Monday, August 09, 2010

Indiana Attorney General Investigates New Century Publishing

Posted by Victoria Strauss for Writer Beware

Between December 2009 and July 2010, I received a number of questions and advisories about a company called New Century Publishing, located in Indianapolis, Indiana. On its website (shut down now, but here's a cached version), New Century presented itself as a selective small press--but in fact it was a vanity publisher. The contracts I saw required authors to pay $1,750 (supposedly, 50% of the costs of publication) and to buy 40 of their own books.

Since fees were nowhere mentioned on New Century's website, the writers who contacted me had all approached it in the belief that it was a reputable small publisher, learning about the fees only when they received the contracts. Leaving aside all the other issues surrounding paying to publish, deceptive presentation is a really basic red flag. If your publisher is dishonest in its dealings with the public--if it misrepresents itself in order to attract submissions--how can you trust it to be honest in its dealings with you?

That question has come home to roost for a number of New Century authors. The Indiana Attorney General's Office has received at least seven written complaints from authors who paid New Century's owner, David Caswell, between $1,500 and $10,000 to publish their books, and got nothing for their money. According to the Indianapolis Star,
Carla J. Jackson, a mother of 12, filed a complaint saying she had used two credit cards to pay Caswell $1,800 to publish a book that she dedicated to her mother. It was to have been printed months ago, she said.

"My mother died July 10th, before she could see it," said Jackson, whose husband is deployed in Iraq. "They delayed and made excuses and never got the book done. I still don't have it."

Others who filed complaints include Tracy Martin, Indianapolis, who said she paid $2,000 to have her book printed.

"They took the money and said it would be done in a few weeks, but it wasn't. They just kept stringing me along with excuses and promises," she said.

Another Indiana author, Cheri Moser-Coomer, signed in March 2009 for New Century to print her first book in a potential series of Bible stories. She said Caswell had a meeting of many of the authors and promised their books would be done and asked them to pay $500 each for a website to promote their books.

She paid a total of $2,500 and has no copies of her book and no Web page. "I just got excuses," she said.
Other alleged victims include former US Representative Andy Jacobs Jr., who picked up a $12,500 printer's bill for his book when Caswell defaulted on payment, and Kip Tew, who ran Barack Obama's presidential campaign in Indiana, and wound up taking his book about the campaign to another publisher after New Century repeatedly failed to publish by the promised date. Caswell also apparently stiffed editors and designers (see this blog post from a former New Century staffer, as well as the comments that follow this news story), and his landlord, who says that Caswell owes thousands in back rent, and is being evicted.

New Century's troubles are far from Caswell's first brush with the law. As another Indianapolis Star article reports, the Indiana Attorney General sued him in 1990 and in 2005 over consumer complaints involving his employment and job placement companies (consumers alleged he took their money and didn't provide services). He was ordered to pay a total of $99,000 in fines and restitution, but according to the AG's office, he has paid nothing on the 1990 judgment, and only $600 on the 2005 judgment. And that's not all:
The Indianapolis Star reported in 1990 that Caswell had been posing in the 1980s as an attorney, when he isn't. And in an extended tape-recorded interview at that time, he acknowledged that he had been a bigamist -- married to two women at the same time for two years during the 1980s.

He later served 14 months in the federal prison at Terre Haute after a conviction on charges of fraud and income tax evasion.
The AG's office says that it's conducting "an investigation into potential violations of the state's consumer protection laws" after "[n]egotiations with Caswell and his attorney Bruce Walker failed to lead to restitution to the authors." But given that the AG has neither been able to force Caswell to pay up, nor to prevent him from launching new consumer-defrauding ventures, New Century's victims may justifiably wonder what will be different this time around.

"I didn't know about the costs and other details of publishing a book," says former GOP state chairman Rex Early, who paid New Century $10,000 to publish his book, and got stiffed when he ordered a reprint. "But I had these bundles of handwritten yellow pages." It's not just clueless, overeager newbies who fall victim to publishing scams. Smart, accomplished people can be hoodwinked too.

