“Ten Percent of Nothing will fascinate anyone who wants to understand how a real-life big con is put together and executed, and it is also vital reading for everyone connected to the book business. It is heartrending to see the numbers of new writers who fall for the siren songs of the Dorothy Deerings of publishing. In the effort to be well published, nothing is more vital than the right agent; nothing can be more devastating than to realize that the person you were relying on to accomplish that has scoffed at your dreams and trashed your hopes. Bravo, Jim Fisher, for this great service to your fellow writers.”—Beverly Swerling, author of City of Dreams and Shadowbrook
“A unique book and an in-depth look into the psychology of a con-artist’s mind. Any writer seeking a literary agent should read this before signing (much less paying any money!).”—Ann Crispin, author of Rebel Dawn and the Starbridge series
From the Publisher
Actually, what Deering rarely manufactured were books. In fact, she never sold a single manuscript to a major publisher. With the money in her pocket and her clients hopes and hard work wrapped up in fraudulent contracts, Deering produced a few copies of four cheaply printed, poorly edited paperbacks. These she used as bait to hoodwink more clients. She was abetted by her husband, Charles, a former car salesman; his son, Daniel, a drug user with a ninth-grade education; and her brother, Bill, a fugitive from the law at the time he headed her vanity press.
By successfully impersonating a literary agent for ten years, Deering operated one of the longest-running confidence games in American history. The financial loss for her clients was devastating and the heartbreak was extreme. Drawing on victims experiences and documents recovered from the Deering venture, Fisher shows how Deering engineered and executed her scam, emphasizing the warning signs of sham agents, crook book doctors, and mendacious publishers. Ten Percent of Nothing provides essential information for aspiring writers and publishing professionals. Fishers findings also prompt new inquiries into the potential licensing of literary agents and the prosecution of interstate scam artists. The volumes gallery of illustrations includes reproductions of correspondence, newsletters, and advertisements used by the Deering operation.