It’s a familiar story.
Entrepreneur sets up publishing company. Publishing company charges fees, but it’s not a vanity publisher–certainly not! Authors are just investing in their own success.
But…oh dear. Authors receive proofs riddled with errors and finished books so badly produced they are unsalable. Some receive no books at all. Refunds, if promised, never show up; court judgments, if levied, are never paid. The entrepreneur gets aggressive with authors who complain, or simply doesn’t respond to emails and phone calls. Finally the business collapses and disappears, or the owner sells it or transfers it to a third party who refuses responsibility for previous mistakes. Authors are left high and dry.
How often have I written about this?
Well, here’s another example: Julie McGregor’s Australia-based publishing services company, Love of Books Brisbane, a.k.a. Books Publishing Services Australia. According to this article in the The Sydney Morning Herald, McGregor has reportedly defrauded multiple clients to the tune of four and even five figures. From the article:
Disaffected clients claim they handed over sums ranging from $2000 to $12,000 since 2013 and as recently as late 2016 to entities including Love of Books Brisbane and Books Publishing Services Australia. The projects have ranged from historical research and commercial fiction to travel guides.
Another complainant is a Queensland debut novelist who unsuccessfully claimed a partial refund when the deadline for her fantasy fiction “was exceeded, my manuscript edited with no permission or tracking to show where the edits took place, no finished product and then I had to pay someone else to edit it again from scratch”.
The writer says she is still owed $4000 and has not heard a word from McGregor since she was promised the refund in August 2016. At that time, she was not advised that McGregor was a bankrupt.
And that’s not all.
McGregor…dealt exclusively with a Melbourne high school whose parents spent $10,000 to produce a cookbook as a Christmas fundraiser in 2016.
The school, which does not want to be named, paid a $4000 deposit raised from local sponsors plus a further $6000 to McGregor’s business, Love of Books Brisbane, to print 1000 copies of recipe favourites.
To date the fundraisers say they have not received a single copy of the book, which was to have been delivered four weeks after the supply of artwork and content in September 2016.
Publishing isn’t McGregor’s only fraud. In November 2017, she was convicted of an elaborate scheme to extract money from local businesses.
[A] Southport magistrates court convicted [McGregor] of three counts of dishonestly gaining thousands of dollars from three restaurants using fraudulent credit cards. She was handed a nine-month suspended sentence for what the prosecution said was a “calculated, fraudulent activity, not once but three times”.
Acting magistrate Gary Finger described McGregor as “certainly naive to say the least” for her role in the complex fraud, in which she booked restaurant functions on fraudulent credit cards and then persuaded the restaurant owners to pay for non-existent florists and limousine services. A sobbing McGregor was told she would face jail time if she came before the courts again.
In 2016, McGregor transferred the Love of Books website and client list to Ian Lewis, who is currently operating the business under his own business number and a slightly different name: Love of Books Australia-Wide. According to McGregor, this change was spurred not by thousands of dollars owed to multiple authors, but by “high continuous bullying in many forms…lasting over 3 years by a sacked employee and his associates, along with the take over of the businesses clients and personal details by a greedy commercial operator in conjunction.” (You can read a much longer and even more self-serving version of this screed here.) According to The Sydney Morning Herald, Lewis has disclaimed responsibility for reimbursing McGregor’s clients.
Although Writer Beware never received complaints or reports about McGregor’s company, I did have my own encounter with her. In 2015, she sent me an email with the angry (and mis-spelled) subject line: URGETN ATTENTION REQUESTED.
I always give attention when asked, especially when it is URGETN.
Well, that wasn’t super-helpful, but I did what she suggested, and typed her name and URL into Google to see what I could see. Turns out that she was indeed mentioned on my blog…but not because anyone had defamed her. I thought it would be good to let her know what I’d discovered.
I wasn’t surprised when I didn’t get a reply.
Here’s McGregor’s comment that produced the websearch result:
UPDATE 3/11/18: Wow, that was fast. I got home last night from an event to find two emails threatening me with legal action: one from McGregor, and the other from Ian Lewis–purportedly, at least. Verbal clues suggest that both emails were written by the same person responsible for the posts on this blog devoted to extending McGregor’s claims that she, in fact, is the victim.
UPDATE 6/2/19: The pity party continues.