This is another in my series of blog posts about serial reading/writing app contracts (you can see all of them here).
This time the subject is Stary (official name: Stary Pte Ltd, based in Singapore), one of the largest and most well-established of such companies. At least sixteen apps operate under the Stary umbrella, of which Dreame is probably the best-known. Most cater to English-language readers, but there are several for readers of other languages, including Spanish, Russian, and Portuguese, and one specifically for Filipino writers.
Procedurally, the Stary apps are much like the others I’ve written about. You must sign up for the app and publish at least three chapters, with a minimum of 3,000 words, before you can apply for a contract. (You could also be invited to apply–like other serial reading/writing apps, Stary aggressively solicits for content.)
If offered, the contract may be exclusive or non-exclusive. “Writer benefits” for authors with exclusive contracts include signing bonuses, completion bonuses–both paid once per story–and a Daily Update Bonus, which can be received monthly but requires authors to adhere to punishing schedules and word counts, and after three months is only available if the work is pay-to-read (no guarantees on that–see below) and earnings are more than $20 during the month.
Writers also receive an advance (the amount wasn’t specified in the contract I obtained, but based on what I’ve seen from other apps, I would guess it’s few hundred dollars), and additional revenue may be available based on reader activity and rights exploitation or licensing (see below). Also promised are “upgraded promotions”–social media features, advertising, and more–although only selected writers to receive these extra perks.
Hi, everyone. My name is Michael Capobianco, and although I’ve been an adjunct member of Writer Beware for some time now, this is my first official blog post.
I’m also the Chair of SFWA’s Contracts Committee, which means I see a lot of bad contracts, both for book-length and short fiction. I’ve gotten used to much of the unfortunate and often contradictory clauses in these contracts, but last week I ran into something that caught my attention: a virtually identical terrible clause in two separate small publishers’ book contracts, a clause that I had never seen before.
Both contracts were for original fiction, but aside from the fact that neither paid an advance, they looked fairly different from one another until they came to this clause. To save you any further suspense, here it is:
The Publisher reserves all copyright, trademark and other intellectual property rights in and to the titles (including series title, if any), logotypes, trademarks, trade dress, formats and other features of the Work as published and promoted by Publisher (collectively, “Publisher’s Marks”), and any and all content that may be added to the Work by Publisher (collectively, “Publisher’s Content”). The Publisher shall have the sole right to develop sequels or prequels, new or additional titles in a series, or related works using any and all such elements, and shall be free to commission or contract with any other person(s) for the preparation of such sequels, series, or related works.
Now, I’m used to encountering incomprehensible wording in bad contracts. It was only when I saw the same clause again in another contract so close together that it seemed like a good idea to issue a warning about it.
My first response with something like this is to try to figure out what the publisher was actually trying to say and if there was any legitimate justification for it. Needless to say, I couldn’t think of any. On the face of it, this seems like an egregious rights grab.
Ms. Schwartz, who describes herself as a bestselling author, is also an entrepreneur: in addition to GenZ/Zenith, she’s the founder of Dr. Rissy’s Writing & Marketing, which offers various PR services along with copywriting, editing, and consulting; and, according to her Reedsy bio, of a ghostwriting company called AmWriting. She was recently elected to the IBPA Board.
I got the news this week that the ‘Writer Beware’ blog, which I keep re-posting here, on ‘Writer’s Treasure Chest’, moved to WordPress.
Victoria Strauss, who does so much for us writers by warning us from scams, foul play, screw-overs, phonies, and more, took the Writer’s Beware blog from Blogspot to WordPress, which is going to make re-blogging a lot easier. I’m sure, she’ll feel home here quite quickly!
Good Luck to Victoria, and we’re looking forward to her very helpful posts! Way to go!
Welcome to the new home of the Writer Beware blog!
After many years on the Blogger platform, we have finally transitioned to WordPress, which offers much greater flexibility in terms of design, control, and ease of use.
I’ve been dissatisfied with Blogger for a while now. I’m not a web developer, but I’m not helpless, either; I maintain the Writer Beware website on the SFWA site, and I built and maintain two additional websites, my own and another for an organization my husband is part of. But every time I thought about moving to a new platform, the size of the challenge just seemed too daunting. How would I transfer hundreds of posts, not to mention the thousands of comments and images that go with them? What about all the non-working inbound links the move would create? Links wouldn’t be a problem if I just started fresh on a brand-new WordPress site–but then the blog would exist on two platforms, with two different web addresses. And what about WB’s thousands of followers and subscribers?
