I've blogged several times about vanity publisher/author "marketing" service/uber-spammer Airleaf Publishing and Book Selling (formerly Bookman Marketing): in July 2006, about its silly and factually inaccurate response to criticism by watchdog groups such as Writer Beware and Preditors & Editors; in January 2007 about its overpriced author cruise; and in August 2007 about its American Author Contest, an amateurish attempt to cash in on the current fad for American Idol-style writing contests. This post also takes a look at Airleaf's filmmaking "partner," Lite Stone Entertainment, all of whose supposed movie projects trace back to Airleaf's book-to-film program.
Over the years, Writer Beware has received complaints and advisories about Airleaf from writers annoyed by its relentless spamming, dissatisfied with its "marketing" services (I put "marketing" in quotes, because most of the services Airleaf offers are ineffective or downright useless--see my July 2006 post for a more detailed discussion), and unhappy with its publishing services. So we weren't entirely surprised to learn that a large group of angry Airleaf authors has gone public.
Airleaf Victims Fightback is a website organized by writer and relationship counselor Bonnie Kaye, who paid Airleaf $1,850 to publish her book. She tells her own story on the site, along with the stories of many other Airleaf authors who feel they've been ill-used by the company. Problems include the usual menu of questionable-publisher issues: non-payment of royalties, non-provision of paid-for services, substandard services, long publication delays, non-production of books, and nonresponsiveness to authors' questions and concerns.
Currently, there are more than 90 authors in Ms. Kaye's network.
Other Airleaf victims have taken independent action. This past May, the Indiana Attorney General's Office issued an Assurance of Voluntary Compliance requiring Airleaf to return nearly $7,000 to two authors, pay $1,000 in costs to the AG's office, and refrain from promising services, benefits, and timeframes it knows it can't provide or doesn't actually intend to sell.
The above is just the tip of the iceberg. There is much, much more to this story, which I hope I'll be able to tell in the coming weeks and months.
Also worth noting: former Airleaf CEO Brien Jones (who started his pay-to-publish career with AuthorHouse) left Airleaf earlier this year to form Jones Harvest Publishing, a virtual clone of Airleaf.
Bonnie Kaye's efforts have also been covered by Lee Goldberg at A Writer's Life and Angela Hoy at Writers Weekly.
Edited to add: Bonnie Kay also maintains an Airleaf Victims Blog, where regular updates are posted.