the revenue is split by 60:40. This is achieved by alternating the code used in advertisements: the Hubber's code is displayed 60% of the time, and HubPages' code 40%.

I think it is a fair deal —well this is good for me. I try to learn everything by reading the Forum, I bookmarked hubs, I keep reading and take notes on tips suggested by Hubbers. I ask questions and learn and get educated.

One of the best advise I have read at HubPages was written by Paul Edmondson (Co-Founder and CEO of HubPages) to write articles about topics that don’t change – and he called it evergreen content. Paul compares writing evergreen content to like owning a bond that pays dividend. The hubber writes the article, then it pays a dividend over a long period of time with traffic to your site. With this in mind, I write my hubs following his advise religiously.

You can see how this Hub master's writing skills have improved over the last four years. She still hasn't learned verb/tense agreement or some grammar basics, but I'm sure another couple of years on Hub pages, with plenty of Hub feedback from Hubbers, she'll get there. But she's already earned a Hub Score of 76 (with 100 being the best) from her fellow Hubbers for this insightful piece. How did she win such praise? Well, that led me to an article titled "How to Get Accolades For Writing on Hub Pages" from a guy who has written 100 posts for Hub Pages:

How to get accolades for writing in HubPages came from a reader's question. I was asked the following question, how to get accolades for HubPages? The question is from Hubber pandyprashant. Firstly thank you for the question, that is an accolade in itself. The first two points I would like to make I think are fairly obvious. Firstly you shouldn't write on HubPages with the goal of getting accolades and secondly if your content is worthy it will receive accolades organically. I have written a hub about praise and that best explains I think how to give and receive praise.

With Hub writing skills like that, I'm sure he'll be heaped with accolades…not to mention Hub money from all those Hub ads (though how much he's earned is one Hub nugget of Hub information he doesn't Hub provide). For that, I checked out a hub on "How to Get Started Earning Money on Hub Pages." I knew this article had to be good, because it got a score of 100 from Hub Pages.

Earning money on HubPages is not going to come easily, you are going to have to work for it. You are going to have to put some time into is as well, possibly several hours per day in the beginning. Anything worthwhile takes time and effort, you will find that perseverance pays off. You wouldn’t expect to go to a job and do nothing while being paid a wage would you? Look at HubPages as being a new job. What do you do at a new job?

Are you a full timer? Did you want to start your job as a full time employee? Remember in the working world most full time jobs are 40 hours per week. The benefit of writing at HubPages is you get to pick and choose the hours you work, and break them up as you find necessary. So you can spread that 40 hours over a period of 7 days if you wish. Spending about 5 ½ hours per day on writing.

[…]The benefits of writing on HubPages for a new person is just this. You learned how to write in school and are able to string some words together that make perfect sense. You have good ideas and want to put them to use. At first with any job you will find that your work isn’t perfect. Most companies allow you a ‘do over’, they don’t expect anyone new to get it perfect the first time. HubPages is the same, they allow you to go in and edit your work to make it better. To get your feet wet with writing, you are allowed to write about anything you wish. That’s kind of like getting a factory job and being allowed to run any machine you want to, how great is that?

Hub allows you to write anything you wish. That really is amazing. Sort of like what I am doing right now without the Borg, er, the Hub.  I like her factory analogy, too, but more on that in a moment.

She goes into great length on her hub about how to maximize your posts for Goodle Adsense and search engines…things you can do on your own blog without having to share any of that revenue with your blog host or with Hub, those folks who so graciously let you write whatever you want.

She doesn't say anything about how much she is actually earning for all of this effort to make money for Hub pages. The closest she gets is this:

The money will come in time, it’s not something you will find overnight. Just keep writing, continue to improve your writing skills and read the Hubs of others. There are Hubbers writing Hubs about writing. Go meet them, read what they have to say.

Ah yes, all that valuable Hub feedback. That really is worth more than money, isn't it? That Hub love is the real reward.

