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Advice needed for scammed new author

editing_for_authors
Editing for authors: because every writer needs a good editor.

mscelina

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NO--it's not me.

So the whole family was together for a completely unrelated reason, and a member of the family informed me that she had an agent! And the agent was going to be shopping her novel at the big Berlin book fair!

Needless to say I was impressed. Then I heard the name: Writers Literary Agency.

:headdesk:

The name rang a bell--not a good one. So I pulled it up here and OMG. I figure I can steer her through getting out of the contract. Here's my question: anyone have any advice as to how I should break the news to her that she's been scammed? I'm going to try and get whatever information they've sent her for use here if needed. Gah. What a mess on top of everything else. Thoughts? Anyone?
 
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James D. Macdonald

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Point her here. Whatever they've sent her has probably already been demolished line-by-line.

Tell her that books get sold out of the slush more often than WL sells a book -- if they've ever sold a book in their miserable lives, for which, despite their claims, there is precisely no evidence. Tell her that they accept anyone and anything, including (literally!) gibberish. Tell her that if they ask her for money, or tell her that she needs to pay someone else money, that it's proof that they're a scam. Tell her that their head man, Robert Fletcher, is an adjudged scammer who was forced to pay a $50,000 fine plus restitution for defrauding folks. Tell her that every time WL makes a statement that can be fact checked that it turns out to be a lie.

When she decides to bail out, it's this easy: send them a registered letter telling them that they do not represent her.

If she decides to keep going with them, tell her to take good notes; they'll come in handy if she gets called as a witness for the prosecution the next time he's hauled into court. Fletcher is a scammer and has never been anything else.

You can point her to other sources on how to find agents.

But be aware that the psychological force of someone saying "I love your book as much as you do" may well make your words fall on deaf ears.
 

mscelina

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Yeah, I'm afraid that is my problem. I did ask her if she'd been asked to pay money up front, and she said no. Which is a good thing. I did emphasize that if they DID that it was a scam agency. I have a feeling, though, that she will probably have a difficult time comprehending the sheer size of WL's scam.

I'm printing off the P&E and Writers Beware information on WL and will show it to her sometime over the next few days when the rest of the family situation settles down a bit. Here's the strange thing: she did have a 'critique' which she showed me. When I read it, I was absolutely stunned. In a 118k manuscript, they found exactly *one* misspelled word--in fact everything they said was an exclamation of greatness. I have a feeling that there isn't a way to soften the blow, and that even the harshest reality of what she's done with her intellectual property will be hard to take.

Thanks, Jim. I appreciate the quick response. I just dread doing this, I guess. *sigh* better have a few martinis before I whip out the ammo.
 
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James D. Macdonald

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Alas, when someone puts on the Captain Lemming outfit and heads for the roof there isn't much you can do.

Point her to the discussions at Making Light: http://nielsenhayden.com/makinglight/archives/008839.html and http://nielsenhayden.com/makinglight/archives/007246.html

Perhaps she doesn't understand that the money she spent on the critique (and will spend on the webpage, the edits, the Aggressive Agent program, and whatever else) really is a fee, even if the name "WL Writers' Literary" isn't on the pay-to line. It's the same people using a different e-mail address.
 

mscelina

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Thank you very much, Jim. I really appreciate you taking the time to steer me through a situation which will probably ruin yet another Thanksgiving. *grin* Looks like I have to cook this year.

The links are very helpful and I am printing them off. I'll let her read them with the web addys visible so that she can take those and research them herself. And then, I'll make goshdarn certain that she is released from her contract. Hopefully there will be some new scam angle involved in all of it that I can bring to your (and Dave and Victoria's) attention to help in the fight against these thugs.

Once again, you rock. Thanks! :)
 

scully931

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You are a bigger person than I. If someone I was trying to help gave me that line about being more particular I would be tempted to let them find it all out for themselves. Good luck! :)
 

Stacia Kane

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You are a bigger person than I. If someone I was trying to help gave me that line about being more particular I would be tempted to let them find it all out for themselves. Good luck! :)

Yep, I'm ashamed to say that was my exact thought. (But part of it was how hard it's going to be to convince this woman, and how much family trouble you're likely to stir up.)
 

Old Hack

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Might it be wise to hand everything over to your husband, and let him present it to her? Sounds as though she'll listen more readily to him, and if she's anything like my MIL she'll really appreciate the trouble he's been to on her behalf.
 

mscelina

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Yep, I figured that one out really early...after all: better him than me, right.

gee, I really don't want to call you "Hack." What's the friendly diminutive?

<===not in the mood to be 'blamed' for someone else's mistake
 

Christine N.

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Just make sure you also tell her that you really care about her and don't want to see her taken, and that her work deserves the best it can get, and these people aren't it.

More flies with honey and all. Just make her feel she's better than WL. I don't know her level of talent, but no one deserves that bunch. Then maybe give her the link to P&E, so she can research new agents. Give her an open window, so she doesn't feel the door is being shut in her face.
 

AC Crispin

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If she has signed a contract and gotten a critique, she's almost certainly paid money. Writer Beware has examined many of those critiques and they are almost always useless...generic boilerplate that is just cut and pasted.

If your MIL finally sees that she has been duped, please have her write to me. ESPECIALLY if she's from Florida.

There are laws against conning people, especially senior citizens.

-Ann C. Crispin
Chair, Writer Beware
www.writerbeware.com
[email protected]
 

Old Hack

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It's Jane, mscelina. Thanks for asking. And I hope that you manage to resolve this without too much pain--it's a horrid situation.
 

illiterwrite

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What Berlin book fair? Does she mean Frankfurt? Because that was a few weeks ago.
 

mscelina

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Yes, that was one of my first clues.

LMAO! I just realized that when I send her here, I'll have to have this thread deleted which is a shame. She would absolutely DIE if she saw this.
 

Caro

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probably a lot. *sigh* she's my mother in law.

Oh, you have my deepest sympathy. My mother-in-law, trying to be "helpful," once got me the name of the agent of someone at her church and said she'd have them recommend me. Guess who.

She didn't understand when I politely declined and thought I didn't appreciate her efforts. When I told her what I knew about them, she got offended because she was certain her friend couldn't have been scammed because she was a clever and good person who was only going out of their way to help me.

Thanksgiving was...uncomfortable that year, especially since my father-in-law kept asking me questions about the publishing industry (in which he's started to take an interest because of my efforts to be published).
 

mscelina

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Well, the bomb has been dropped. Shattered ego wil heal, registered letter on way, and MIL steered to Writers Beware and Preditors & Editors.

Not a pleasant conversation. But at least it's done.
 

mscelina

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yeah, well, it's still my fault.

*refuses to feel guilt for doing the right thing*

Forgive me if I prune my entries above a bit; no need for anyone to be ticked off that I was 'less than discreet.'
 

qdsb

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probably a lot. *sigh* she's my mother in law.


:e2smack:

Good luck! I agree with giving all the printouts to your husband and having him talk sense to her. There's only so much you can do.
 

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