Is Dreame Publishers (also known as Ficfun and Stary LTD.) a Scam?

Typesetter

My name is Chris… and I’m not famous. A publisher recently contacted because they found my book online and want to offer me a contract… should I take it?

…my advice? Run away. Probably.

So my SF story Dekker’s Dozen: The Last Watchmen has over 65,000 reads on Wattpad and had been featured in the past. This morning, after a brief interaction with a publisher, I was offered a contract. Don’t congratulate me yet. Not all contracts are created equally.

It sounds too good to be true, right? You put something on Wattpad and then a publisher comes calling? But that’s what happened to guys like Taran Matharu who writes the Summoner series (and who I’ve had conversations with via the social writing platform.) But as I often caution folks, plan to be the rule rather than the exception.

On second glance at their initial message and subsequent ones I was asked to “kindly reply” or “kindly send XYZ.” That’s not how native English speakers speak and is usually a giveaway of an overseas scam. But this company might not actually be a scam. They are, however, not looking play by the same rules as regular publishers.

The company in question is Dreame… with an E. It didn’t take much looking around the internet to find that my experience with Dreame is not uncommon; they’ve made a habit of soliciting authors from Wattpad to try and gain rights to their stories and then publish them exclusively on Dreame.com. That’s a legitimate business model. They offered me sixty bucks, which is a bit of a slap in the face since I would be prohibited from sharing this story electronically (ebook) and possibly they would get the audible rights as well. They are cautious to mention in the contract that you retain paperback rights, but audiobooks are on the rise, and you might be agreeing to give them 20% of your sales in exchange for that tiny advance they give you… that’s right. It’s an advance, which means if they make money on the book (by whatever metric they determine) they still might not have to pay you unless they exceed that original amount.

Dreame, which looks like a Wattpad clone with a paywall for certain stories, is based out of Singapore. It is affiliated with Ficfun, which has a rating of two thumbs down from some writing services. There is a thread going about it over at Reddit which is worth checking out. Dreame runs under the business name of Stary PTE Ltd

They talk a bunch about quality of stories, etc… but just like Wattpad, it seems like mostly bad romance fiction or rip-offs and fanfics. Honestly, a guy can only stomach so much Mario on Luigi gay erotica on a landing page before he gives up on a platform altogether. (And let’s not forget about the infamous 50 Shades of Gandalf the Grey I referenced before… you can’t make this stuff up.) Interestingly enough, Wattpad is also toying with a “paid” option, although this service is currently in limited beta and not currently available in the US. Could Dreame be legit and scooping Wattpad on their upcoming service? I guess it is possible (they have been open to negotiation from me on finer points of the contract but have also repeatedly dodged the question of exactly how stories will generate funds to split with authors). I’ve been told that authors can earn 30%, 40%, or 50% depending on the amount an author takes in the form of an advance… percentages mean nothing, though if I don’t know how the thing is gonna earn out.

After multiple emails stating that I needed to know how it made money. I finally asked “Does it only earn money if someone signs up to read it, does it earn money or no money if a subscriber reads it? Does it only earn money if they click response device like a button for Like or Share at the end or does simply clicking the story link earn a commission? You’ve not given me those kinds of details which is what I want to know so I can judge how successful my story might be and make a decision.” As you can see by the below response, they completely dodge the question with their answer:

Stories with good performance will be put behind the pay wall. We will see from the data analysis. And Author will have a 30% share after the income gained by the Work exceeds the whole cost paid by us, including without limitation the royalty paid to Author, marketing fee and other costs charged by any third parties.
Author will have access to the sales amount in the author center, but since now our author center is still in development, which might be available in several months. And at present, we are investing extra amount of money to promote our stories as well as our app. But we will share the records to our authors if the profits exceed our investment before the author center is set up.

So basically, they are saying that whenever they are ready to start paying you, then they will explain how they do their accounting and math so that their payment will add up. That’s a big red flag for me.

Anyways, their contract looks pretty bad, too. You can follow up with some details from kboards and other authors who got similarly bad contracts and where one writer notes:

It also reads like they are trying to act as an agent to sell the rights to other media. Again, not necessarily a problem so long as you have right of refusal to any deal they come up with. But there have been outfits like this that self refer (they “sell” the rights to the audiobook, for example, to their own sister company and your contract requires you to accept). So unless you get final right of refusal, this is a non-starter.

My biggest concern is that there is a lot of vague, “squishy” language used. And I don’t trust vague, squishy language.