24 comments:

Anne R. Allen said...

Wow. You don't have to be a clueless kid or overtrusting retiree to get duped, do you? This guy had some major chutzpah.

steeleweed said...

Reminds me of Northwest Publishing. This guy should be locked up until he has made enough license plates to pay the people he scammed.

Angie said...

It's not just clueless, overeager newbies who fall victim to publishing scams. Smart, accomplished people can be hoodwinked too.

This guy might be smart and accomplished in politics, but as a writer he's pretty clearly a clueless, overeager newbie. Or he was; I'm assuming he knows better now.

You know, people who are repeat offenders when it comes to business scamming should have some kind of three-strikes law. Rip people off for more than X amount of money three times and you're no longer qualified to get a business license or be an owner or officer of a corporation. Like animal abusers who can be ordered not to own animals in the future; prove you're abusive and get kicked out of the pool. :/

Angie

Kay Richardson said...

I'm going to write a book about a handsome, cool writer (me) who goes about killing bad agents/publishers. It'll be wicked.

Anonymous said...

This idiot is a menace to society and should be executed or put away for longer than 14 months or given a frontal lobotomy so he can't bother anyone again.

Susan said...

Kay, and it will be a best seller!

S.M. Carrière said...

Kay, I would love to read your book!

That's just despicable. I greatly wonder about humanity sometimes....

blackwatertown said...

How despicable. Thanks for the enlightening post about it.

christine tripp said...

>I greatly wonder about humanity sometimes....<

S.M., fewer and fewer things are surprising me when it comes to what some people will do to others in order to get money. When the Scummy and the Scammers surfaced right after 911, collecting donations for fake charities, I thought it couldn't get much lower.

For these scammers, such as this "Publisher" and other similar ones such a Publish America, the sure way to part the mark from their money is by appealing to their ego. We all have one, even if it is deep down and well hidden and these creeps tape it for all it's worth.
At the moment PA's newest scam/mass email is to their "authors" telling them the world is just waiting to read THEIR story, a memoir or biography of THEM as a "published" author.
You just know this will work on a number of these writers. Who would not be flattered if a perceived Commercial publisher approached us and said we are interesting enough to READ about?

christine tripp said...

While the scammers don't surprise me, the legal system always does. They put Martha Stewart in jail, yet a creep like this, convicted of fraud again and again, roams free to set up another sting op.
Now really, a fine????? Now WHERE does the system think a guy, who only knows how to make money illegally, is going to get the cash to pay the fine... doh!

It costs the tax payers far too much to put these non violent offenders in jail but I'd love to see the justice system start to hand out punishments to fit the crime.
A year of doing dishes in a soup kitchen, a year of picking garbage off the highways, whatever it takes for these people to repay society, if not the actual victims.

Anonymous said...

The web site
www.newcenturypublishing.org
is still up.

Victoria Strauss said...

Thanks, Anonymous. It is indeed up: www.newcenturypublishing.org. When I originally put this post online, that URL was returning blank pages and ads for erectile dysfunction drugs.

Worth noting: there's still no mention of fees anywhere on the site.

Nathalie said...

How sad that people like this portray themselves as legit businesses who want nothing more than to help you achieve your goals, to only pull the rug out from under you and take your hard earned cash!

Sad!

Anonymous said...

New Century's frauds fall squarely within the jurisdiction of both the USPS Postal Inspectors AND the FTC. It's one thing to vaguely misrepresent; quite another to simply outright gyp people. It is sad that we pay so much money to those two agencies, and they are so utterly indolent in earning what they are paid.

Anonymous said...

This guy pulled the same thing on my mother in law by making excuses for non-delivery. It was only after my wife put big time pressure on him that he finally did deliver. However, he was given more money for extra copies and guess what?

What a scumbag.

Anonymous said...

