October 12, 2020

Unscrupulous people prey on writers. It’s easy to scam us. We are optimistic, believing that our creations are unique and have merit. We’re altruistic, feeling we give something to the world and, in the process, make it just a little bit better. Unfortunately, some predators and scammers recognize this, and rather than give, they take from the easiest mark--that optimistic, altruistic writer.

As proof of writers being taken advantage of, I offer two different websites.

Think about this . . . there are two separate websites out there that warn writers of untrustworthy people who are trying to take advantage of them. You never see something like this regarding dentists or programmers or teachers. And yet, there’s two of them specifically aimed at us writers!

There are other professions where hungry, desperate artists are preyed upon. I seem to remember something about scammers taking advantage of women eager to enter the modeling field. There are also stories of movie producers seducing young actors on their casting couches. Predators are always after fresh prey. I’m sure there are more examples out there.

Charlie Knight recently bit me (no link provided--on purpose).

I asked Charlie Knight if they’d like to work with me on my Alternate History Clone novel. The tagline is “Prince James learns he is not royalty, as he’d believed all is life but is a clone, a member of the slave class who is on the verge of rebellion.”

Charlie Knight accepted the assignment on January 11 and wrote a contract. Included was this verbiage, “After the first round of revisions are completed and sent back to you, we will continue to work together on additional edits as needed.” The contract also stated, “If you choose to cancel services after the first round of revisions, you will be responsible for the remaining 50% of the total.” There was no mention if THEY canceled. As you may have guessed, this will come up later in the tale.

Charlie Knight sent back the first round of revisions on March 20. The first paragraph of the email reads, “Hi, Brennan! I wrapped up edits today, and I’ve attached the revised document here. First, let me say that much of this is very strong. The pacing is perfect – which is a challenge in a story with multiple POVs and storylines – and your worldbuilding is strong. All of the characters are fully developed as well. Nicely done!”

Wow! Encouraged by Charlie's words, I stared working on their recommendations.

Charlie Knight’s edits did require me to do some substantive rewrites, especially on the slavery topic. Since my changes were taking so long, Charlie wrote on July 21, “I’ve sent the bill for the remainder so that there are no worries no matter how long the rest of the process takes. If your word count grows significantly for any reason, we’ll deal with that later. Remember, I’m available if you have any questions about changes or want to run ideas by me.” I paid Charlie in full, thinking they’d keep their word.

Once Charlie Knight got my money, they changed their tune. Charlie decided my novel was too offensive (they already knew it dealt with slavery), and they were uncomfortable working with it. They wanted me to change MY story into THEIR story--a ROOTS-type of rebellion tale. I told them I wasn’t interested in retelling “Roots.”

I sent Charlie Knight an email asking if they would fulfill the terms of their contract. I asked if she could objectively finish the additional edits to my novel. I suggested that if they could not, maybe they could issue a refund. On October 12, Charlie Knight canceled our working relationship in writing: “I do not want to be associated with this book.” Charlie also wrote, “I am not issuing a refund” and “My work on the story stops here, as does our collaboration.” It was not me who cancelied our working relationship. It was Charlie.

Reminder, this is after I’d paid Charlie Knight in full.

Everything turned nasty once Charlie Knight had received their final payment. Before then, Charlie had been helpful and supportive, even flattering. Once Charlie got the full payment, they turned on me. Was this their plan all along? I don’t know. It’s suspicious that they never mentioned being “uncomfortable” until the cash got deposited into their account.

Immediately after this email exchange, Charlie Knight played their most unprofessional card--a twitter-tantrum, multiple rants publically complaining:

  • Charlie Knight didn’t seem to be able to separate me from my work.
  • Charlie Knight made a veiled threat, stating, “Gonna watch for that title/author so I can call it out when released? You’re damn right.”
  • Charlie Knight tried to claim the high road by stating that they said “No” to the project. However, Charlie only did so AFTER they got paid in full. They took the money. It’s easy for Charlie Knight to climb on their high horse when their pockets were already lined with someone else’s cash.

I do not recommend Charlie Knight. Work with Charlie Knight at your own risk. If you do, get everything before you give Charlie Knight the final payment.

- Brennan