As many readers of this blog know, Robert Fletcher, purported literary agent and publisher, from whom Writer Beware recently won court costs after he filed a frivolous defamation lawsuit against us, has been the subject of an ongoing investigation by the Florida Attorney General's Office.
Today, the Attorney General, Bill McCollum, announced that his office has filed suit against Fletcher. Here's the official press release:
Attorney General Bill McCollum today announced that his office filed a lawsuit against a Boca Raton company that allegedly preyed on aspiring authors. According to the Attorney General’s lawsuit, Writer’s Literary Agency and owner Robert Fletcher used more than 20 websites and related companies to collect funds from potential authors, but misled victims about fees, costs, and promised results.
The Attorney General’s Economic Crimes Division received more than 175 complaints from around the world claiming Fletcher and his associates, who claimed to act as literary agents and publishers, allegedly collected money from victims anxious to see their work published. Potential writers paid anywhere from $89 for an initial critique to over $600 for various services including editing and marketing of a manuscript to publishers. Allegedly, Fletcher also told potential writers that fees were paid from book sales when in fact all costs of publishing were paid by the authors. According to the lawsuit, few books were ever sold as a result of the efforts of Fletcher’s companies.
Investigators determined Fletcher expanded into the field of publishing within the past year. Fletcher admitted to having no background as a literary agent and to using at least 10 aliases in his businesses.
The lawsuit seeks injunctive relief against Robert Fletcher and his associates, as well as his many businesses, prohibiting further business activities in the field of literary agencies or publishers. The Attorney General is also seeking full restitution on behalf of all victimized consumers, civil penalties of $10,000 for each violation of the Florida Unfair and Deceptive Trade Practices Act, and reimbursement for fees and costs related to the investigation.
As is often the case in these situations, the info in the press release only skims the surface. Just 175 complaints are mentioned, but over the years (Fletcher started his business, a single fee-charging "literary agency" known as Sydra-Techniques, in 2001), Writer Beware has received hundreds, possibly well over a thousand, complaints about Fletcher and his companies. And although many of his victims did pay just a few hundred dollars, many others were relieved of several thousand for agenting, editing, and publishing "services."
The lawsuit can be seen here.