Thursday, April 26, 2007

Victoria Strauss -- Beware Who's Who Schemes

I've been planning on doing this post for some time, but putting it off because it involved a lot of research. What tipped me over the line? The other day my husband, Rob, got a solicitation from Cambridge Who's Who.

"It is my pleasure," the letter from Editor in Chief Jennifer A. Gonzalez begins, "to inform you that you are being considered for inclusion into [sic] the 2007/2008 Cambridge Who's Who Among Executives and Professionals "Honors Edition" of the Registry." This is a major honor, Jen explains, because the Registry will include biographies of "our country's most accomplished professionals," many of whom regard inclusion as "the single highest mark of achievement." There's an application form that Rob can fill out and send back if he's the snail mail type, or if he's electronically inclined he can apply online. Just in case it occurs to him to wonder whether there's a catch, Jen hastens to reassure him: "There is no cost to be included in the Registry."

Rob lives with me (and Writer Beware), so the first words out of his mouth were "This is a scam, right?" Unfortunately, many people are much less suspicious.

There are legitimate Who's Who publishers--A & C Black in the UK, Marquis in the USA. They research the people they include, and while they'd love it if you bought the book, that's not the main reason for their existence. Cambridge and its ilk, on the other hand, are all about the hard sell. Similar to the vanity poetry anthologizers, Who's Who schemes lure customers by presenting themselves as a no-cost opportunity, but make their money by persuading people to buy books and/or memberships--often at costs exceeding $1,000. They claim to be selective, but in reality they harvest names just as junk mailers or spammers do, randomly and without regard to credentials--which means that their networking value, often touted to justify the enormous membership or purchase fee, is negligible. The bigger ones attempt to tailor their solicitations--Rob is in insurance, so he got the Executives and Professionals letter. A woman might get an invitation to the Executive and Professional Women registry. There's a solicitation for people in education. There's one for scientists. There's one for healthcare professionals. Here's an especially disgusting one targeted to people with religious affiliations.

The Who's Who gambit is a long-running, recognized telephone sales scheme about which there are a number of official warnings. There's a dizzying number of different Whos--many of which, I would guess, are run by the same people, though they're pretty good at making themselves seem separate. Here are just a few examples:

- United Who's Who (which has an unsatisfactory record with the Florida BBB for failing to respond to complaints)
- International Who's Who Historical Society (ditto)
- American Who's Who Association, which has a number of different schemes
- Premier Who's Who (formerly Prestige Who's Who, also d/b/a America's Who's Who)
- Emerald Who's Who
- Madison Who's Who (this one also has an unsatisfactory BBB record)
- Global Register's Who's Who (formerly National Register's Who's Who).

Frequently, the Whos are short-lived. Doctors' Who's Who and Nationwide Who's Who are now only Internet memories, but Google either of them and, as with the rest, you'll see people who list them as a professional credential. Ditto for Enterprise Who's Who--which suggests one reason for the schemes' short shelf life in the legacy of complaints it has left behind.

Back to Cambridge Who's Who. It's half of a two-headed hydra made up of Cambridge Who's Who (which previously did business as Manchester Who's Who and Empire Who's Who--according to a press release on Cambridge's website, these two have "merged" to become Cambridge) and Metropolitan Who's Who. Cambridge and Metropolitan do business separately, and have different websites, URL registry information, and mailing addresses. But their logo designs and their solicitation letters are identical (compare Manchester-now-Cambridge's letter with Metropolitan's)--as are their hard-sell telephone tactics.

