Many of readers here at LT are aspiring authors. Many of you are working on that first novel, and once you’re finished, you dream of reaping the rewards of fame and money like J.D. Salinger, J.K. Rowling, Stephen King, etc. But no matter what your genre or aspiration, always beware of the old saying, if something seems too good to be true, it probably is.
This was the case in Devon, England. Between 1999 and 2008, conman Robin Price admitted to six thefts in which he swindled £532,000 from aspiring authors. He did so by convincing the writers that he would negotiate film deals and help turn their books into films. In turn, the writers forked over hefty sums of money for exorbitant fees and investments in their “film deals.” In actuality, Price used the money to buy drugs and the company of male prostitutes.
As of January 2011, 30 victims have come forward, but Devon police expect many more. In one case, Price stole £293,000 from a man in his 80s. Two others have lost their homes and one other victim quit his job, in hopes of becoming the next big thing in the literary world.
In the BBC article which reported on this story, Detective Colonel Martin Battershill said, “Price seemed to know how the industry worked which made [his scheme] more believable.”
To all our aspiring writers at LT, please approach getting published with extreme caution. Remember, reputable agents do NOT ask for money upfront. Also, reputable film producers rarely approach no-name authors. Usually, all deals are negotiated through an agent.
If someone does approach you as an agent or film producer, check out her/his company thoroughly. See what other authors they represent or what books they’ve produced. You can also contact Publisher’s Weekly to check the person’s credentials and legitimacy. Proceed with caution.
Best of luck to all our aspiring authors!