Wednesday, November 10

Scams and Scammers

I like to keep my blog posts only about writing but I think today I'm going to write about something else as well.

I belong to The Romance Writer's of America -- a group I can't recommend highly enough.  They provide all kinds of support and information to writers at every level of the profession, but (at least, this is what I have found) with an emphasis on helping serious new writers.  And they do help.  A lot.

Today one of the members of my local chapter sent out a link to a blog post by Daryl Sedore detailing how he had been scammed.  Daryl Sedore is a writer who says he was scammed out of 10,000 dollars US by an independent editor.  He tells the entire story in three blog posts and, at the end of the post, he names names.

The names shocked me because the two people he names, an agent and an independent editor, have in the past attended a well known writers' convention in my area, one that I attended for the first time this year.  (To be clear, they didn't attend the year I went.)

My skin crawls.  I like to think that I would not be an easy mark for this kind of a scheme but I have looked up the edtior's website and read the blog of at least one other person who uses her.  She talks a really good talk and I don't think I would have sensed anything amiss, at least not until it was too late.

This story made me think of how things can go so very wrong, how our expectations can be subverted in the cruelest ways.  Yesterday (and this is the part that doesn't relate to writing) I watched Frontline: The Confessions.  The program was about four men who, incredibly, were coerced into confessing to a crime they did not commit, a crime three of them had absolutely no connection to and, in at least one case, had a rock-solid alibi for.

The connection I felt between the two cases is this: the 'scammers' in each case were people  I would trust.  I know that there are bad police officers but I think most of them are the good guys doing a tough job in the best way they know how.  Similarly, the agent and editor had been invited to a well respected writers' convention.  I would have taken that as a tacit stamp of approval.

When I went to my local writers' conference if an editor had said, "I think you have a best seller here, but it needs just a bit of work before it is ready to be sent out.  I don't usually do this, but I know a top NY agent who would be interested in reading the manuscript when it is ready," I think that I would have believed her and, if I had the money, may have payed the editor for her services to whip the manuscript into shape.

Perhaps the moral is that it can be very dangerous to be naive.

Next blog I'll try to write a more upbeat post!  Till next time.

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