Ok guys, this is a post that I didn’t really want to do, but felt it was my only option. When I decided to self publish my book I wanted to do it right. The only way to do a good job was to get it edited. I chose someone I met on Twitter (yes I know not everyone on Twitter can be trusted). Jessica Hollis Brown, whose Twitter tag is @jbrowncr seemed nice and friendly. I sent her the first chapter, which she edited and sent back. It seemed ok.
We agreed she would edit my book. This was in December 2011. Before she did any more work she requested 50% of the money upfront, which is perfectly normal. What isn’t normal, is that after I paid the $400 I didn’t receive any more of my edited manuscript. As time went by I emailed and it usually took 3 of my emails to get one back. Then the excuses started: from “my computer cord broke” to “my husband had an epileptic fit” to an email from her ‘husband’ which told me she was in hospital with pneumonia, even the fact that she had to travel out of town to attend a friend’s funeral. I don’t know if I’m naïve, but I gave her the benefit of the doubt.
By March I was sick of it so I told her she had one week to send me the manuscript or I was cancelling our agreement and wanted my money back. Of course I haven’t seen the manuscript or one cent of my money. She offered to pay it off in installments, about a month ago, but nothing has come through. I sent her an email over a week ago, telling her the only option I had left was to tell everyone about my experience. I haven’t heard back from her, surprise, surprise.
So this is just to let you know my experience. I am very disappointed and $400 poorer, money I can ill afford to lose. But I guess some people are dishonest and I was unlucky enough to find one of them. So just a warning, because there’s nothing else I can do. Paypal cannot get my money back and because I didn’t pay with credit card the bank can’t help. I’ll be more careful next time, but that’s little consolation now. Her website is http://jessiebincr.wordpress.com/category/creativity/ and she is on Facebook.
Sorry to be a Negative Nelly but I want to make sure I save someone else the trauma of losing so much money. If Jessica wants to pay me back, I will gladly take this post down, but until then, it stays.
UPDATE 25th July, 2014: She is active again as Jessica A Hollis. Authors, beware. This is her Facebook profile https://www.facebook.com/jhollismomo4/about. She may end up making it private when she finds out about this, but as long as everyone is wary of her, my job is done.
UPDATE 17th August, 2019: I decided to see what she was up to, and ha ha, she’s still in jail. She was extra stupid and tried to flee to Canada to avoid her 60 month jail sentence for fraud. The Justice Department kindly gave her an additional 48 months of jail time. Her husband, who commented on this post, or maybe it was her commenting and pretending to be him, is also in jail, so yay. Glad the FBI are good at what they do. If you want to read about how stupid she is, here’s the link to sentencing information https://www.justice.gov/opa/pr/north-carolina-woman-sentenced-48-months-prison-fleeing-country-avoid-telemarketing-fraud. I know it’s not zen of me, but sucked in, Jessica scam artist. You got what you deserved. Nice to know Karma is doing her job :).
UPDATE 6th December, 2021: Just a quick note to let you know she’s out of jail. Maybe she’s going to be a decent person this time around, but maybe not. Just in case, I would avoid her, or, at the very least, avoid doing business with her. This is her Facebook account https://www.facebook.com/J.A.Hollis1215. Feel free to check it out so you know who she is.
This sounds terrible, Dionne. Sorry to hear you’ve had a rough time with this so-called *editor* Jessica Hollis Brown. And I also hate that feeling of having no choice but to write such a post. I hope she refunds your money. A shame about the waste of time and energy!
Thanks Melinda 🙂 I really hate bad-mouthing someone but I’ve tried all the legal avenues and since she lives in Costa Rica and I live in Australia it’s pretty much impossible to get my money back. I didn’t want to stay quiet because I don’t want it to happen to anyone else.
Well, she’s going to get a very bad rep. There’s websites where you can report editing scams – might be worth having a look. 🙂
Yikes, Dionne. And sorry you met up with a bad editor.
Yes, yikes, but thanks for your support Justin 🙂
Thank you for the warning. I am so sorry you had to endure such dishonesty! I do hope her walk of shame makes her see sense!
Thanks Glynis, I hope so too. It’s not nice to post negative things about other people, but it’s not good to be ripped off either.
I was following her. Well that’s changed as of today. Thanks for the heads-up hon.
Thanks Maureen, I love my friends 🙂
That’s so unfortunate Dionne, it’s such a pity shit always happens to good people like you. Let’s hope that the $400 she took is worth a tarnished reputation – if you get what I mean.
Yes I know. And she’s getting way more than $400 worth of publicity out of it—just the wrong kind ;).
Sorry to hear that Dionne – let’s hope she gets her just rewards!
Thanks Jim. Yes, I hope she doesn’t have a chance to rip off anyone else.
No good at all – bad news indeed. So much of it going on out there. I moved into a flat in London years ago and the phone number had not been changed, I got a girl on the phone who had paid a cash deposit of 500 pounds to the previous tennant, so she was very upset to find someone else had moved in. I gave her the estate agents number, but not a lot anyone could do. Some nasty scammy people out there! Is there not an official ‘body’ for editors that you can contact, who might have a list of genuine people who can help you?
