Question: I have received several calls about converting my book to a movie, people claiming to have reviewed it and with connections to producers can advance it to film – for a fee of several thousand dollars.  Are all of these a scam?



The pandemic has increased the number of scams in the publishing industry and in Hollywood.Unfortunately, it seems like the pandemic has increased the number of corrupt characters who are trying to take advantage of authors by saying they can represent you to traditional publishers or Hollywood companies. Not all companies who make these claims are illegitimate, but there are a number of dishonest people right now making claims that are just flat out misleading, and you should avoid them at all costs.

So, if you are contacted by email or phone by one of these organizations engaging in deceptive practices, here are some red flags you can look or listen for that can tell you the person approaching you is not offering a service in line with industry standards. I don’t advise that you speak to them, but sometimes you get caught off guard by a phone call or an email. In fact, you should ask to be removed from their email and call list.

How to recognize a publishing or Hollywood company scammer

1. If they claim to be a literary agency or literary agent, they should be able to tell whom they currently represent and what books they have sold to traditional publishers.

I have seen many emails recently from people using titles like, “literary agent”, saying there is interest in your book from a traditional publisher. In some cases they even say they work for a traditional publisher. Traditional publishers don’t work that way. And in this case, these scam companies are trying to get you to give them money to “re-edit” your book and “re-publish” it before they can fully represent you.

2. If they say they have book scouts and that’s how they found you, ask them to send you the note the book scout sent so you can see what was said about your book.

I have never seen a company produce such an email so they are just making something up to lure you in. That is a clear red flag.

3. If they say there is a production budget already determined for your book as a movie, they are lying.

That is not how it works in Hollywood. They cannot set a budget until they have a script, a director and actors cast, and locations determined.

4. If they say they will send your book to a big list of Hollywood production companies or traditional publishers that is a scam.

Neither traditional publishers nor Hollywood companies take unsolicited manuscripts of books.


How do you determine if someone is legitimate?

Here are a few things you can ask about that will tell you if the company you are speaking with can deliver:

• How long have they been in business?
• How many books have they published and how many authors have they worked with?
• Do they have a partnership with a traditional publisher and if so, for how long?
• With respect to Hollywood, do they have a first look partner who is guaranteed to look at the book to determine if they want to develop it? First look deals are very common in Hollywood and they give a production company or studio an exclusive “first look” at any projects a company is developing. In other words, they see it before anyone and either decided to move forward to produce it or pass on it.

Legitimate companies will be able to answer these questions clearly and confidently. In short, if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.