Don’t take my language for it. Here is a sample contract they sent me to look at, but FIRST, I wanted to draw your attention to some of the comments below. While I can’t independently verify the truth of each comment, one that scares me says:

I have been on their discord server for 2-3 years now and have been with them since the beginning. Everything above is TRUE. Do NOT join ficfun or dreame. Me and a bunch of other writers have been doing investigations on them for a long time and nothing is positive. First off, their USA location originally was in the middle of a lake near Michigan. Like…really? Second, their country, based in Hong Kong, makes it illegal for them to pay their writers outside of paypal – where you are subject to tax laws and potential late payments. One signed writer, who is desperate, got her payment 6 WEEKS after the said payment date.
I partially run their server and if you have any questions, ask me. The server has been basically abandoned by the ficfun team and is left to normal writers. I BEG YOU – keep people away from them.

And now, here’s that Copyright License Agreement from Dreame

This Copyright License Agreement (hereinafter referred to as the “Agreement”) is entered into effect on [ ] [ ], [ ] (“Effective Date”) by and between STARY PTE. LTD., a Singapore corporation under the laws of Singapore with its registered office at [11 Woodlands Close, #08-20, Woodlands 11, Singapore (737853)], (hereinafter referred as “Dreame”) and [ ], penname [ ], an individual with a permanent address at [ ] (hereinafter referred as “Author”). Hereinafter Dreame and Author will be singularly or collectively referred to as “Party” or “Parties”.

By signing this Agreement, Author has agreed to grant the Digital Copyright of their Work to Dreame exclusively in accordance with the terms and conditions of this Agreement. THEREFORE, in consideration of the mutual covenants and agreements hereinafter set forth, the Parties hereby agree as follows:

  1. Definition

1.1 Work means all or part of the [ ] or its derivatives originally created or written by Author, who owns complete copyrights of such Work under any applicable law or regulation.

1.2 Digital copyright means the right to use, publish, distribute, sell, sublicense, post, advertise, promote or market such Work on Platform in accordance with the terms and conditions of this Agreement.

1.3 Platform means all the online platforms owned, operated or controlled directly or indirectly by Dreame, including but not limited to its websites and applications.

  1. Remuneration

2.1 Basic payment: Dreame agrees to pay Author a one-time payment X (X) United States Dollars for the complete Work.

2.2 Dreame has the right to put the Work in the pay-to-read program according to its standards. In this case, Author will receive a 30% share of the profits gained by the Work, when the extra revenue generated by the work exceeds the whole cost paid by Dreame, including and without limitation, the basic payment paid to Author, marketing fee, and any other costs charged by third parties. Except the foregoing compensation or unless otherwise stipulated, Dreame has no obligation to pay any other proceeds, benefits, interest and the like to Author.

2.3 Dreame will only make the basic payment to Author after the full manuscript of the Work is submitted to Dreame by Author. Payment will be made no later than the 30th of the following month via PayPal or international wire transfer. Author will bear the risk of failed payment if the PayPal or bank information Author offered to Dreame is incorrect.

2.4 All taxes or charges due in connection with the compensation for the Work shall be borne by Author.

  1. Dreame’s Obligations

3.1 Dreame acknowledges that Author is the owner of the Work, and shall do nothing inconsistent with such ownership.

3.2 Dreame shall use the Work and pay the remuneration to Author according to the terms and conditions of this Agreement.

3.3 Dreame is obligated to keep all the personal information or other materials Author doesn’t want to make public as confidential.

  1. Author’s Obligations

4.1 Author shall submit the complete manuscript in DOC file 10 days before the pay day. Author acknowledges and agrees that the Work shall contain no less than [ ] words and is obligated to start uploading the Work to Platform within a month after this Agreement takes effect and upload at least [ ] chapter(s) per week. If Author fails to meet the foregoing requirements, Dreame is entitled to upload the Work to its Platform without prior notice to Author.

4.2 Author guarantees that they shall not plagiarize or infringe another person’s legal rights and that the Work is completely original.

4.3 Author shall uphold the reputation of Dreame and will not engage in activities that harm Dreame nor its interests.

4.4 Author agrees to provide necessary assistance or support for Dreame’s marketing and promotion for the Work, including without limitation necessary information or other promotional materials.

4.5 Author can self-publish the Work in paperback form only and all earnings will be Author’s own. However, Author shall not publish or sell the Work on any other third parties’ online platforms. If Author wishes to publish or sell the Work on a third party’s platform, Author must get Dreame’s express written permission by giving prior written notice to Dreame. Any future earnings made in this way shall be charged a further 30% commission by Dreame.