People who answer the solicitations from Cambridge and Metropolitan report very similar experiences. (These links represent a fraction of the online discussions and complaints about Cambridge in particular.) A representative of the company phones them, congratulates them on the honor of their inclusion in the registry database, and conducts a lengthy interview, with many questions about careers, professional accomplishments, etc. Once the victim has been softened up by this process, the phone solicitor lowers the boom. The victim--who, remember, is under the impression from the initial solicitation letter that no costs are involved--is told that there are two levels of membership--a cheaper junior membership (currently close to $800) and a more expensive lifetime membership (currently nearly $1,000). This money, the victim is assured, isn't for inclusion in the database; it's for access to the database--which surely they're going to want to have, since the registry is a fantastic networking opportunity. To sweeten the deal, there are extras--gift certificates, airline ticket vouchers, a handsome award certificate, a media kit. If the victim expresses doubt about the cost, the solicitor says something like "You know what? Because I really don't want you to miss out on this fabulous opportunity, I'm going to offer you a lower rate! You'll only have to pay what a charity organization pays!" More hard sell tactics ensue. If the victim continues to resist, the solicitor hangs up on him or her--just like those magazine-sales scams where the people rudely blow you off the instant they realize you aren't going to fall for their line of bullshit.

I'm sure it won't surprise anyone to learn that Cambridge and one of its predecessors, Empire, have poor records with the Better Business Bureau (Manchester has no separate record). Empire's BBB report shows 57 complaints over the past 36 months, most involving (surprise, surprise) selling and refund practices. Cambridge's BBB report shows a stunning 150 complaints over the past 36 months, again involving selling and refund practices, and also billing and credit disputes. The bulk of the complaints--123 out of 150--have been made in the past 12 months.

Metropolitan's BBB report is currently being updated. When I viewed it in February (when I first began thinking about doing this post), it cited complaint patterns similar to Cambridge's. Some of the content of that report is reproduced by blogger T.J. at his dogscatskidslife blog.

Another thing Cambridge and Metropolitan share: a very poor reaction to criticism. The hydra really, really doesn't like it when people say bad things about it. When the Southern Conservative blog featured a satirical post about a solicitation letter from Metropolitan Who's Who, a threat of legal action quickly followed from one Cyndi Jeffers of Metropolitan (she also contacted people at the blogger's job). Blogger Shawn Olsen, whose description of his experience with Manchester Who's Who is linked in above, is being pursued by a lawyer hired by Manchester/Cambridge, who threatens a defamation lawsuit and demands $7 million in compensatory and punitive damages. These two bloggers appear not to be the only ones who've experienced this kind of harassment.

So here's my long-distance gift to all of you: a little dose of the good ol' Writer Beware suspicion that Rob has absorbed by proximity. "Money flows to the writer" is a good maxim to live by--but in cases of unexpected invitations, so is what Groucho Marx said: "I don't want to belong to any club that will accept me as a member." If you hear from a Who--and don't assume it will be one of those I've highlighted in this post, because I wouldn't be surprised if Cambridge, at least, were thinking it might be time for a name change--don't hesitate. Toss the letter straight into the recycling bin. That is, unless you want to make fun of it on your blog.

Sunday, April 22, 2007

Victoria Strauss -- Plogs, RIP

Via GalleyCat: Amazon has nixed its experiment with Plogs, which was unveiled with great fanfare a bit over a year ago. (If you don't want to click the link and are unclear on the definition of "Plog,", it was an Amazon feature that allowed authors to post blog-style entries that appeared on their books' detail pages and to Amazon customers who bought that author's books, via the personalization feature that tracks your book purchases and provides recommendations. Publicity + blog = Plog.)

According to Amazon's announcement of the change, Plogs will be replaced by a feature called Amazon Daily, which includes not just authors' blogs, but Amazon editors blogging on a variety of subjects. Unlike the Plog feature, it's available to all Amazon visitors (not just those who've bought books), is fully customizable (you, rather than Amazon, pick the topics you see), and isn't force-fed to you (instead of content popping up automatically on your entry screen, you have to go to a specific section of the site).

This is all good. I found it quite irritating to be smacked in the face by Plogs whenever I visited Amazon. When I do visit Amazon, I either want to buy a book, or am doing research for Writer Beware or one of my reviews--I'm not there to peruse authors' blog entries. If I am in a mood for blog reading, I'd rather just visit a blog--and probably wouldn't miss anything by doing so, since so many authors seem simply to have recycled other sources for their Plog entries. I'm pretty sure I wasn't alone in my annoyance with Plogs--it's one reason why, though I did sign up for the program, I never participated.

