Saturday, January 20, 2007

Victoria Strauss -- A Night to Remember

Some time ago, I blogged about Airleaf Publishing & Bookselling, POD-based vanity publisher, provider of spam-based "marketing" services, and an energetic spammer in its own right.

Often I receive Airleaf's spams at one or another of my email addresses (I'm especially tickled when they come to Writer Beware's address). So I felt sadly neglected when I learned that I'd been left off the list for the latest (all typos/errors courtesy of Airleaf):
I hope the New Year finds you well. We've just booked the rooms for our Author Cruise to the Bahamas and I wanted to get the early bird price of $850 to you.

The Ship, (Carnival Sensation) leaves Port Canaveral, Florida on September 27th headed for Nassau in the Bahamas. We return September 30th.

This three day cruise includes all the food and drinks plus world-class speakers and author workshops. The cost will only be $995--The same as Las Vegas! However, until February 1, 2007 it is just $850. Also, the first 25 authors to sign up receive a larger cabin with a window!

Authors have to get themselves to the port (airfare and ground travel are not included.)
Airleaf has also announced the cruise on its website. How many proofreading errors can you spot?

I can't help but be reminded of another authors' cruise--this one conducted by our good friend, recently-jailed literary scammer Martha Ivery. In 2000, her vanity publishing business in serious disarray and angry authors demanding satisfaction, Martha attempted to raise a bit of money--and also, possibly, to present an appearance of prosperity in order to distract her victims--by offering a cruise package, which she claimed was worth over $15,000 in free vacation benefits, for the "bargain" price of $1,295. A number of authors did send her the money (among them, unbelievably, several whose books she had failed to publish despite generous infusions of cash). Guess what? The cruise was "unexpectedly" canceled. Authors were promised refunds, but these somehow failed to materialize. Martha blamed it all on the travel agency she was dealing with, which she swore she was taking to small claims court. Needless to say, no one ever saw a dime. (See item #9 of Martha Ivery's indictment.)

Airleaf wouldn't have survived this long if it weren't smart enough to give its customers something for their money, so I don't anticipate another vanishing cruise situation. However, before pulling out your credit card, you might want to do a bit of research. According to the person who alerted me to the cruise:

"We're somewhat frequent cruisers so we know a thing or two about this. Ye gads: the ship is a crummy old one (basically decomissioned from "real" week+ cruises down to these cheapo 3-day party sailings because people would complain too much if they were on it for longer!). It's during the peak of hurricane season (meaning you may not make port or could have very rough waters if there's a tropical storm of any size within a few hundred miles, and being a smaller, older ship you really feel anything but calm water). They jam people in, as many passengers on it as on the ships twice the size. For which Airleaf is charging $1000, when the list price for the cabin itself is around $200."

Here's the pricing, from the Carnival website. For September, it's between $219 and $249 per person. A travel agent might offer an even lower rate.

Will the "author workshops" or the "world-class speakers" be worth the $700+ extra? Hard to say. Airleaf doesn't provide any details on the nature of the workshops, or reveal which famous people will be speaking. (They don't discuss this after the fact, either. Apart from the online announcement, the only mention of the September 2006 Las Vegas conference is a few photos.)

What doesn't seem in doubt is that, even if those who sign up for the cruise don't profit from the experience, Airleaf certainly will.

Popular author and blogger Lee Goldberg has also had some choice things to say about Airleaf recently.

9 comments:

Anonymous said...

Two scams for the price of one. Looks like Airleaf is quite the enterprise.

And let's hope nobody gets sick, on top of paying too much for perhaps very little. (There have been some health issues on some cruises lately, as I recall.)

A. C. Crispin said...

Airleaf has been sending me snail mail telling me that I, too, can become a REAL LIVE AUTHOR if I will just sign on with them for more than two years now.

I have never dissuaded them from their delusion that they may get money from me. It's more fun to watch them spending their first class postage money.

-Ann C. Crispin

Anonymous said...

Oh my heavens - a rusty ship on choppy waters full of barfing world-class speakers...
LOL.
Weren't there Romantic Times Cruises too? A sort of 'meet the author' cruise for readers? Can't recall.
Books and boats don't go together in my mind - I get seasick just thinking about waves...
Jennifer

roach said...

"It's more fun to watch them spending their first class postage money."

Wait...you mean they're paying first class rates for sending out direct mail campaigns? *giggles*

Anonymous said...

Quoth roach:Wait...you mean they're paying first class rates for sending out direct mail campaigns?

But roach, what else are they going to do with all the stamps they steamed off SASEs?

Aconite

Zonk said...

Hey!

Come on down, the water's fine!

Can't speak for the cruise, unhappily....

:D:D:D

Mad Scientist Matt said...

Having been on another of the Fantasy class ships, I think the tipster's characterization of them may be a little bit harsh - not that I have been on many other cruises to compare it to.

But still, $850 would be closer to what I'd expect to pay for a cruise for two - in a cabin with a window, and including some decent shore excursions. $850 for a single ticket with no window?

Isis McGowan said...

And here I thought informercials were the only things which drove people nuts at night?

Anonymous said...

Ohh yes, take the comment off.. Chicken!
Shows how much you cant stand to be wrong~~~~ Wouldnt your people who comment love to hear that!