Caswell has a long, long history of duping people; he's an equal opportunity swindler. The l6 authors who were gyped, lied to, and lost money, time and energy are only a tip of the iceberg. Editors, designers and printers have not been paid either.

Anonymous said...

As of this date, Aug. 2l, New Century continues its website, newcenturypublishing.org rotating the books it supposedly has for sale. Buyer beware ordering.

Claressa said...

My name is Claressa Patton. I was cheated and lied to over and over again my David Caswell and his staff. I wrote a book titled: Life after Death: The Journey Continues. it talks about about my life after my brother AND husband were killed in 2005. I cried more dealing with NCP than I did when my loved ones were killed. SHAME ON THEM. visit my website at www.ministerclaressa.com

P.S. Barta said...

About two months before NCP was exposed, Betty Burgess approached me to do graphic design work for them. So I completed two books, then the Channel 6 reports were aired. A couple of weeks later, Dan Fischer called me to ask me if I would complete the uncompleted projects, and put them in the distribution channels I had set up for my book, A Case of Intent; channels and company (Toucan Words, Inc.) created because NCP didn't keep their word about promotion or distribution or splitting 50/50 their sales of the book.[Brother purchased 2 copies from NCP, though they told me they didn't sell any. And they kept all the proceeds from a breakfast event put on by DII.]
I contemplated finishing the unfinished books; Dan assured me there would be a fund set up to pay expenses to finish or refund author's fees. This went on for about a month. I assumed David Caswell was selling his Hilton Head Island home or the land in Southern Indiana or some friend was helping him out. Eventually, Dan stopped communicating with me.
So between fees for services and share of book sales and pre-paid event fees NCP owes me about $3k. I'm sorry to realize that Betty Burgess and Dan Fischer were probably "in on it" -- Dan told me he a Betty knew the company was having financial problems in 2009, yet they kept working with authors.
Many fine books are written by self-published authors, yet they will never see or at best have to struggle to see any sales because of the "bad energy" created by poor judgment or outright cons like this group.

Anonymous said...

I know I'm late to the party here. I'm in the habit of checking on DC every once in while to see what new trouble he's getting into. I missed this one by a couple months.

I've dealt with DC in other lines of business as well as personally /shudder. He is without a doubt the most capable liar I have ever met. He can make just about anyone believe just about anything and somehow usually ends up getting away with it.

I'd like to see the AG actually pursue this to the end of a trial for once and put him away for a while.

I'd also really like to see the people with whom he claims to have contact (Oprah, Larry King, etc.) make some sort of statement about him. I know that won't happen, but it would make me very happy.

His cohort, Betty, is likely just a patsy. I've dealt with her as well and I think she may actually be a mark for his cons or perhaps kept around as a scapegoat if things ever get too hot for him. She honestly believes his lies regardless of the evidence.

Claressa said...

It's a shame that David Caswell and his group especially Betty and Dan have continued to cheat and steal. I wrote a book about my life after the murder of my brother and husband. They tried every way they could to steal my money. It took almost one year to get my books but it did not come without tons of calls, emails and face to face visits to their business. Please check out my website: www.ministerclaressa.com You can find information about my book. Please consider purchasing a copy or two..... thanks

Anonymous said...

I don't know David Caswell professionally, but on a personal level and he continues to be the biggest liar on the face of the earth! Should anyone come in contact with this man, run, run, run as fast as you possibly can!

Claressa said...

Not sure who you are but it's a shame if David Caswell is STILL our robbing people. If you are a friend just imagine how he has treated all of the authors who gave him money and got robbed, me being one of them.
Shame on you david caswell. What goes around comes around but it comes around worse......

Anonymous said...

Betty and Dan were in on it from the start. Their innocent claims fall on deaf ears. They were working 5 feet away from Dave, they fooled me once, I won't be fooled again. I trust that others will not trust this trio, ever again. They'd lie to their families to make a dollar. Shameful is too nice a word to describe their dealings. Be advised, they will rob you blind.