With the constant pressure on authors to self-promote, Plogging was seen by some as the Next Great Publicity Hope--just as MySpace and similar social networking sites are now--and I know many writers who scrambled to participate, sometimes at the urging of their agents or editors. I've yet to encounter anyone who feels that their Plog provided a significant publicity boost--though many think that it was part of what has to be a piecemeal approach: you do everything you can in the assumption that each new publicity avenue gives you the chance to put yourself in front of people you wouldn't reach otherwise.

There's no true way to know if this stuff works--because these days, who's going to volunteer to be the test case, the writer who eschews the self-promotion rat race, the writer who doesn't cultivate a public persona, the writer who simply writes? (God, that sounds attractive.) In the harsh world of self-promotion, we're all snatching at straws, reading runes, casting spells, and chasing our own tails, hoping that each new opportunity--websites! Blogs! Plogs! MySpace! Podcasting!--will be the one that will absolutely, indisputably, undeniably work. We're all Ponce de León, tramping alien territory in search of the Fountain of Sales--and those who enjoy the process are just as lost as those who despise it (though no doubt they would say otherwise).

At least now I don't feel quite so guilty about yielding to my desire not to Plog. MySpace, on the other hand...sigh.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Victoria Strauss -- News of the Weird: Publish My Book!

Agent and author Tony Cowell (brother of Simon) is launching a new American Idol-style TV program in Britain this summer, a reality show for writers called Publish My Book! According to Reality TV Magazine, the show "will see aspiring writers pitch their ideas to a panel of publishing experts in a bid to win a publishing deal." The Bookseller, as quoted by blogger Caroline Smailes, reports that the experts will be Cowell, literary agent Ali Gunn, and a bestselling author who has yet to be designated. The publishing deal is a contract with Random House's Arrow imprint.

There's no word on exactly how the competition will work, but a previous competition for new writers, for which Cowell was a judge, may provide a clue. Lit Idol, held in 2004 and 2005 in connection with the London Book Fair, invited writers to submit a short synopsis and up to 10,000 words from their novels. The five finalists' excerpts were displayed on a website and opened to public vote; the five then read their work aloud before a panel of judges, who made the final decision. The winner got a contract with an agent from Curtis Brown UK (both winners subsequently found book deals).

"Publish My Book!" will consist of six 30-minute episodes. Asked by Reality TV Magazine how he'll keep it interesting (good question--writers pitching their ideas and reading their work aloud would not seem to make for riveting TV, except for other writers), Cowell replied: "The format for the program is based on exposing how the publishing industry works, how hard it is for aspiring writers to break through--interviews with top authors, and culminating in competition to find a new author in 'Apprentice' style treatment."

Maybe they'll all have to share a small apartment.

If you're experiencing a sense of deja vu at this point, it may be because you're remembering my 2006 blog entry about an earlier reality TV show for writers, Book Millionaire. The show--the brainchild of Lori Prokop, vanity publisher and purveyor of a variety of get-rich-quick tapes, seminars, and books--was supposed to feature contestants teaming up, Apprentice-style, to perform various author-like tasks. The goal, according to Prokop: "The mysterious veil of publishing will be lifted...Viewers will experience first-hand how best-selling authors are created." The prize: a publication contract (publisher unspecified--but let's not forget that Prokop is herself a vanity publisher).

No scheme is too silly to attract victims. About fifty hopeful authors responded to Prokop's casting call, sending in elaborate audition tapes that were posted on the Book Millionaire website for public viewing. So what happened? Well, what do you think? Nothing. Time went by, and the show never appeared. No explanations or updates were ever provided. As of this writing, the Book Millionaire website appears to be defunct.

