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Book Royalties Scam—Don't Fall For It! 😱

Updated: Dec 15, 2023

KWE Publishing Newsletter - 04/27/23

Recently, I received an email from one of our amazing authors asking me about an email she'd received. The email was from someone who claimed to be a "Senior Account Manager" who wanted to "help" our author and discuss royalties.

Thankfully, our awesome author realized that this wasn't an email from anyone from KWE Publishing or our associates. This person said she worked for a random company and had been "assigned" our author's title somehow. It sounded super suspicious, and the random (and at times colorful) variety of fonts was kind of a giveaway that something was off, too...

Unfortunately, this seems to be a common scam going around lately, and it's affected quite a few authors, so we wanted to share a little more about this so you can avoid getting caught up in the mess!

First, if you receive an email that's not from anyone on the KWE Publishing team or our illustrators, designers, or other contacts we've introduced you to, don't hesitate to forward us an email and ask us if we know who the person is. We're always happy to help!

This particular scam is sent from a variety of email addresses, but the people sending them most often say they work for companies called AuthorUnit or PrimeChamber. These are not sites or individuals associated with Amazon, IngramSpark (one of the largest distributors of books we often use), Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP), or anyone else in publishing.

Every publishing company handles royalties a little differently, but at KWE Publishing, we set up your IngramSpark account in your name and you receive the royalties. Often, traditional publishers pay authors an advance for their books—let's say in this case you get a $1000 advance. Once you've sold more than $1000 worth of books, you'll receive a percentage of royalties from your book sales, which can range anywhere from ten to thirty percent.

These scammy scammers are hoping that they can convince you to share information with them—namely, your bank information—by promising that they can get you the royalties from your book sales quicker than Amazon or know, some of the biggest retailers and distributors of books worldwide. Riiighhht.

Recently, author Angela Hoy from Writers Weekly did a deep-dive on the companies after someone she knew also received an email from someone who supposedly worked at AuthorUnit. So she did some digging and asked someone at Ingram if they'd heard of this company. Not surprisingly, they hadn't, and Ingram adamantly denied working with anyone associated with either AuthorUnit or PrimeChamber.

Angela also found that the photos on AuthorUnit and PrimeChamber were stock photos, the addresses the companies provided weren't legitimate, and several emails came from outside of the United States. Way to go, Angela, and thank you for sharing your findings with other writers!

Here's the bottom line: IngramSpark, Amazon, and other legitimate retailers and distributors have the capability to pay you on time—and they have the track record to prove that they will. Someone from outside of these companies will not be "assigned" to you or your book, and if you're asked to give all your banking info to anyone, it's always better to do some research, ask questions, and be cautious.

There's no real reason to be afraid of these scams once you know about them; knowledge is power here! Just use your best judgment and avoid opening files or clicking on links that are sent from unknown senders. The best thing to do is to block the sender, trash the email, and make sure to let your writer friends know to be on the lookout for similar scams, too.

If you've personally experienced a scam, fraud, etc., you can check here to see where to make a report or complaint. Note that you're not guaranteed to receive a response, but it can still be worth filing a complaint.

While this is kind of a heavier topic, we always want to keep our community well-informed! It's a heck of a lot easier to delete an email than it is to deal with banking issues, after all.

The silver lining is that these scams are getting harder and harder to pull off thanks to so many diligent writers sharing their experiences with others! So just be aware, do some research if something sounds too good to be true, and keep writing!

Are there any suspicious emails you've received or scams you've heard about within writing communities online? Reach out and share with us; we're happy to answer any questions you have and guide you toward the right resources!

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