Monday, January 29, 2007

Internet Fraud at its finest
Fake Literary agencies and Robert M. Fletcher

So, my question is, which is worse, Scott Boras or Internet Scams? Maybe Internet Scams created by Scott Boras? How about Robert M. Fletcher? Ever hear of him?

Having begun the final edits of a book on the first ten years of Irish Baseball, I started fishing around during the last couple of weeks as to how to get published. A couple of times I came across the suggestion that I should get myself a 'Literary Agent', someone who will basically champion my book to publishers at the cost of a percentage of the books takings.

I conducted a little Internet search and one of the first agents I found was the 'New York Literary Agency', a fancy looking site with an easy online submissions form. I decided to go for it and submitted a synopsis and a chapter for their perusal.

I was pleasantly surprised when later that day I got a response from the NYLA, telling me they liked the synopsis and wanted to see more. I immediately sent off five chapters of the book to them and started to decide what I should wear to the posh New York book launch party.

Less than a week passed when I got a reply from 'Sherry' at the NYLA and my hopes soared. They liked the five chapters they saw, and wanted to represent me. I was delighted, and considered writing back immediately to tell them I had chosen a snazzy Banana Republic suit for the book launch party.

Thankfully I refrained, and instead chose to explore the NYLA a little further. Here's the thing about the Internet. It is at the mercy of criminals like Fletcher.

NYLA is the brainchild of Robert M. Fletcher, a gentleman who was fined $50,000 and forced to make restitution in Washington state back in 2001.

Apparently at that time he was “offering and selling unregistered securities, acting as an unregistered broker-dealer and/or salesperson, and making material misrepresentations and/or omissions.”

Somewhere around that time, Fletcher got involved with Sydra Techniques, a literary agency out of Boca Raton, Florida. Sydra changed its name to S.T. Literary Agency, then to Stylus Literary Agency, then split up into the Christian Literary Agency, the Poet’s Literary Agency, the Children’s Literary Agency, and the New York Literary Agency; collectively The Literary Agency Group.

If you chanced on this blog entry after having crashed your good ship on the rocks of the NYLA, or indeed any of the other agencies listed above, hopefully you haven't actually paid for any of the 'services' they provide as they masquerade as an agency ready to promote your book. Basically the NYLA seems to give potential authors false promise when all they actually do is sap cash out of their bank accounts via meaningless critiques and edits until finally responding that the book simply isn't what they are looking for. They do this for poetry works, screenplays and other types of writing too.

I took some time to read up on some of the disaster stories people had created by dealing with the NYLA. Here are a few of my favourites, taken from blogs, forums and other assorted websites;

A basic entry in an online writers forum that could be true for hundreds if not thousands of aspiring writers;
''Interesting. I had given a synopsis of my novel to the New York Literary Agency, and their fast response and candy-coated automated message about how they were accepting me made me leary. So, I looked their name up and 'lo and behold--I found this.''

In a forum, when asked if it is true the NYLA is a scam, ''waylander'' wrote;
''It is true - they are bastards. Run away. They are only interested in taking money off you. Do not answer their e-mails. DO NOT SEND THEM MONEY.''

Roger J Carlson summed it up perfectly really when asked the same question;
''Yes, it really is true. They will want you to pay for a critique, a web page, money to print and submit to publishers (which they don't actually submit anywhere), and then another critique when they get "feedback" (again phony). And so on until you get tired of paying them. The point is they never actually do anything for you''

More happy commentary on the NYLA from James D. Macdonald;
''They're an utter scam. A fraud. A cheat. They'll take your money and give you nothing in return.''


On a rather humours note, one blogger decided to play with one of the spinoffs of the NYLA, the screenplay agency. He sent in this as an initial contact:

Title of Work: The Venus Trap
Synopsis: A young women ensnars her older gargantuan lover in her wiley, unsuspecting, forcibly recaltricant, web of lies, deceits and more dammning lies, before swalling up his life, family and possessions, before moving onto the next viktim.
NYP-Bio: aspiring Australian screnwriter still working the old 40hors to pay
the bils.

The response from “Sherry Fine,” V.P. of “Acquisitions” at TSA:
“Thank you for your query to the Screenplay Literary Agency. Based on your query form information we would like to see your work and learn a little bit more about your goals and your work.''

Another fake screenplay, from another mischievous blogger;
“What happens when thirteen twelve yearolds find a red bike and a mystic crystal outside of the school doors one day? An daventure of mistical proportions!”