I'm sure that Cowell's show won't suffer such an ignominious fate. But honestly, do we really need a TV show about how hard it is to get published? Like we don't already know it's tough. Like there isn't already enough silly mythology about how it's impossible for new authors to break in, how agents and publishers aren't interested in first-timers, blah blah blah. Do we really need a show that purports to "expose how the publishing industry works," yet seems to be encouraging would-be authors to focus on the unrealistic goal of bestsellerdom? (Not only will one of the judges be a bestselling author, but no less than a third of the show will feature bestselling authors talking about how they got started.) Not to mention, sticking a bunch of writers in a room to pitch their books to judges is not how the publishing industry works. For most of us, anyway.

I've got an idea. For a show that really exposes the publishing industry, let's have a contest for midlist writers! Let's show them attempting to convince editors to buy their next books even though the numbers for their current books are down. Let's show them trying to get their agents to return their calls after twelve publishers have passed on their new proposals. Let's show them competing to craft unique pen names because no one is willing to publish them under their real names. The prize: a publishing contract with an advance that's two-thirds of their last one, and an editor who leaves for a new job halfway through the revision process.

Cynical? Not me.

Sunday, April 15, 2007

A.C. Crispin - 73 - Publishing...Playing the Waiting Game

Hi, my friends:

Publishing, and trying to get published, can be a frustrating endeavor. I think the waiting is probably the hardest thing. Compared to glaciers, an alarming number of publishers are usually quite leisurely in how fast they move to acquire books, publish them, and (especially) issue checks.

This slow pace is extremely frustrating for writers who are querying, or waiting for a publisher to read a partial or a manuscript they've asked to see, or biting their nails, wondering whether the "editorial and marketing team" will decide whether their book will be acquired.

I used to think writers had short fingernails because they typed all the time. Hah! I finally figured it out...it's the WAITING.

So what's a first time aspiring author to do? How long should you wait?

Well, in the first place, if you're at the beginning stage of querying agents or editors, you DON'T WAIT. Multiple queries are not the same thing as multiple submissions, and nobody expects you to send in one query, then wait until the recipient replies before sending in another. If you can genuinely target 100 agents or editors that your manuscript would be appropriate for, then you're free to send off 100 queries. I usually suggest to my students that they do it in batches of 10-20 at a time, and that they keep a record of it, in a notebook or, if they're computer-savvy, in a database.

So...query your little hearts out, my friends, as long as you've TARGETED your book properly, and RESEARCHED the agent or publisher. Remember, the time to do your research is BEFORE that query or submission goes out!

Okay, let's assume that your query letter is terrific, a real whiz bang showstopper, and you get responses from agents or editors asking to see the work.

(So how long is it going to take? And how many will reply? Worst case scenario...a long time, and not many. From what I've heard recently, a 50% response (and I include both rejections and requests to read) rate is doing pretty well. Also, some agents, not to mention editors, are incredibly S-L-O-W. I've heard stories from SFWA members who reported finally receiving a rejection back on a query six months after they'd sold the book to a publisher!)

If you get a response back asking to see the full manuscript, as opposed to a "partial" -- usually the first three chapters and synopsis (also often called an "outline") DON'T STOP QUERYING. The only exception to this is if the agent or editor asks for an "exclusive" on the work. That means you agree to send the manuscript only to that person exclusively for a given period of time. NEVER send work out as an open-ended exclusive. This way lies madness. Most agents or editors will tell you how long they need, but 60 to 90 days is pretty typical. If the agent or editor doesn't specify the duration of the exclusive, you should. You would say something to the effect of "(Title) is being submitted on an exclusive basis, and will remain exclusive for 60 days, until (date)" and put that into your cover letter that accompanies the manuscript.