Basically, Hub Pages is a writing mill…where they get you to write content for free that they use game search engines and generate ad revenue for themselves. You get a percentage of that revenue, which might earn a few pennies for you (if you're very, very lucky), but with 200,000 users, that adds up to real dollars for Hub. You make the pennies, they make the dollars. You are free labor…rats running on a wheel kept happy and engaged by meaningless accolades of other "hubbers" and sense of membership in a community. It's a shrewd way to run a sweatshop and fool the workers into thinking they're not being exploited. But it's still just a food pellet. 

You can write the same essays, post them on your own blog and load it with ads…and earn 100% of the ad revenue instead of just a percentage. The downside? Hub doesn't earn money off of your back, you won't be able to communicate in Hub talk or get those meaningful Hub accolades. But you can always create your own language. Mine is Lee talk. You just stick my name in front of everything. That is the end of this Lee (a blog) and I hope all of you Lee-ees (readers) have found it Lee interesting (that's really interesting, in the Lee-sense of the word).

UPDATE: An angry hubber who asked me not to quote her hubmail sent me this hub  link to some Hub pages Hub success stories. Of course, they don't reveal what percentage of all Hub users are earning as well as those folks… or how much more money these atypical hubbers might have earned off of those same posts by cutting Hub pages out of the equation, putting them on their own blogs and using Google Adsense, Amazon, etc.  

It's also interesting how these few successful Hubbers refer to their ad revenues as "passive" income I guess no work went into writing the 500-600 blog posts they had to write to earn that money. It's that sweat equity that Hub pages is making all of their money from. They are the only ones who are consistently making money, even off the posts that don't earn much for the individual writers. 

The guys running Hub have 200,000 people writing free content for them to game search engine with and make money off advertising.  Getting other people to do the work for you while you earn money off their labors, now that is real passive income and a genuine money-making opportunity.

The Mail I Get – How to Make Money From Dumb Authors

I have been inundated lately with invitations to submit my books to the London Book Festival, the Paris Book Festival, the San Francisco Book Festival,  the New England Book Festival, the Hollywood Book Festival, the New York Book Festival, the Beach Book Festival, the Nashville Book Festival  and several others.

They sound prestigious, don't they?

What these "Festivals" all have in common is that they have the same entry requirements and the same entry fees.

That's because they are actually all contests run by Bruce Haring's  JM Northern Media and are, as the Miss Snark Literary Agent Blog aptly put it, "a crock of shit." Here are the details, for example, for the the 2011 Paris Book Festival:

The 2011 Paris Book Festival will consider entries in general non-fiction, fiction, biography/autobiography, children's books, cookbooks, compilations/anthologies; e-books; genre-based, how-to, photography/art, spiritual, music, teenage/young adult, unpublished stories and the wild card (anything goes!) categories published on or after Jan. 1, 2006.  
 
Entries can be in French, English, Spanish, German or Portuguese and can be published, self-published or issued by an independent publishing house.  
 
Our grand prize for the 2011 Paris Book Festival is $1500 cash and a flight to Paris for our gala awards ceremony on May 14, 2011 OR a flight to San Francisco, CA and a similar cash grant for our San Francisco Book Festival awards on the same date.

[…]Applications must be accompanied by a non-refundable entry fee via check, money order, credit card payment or PayPal online payment of $50 in U.S. dollars for each submission. Multiple submissions are permitted but each entry must be accompanied by a separate form and entry fee. Entry fee checks should be made payable to JM Northern Media LLC.

So let's examine those very discriminating rules. They will consider any book, published or unpublished, in almost any conceivable genre, written in one of five languages in the last five years. And you can enter the same book in as many categories as you want, as long as you keep writing checks for $50 to JM Northern each time.

That tough, rigorous criteria should tell you something about how prestigious and highly selective these "awards" and  "festivals" actually are. 

But if that isn't enough, look at what the winner of the Paris Book Festival will get… $1500 bucks and a trip to Paris OR  "a similar cash grant" and a trip to San Francisco. You'll also notice that they don't tell you where exactly this "festival" is being held. 

