Long Con Turkey

The Long-Con, I’m a fan.

Let me start by asking, has there ever been a legitimate request made via email for the banking information necessary to wire money? Do tell. I should probably back up here. Several moons ago, I received an email from a literary agent in Turkey requesting a complimentary PDF of my manuscript. I believe the agent may have mentioned the particular publisher from Turkey that was interested in the translation rights for my book. The entire email was spelled correctly, and if memory serves (it rarely does by the way, so beware) there were less than two grammatical errors–possibly none. Even so, I immediately dismissed the email, positive it was a scam. Still, I took to Google to do some research. There were other souls out there discussing the very same agency, not too many and not too few, with similar questions about this Turkish agent’s legitimacy. If you are an aspiring writer, you’ll probably want to get cozy with the website Writer Beware, which details many of the various scams used to prey upon the “oh-so-desperate-to-be-published.” But, even after going there and numerous searches, I could find no conclusive evidence that the agent and agency weren’t legitimate. Many legitimate publishing websites even listed the agency as one to reach out to in order to get published in Turkey. In the end, I decided to proceed with sending a PDF of the manuscript. I had detailed all the possible miserable outcomes of even that act, most of which ended with me and my wife somehow be kidnapped and tortured and dead, and surmised that at the very worst, someone out there might publish my book without my knowledge and try to make a few lira. That wouldn’t be the worst thing in the world I thought. “God speed PDF,” I might have said, and probably forgot that I’d even sent by lunch that day. That was way back in June I believe.

Then, sometime around September, lo and behold, I heard back from this gentleman again. He’d found an interested publisher there, and hoped that I’d not moved ahead with someone else (a nice bit of flattery I thought), and said if I was still interested that he’d like to proceed with drawing up a contract. Still one-hundred percent convinced that this was all a scam, I replied, “Absolutely. Please send me the details and I’ll review them immediately.” Again, I heard nothing for several days. I had a new job, was living in a new town, and not unlike the first time, the whole thing fell far into the deep recesses of my brain–probably filed somewhere under Potential Mistakes I’m Currently Making That Will Result in My Demise. It’s a thick file, so not everything sticks.

A few days later, another correspondence with a contract attached. I read it over countless time, consulted with other traditional published writers, googled the names of all partites involved, spun my wheels, and in the end decided to allow possibly ten percent of myself believe it was legit. $1000 advance, and a small percentage of any of the 1500/2000 copies they were planning on publishing in Turkish. Cool by me. “Let my fame grow in Turkey!” I might have internally shouted. I signed the contract, sent two paperbacks, and even then was still certain enough that it was all too good to be true that I decided to hold off on the usual grotesque PRing of myself (something I’ve also often surmised will lead to my early demise) until I received the first half of my advance–then and only then would I allow myself to make a glorious post on Facebook along the lines of, “Friends and Countrymen! I am now also a traditionally published author in the great land of Turkey!”

The receipt of my contract and books was made known via yet another email from the agent. At this point, I might have allowed my belief in the whole thing to shift to about thirty percent. A guy who has “Question Everything. Trust No One.” tattooed on his arm doesn’t go to full on optimism about potential good fortune overnight. Still, I was damn close to making it big news on social media–I’ve got a hole in my soul that needs filling after all.

And so, finally, as I’ve surely bored you toward this post’s conclusion, today, seven or so months after the initial contact from this agent from Turkey, I received an email asking for my bank account information in order to wire me my advance. Ha. Of course. After a bout of even more Googling on him, his company, and the whole scenario–I still can’t say one way or another, and my mind has me believing that the party or parties involved are performing an excellent long con. There are numerous sites and posts out there that would seem to prove them absolutely legitimate. And yet, I can not commit. I am absolutely convinced that I have finally met the grifting bamboozlers that I myself have always romanticized myself to be. Patient, attentive, and going after the most skeptical of souls–doing an amazing amount of seeding, cajoling, and crafting in the hopes that a long, long way down the road I might bilk you of your money with something as obvious a swindle as a wire transfer. If I haven’t already.

Soul Selling 2.0

I’ve often wondered who exactly it is the devil chooses to visit with his prepackaged seven year soul swap deals. I know I’ve never been offered one explicitly. I’ve not had any mysterious strangers approach me, the kind with an unholy twinkle in their eye, and make any grand declarations as to what they could do for me if only I’d sign here, here, and here. My logic behind not having had this encounter usually revolves around the notion that before he would ever take the time to introduce himself, he’d have studied up on you to make close to ninety-nine percent sure you were willing to sign the contract. He’s probably busy, and no less pleased than any of us are when he puts too much time against something with no results.

It occurred to me recently that maybe these days he deals in smaller deals. Perhaps we are all too jaded for him to present immediate fame and fortune by just signing a piece of paper. His own anger at the endless stream of scam emails promising prizes, inheritances, and lost fortunes that bombard spam folders must leave him fuming. Those people have only helped create an even more suspicious population, and it has left him having to hustle in ways he’d rather not. On the other hand, maybe given his prowess at all things dastardly, he’s harnessed the power of the internet and is moving even more souls into the sold column by using tweets, likes, and pre-populating sign-here-forms that one finds when they are making hasty decisions related to getting the stuff they want.

There was a time–a long time–in which if a service on the internet required any information about me, I’d balk. Save for a few services like Gmail, Amazon, and maybe The Levi’s Store, if some entity on the web wanted so much as a phone number from me I’d simply leave the site and figure whatever it was I wanted could be gotten by other means. But as of late, let’s call it the past three months, I find myself plugging all manner of personal information into those little boxes. Putting my information out there bit by bit, by bit, in hopes that the promises sites claim to provide for little or nothing from me are somehow going to help me further my own agenda: getting people to read my book.

Every new social network, cheapie tweet promotion service, sponsored banner, and pay-for-blankity-blank are all a carefully crafted system by lucifer himself. All designed to slowly bilk me of my soul one tiny piece at a time. And perhaps when things like great interviews, good reviews, and incremental sales of my book occur–they are the riches that have been promised to me. The devil no longer needs to make huge deals to get you to sign, he only needs to promise an extra like on your Facebook page. It’s possible he sits back laughing maniacally each and every time some fool purchases one of his, “buy 25 likes for your page” services, because he put it there and he knows that you are making just one tiny step closer to fulfilling your end of the bargain soul swap deal. He doesn’t have to make everybody a rock star, movie star, or immediate celebrity based off of some non-existent talent–nope, he’s working a different angle these days. One where he takes a small part of my soul every time I click the yes box without having bothered to actually read the details, policies, and implications of joining another Me-Me service.

My hats off to him. And I’m sure he knows that I’ve figured him out, but isn’t really bothered buy this development, because who takes the paranoid ramblings of a part-time blogger seriously? Check the “yes, I’ve read” box below if you do.