Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Another Day, Another Scammer

It's been a while since we've talked about literary scams and all the scammers out there waiting to prey on eager newbie writers.

Publishers Marketplace pointed me toward Friday's Indy Star here, which reported that the Indiana Attorney General's office is investigating a number of complaints against New Century Publishing of Indianapolis. At least seven writers trying to get books published have claimed to have been ripped off by New Century for between $1,500 and $10,000.

Turns out that New Century's publisher, David William Caswell, is an ex-convict who has served 14 months in prison on federal fraud and income tax evasion charges.

Nor is this Caswell's first run-in with the Indiana Attorney General. The State sued him in 1990 and again in 2005 over consumer complaints related to his employment service companies.

And if that wasn't enough, the article also says:
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.
In a follow-up story here the following day, the Indy Star interviewed writers who had been scammed by Caswell and New Century.

Three years ago I did a pair of posts on how to spot a literary scam. Go here and here to read them.

The sad thing is that the red flags were out there. I googled New Century Publishing and immediately found where a writer had asked Yahoo Answers for help. A response here:
Red flag, a huge one, popped up when I read their website. They have a clear conflict of interest. While they insist they are not a self publisher or vanity press, because they offer all services of a traditional, mass market publisher, their authors are required to pay for their editorial and design services.

If that's not enough to convince you to avoid them (and it should be), I checked two of their featured titles and neither is sold at Amazon or Barnes & Noble's websites.
I then googled David William Caswell Indianapolis. I ignored anything dated in the last six weeks because of all the recent news coverage, but still found multiple red flags. On the first page of Google results, I had four indications of consumer complaints or legal filings related to ripoffs or fraud.

Back in junior high, I learned the phrase caveat emptor, let the buyer beware.

Newbie writers are often so eager to see their books in print that they forget to remember that simple Latin phrase.

One of the first things I learned about publishing is that the money should flow TO the writer, not FROM the writer.

I'm sorry for all those writers who were scammed by Caswell and New Century Publishing. The publishing industry needs to publicize these kind of cases so that a new generation of writers won't get taken in.

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