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Melanie Mills

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

brightm

My partner and I had been trying to contact Melanie concerning our manuscript and we just found out that she died. We're having the same problems trying to locate anybody who can answer our questions. We need to know what we're suppose to do about our manuscripts that were in her possession. I feel terrible about the this and know her family must be grieving, but surely there is someone who is taking care of the details with her business. We learned of her death by a small notice on the net written by a Kat Baker who says she was Melanie's assistant, however no contact information was left. Can anyone help?
 

brightm

melanie Mills death...HELP

My partner and I have been trying for a few weeks to contact Melanie and it was only today that we learned of her death. No one contacted us, it was discovered by an obscure notice on the web written by a Kat Baker who says she was Melanie's assistant and she left no contact info. We can't locate anyone to find out what we are suppose to do about out manuscripts that were in her possession. Can anyone help us with this. I understand that her family is grieving, however it seems to me someone would be dealing with the details of her business.
 

Victoria

I've been trying to find out more, but without success so far. All I've learned for sure is that the e-mail address is defunct, the phone is turned off, and all the websites are gone (at one point Ms. Mills had four: one for the literary agency, one for her editing business, one for a book publicity/promotion business, plus a listing at Publishers Marketplace). I'm also curious as to whether people signed up for the conference Ms. Mills was advertising, and if so, whether they received their money back.

If I do discover something definite, I'll post it here.

- Victoria
Writer Beware
www.sfwa.org/beware
 

brightm

Death of Melanie Mills

I didn't expect a response so quickly. Thanks for that. My partner and I have decided that as of now our best bet is to send a registered letter to her physical address and hope that someone will reply. I'll post any new information I may learn as soon as I get it.

Anything will be much appreciated....
 

kcarpenter

In short, agent Melanie Mills has scammed me. I wish I had read this message board before sending her money for a conference that she canceled. I wouldn't be out of the money at this point.

I saw Melanie's ad (in Shaw Guides) for a conference in May in North Myrtle Beach. I live in North Carolina and thought it would be an ideal conference that I could drive to. I worked on my manuscript diligently to finish by May, sent my pre-registration money, and several weeks later I received an e-mail message saying that she had to cancel the conference and reschedule it for June 24. I wrote to her and told her I couldn't attend in June, could I please get a refund? She sent me an e-mail saying she would send the money that week, but she didn't. She sounded quite professional. Her website looks respectable and there were no red flags indicating that she was scamming writers (I guess that's how the pros con people). After several e-mails and attempted calls (her phone has been disconnected), she still hasn't returned my money. I called the Shaw Guides editor who was very upset about this episode.
Has anyone else lost money to her this way? Post a message and maybe we can get together and stop her.
 

kcarpenter

Sorry, I didn't read the responses on pages 2 & 3. However, I have to add that the editor of Shaw Guides said she got a notice from Melanie in mid-June that Melanie was allegedly moving overseas. Melanie canceled her postings about conferences in June and then tried to post a conference using a different name, according to the editor. Here is a copy of the last e-mail she sent to me, dated June 3. I had informed her that I couldn't reach her by phone. Here's her "reason:"
"Hi K...,
Yes, I had my office moved while I was in Germany.
I'll issue you a refund at the end of the week. Give me some time to look
at your work--I'm really not taking on any new authors currently.
Good luck to you and your family with all that is going on.
Melanie Mills"

If anyone is interested, Melanie was also asking for social security numbers and birthdates on her conference "registration forms." Sounds more than fishy to me. An FBI friend said that it sounds like "fraud by wire." I'm going to look into it further with the local NC agency.
 

cdcasserly

I have had similar responses as many of the corresponded on this board since mid-May, about a year after I signed with Melanie, so I won't take up space reiterating many of the issues discussed. At first I was shocked and saddened by her death, but now I don't know what to feel. Just last week, I was visiting friends in North Myrtle Beach and decided to do a litttle investigating on Melanie. She led me to believe that she lived in and worked from a high rise condo, at least until she "moved to a beach house in May." Not by a long shot. 4009 N. Ocean Blvd is a small, rather unkempt one story house on the other side of Ocean Blvd, not beachfront. When I knocked on the door, a child answered the door. When I asked about someone named Melanie Mills living there, she got her uncle. He said that he was just watching the kids for his sister and had never heard of anyone by that name. Melanie told me that she was slender with long blond hair and the people living here are black. Maybe Kat Baker was the mother of the kids; I forgot to ask. Next door was a two story, again gray, four unit place that seemed to also be 4009. We didn't knock on any doors as it didn't look like anyone was there and it, too, was rather worn. Next we dropped by the neighborhood post office. Yes, there was a box 3929(with mail), and the ladies at the counter said that Melanie did pick up her mail there and that they knew she had gone to Europe a "week or so" before. When I said that I had heard that she had been killed about three weeks ago, they said that it might have been that long since they had seen her. What was strange was, that when I said that she had been killed, they showed absolutely no emotion: neither shock as if they were hearing the news for the first time or sadness that, yes, they had heard the news. Nothing. They just stared at me. We were going to pull a stake-out and see if anyone came for the mail, but my friend had been kind enough to drag me around all morning. We did make one more stop at the weekly North Myrtle Beach newspaper. They had never heard of Melanie Mills, for an obit or for any news article.