4.6 The Work must adhere to the standards set by Dreame. If the Work contains excessive spelling or grammatical errors, Author will be required to make revisions in accordance with Dreame’s requests. In such a case that Author refuses to make the revisions or such Work does not meet Dreame’s requirement after the revision, Dreame shall be entitled to not use or release such Work, and to terminate this Agreement without legal liability.

  1. Terms and Termination

5.1 This Agreement shall commence from the Effective Date and shall continue in full force and effect during the period of creation of the Work and for five (5) more years after the Work is completed on Dreame, i.e., the plot must be completed and confirmed by Dreame. This Agreement shall be automatically renewed for additional five (5) years, unless either Party provides written notice of non-renewal to the other Party, no less than ninety (90) days prior to the expiration of Agreement.

5.2 If Author breaches this Agreement and fails in fulfilling their obligations, Dreame has the right to suspend payments and require Author to refund all the compensation. In such case Author will also bear all legal consequences and losses incurred.

  1. Miscellaneous

6.1 This Agreement shall be governed by and construed in accordance with any applicable laws and the laws of Singapore. Any dispute or disagreement arising out of or in connection with this Agreement shall be firstly solved through amicable negotiation; if negotiation fails, the forgoing disputes or disagreements shall be exclusively submitted to Singapore International Arbitration Center (SIAC) for arbitration.

6.2 Both Parties agree that the scanned copy of the signed Agreement has the same legal effect with original copy. IN WITNESS WHEREOF, the Parties have caused this Agreement to be executed and effective as of the Effective Date by their duly authorized representatives on the dates shown below.

 

126 thoughts on “Is Dreame Publishers (also known as Ficfun and Stary LTD.) a Scam?

  1. the thing is Dreame is operated by a Chinese company named Huayue with its base in Shenzhen. But it pretends to be in Singapore. If a company makes up a story about itself and is afraid of showing the true face, it must be a trap. Watch out, guys, in particular those new and rising writers. Don’t get lost in their seeming reasonable offer which would definitely drag you into something unpleasant. It might be the money, you fiction, and even your writing career.

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  2. I received this message from Ficfun last year and Dreme this year. Originally, I was pretty surprised because the story that Ficfun noticed was old and not that great in my opinion. However, I still emailed them and asking for a sample contract. They wanted to give me $120 for my book. I ended up ignoring them completely. My book may not have been the best in the world, but I felt like $120 is a slap in the face for it. It’s a scam. I’m not even entertaining this “Dreme” company. They essentially pay you a low rate to have rights to your content.

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  3. Um, I don’t actually have anything to do with the writing field. I’ve just currently started writing a story on Dreame, and I need money. Since, I’ve just started with it, I have like around 3k reads. Can anyone help me with what should I do?

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  4. Esta compañía ” Dreme ” también me ofreció lo mismo que a ustedes pero antes de comunicarme con ellos . Decidí buscar información antes de hacer algo con ellos y en verdad agradezco haberme encontrado con esta información.! Muchas gracias por haber publicado toda esta información acerca de la compañía ” Dreme ” .

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  5. What about if this company contact me and all of my stories are Fanfics? I can’t make money with them for author’s rights.
    So, is a good idea acept the contract considering this?

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    1. just remember, their poor business practices (like not determining upfront that this is fanfic and would be considered a copyright infringement by the IP holder) could end up with you being sued. It’s not highly likely, but you open yourself up to a lawsuit because of them. I wouldn’t risk it.

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  6. Thank you so much for your explanation. Actually i also received a notification from Wattpad about them. At first, i am totally happy but at the same time, i have my second thought. Is it a scam or other way around. Your explanation makes me know the truth and i think i wouldn’t want to work with a terrible organisation. Thank you so much

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  7. Hello, I’ve received a contract from an app named “Kungfobook” this app is a free reading app. The reader can give tips to author if she wants it doesn’t hinder her reading rights.. Now question is should I accept their contract?their terms quite match dreames. Except they’ll give money on basis of word counts in a month.also You’llget 40% of renumeration if they use your work with a 3rd party.. Please suggest me what to do?

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    1. I’ve honestly never heard of them and can’t find anything online. Email me directly (or find my info through my website, linked to this blog) and I’ll look into for a possible article. I’d love to see the contract they sent you.

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  8. Sir,
    I’m an aspiring writer and these SwordyStory people contacted me with a writing competition offering various prizes up to $5000 along with a chance to sign a contract of $50 per month.
    Can I send my novel to them just for the competition and refuse to sign any contract if I don’t win? Can they use my novel as their own even then also?