If, at the end of the sixty days (plus 10 days, say, as a "cushion") you haven't heard anything back from the agent/editor, it's proper to drop them a polite note via email or snail mail, asking them if they've had a chance to read the work. If you get no reply, then go back to querying, and chalk it up as a rejection. Agents/editors are usually quick to communicate with a writer when they want a work. Waiting months and months on tenterhooks, without a word, figuring "no news is good news" is probably a flawed strategy. Go back to querying. Then if the agent or editor comes back at a later date with a positive response, you'll be pleasantly surprised, not a raving lunatic.

What about if you've submitted your work to publishing house, unagented? Unsolicited? In the first place, lots of publishers won't read unagented, unsolicited manuscripts these days. But there are still some that will. If you send off a manuscript "over the transom" like this, expect to wait. And wait. And wait. And wait some more. Many publishers admit it will take them six months to a year to read the submission. So submit the work, and then keep querying or submitting. Don't drive yourself crazy running to the mailbox each day. (Many agents and editors call when they like a ms. as opposed to writing back, actually.)

What should you do while you're doing all this waiting?

Write!

Write some short stories and get them published, so you can include those credentials in your query letters. Start a new novel. Write a nonfiction book you've always wanted to write.

Starting work on a new project will help you through those months of waiting.

I submitted my first book, a Star Trek novel titled YESTERDAY'S SON to Pocket Books in February of 1979, when I was about two months pregnant with my son. By the time the editor called me to make an offer on the book, in the summer of 1982, my son was almost three years old.

Admittedly, I had been in touch with the Pocket Books editors during that time, and had received the reassuring news that the book had been approved for publication by Paramount. So I knew my chances were better than average. Still, that was a LONG three years.

Hope this has been helpful. Let me know if you have questions.

Best,

-Ann C. Crispin
Chair, Writer Beware
www.writerbeware.com

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Victoria Strauss -- Another Service You Don't Need

The other day, I ran across a pair of interesting websites: The Intellectual Property Rights Office and its Copyright Registration Service.

Although you could be pardoned for assuming that something called The Intellectual Property Rights Office, with its important-looking website and official-looking seals, is a governmental enterprise of some sort, that's not the case. According to its About page, IPRO is "an independent, non-governmental organization...first established in the United Kingdom as a for-profit enterprise." In other words, this is not an officially sanctioned service--it's a private business selling something called "international copyright protection."

What exactly is "international copyright protection?" Well, that's not really defined. But if you're a creator with a work recorded in electronic format, you can send it in to IPRO's Copyright Registration Service and receive a "unique CRS Registration Number" intended to provide "independent third-party verification of your ownership of your work," plus the right to display the CRS seal in order to "discourage potential plagiarists from misappropriating your work." There is, of course, a fee, which varies depending on the amount of time you want to register for (anywhere between 4 and 15 years). There's also a retrieval charge if you want to retrieve your work, whether as a backup copy, in case you lose the original, or with "supporting documentation" from the CRS, in case you need to prove ownership.

The service is available to anyone in a Berne Convention signatory nation (the Berne Convention is the international source for copyright law), and, according to CRS's helpful FAQ page, one registration is sufficient. "If your work was created in one of the 162 nations which are part of the Berne Convention...then your work will be protected in all other Berne Convention nations. It is therefore not necessary to seek protection in each individual nation." (Whew. Otherwise it could get expensive!)

What the FAQ fails to mention is that the Berne Convention ensures copyright protection without requiring any formalities, such as copyright registration, as a prerequisite to bringing an infringement suit. As a result, most countries have no formal copyright registration process. That's right--in most Berne signatory countries, you do not need to register your copyright in any way, shape or form in order to be protected or have legal standing to bring an infringement suit.

What about the countries where you do need to register? In the United States, for instance, you must have previously registered copyright in order to sue in court for infringement. There's no subsitute for official registration, however. The ONLY kind of registration that will qualify you to bring a court case is registration with the US Copyright Office.

So that's two reasons why you don't need CRS's registration service--first, because registration is unnecessary in most countries, and second, because in countries where registration is necessary, the service CRS offers isn't a substitute. This is acknowledged in CRS's Registration Terms and Conditions--a.k.a. the fine print, which many people may not bother to read: "Registering your Work with the IP Rights Office Copyright Registration Service provides supporting evidence intended to help prove your ownership of copyright. It does not provide statutory protection, nor is it a formal copyright."

