Writer Beware! is a section of the site where we warn about the Big Bads out there – publishers, agents, editors and more who will promise you the world in exchange for your cash, and disappear shortly after.
Today, we’re covering Aultbea Publishing, a local publisher and a scam that caught up many talented writers across all genres.
Varying Names – This publisher goes by various names, including Aultbea Publishing, Highland Publishing, Script Publishing and Jonson-Jonsen Publishing. This is a common tactic used by fraudulent businesses to disguise account discrepancies, negative content connected to a business name and past business blemishes, as well as to allow its proprietor to use multiple business bank accounts. For example, the Script Publishing moniker keeps it away from the bad press uncovered in a Google search for its old name, Aultbea Publishing.
In addition, the man in charge of this company – Charles Faulkner – falls under this category as his name is a pseudonym. His real name is Sultan Zuberri.
Skeleton Staff – Staff listed on the website no longer work with the company, and may never have been with the publisher.
Invisible Offices – The address given on their site is no longer owned by the company, which is now run from home.
Child Labour – This company is infamous for its use of young authors – and has been known to exploit them by pulling them out of education for touring and working in the offices at late hours, usually at no extra pay.
Hidden Fees – This company has been known to request extortionate fees – from £10,000 to £50,000 – from authors.
Though they claim not to be a pay-to-publish company (a vanity publisher), they will request these fees in exchange for a 50% cut of profits instead of the standard author cut of under 10&. They will also convince the author to print runs far beyond what they can afford, up to 50,000 books.
Despite claims in the media that they will be phasing out these payment habits, all authors currently on their website have contributed to the cost of publishing.
This also affects an authors rights and reputation as what was signed as a normal publishing contract then becomes a vanity deal thanks to these often off-the-record dealings. The authors are usually not at fault, as this cost is often deliberately misrepresented.
Failure to Adhere to Contracts – This company does not contribute to the full contractual obligations of advertising and promoting a work. Authors unable to self-promote have ended up on their own and far out of pocket.
No Editing – This company rarely edits work, and past ‘editors’ have been found to have no qualifications and when pressed will claim not to be actual editors despite having been presented as editors to the authors.
Dodgey Laywers – You don’t need much of a clue to gather there’s some not-quite legal goings on here – this has been confirmed by the legal documents we have been sent, which contain examples of poor grammar, spelling, and nonsensical use of English. Ripped-off authors who try to claim (see below) have also had false threats of legal action made against them, such as accusations of physical force.
Convenient Disappearances – Authors and family who have been taken in by this company and then tried to recover money or seek legal action.
In all cases, the publisher has either not answered legal challenges, returned the challenges with false accusations and poor legal quality(as above) with no backing), or promised the author repayment and then failed to be true to his word.
Addresses used by these businesses, taken from their official sites, include:
The Aultbea Publishing Co.
28 Church Street
Tel.: +44 (0)1463 223 568
Script Publishing Ltd.
106 Church Street
Phone: 01463 718 993
[Office lease has now lapsed for both of the above.]
6 Victoria Terrace
Tel.: +44 (0)1463 718 993
[Victoria Terrace is a residential housing area, so this is suspected to be a home office.]
Aultbea, Script and Jonson-Jonsen Publishing do not adhere to legal requirements as a publisher. Authors should not submit work to any company connected to Charles Faulkner/Sultan Zuberri.
EDIT: Medical magazine Nutraceuticals Now is also produced by this publisher, where he claims the title of Editor despite no claims of literary qualifications in previous media interviews. This article has been updated to reflect this.
Have you been a victim of Aultbea Publishing or similar publishing companies? E-Mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org or leave a comment below.