So I guess if you win the Paris Book Festival prize for your unpublished, 2007 collection of viking transgender time-travel poetry written in Portuguese….your prize could be $107.68 (which is similar to $1500 in that it's money) and a ticket to San Francisco (which is like Paris, in that it's a city) for the Festival which, for all you know, is being held at a Denny's in Daly City. Order the Grand Slam, it's tasty.

It amazes me that anyone falls for this, especially since winning an award at one of these "festivals" carries no prestige whatsoever, either in the publishing world or the entertainment industry. Or, as Miss Snark put it way back in 2006:

This is like being elected prom queen in a high school with six girls.

These kinds of "awards" are the latest crock of shit way to separate you from your money. They only need a couple suckers to make this thing profitable.

But JM Northern has been running these contests for years.…which I suppose means that there's still lots of money to be made from stupid authors, hungry for even meaningless recognition. 

Vanity Press Screenwriting

I've been having some creative problems with the spec script I am writing, which is loosely based on an unfinished novel of mine. But then, in my moment of darkest despair, I got this life saving tweet from Brien Jones at Jones Harvest, an obscure vanity press:

Have you ever wanted to see your novel as a movie? Contact us about about our screenplay writing services! 

Wow. What a great opportunity! I had to learn more. So I immediately went to their site, and saw this under their services tab:

Screenplay – One of our professional editors will write an industry standard screenplay from your provided manuscript.

They don't offer any more details, but even that little bit filled me with confidence. I could just send them my manuscript and their editors would make it into a script. What other publisher offers that great service? 

I was curious what makes the "professional editors" at Jones Harvest think that, just because they can edit a book, they can also write a script. Aren't they very different skills? 

So I looked up the screenwriting credits of Brien Jones, the publisher and editor of Jones Harvest, to see if he's a member of the Writers Guild of America or if he's had any produced screenwriting credits. He's not a WGA member and I couldn't find a single movie or TV credit to his name…but according to his site and photos, he has visited Los Angeles and taken a studio tour, so he probably knows his stuff.

Where do I send the check?

Getting Screwed Isn’t a Stepping Stone to Success

I can't tell you how many times I have told aspiring writers not to pay a vanity press to "publish" their books, or not to pay an agent a "reading fee," or not to pay to enter a writing contest nobody has ever heard of, only to be told "Yeah, Lee, I know, but this is the only opportunity I have and you have to start somewhere."  My friend writer Mark Evanier has heard it, too, and thinks it's "brain dead stupid."

Imagine if your goal was to play for the Seattle Mariners…or maybe even to get on a professional baseball team. Imagine that some odorous homeless guy came up to you on the street and said, "Gimme a thousand dollars and I'll introduce you to their talent scout" and you forked over the cash and said, "Well, gee…it was the only offer I had."

Well, paying someone to submit your writing or to publish it or — the big new scam — entering a "contest" is even stupider than that.

It's getting harder and harder for me to have any sympathy for these suckers, especially when all it takes to discover the truth about most of these scams is a simple Google search and a molecule of common sense. Nobody I know, in publishing or television, became successful by emptying their bank accounts with fee-based "literary agents," vanity presses, and fly-by-night screenwriting and publishing contests. As Mark says:

First rule of professional writing: They pay you, you don't pay them.

I know times are tough. Believe me, I know times are tough. But there's never a good moment to let yourself be exploited by people who think you're so hungry, you'll work for promises…not until MasterCard accepts promises from scumbags as payment. 

Amen to that.

PublishAmerica Wants Your Money

The latest scam from PublishAmerica is pretty ballsy — charging writers $99 to enter Amazon's FREE screenwriting contest. Yeah, you read right —  PublishAmerica is trying to convince authors that it makes sense to pay them to enter someone else's free contest. The frightening thing is, there are probably some suckers who will fall for it.  An incredulous, and outraged, P.N. Elrod broke the story on her blog over the weekend.  Here's the PublishAmerica pitch, with her boldfacing & annotations:

 

Dear Author:

Amazon.com has done it again. Now they have started Amazon Studios, and they want to see if your book's manuscript is their (and Warner Bros. Pictures'!) next movie. 