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    1. those details will be spelled out in the contract, but I would bet money that submitting gives them your story rights for a few years. I would also bet money (without ever seeing their model) that the contest will be determined by “reader votes” which means they want you to drive all of your friends and family to their site.

      essentially, they are dangling a carrot for you to send them web traffic which they can prop up as “XYZ thousands of unique readers” to provide fake credibility. these things are self-feeding monsters… they probably have a friend already determined as their winner and are harvesting your reader base.

      That’s not to say that you won’t make a few dollars, but if you’ve got the reader base already built up (newsletters, social media, etc.) that you could drive reliable voting traffic to them to win a paltry prize, you’d have enough of a base to monetize on your own and sell your stories direct for quite a bit more money than they are offering.

      I don’t know much about Swordy, but Stary and Dreame are in China… scams know no boundaries and there are quite a few companies that many folks think are legit in America that also pull this scam. Yes. I called it a scam. (I get lots of angry emails disagreeing because someone sent you a check for $20 from some writing once, but any “contest” that is decided on a popular vote is a scam. The only contests that count in the eyes of agents, publishers, and the gatekeepers of the writing world are decided with blind readings done by leading pros. If you send a submission to an agent or publisher and your query brags about a Readers Favorite Award or Best Indie Book Award, that query’s going straight in the trash. Awards that can be bought for the sticker or won by a popular vote are truly meaningless [and a little like bragging that you were prom king/queen on a busienss resume.])

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  9. Hi Chris, aside from Dreame do you know anything about Sofanovel? It’s a reading platform, too, kind of like Wattpad. They also have writing contests and stuff. But well, they actually messaged me in Wattpad and offered me a contract. Though it’s kinda like the contract you received from Dreame. At first I was chatting with them thru email, entertaining them because I’m not famous and I thought it would be a good opportunity to earn with my writing. But when I read the contract it just feels… err… wrong? So, I don’t know… Should I just stop and not submit any stories to them? Or not sign the contract?

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    1. I accepted Sofanovel contract but the only problem is when you update a huge words like what I did they will stop you. I don’t know, or maybe they just follow what in the contract, it says 60,000 words but I don’t know if it less than or more than so we misunderstand about the words. But they pay me with the bunos they talking about. And maybe I should write a second book but in Wattpad not in sofanovel.

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  10. Hello, someone asked me to write novel in Dreame Platform. They message me in messenger, then I asked them about their platform. The man replied that the platform is where you can write and they can guarantee a fame, money and fortune, I’m an amateur writer in Wattpad but I never accept any contracts without knowing the company. Last December Sofanovel gave me contract which makes me excite after I signed, I checked the background of the company and it show company in Singapore also here in Philippines, so no doubt in my mind about SCAM. They pay me and last March they said to end the story, I was shocked so I just followed them, I end the story within 30 chapters and If I were the reader I might be disappoint with the ending because it’s not completed, so I mean to cut it off and end the contract though they help me to pay my tuition. And now this Dreame contacted me, I ask an agreement or contract then I read all but I noticed something about the contact and there’s doubt in my mind so I search their company and the first thing shows is this, Is the Dreame Platform Scam? And their I read your article and now I’m asking myself. Should I still accept the offer or not?

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  11. Dreamed contacted me and I want to know if the contract is permanent or if I can ever get my book to use as I please after the contract ends. I don’t want to sell my rights away.

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    1. selling your rights away is exactly what a book contract is. Essentially, it’s like hiring a babysitter (only the sitter is supposed to pay you while it takes care of your “baby.”) Dreame is a bad babysitter. they will pay poor and quite possibly beat the life out of your story.

      I suggest having a lawyer look at the contract they offered (I am not a lawyer). I would also recommend you read up on book contracts.

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  12. I’d definitely recommend staying away from this Chinese app. Their business model is all about taking advantage over the author. There are many better websites for publishing.

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  13. I am a dreame writer and I read the contract. [deleted nonsense that proves “christine” did not read the article] Maybe you were just being suspicious because they are Chinese but then, not all Chinese are the same, and not all the same races as ours are all good as others.

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    1. I edited “Christine’s” response. I find it odd that someone with this very American name seems to have a gmail that indicates her name is Yuki and her IP address traces back to China. Not only did this poster not read the article, but she is accusing me of racism? WTF?
      Pretty sure this is another employee of Dreame/Stary/whatevertheyarerenamingasthisweek. It makes me happy to know how many writers I’ve steered out of this company’s way–so many that they have decided to call me a racist on the internet.

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  14. Hello, I’ve been offered a contract by Dreame and it say I can have 6% of the revenu if my book makes it to the pay-to-read. Is this ok? Isn’t it too little?

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