This is a segment of a larger piece, the working title of which has been "Ambient Misinformation about Publishing and Writing, and the Cultivation of the Reader Mind: A Rant I Didn't Get to Deliver at Noreascon." It has occurred to me that I could write about this one for a very long time without exhausting the subject.Link
Certain words and phrases are like little genetic markers for scammers. Here's a non-exhaustive list, non-exhaustively explained:
1. "Giving new writers a chance." Also: "Helping new writers."
While agents and publishers frequently do just this thing, they don't talk about it in those terms. For them, it's always a specific new book, a specific new author. Making judgements about which book and which writer they're going to work with is the heart of their job. When you hear someone talking in an indiscriminately general fashion about giving a chance to new writers, there's something wrong.
Same goes for "helping new writers." There might be legitimate projects aimed at helping new writers as a class, but the business they're in isn't agenting or publishing.