Basically, Amazon is now also entering the movie business, and they are crowdsourcing it, shopping among original story tellers like yourself. They have given Warner Bros. the right of first refusal. 

From Tuesday's Amazon Studios announcement: 

"We are excited to introduce writers, filmmakers and movie lovers to Amazon Studios […]  It is the goal of Amazon Studios to produce new, full-budget theatrical films based on the best projects and it will give Warner Bros. Pictures first access to the projects Amazon Studios wishes to produce in cooperation with an outside studio."

The Amazon Studio deals include rights payments of $200,000 for winning submissions, and a $400,000 bonus "if the movie makes over $60 million at the U.S. box office". It also awards prizes of $20,000 for the two best scripts in a month even if they don't become a movie.

See for all details http://studios.amazon.com/.    (No, don't, please don't.)

Here's how it works: Together with you we'll rework your manuscript a little (That's a red flag, kids!), then we submit it to Amazon Studios for their contest, following their guidelines. They award prizes monthly. (And PA collects 99.00 courtesy of your high interest rate credit card.)

 Activate your entry for Amazon Studios today: go to http://www.publishamerica.net/AmazonWarnerBros1.html, click Add to cart, (NO-NO-NO–DON'T!!!) choose a shipping option to start the activation. In the Ordering Instructions box be sure to mention the title of your book. If your book has not yet been released, add "Pre-release!"

By activating your book's submission to Amazon Studios you authorize PublishAmerica to act on your behalf and you agree that this constitutes your consent in writing. (NO-NO-NO-NO-NO!!!)

After we have received your activation you will be contacted about adding your book's list of characters and a film synopsis. 

See you in Hollywood!  (See you in hell first, PA.)

–PublishAmerica Bookstore

 

When she's done skewering PublishAmerica over their scam, she also takes Amazon to task for essentially hijacking the copyright on every script that's submitted. Which just goes to prove, nothing is ever really free.

Preying on the Self-Published

Writer Beware has an excellent overview on PW Select and other "pay-for-review" scams that prey on self-published authors. They write, in part:

[…]no matter what altruistic motive the service offers to justify its fees, paid reviews are less an effort to expand review coverage to worthy books than an opportunity to make some extra cash by exploiting self- and small press-published authors' hunger for credibility and exposure.

Now there's a new entrant in the fee-for review arena: Publishers Weekly.[…]For a self- or small press-pubbed author with a quality book, therefore, PW Select could–just possibly–be an opportunity. Problem is, most writers believe their books are quality, whether or not that's so. Many, if not most, of the writers who pay the $149 won't have a prayer of getting a review (sorry, self-publishing advocates, it's true. Large numbers of self-published books suck). All they'll receive for their money is a listing–and while the reviews may attract attention, who will look at the listings? It's hard for me to imagine that anyone beyond the authors themselves will care.[…] PW Select is a moneymaking venture that feeds on self- and small press-pubbed authors' hunger for exposure, in full knowledge that the majority of the writers who buy the service will not benefit from it.

Publishers Weekly Whores Itself

Publisher's Weekly has become so desperate in the face of declining advertising and an eroding subscriber base that it has decided to whore itself, and its good name, for a few extra bucks.

The magazine is launching PW Select, a quarterly "special issue" devoted to reviewing self-published authors, which would be a great and laudable thing… except that they are charging aspiring authors a $150 "processing fee" to be included. So it's just another vanity press scam, an advertising supplement pretending to be a review publication, aimed squarely at deceiving aspiring writers out of whatever money iUniverse hasn't already shaken out of them.

But it gets  even worse, my friends.

PW has also decided to piss all over their journalistic integrity, and the minimum basic standards of ethical journalistic conduct, by drafting their staff of reporters and critics to participate.  This creates a terrible and untenable conflict-of-interest for PW writers, who are now reviewing, and reporting on, authors who have paid for the opportunity.