I just perused a copy of the registration form for the conference and fear that I gave my SS# as requested. Now I feel sick about giving her that info. Maybe I should call my credit card company and bank???

Oh, in April she had written me w/news that she had sent my one mss to St. Martin's as well as other places. As she gave me the editor's name, I emailed her after the news of her (Melanie's death) and she had nicely replied that she didn't handle my genre and gave me two other editors' names. I wrote one and she responded that she had neither heard of Melanie Mills or my mss and wished me luck finding a new agent. Hmm.

I have written Kat Baker numerous times and have received no reply. I,too, wonder how and when I will get my manuscripts (she had 3), discs, etc. returned. If anyone who is concerned by her actions wants to correspond more privately, reply to this board and we can exchange email addresses.
 

Victoria

I'm interested in hearing from anyone who has unresolved issues with the M.W. Mills Literary Agency, or who paid for the conference and wasn't reimbursed. The quickest way to reach me is my personal e-mail: [email protected], though if you prefer you can write to me at Writer Beware: [email protected].
Thanks.

- Victoria
Writer Beware
www.sfwa.org/beware/
 

betjam

melanie mills

I believe melanie is alive and that we have all been scamed. I think the FBI should look into this? Anyone know how to do this?
 

FictionHack

Wow

Way back on page 1, I posted my experience (since edited . . . ). Apparently Melanie observes these boards, because shortly after I posted my questions, I received an E-mail from her informing me she was cancelling my contract.

In retrospect maybe this isn't such a bad thing. Hopefully all of you with outstanding concerns get them addressed.

And, just to second the comments from the person who visited Myrtle Beach, a quick Google check shows no obituary for her . . . considering that Google parses most all newspapers that are online and comes up with obituaries for other folks, I'd consider this highly suspicious.
 

kcarpenter

I plan to contact the local FBI agency tomorrow afternoon. I doubt if the amount of money she scammed from me will be enough to interest them, but if we team up, perhaps they will look into it. If anyone wants to contact me, I'll be glad to organize this investigation. You can contact me at: [email protected]. (The response you get from me will be from a different e-mail address, but I'd rather not post that on this message board.) Reference your e-mail as Melanie Mills and I'll let each person know what I find out.
 

kcarpenter

I did some more research on Melanie's alleged death. The rumor started from a posting to "Preditors and Editors," an online publication. The following is a direct quote from P&E.

"6/23/03: From a posting to our bulletin board:

Last week, during her trip to Europe due to a death in the family, Melanie
Mills died in a fatal car accident.

Therefore, all submissions to publishers have been retracted, all events
cancelled, and all existing publishing contracts have been reverted over to
the individual authors. Any contracts between an author, or authors,
revert immediately back to said authors in order that they may find
representation elsewhere.

I'm very sorry. This has been, and still is, a very emotional time for her
entire family and friends.
Good luck to all of you,
Kat Baker
Assistant to Melanie Mills"

How many people want to bet that "Kat Baker" and Melanie Mills are the same person?
 

DancesWithBooks

FBI

Did you really? Or are you really Melanie herself trying to throw us off the scent? :lol

What a web she weaved....
 

brightm

melanie mills

Needless to say my partner and I are becoming more and more concerned as Melanie and or her executor still retains three manuscripts as well as CD copies of our novels. Melanie was the first agent to respond positively to us and at the time our research on her didn't not open any doubts as to her honesty and integrity. she gave us lots of advice, which even now under these circumstances sound plausible.

The question I have now, for who ever may be able to answer, is this. She told us that she would handle the copyright. We were given other suggestions from other sources one of which is when we mailed her the manuscript to make sure we mailed a CD copy back to ourselves and to not open that as the postal date would be on it. ( the postal server even helped by putting their sticker on the seal of the box. ) The first time we did this and I still have that copy unopened. With the other two we noticed that everytime we wrote to disk or CD on out computers the date and time were there. We thought to try and protect ourselves by making sure we made an extra copy of each manuscript and then not opening it to read or work on it so that the final date would remain the same. Can anyone confirm or disprove that this is or is not going to help us if the need arises.