What it all boils down to, in other words, is that CRS's service is an electronic version of what's popularly known as "poor man's copyright"--where you put your work in an envelope, seal it, send it to yourself, and retain it unopened. This too is supposed to help you prove ownership of copyright, since the envelope is postmarked, thus (theoretically) showing a date of completion. However, poor man's copyright is unlikely to hold up in court, in part because it's easy to fake--you could have mailed the envelope to yourself empty, and filled and sealed it later. For the same reasons, CRS's service may not be legally credible either.

Why pay a service to archive and date stamp your work, anyway, when it's so easy to keep drafts, notes, computer files, correspondence referencing your work, and the like? Any of this will do fine as supporting evidence of ownership in the event of infringement (which is HIGHLY unlikely unless you're published--one reason why, in countries that have an official registration process, it's not necessary to register unpublished work).

As for the other "benefit" of CRS registration, the claim that displaying the CRS seal will discourage plagiarists...in an online context, it's unlikely that an official looking seal will be any more (or less) effective than a simple copyright notice, which is free. As for print, the suggestion in CRS's FAQ that seals "can be placed, for instance, on the cover page of a manuscript" is just plain bad advice. Placing a copyright notice of any sort on a manuscript is neither necessary nor advisable, and will make you look like an amateur.

CRS is not unique. There are many other companies and websites that offer some sort of faux copyright registration or date stamping service (like the UK Copyright Service or the World Wide Online Creators' Registry or--and this one is free, but it's notable for the amount of misinformation it provides--MyFreeCopyright.com), or charge a hefty fee to fill out and file official registration forms that you could complete yourself (such as The Copyright Website or Click & Copyright). At best, they're unnecessary. At worst, they mislead writers into believing that their work is officially protected, or somehow made safer by use of the service. Either way, they are using aspiring writers' prevalent but entirely unfounded fear of theft to make a buck. Skip them. They're a waste of money.

(For a more detailed discussion of copyright, including why US writers don't need to register copyright for unpublished work, and a dissection of some common copyright myths, see the Copyright page of Writer Beware.)

Sunday, April 08, 2007

New Alert from Writer Beware!

Good morning, my friends:

We have a new ALERT for you (this has also been posted at the Writer Beware website). Please feel free to copy and paste the alert on writing message boards. It's important to get the word out.

Thank you,

-Ann C. Crispin
Chair, Writer Beware
www.writerbeware.com

******************************

NEW ALERT FROM WRITER BEWARE: Writers' Literary Agency & Marketing Company (formerly The Literary Agency Group)

The Literary Agency Group, a business owned or controlled by Robert M. Fletcher of Boca Raton, Florida, changed its name in February 2007 to Writers' Literary Agency & Marketing Company (a.k.a. WL Writers' Literary Agency).

This umbrella group includes or has included the following agencies:
  • Christian Literary Agency
  • New York Literary Agency
  • Stylus Literary Agency (formerly ST Literary Agency, formerly Sydra-Techniques)
  • WL Children's Agency (a.k.a. Children's Literary Agency)
  • WL Poet's Agency (a.k.a. Poet's Literary Agency)
  • WL Screenplay Agency (a.k.a. The Screenplay Agency)
  • Writers' Literary & Publishing Services Company (the editing arm of the above-mentioned agencies)
Since this company began operating in 2001 under the name Sydra-Techniques, Writer Beware has received hundreds of complaints and advisories of fee-charging, editing referrals, and other questionable practices. We're not aware that the company has a significant track record of commercial book sales under any of its names, despite its claims to the contrary.

Writers who have had trouble with Robert M. Fletcher or any of the above-named companies, and who are or were residents of the state of Florida, please get in touch with Ann Crispin at anncrispin@aol.com (or beware@sfwa.org, if the AOL address bounces), even if you have previously contacted her. Please provide complete contact information.

