The Sweetie Chronicles

Fill your paper with the breathings of your heart. ~William Wordsworth

Writers Beware

On my writer's loop this morning, I got a link to this article, discussing a man named Robert M. Fletcher who, with his girlfriend and two other accomplices, managed to scam would-be writers out of half a million dollars a year for four years. Reading through it, I started to think, who would fall for that? We're all taught that there are vanity publishers out there who will ask for money in order to publish your novel. But as I read further, I saw that they had a link to one of his "fake" websites. It looks like a real, legitimate literary agency! I could hardly believe it!

Basically, what this scumbag did was have people send in their work, just like a regular agent. After a week or so, he'd contact them with the good news that all writers long to hear... you're good enough! He'd tell these writers, who in all likelihood had sent manuscripts to other places and were possibly rejected many times for many years (some of them anyway), that they were good enough to be published. He would agree to represent them and pretend to submit their work to various publishers. After some period of time had passed, he would inform them that he was having trouble getting their book published, but that if they were serious about publishing, they could work with one of his "affiliates" to promote their work and get recognition.

That's where he started making his money. He would get these artists who are desperate to find a publisher, and he would give them hope. So much hope in fact that when the plan seemed to be on the edge of failure, he would offer them a life raft. He made it look like his affiliate was a different company entirely, thereby giving the illusion of it being legit. But in truth, the other company was just another one of his own companies. The average writer shelled out $600 for those services before they finally threw their hands up and said fuck it!

Later, Fletcher figured out a way to reel some of those people in again with a different scam about a publisher who was finally interested in publishing them, then going forward to publish their book with a vanity publisher that they had to pay for anyway.

People like this make me sick. He was living the good life with something like $600,000 a year in his pocket. He was taking people's hopes and dreams and squeezing the life out of them for a few dollars each. It's absolutely despicable! If you are a writer and you want to get published, follow one golden rule when looking for an agent and a publisher: NEVER PAY ANYONE MONEY TO PUBLISH YOUR BOOK OR TO PROMOTE IT.

A real publisher and a real agent will never ask you for money. Sure, you might want to take it upon yourself to buy some bookmarks or other promotional items to take to conferences and bookstores as a marketing tool, but a publisher will never ask you to give them or their friends $600 or whatever to promote your book. Anyone who tells you they want to publish you should be paying you, not asking you to pay them. Most publishers will pay an advance upon acceptance, while some epublishers online will pay royalties after the sale, but they don't ask for anything from you except your manuscript and your help in making sure it's the very best, polished work you are capable of writing.

People like Fletcher feed off desperation and hope. If you are a writer who has had the door slammed in their face many times, don't allow yourself to be preyed upon by someone like Fletcher who promises so much and then asks you to put some money up to help secure your spot in the publishing industry. Be careful. Be aware. My heart goes out to the writers who were scammed by this asshole and his friends.

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Sarra Cannon

Young Adult Indie Author

I always secretly wanted to be a cheerleader. And a witch. Now, I write about both. The first five novels in my Peachville High Demons Young Adult Paranormal series are available now in ebook!

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