For quite a while now I kept re-blogging warnings of scams and fraud in the literary world, most of them written by Victoria Strauss in the ‘Writer Beware’ blog. I thought it a great idea that she posted a review of 2021, and I decided to share that post too. It might help some of us to escape a trap or two.
Ah, 2021. The year that was supposed to deliver us from the pandemic, and instead delivered…well. You know.
At least one expectation didn’t change: scammers gonna scam. Writer Beware was ready. Below are highlights of a busy year of scam hunting, scheme exposing, contract analyzing, and just plain crazy stuff. IT CAME FROM OVERSEASI know I’m kind of a broken record here, because I’ve written so many posts about them…but the tsunami of publishing/marketing/fake literary agency scams out of the Philippines really is one of the realest and most present dangers for self- and small press-published writers, who are almost exclusively these scammers’ target.
Posted by Victoria Strauss for Writer Beware® A quick warning about a new impersonation scam. I’m getting reports from writers who’ve received email solicitations from what appear to be real film companies. Here are a couple of examples:
Note the identical language. Roth/Kirshenbaum and Bluegrass Films are real enterprises, with real track records. So if the writer–who may be a bit dubious because of the out-of-the-blue contact and the poorly-written text–does a websearch, they’ll learn that these companies actually do exist. There are some odd discrepancies: there’s no “&” in Roth/Kirshenbaum, and Scott Stuber left Bluegrass for Netflix in 2017. Still, the realness of the companies themselves makes it easier for hopeful writers to dismiss any niggling doubts.
I’ve written a number of posts about scammers impersonating literary agents and publishers. Writers should be aware that they’re also impersonating major motion picture studios.
Here’s one example, from a scam that does business under at least three names: Orions Media Agency, Fox Media Studios Agency (note the way these scam names reference real companies), and PageTurner Press and Media. Despite their apparent US addresses and phone numbers, all are based in the Philippines (you can read more about the huge proliferation of overseas scammers here).
This is the initial pitch–which arrives, as always with this type of scam, out of the blue:
This is not the way things work: literary agents aren’t “assigned” to represent you without your knowledge, and major film studios don’t randomly stumble on books and reach out to agencies you never heard of, which then cold-call you. In fact, real agents only very rarely reach out to writers directly. For scammers, on the other hand, it’s their main recruitment method.
Any out-of-the-blue solicitation or offer should be treated with suspicion.
Apparently not even traditionally published authors are safe from crooks. Victoria Strauss on her ‘Writer’s Beware’ blog describes one particular case on her blog. Please read it and be careful. Thank you.
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’ve written several posts about a fairly new phenomenon in the world of writing scams: scammers that falsely use the names of reputable publishing professionals, including literary agents and publishers, to lure writers into paying large amounts of money for worthless, substandard, and/or never-delivered services.
This time, I’m breaking down a very similar scam that, capitalizing on the pandemic-fueled popularity of Netflix and other streaming services (as well as the eternal writerly dream of having one’s book translated into film), is appropriating the name of Clare Richardson, Senior Scout for film and TV at the New York office of Maria B. Campbell Associates, to hoodwink writers in an unusually complicated–and expensive–scheme.
Victoria Strauss, who provides us on the ‘Writer’s Beware Blog’ with information of all kinds, warns us on October 16 and October 19 about two more ‘bad eggs’ that I would like to share with as many writers as possible. Thank you so much, Victoria Strauss, for all your efforts and work to help us!
OCTOBER 16, 2020
BAD CONTRACT ALERT: EMP ENTERTAINMENT AND A&D ENTERTAINMENT
Lately, I’ve been hearing from writers who’ve been solicited by one or another of two companies offering to distribute their books to Webnovel, a Wattpad-like platform based in Asia: EMP Entertainment and A&D Entertainment. (Note: there are many companies with similar names focused on concert invites, event schedule, and DJ services.)
EMP and A&D are both based in Singapore, and both are just 11 months old (which raises interesting questions about whether they’re really different companies, though their contracts differ enough to suggest that they are). They present themselves as Webnovel partners, authorized to offer non-exclusive contracts that allow authors to continue to publish on other platforms (such as Wattpad, where both companies are actively approaching writers) if they choose.
Stories must be 750 words or fewer, and the contest is accepting submissions through Friday, October 23. Three winners will receive prize packages consisting of books, games, swag, and/or gift cards.
The catch? You guessed it. It’s in the fine print of the contest guidelines. (I wasn’t able to provide a direct link to these, but if you scroll down to the bottom of the contest post, there’s a link you can click to see them.)