I’ve since had it edited by a reliable, normal person. Yes there are nasty people out there and it’s up to the good people to let other good people know about them.
What an utterly crap thing to do. I’m so sorry for you. I look at all the so-called “experts” on Twitter, see how much they are charging and then think twice – try out the Alliance of Independant Authors – they all write and have a list of approved editors etc; Thanks so much for the warning
Thanks for commenting Cameron and for the information. I will check them out 🙂
That’s an outrage, Dionne. We put so much trust in our editors. She should be totally ashamed of herself. Let’s hope this exposure prevents someone else getting the same experience.
Thanks Jane. Yes, but I doubt she is or she wouldn’t have done it in the first place.
This is a rare occurrence, thank goodness, but I’m so sorry it happened to any writer.
FWIW, Jessica Hollis[-]Brown does not appear to be a current member of the EFA, as she apparently has claimed to be.
There is a Writer Beware website where people can report unscrupulous, unethical or dishonest people and companies in the publishing field:
Thanks for the link Ruth. I have sent the email to Victoria. It was nice of you to stop by and take the time to comment 🙂
Also, consider submitting to Preditors and Editors: http://aburt.com/contact.php?topic=Pred
Hi Karen, yes I did that at the time, but they hadn’t had any other complaints about her. Their position is that they only post about someone if they get 2 or more complaints.
I am very sorry to hear about this. If so many misfortunes had occurred in my life, preventing me from finishing a job for a client, I’d be bending over backwards to communicate and arrange something. I would encourage any author to check credentials beyond just the editor’s website — do they have recommendations, a list of published works, a professional affiliation such as the EFA, SfEP, or each Australian state’s Society of Editors? Some sort of contract — even if it’s in an e-mail — laying out provisions for termination of the project and reimbursement or nonrefundability of prior payments protects both parties.
In my experience, the vast majority of editors (and authors, for that matter) are not scammers and are trustworthy.
Thanks Kristine. She claimed to be a member of the Editorial Freelancers Association and I should have checked because she wasn’t. I didn’t do my homework properly and just want everyone to do theirs. There are many wonderful, legitimate editors out there and I would rather the writers found them 🙂
That is shocking, Dionne and you are absolutely right to warn other people to be careful. No need to apologise – she’s very lucky she’s out of reach of the arm of the law.
Thanks Liz. Hmm, yes she’s lucky, but if she keeps that up her luck is sure to run out eventually.
so sorry to hear you had that experience! thank you for letting others know. I can recommend some people if you’d like
Thanks Shaunda. I’ve met a lot of people since my unfortunate incident, and I’ve had lots of recommendations, which is great! I’ll keep you in mind next time though and maybe others reading this can take note too 🙂 It’s so great of you to leave a comment, thanks!
I’m sorry to hear you lost your money and valuable time. Thank you for posting this – it was the right thing to do. It may prevent someone else from becoming her next ‘mark’. I hope you are successful in retrieving your money. Either legally or with the hope she does the right thing. Good luck to you! Thanks again for the clear warning.
Hi Sandy. Thanks for commenting and I hate to think she will keep ripping people off and I’m always one to tell it like it is, so I’m happy to help 🙂
Sorry to hear about your horrid experience. Did you get a contract? You can take the matter to court although at this stage, not sure if you want the hassle. The silver lining is the good warning that you are spreading for other writers. Listen well folks!!
Unfortunately no, but I’m in Australia and she’s in Costa Rica, so I doubt it would matter. Yes, I want people to know the mistakes I made 🙂
This is awful Dionne, I can’t offer to edit your manuscript but I can offer an extra set of eyes with friendly suggestions if you would like it. Free of course.
Be sure to add her to the sites that list dodgy editors.
I have thanks Colin. This happened a while ago, but I’m going to tweet it out on a regular basis to make sure no one is tricked like I was. 🙂
Dionne, I am actually that husband who allegedly wrote to you, which I can assure you never happened. I was completely unaware that Jessica had ever done that, and reading your post was a shock to me. Jessica and I are separated and I am seeking a divorce. Her dishonesty was infecting every aspect of her life, and has continued to get worse by the day. I am actually offended that she used my name in the course of her lies. In any case, I am very sorry that this happened to you, and if there is any way I can help to make the situation right, including paying you back, please let me know.
Wow Jason, I’m in shock! I never expected to hear from anyone about this after so long. I’m sorry you are going through a divorce and I appreciate you getting in touch. I would absolutely love my money back! I’ll email you on the one that’s come up with this message. Thanks again.
Dionne, when Jessica and I separated, she took everything, including my computer, so I am unable to write anymore. I recently started a new job, and I am just getting back on my feet, so I do not have $400 to send right now, but I will definitely work something out with you. Email me and we can communicate. I’m very sorry that Jessica did this to you, and I would like to help make the situation right. I look forward to hearing from you soon.
Even though this happened 2 years ago, I just saw the post on Facebook today and you just updated it last week. What happened with the husband?