I'm not a fool to think that if she is taking our work to try and publish that we WILL discover it. Rewriting and renaming as well as different author's name may be enough that we never run across our stories, but on the off chance I'd like to know if the steps we took would aid us legally.. anyone who can offer opinions and advice on this would be great....thanks


brightm
 

caethes

Re: Copyrights

The postal thing is a much better protection for you than the CD backup date. The date on the CD can be set to anything simply by changing your computer's clock before you write the file to the CD.
 

brightm

copyright

thanks for your response. We've done the one by postal and we'll just have to hope for the best with the other two.

brightm
 

brightm

Kat Baker

cdcasserly, you said you have written Kat Baker numerous times. my partner and I had never heard of her until we read the notice of melanie's death. can you tell me where you are writing her or any info about her? I'd like to try as well...


thanks,
brightm
 

brightm

copyright

if anyone can offer suggestions on how to protect our manuscripts before sending to a new agent, that would be appreciated as well. also what are the best locations to research any new agent we may want to sign with.

thanks again,
brightm
 

Georgie

Kat Baker

Bright:

The P & E website at: www.anotherealm.com/prede...bagent.htm
is always a good place to start when researching a new agent. As I understand, their data is compiled based on actual feedback from writers' experiences with agents -- which in most cases have earned some a "not recommended" rating. (By the way, this was once the case with Melanie Mills/Lisa Mills/Kat Baker/ Sybil, etc., etc., etc....

Also --

1. Writers Net Literary Agents' forum at:
www.writers.net/forum/10/42410A2

2. Speculations Rumor Mill at:
www.rumormill.org

And in addition to all the above, a thorough "Google" search of the agent or agency's name is also a good bet.

Good luck.
 

georgie

Kat Baker

BrightM:

The P & E website at: www.anotherealm.com/prede...bagent.htm
is always a good place to start when researching a new agent. As I understand, their data is compiled based on actual feedback from writers' experiences with agents -- which in most cases have earned some a "not recommended" rating. (By the way, this was once the case with Melanie Mills/Lisa Mills/Kat Baker/ Sybil, etc., etc., etc....

Also --

1. Writers Net Literary Agents' forum at:
www.writers.net/forum/10/42410A2

2. Speculations Rumor Mill at:
www.rumormill.org

And in addition to all the above, a thorough "Google" search of the agent or agency's name is also a good bet.

Good luck.
 

brightm

melanie mills

thanks georgie. the information is sure to go a long way for us. anyone who is interested in persuing this situation might do well to contact kcarpenter. she's given an address to contact her on this message board. her reply is on page three of this section...


brightm
 

Victoria

Copyright

Folks, don't worry about theft. New writers seem to be extremely fearful of this, but theft of unpublished work is so rare as to be functionally nonexistent. It's not until you've published, and your work is exposed to a wide audience, that you need to be concerned. In six years of agent- and publisher-tracking, I haven't received one complaint of theft.

There are many reasons why an agent won't steal your ms. Good agents wouldn't risk their reputations this way--and in any case, it's a whole lot easier just to work with you than to steal your book and pretend it belongs to someone else. Bad agents can't sell mss. anyway, so stealing one wouldn't do them much good. Dishonest agents aren't interested in selling books to publishers, but in getting fees from writers--so they don't really care about your ms. at all.

You're protected by copyright law from the moment you fix your work in final form--i.e., the moment you first write the words on paper or a computer screen. You can, if you wish, take the additional step of registering your copyright--this gives you the right to sue in court if your work is infringed (though remember, infringement really isn't a concern for unpubbed work), but provides NO ADDITIONAL COPYRIGHT PROTECTION. For book-length work, therefore, it really isn't necessary to register copyright prior to publication.

The mail-it-to-yourself-and-retain-the-envelope-unopened thing (also known as poor man's copyright) is useless. It's neither a legal substitute for copyright registration (if you want to sue for infringement, you HAVE to register) nor does it provide evidence that's likely to stand up in court (you could have mailed the envelope to yourself empty, and filled and sealed it later). Ditto for time stamps and registry services and notary stamps.

If you'd like to know whether there are complaints against an agent (or a publisher), you can e-mail Writer Beware, a publishing industry watchdog group of which I'm a staff member. We're currently tracking more than 300 agents and 150 publishers, and we'll be glad to let you know what's in our files. Contact us at [email protected].

- Victoria
Writer Beware
www.sfwa.org/beware/
 

beyjam

why

Why isn't this information on the web site you listed Victoria or did I miss it. I think we need to get this information out, don't you? I did report it. Melanie wasted about 2 1/2 years of my life after she took me on as a writer.
 

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