The entire PW editorial staff will participate in a review of the titles being considered for review, and we'll likely invite a few agent friends and distributors to have a look at what we've chosen. No promises there, just letting some publishing friends take advantage of the opportunity to see the collection.[…] We briefly considered charging for reviews, but in the end preferred to maintain our right to review what we deemed worthy. The processing fee that guarantees a listing and the chance to be reviewed accomplishes what we want: to inform the trade of what is happening in self-publishing and to present a PW selection of what has the most merit.

Do they really think that charging a $150 processing fee is any different than directly charging for reviews? Do they really think they are fooling anyone?

It's sad that PW,  once a fine and reputable publication, has decided to follow the example set by the disgraced, and widely derided, Kirkus Discoveries, and prey on the desperation of aspiring authors…sullying PW's good name in the process. But they have waded one step further into the sewer by dangling the enticement of possible agent representation or contract from a publisher as an incentive to submit to "PW Select." This puts them solidly in the ranks of vanity press scammers.

If  PW wanted to honestly and informatively report on the self-publishing field, and give worthy self-published titles the attention they deserve, while still maintaining journalistic integrity, objectivity, and good name, they would have done their special issue without charging authors to have their books included and reviewed. Or dangling the possibility of agent representation and a publishing contract to self-published authors for their participation.

This is a money grab, a blatant attempt to exploit self-published authors to improve their sagging bottom line. It's PW pissing on their own good name.

It's pitiful, disgraceful…and very sad. PW and its staff should be deeply ashamed.

Wiley Royalty Grab

An important warning from The Authors Guild:

Wiley's Deceptive Letter to Bloomberg Press Authors: "We are pleased to inform you" that we will be slicing your royalties up to 50%

John Wiley & Sons acquired Bloomberg Press, the books division of Bloomberg, in March. At the end of April, it began sending a letter to hundreds of Bloomberg Press authors purporting to inform them "about a few differences in the accounting systems of Bloomberg and Wiley that it will be helpful for you to know about." 

While this sounds innocent enough, it isn't. If signed by an author, the letter is actually a contract amendment that will materially and adversely affect the royalty rates of many Bloomberg Press authors. 

Among other things, this contract amendment would: 

1. Change royalty rates based on retail list price to rates based on net receipts. We've reviewed several Bloomberg Press contracts. All provide for royalty payments based on the retail list price (although we understand that there may be many based on net receipts). The Wiley letter misleadingly presents this to the author as good news: "We are pleased to inform you that we will be paying your royalties on the net amount received…" This change will, for many authors, effectively slice royalties by up to 50% for some book sales. Wiley's letter fails to disclose that. 

2. Empower Wiley to keep an author's book in print with a lowball print on demand royalty of 5% of net receipts. (Bloomberg Press had no print on demand program.) The contract amendment, which provides no threshold level of sales for a work to be considered in print, essentially grants Wiley a perpetual right in an author's book for a pittance. The 5% of net receipts royalty rate for print on demand editions is as low as we've seen. 

We've asked an independent royalty auditor to review the affects of these contractual changes on royalty income. The royalty auditor found reductions of 24% to 43% using actual sales figures and applying Wiley's amendments. (The precise affect of the amendments will vary by title, depending on particular categories of sales of the work.) 

The Authors Guild strongly urges Bloomberg Press authors to not sign this letter without careful consideration. If you have received this letter, consult your agent or a publishing attorney or contact a lawyer in our legal department so you understand precisely how this amendment would affect your rights and royalties. Important: if you have already signed the letter and returned it to Wiley, contact our legal department immediately. Non-Guild members are welcome to contact us as well. All communications will, of course, be held in confidence. 

This is no way to do business. The letter is shocking from a publisher of Wiley's stature. In our view, Wiley should tear up any signed letters it has received and start over, forthrightly explaining to its new authors the contractual changes it is seeking and how this may affect their income and their right to terminate their publishing contracts.