I posted two posts not too long ago on the suspicious publishers Laray Carr (a.k.a. LCP) and the suspected scammer Quincy Carr (a.k.a. Quincy LaRay Carr). As a basic summary, the company was supposedly publishing 30-plus magazines in September (didn't happen), but the writers got suspicious and discovered that Quincy Carr has been accused of being a scammer before.
It appears the (Laray) Carr ride is over... Or is it?
The LCP writers did NOT get paid. On Tuesday of last week, the writers received a mass mailing of rejection letters. There seems to be some confusion over whether ALL of the writers were "rejected," but to the best of my knowledge we have yet to hear from any writer who is still working with LCP.
(According to Stephanie Todd, a contractor working with the Laray Carr Company, six or seven writers were offered the opportunity to become regular contributors, while the rest were rejected. However, on Writer Beware a couple of writers claimed they were asked to become regular contributors, but that LCP did not follow through: The first of the two said she was still sent the same rejection letter as everyone else, and the other commented that they were not responding to her emails.)
Interestingly, the signer on the rejection letter was a Mr. Dean Person. The name on the contract the writers were given, however, was a Mr. David Person. Does Laray Carr really have two Mr. Persons working for them, or did they make the guy up and then forget to double check with "D" name they had given him?
Supposedly, the LCP writers were rejected because their work was cr*p. I have very mixed feelings about this, as I have to admit that I'm not sure the quality was all that good. I've seen one of the articles, and it had spelling and grammatical errors sprinkled throughout; I also noticed that some of the writers had frequent errors in their comments and correspondence. However, note that I said some, whereas to the best of our knowledge ALL of the writers were rejected.
Also — and I think this is important — most of the writers were asked to turn out 10 or more articles, of 1,000 or 2,000 words, in several days' time. Under this kind of pressure, I can understand that the hurry might engender more mistakes than a writer might normally make.
Third, all of the writers who were expecting payment had already had their work accepted. No one complained about their spelling or grammar; on the contrary, they were told when and how they would be paid.
Finally, while LCP is claiming the quality of the work as grounds for rejection, their website and correspondence are littered with errors. You can see some of them in the rejection letter that was sent around. You can see more on the newest version of Laray Carr's website, which Victoria Strauss quotes in the comments on her Writer Beware post:
"Creating Publications.........people can relate too"
"Creating publications people can relate too, understand the daily affects of life, and social issues facing our readers. We hold high standards for editorial quality."
Un-frickin'-believable. Or, given what's already happened, maybe not.
While I admit I have seen errors in the comments, correspondence, and work of some of the LCP writers, none of it compares to the problems in Laray Carr's own correspondence and on their site.
Laray Carr's editors haven't been paid. Last week on Deb's Freelance Writing Jobs, Stephanie Todd told us that the editors were getting paid for their work; the reason the writers weren't, she said, was because their contracts stated they would only be paid for work that was published. Her comment from the FWJ thread was:
and also, the company had absolutely no problem paying the editors or designers for work that was INCOMPLETE and work they will never use.
because they were full aware that the contracts for them said they get paid to do the work, not if it is used, published or not.
However, it appears the editors haven't been paid, as one commenting on my second blog post about LCP:
Not only did the writers get screwed (they only lost a day or two of work and from what I hear about $50) but the "editors" like myself, put in 6 weeks of full time work for what was supposed to be $5,000.
Makes you wonder what the truth is, doesn't it?
Apparently, Hope and the other contractors haven't been paid either. Hope posted a long comment on the Writer Beware post the other day; among other things, she said she had not been paid. Her exact words were:
My contract expired 4 weeks ago and per my contract my pay date was net 15 days. I have not been paid a dime and have continued to work because I believe in LCP and what their plan is/was. I have no guarantee of every getting paid and have essentially donated these last four weeks as there is no existing contractual agreement between myself and the company.
I find this interesting, as I was pretty sure someone posted somewhere that Hope said she'd been paid. That was weeks ago, though; perhaps Hope was fibbing, either because she "believed in LCP" or because they told her to.
More recently, though, Stephanie indicated that she was having "no issues regarding payment" from Laray Carr:
I quoted them a large sum of money (which includes the cost of my company hiring several new employees and increasing our office space) to take on this monumental task, one I thought they would not be willing to accept- but to my surprise and delight, my company has experienced no issues regarding payment.
I'm not sure whether Stephanie was meaning to say that she has received payment or that LCP agreed to it, but considering the context — she was trying to defend Laray Carr from accusations of being a scam — it sounds more like she is saying she has actually received money from them. However, according to an anonymous commenter on my blog, that may not be the case:
Also, Stephanie Todd is a contract worker, as is Hope Hunt, both of whom are trying to figure out this mess. Whatever this is, a bad business venture or not, they had nothing but good intentions when they started and are also out a lot of money.
The entire thing is all very confusing. Personally, I think it is quite possible that in their fervor to defend Laray Carr and refute the scam accusations, both Hope and Stephanie may have suggested that they'd been paid when they actually hadn't.
Is Laray Carr a scam? Honestly, I can't say for sure whether they are — but I can't say for sure that they're not, either. A lot of people have gotten burned by LCP, including — it seems — the company's most dedicated defenders. However, it still looks to me to be enough like a scam that I'd warn my worst enemy to keep their distance.
My advice: If you had sent articles to Laray Carr, you now have documentation proving that you own the rights and can sell them at will. However, I would keep Googling the articles occasionally, and make sure they don't turn up anywhere without your permission, as I wouldn't trust Quincy Carr any further than I could throw him! If you want to set up a Google Alert to email you if your article ever shows up, you can do so here.
Also, I recommend contacting the police. This name and number for the local police in Terrell (where Quincy's addresses are all located) was posted on the Writer Beware thread:
Sergeant Ken McCann
972 551 6622
Another writer on the same thread apparently contacted a couple of local papers, who expressed interest in the story.
In other words, there are still things you can do. Maybe you won't ever see the money Laray Carr promised you, but you can protect yourself by watching out for your articles, and possibly even bring about justice by contacting the authorities and the media in Quincy's area. Even word-of-mouth on the Internet can help, as it will ensure that no one gets screwed by LCP again.
Finally, whether or not you were involved with the Laray Carr fiasco, learn from the experience: Make sure you only work under contract terms that are favorable to you. Negotiating a kill fee provision into your contract will make sure that you get paid even if your work doesn't get published. Likewise, you can insist the payment date being at publication or in six months, whichever comes first.