The response?

“Thank you for your query to the Screenplay Literary Agency. Based on your query form information we would like to see your work and learn a little bit more about your goals and your work.''

Not exactly what you would call 'discerning' so, eh Fletcher?

Looking for something fun to do? Why not go to the Screenplay Agency submissions page and make up a ridiculous movie, something completely outlandish, and send it on in, within days you will hear back from them saying they are dying to find out more about your screenplay!

Another blogger slams home exactly what this Fletcher leech is all about by describing The Screenplay Agency perfectly;

''My personal fear is that these guys are simply scamming aspiring screenwriters by accepting ALL loglines and script samples submitted online, and then raking in the dough from coverage fees paid to “outside coverage services.” I have not come across a single deal that they’ve done in the trades, nor have I met anyone in Hollywood who has confirmed such a deal. If anyone out there can lead me to such a deal, I’d appreciate it.''

If you are still curious about the NYLA, you could always drop them a line at question@newyorkliteraryagency.com

If you have been stung by the NYLA and want a little pay back, want closure or just want to highlight what looks to be pretty basic criminal activity, why not fill in the New York State Office of the Attorney General's Internet 'concerns' form and send it in to them with all the details of your dealings with the NYLA or any other of Fletcher's sites.

Robert M. Fletcher actually has offices and works from Florida too, so cover all your bases by copy and pasting in your complaint into the Florida Attorney General offices online Internet fraud form

The more people that actually make a complaint about this criminal and how he is sapping money out of aspiring writers, the better chance the US Government will actually take action and either give this fella a serious slap on the wrists or even better put him away for good.

The moral of the story is, as it ever is, if something appears too easy, it probably is! If something appears too easy, and is based on the Internet, well then, ignore it and go do something else instead.

The greater question would appear to be, why isn't this Fletcher chap doing hard time, right now?

4 comments:

Nathan Bransford said...

That is incredibly frustrating, and I can't believe there are so many scams out there. There really are really good, reputable agents out there not trying to suck the life out of aspiring writers. I'm an agent with Curtis Brown Ltd., and I swear I'm not a vampire.

Best of luck with your search for an agent.

Eklof22 said...

Thanks Nathan, same as everything in life, there are always a few bad apples out there making things sour for people.

Internet Fraud like this really gets my blood up though as this guy is picking on peoples dreams and making money out of trashing them.

Awareness is the key to success in eradicating this kind of stuff so spread the word!

Thanks for the kind words
Cormac

Nigel Waters said...

Hi,

I dealt with Bobby Fletcher in 2002, under his Sydra-Techiques scam. Boy, did he have me fooled.

After signing the "contract", I was stupid enough to send him approximately $300.00, for which I received nothing but lies and rhetoric.

Nevertheless, I made him pay, by costing him business, exposing him as the criminal he is, and exposing his past activities.

I was the man who posted on every board that I could find that Robert M. Fletcher, alleged Ch.E, was a fraud in every way imaginable.
I revealed that he never graduated from LSU (as originally posted in his resume on rfletcher,com, a defunct website), that he was convicted of securities fraud in Washington State, and that he had never sold a manuscript or screenplay to anyone.

I also exposed his partner Paul Anderson (a "futurist" con-man and Fletcher shill).

Anderson attempted to correspond with me by e-mail, feigning ignorance at first, then threatening to "sue me" if I didn't stop defaming him Fletcher and Sydra-Techniques.

His idle threats didn't stop me, so Bobby Fletcher then changed the name of his operation to Stylus Literary.

I grew bored after that, as James MacDonald, Victoria Strauss, Dave Kuzminski and a host of others took up the gauntlet.

Now, after a long hiatus, I am becoming interested in hurting him again - I'd love to see that four-flushing clown Fletcher in prison; in fact, once he is incarcerated, I plan to drive to Florida to visit him in jail, so I can laugh at him.

Shiva the Destroying Angel
vishnu@counsellor.com

Cormac said...

''Now, after a long hiatus, I am becoming interested in hurting him again - I'd love to see that four-flushing clown Fletcher in prison; in fact, once he is incarcerated, I plan to drive to Florida to visit him in jail, so I can laugh at him.''

Well, whatever anyone thinks about that, they can't say Fletcher didn't bring it upon himself! He has made a whole bunch of people very, very angry, and their anger seems pretty justified. Just a sad, sordid affair.

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