Thanks for your cooperation!

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Victoria Strauss -- More on Author Identity

Last week I blogged about vanity publisher Author Identity Publishing, whose recently released anthology, The Shortcut, has been the subject of a widespread fake book order scam apparently designed to boost sales of the non-returnable POD-printed book. (Other coverage of the scam: two articles in PW, commentary by Jim Macdonald at Making Light, and a blog entry from J.B. Dickey at the Seattle Mystery Bookshop, who broke the story.)

According to a third PW article, published yesterday, Ingram has agreed to provide relief for scammed booksellers by making The Shortcut returnable (apparently, 1,163 copies have been sold through Ingram; BookScan reports sales of 150). In addition, author Kevin A. Fabiano, tied to the scam not just by his presence in the anthology but by the fact that the name used by the scammer, Mike Evers, is also the name of the protagonist of Fabiano's PublishAmerica-published novel, has emphatically denied participation in the scam, though possibly not in the most fortunate terms. "Why in a million years would I want to ruin the name of a character I am trying to brand?" PW quotes him as asking. "If I were to do something greedy and sleazy like this, I wouldn’t do it with 13 other authors, I would do it for a book only I wrote." Uh, yeah.

Fabiano has also offered to buy back any books purchased by booksellers as a result of the scam.

One thing that emerges from the PW article is that, as I speculated in my previous post, Fabiano does indeed have an ownership interest in AIP. According to PW, he's one of three partners (two of them unnamed) who each paid $250 to establish AIP and set up The Shortcut through Lightning Source.

How convincing are Fabiano's denials? Color me at least a little skeptical. For one thing, they seem to come rather late. You'd think that someone falsely implicated in a scheme like this would be eager to declare their non-involvement--but Fabiano didn't respond to requests for comment for PW's March 30 article on the scam. For another, Fabiano has numerous associations with the anthology, both pre- and post-publication--promoting it on his website, directly soliciting authors (though most of AIP's solicitations were anonymous), using "authoridentity" as a nickname on Amazon, possibly designing AIP's website, sharing a URL registrant with AIP, not to mention the Mike Evers name--and he's the only person who does. Those other partners, if they exist, are pretty silent. Given all of this, and leaving aside the, uh, inadvisability of using a character from your own book as an alias, it's more of a stretch to imagine that Fabiano did not mastermind the scam, than to figure that he did.

They say there's no such thing as bad publicity--but if there is, this is definitely it.

Monday, April 02, 2007

A.C. Crispin and Victoria Strauss -- Not Just Yet

Well, it's April 2--and yes, it was a joke. You're not rid of us yet. We don't think we had that many of you convinced, anyway.

Some scammers may have had their fingers crossed, though.

Thanks for all the great comments and emails--they really do mean a lot.

Until the next post!

Sunday, April 01, 2007

A.C. Crispin and Victoria Strauss -- Goodbye

For nine years, Writer Beware has been tracking and warning about questionable literary agents, publishers, and all the other sharks who infest the publishing waters. We've built the Writer Beware website into a timely and reliable resource, and collected a huge database of complaints and documentation. We've even helped bring a scammer or two to justice.

Sadly, the time has come to call it quits.

Much as we love the work we do, the harassment and the threats of litigation have just gotten to be too much. We're tired of fearing for our own safety and the safety of our loved ones, not to mention the health of our bank accounts, and though in the past we've raised high the banner of "Never retreat, never surrender," we've just...gotten tired.

So, dear readers, and with great regret, this is goodbye. Thanks for your attention, your comments, and your support over the years--it's meant more to us than we can say. We wish you all the very best. May you find the agents of your dreams and the publishers of your hearts, and may the sharks swim far, far away from your manuscripts.

(P.S. Please don't worry about us. For nine years we've been two nutty housewives on a mission. We're looking forward to being just plain old housewives again.)