Nothing. Never heard from him again and haven’t received any money. I guess they got divorced because she dropped the hyphenated name. Instead of being Hollis Brown, she’s now just Hollis.
Unbelievable! I have a podcast coming up on the 31st that I’d like to invite you to. Can you send me an email at email@example.com there are a couple of things I’d like to discuss with you if possible.
Oh, I just retweeted it again and updated the heading because I found out she was still around and I don’t want anyone else getting ripped off.
Reblogged this on katsindiebookblog and commented:
So I am re-blogging this because I know a lot of Indie Authors out there and its better to be forewarned 🙂 always ask for contact details from other satisfied authors of an editors previous work. If you have read an indie authors book you will normally see the editor and even Formattor mentioned sometimes – if the book you read looks great, has no errors and flows well then contact them and get a quote for your book.
Great advice! I ended up doing a follow-up blog at the time on how to find a good editor and the biggest thing is referrals from other authors you trust. I learned the hard way, but I don’t want anyone else to, so thank you so much for sharing, Kat :).
thanks Dionne – reblogged too to warn any wouldbe clients
So sorry about this! I’m an editor, and this was posted in my FB editors’ lounge this morning. I am really bothered by what’s happened to you. I know I post testimonials on my website with links to my authors’ sites, and any author interested in my services can chat with any writers I’ve worked with. As an author, you need to have complete confidence in your editor. Be assured, there are editors dedicated to the success of the authors they edit for. And who meet or beat deadlines!
Hi Dori. Thanks for the info as that’s great advice. I was very green at the time (this happened in 2011 when I was first looking at self-publishing) and since then I’ve studied and become an editor and I was also recommended an awesome editor as well. My first piece of advice to people now is to make sure you get referrals from other authors for editors.
So sorry to hear about this, and very grateful for the post. Tweeted.
Thanks, Marcus, and I’m so glad you’re helping to spread the word :).
I’m so sorry this happened. I had a similar experience but not quite so expensive. Jessica Porter of Crossroad Reviews was going to put me on a live video reader chat. I needed to send her (autographed) paper copies of my books so she could read my work and have copies as gifts to the readers. It sounded like a good deal though the books (4) were out of my pocket. She received them then kept changing the date for the live chat. She stopped responding to my emails, PM, posted FB messages and the like. I canceled but never got my books back. I’ve warned people off from here but she is still out there with a FB page and everything.
That’s terrible too, Holly. Why are some people such drains on society? (I’m being polite. I would like to swear at this point, but I try not to on my blog lol). I’m sorry you had such a negative experience too.
There’s a very good site called Preditors and Editors. Please look them up and post your warning. Many authors follow them. I RT’d and FB and Google+ your post
Yes, I actually contacted them at the time and gave them the details but they hadn’t heard of her from anyone else and so couldn’t put her name on their site. They need 2 or more complaints before they’ll do that.
I imagine she’ll pop up with all sorts of names. This was an easy $400 bucks for her. I imagine she’s gotten a lot more from other people. Very sad.
I had one person contact me to say they had paid her $1500 for copywriting work and she never delivered. 🙁
File a complaint with the Attorney General where she lives. Then file in small claims court where YOU live. Don’t let her just walk away from this.
Thanks for the advice, Janet. I didn’t know I could do that. I will definitely look into it. I’m in Australia and at the time she was in Costa Rica, but now she is somewhere in the US.
This is horrible. I am so glad I have a good and trustworthy editor!
I’m so happy to hear you have a good one!
Not sure if you’re aware of this. I believe this is the same Jessica Brown that was indicted on charges of wire fraud for defrauding elderly in a sweepstakes scam. See below articles:
Hi Jordan. Wow that’s a coincidence if it’s not her, but she has been online over the last 2 years and I would imagine she would be in jail if the above articles were about her. Not sure if they are allowed internet access in jail. They very well might be. I still haven’t seen any money, and I guess I never will. Thanks for posting :).
Dionne, your last commenter was correct, that is the same Jessica. She was put on probation until sentencing.
She was running more scams on GoFundMe afterwards. They really should have locked her up. Thanks for the info, David.
It is believed that she violated her probation is currently incarcerated.
In case you don’t know, she was arrested attempting to flee to Canada to avoid prison after pleading guilty to federal charges of bilking $840,000 out of the elderly. She is serving time now.
Hi, Sharon. Thanks for the update. I’m glad they caught up with her. She really is a horrible person, and I hope she’s in jail for a long time as she will always try to scam another person.
Sharon, do you mind if I ask how you obtained that information? I’ve been keeping tabs on her and hadn’t seen the news you posted.
I did research after Sharon’s message (it was on my birthday, incidentally, and wow what a present) and I found this https://mecksheriffweb.mecklenburgcountync.gov/Inmate/Details?pid=0000432010&jid=16-039301&activeOnly=False&firstName=jessica&lastName=brown&prisType=FEDERAL&maxrows=48&page=1. So she is locked up, where she belongs.
Thanks Dionne, and happy belated birthday… C