Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Victoria Strauss -- Airleaf Deja Vu: Jones Harvest Publishing

In my last post about Airleaf (a now-defunct vanity publisher and "marketing" service currently being sued by the Indiana Attorney General for nonperformance, among other things), I noted that Airleaf has spawned several additional publishing enterprises, including Jones Harvest Publishing, an Airleaf lookalike started last year by Airleaf founder and former staffer Brien Jones.

In her latest Airleaf Victims Update (current victim tally: 450), tireless anti-Airleaf crusader Bonnie Kaye highlights the complaints she has been receiving about Jones Harvest:

In the past six months, I personally have received nine different horror stories about Jones Harvest Publishing primarily from senior citizens who invested thousands of dollars into an Airleaf-type dream and in all but one case, after they invested and lost thousands of dollars at Airleaf...The authors who have become Jones Harvest victims all have the same story about broken promises including time delays, failure to see galleys, numerous errors in the proofs, virtually no sales, lack of coordination of promises, and disrespect by some of the staff.

A few of these authors have also contacted Writer Beware to tell their stories. Bonnie reports that some have had their money fully refunded after sending a complaint letter to Jones Harvest...but says that more recently, she's hearing from writers whose refund requests haven't been granted.

Like Airleaf, Jones Harvest appears to be a prolific spammer, offering writers "promotional" packages on one or another of its proprietary genre-themed websites (names include Author Celebrity Associates, AuthorSoldier, Perfect Heart Publishing, Great Concept Books, Bookwheat, Bargain Book Basement, The Chosen Few, and Authorgifts). Here, in part, is a sample pitch:

THE CHOSEN FEW is a limited collection of Christian titles that we believe deserve special attention. We discovered you and [book title redacted] only because we are seeking books with powerful messages that we believe will sell. We want you to be part of a powerful national book selling and promotional campaign. In our unique program, The Chosen Few, we guarantee:

- We will sell your book as one of an elite group of titles.
- We will feature a color image of your cover on the home page of www.chosenfewbooks.com.
- We will feature a picture of you, the author, on www.myauthorprofile.com.
- When a reader clicks on your cover or picture they will see your book(s) and information.
- We will sell your book on 10 more websites including amazon.com and Ebay.
- We will call every book store, newspaper, magazine and radio station in your hometown.
- We will guarantee an interview on a Christian AM/FM radio show.
- We will guarantee an interview on a nationally syndicated AM/FM radio show.
- We will include your book in a national mailing to bookstores! (Not e-mail, US mail.)
- We will place your book in 10 real book stores. (Brick and mortar stores, not websites!)
- In addition, to maximize the number of bookstore owners, literary agents and readers that will see your work, we will take your book to...book shows...

We don't stop there either; our plan is to spread the word and [book title redacted] far and wide. We will continue promoting your book, until [author name redacted] is known by all...


The cost for all this? Just $2,700.

Here's a blog post from author William Severini Kowinski, who received this very pitch--though the subject of his book suggests that Chosen Few's research skills may be a little, well...lacking.

18 comments:

Kristin Laughtin said...

Rule #1:

You don't pay to have your book published. People pay you to publish your book.

Still, I feel for the victims.

neutronjockey said...

You would think with the money these scam-artists are raking in they could at least hire a professional illustrator and a better-than-late-80s-html web designer.

Captain Future said...

Hi, guys...I found out about your site from the link to my shopopolis (You might be interested in my Soul of Star Trek, too!)

This is a terrific and very useful site--thanks to all of you watchdogs.

Especially since I have to disagree with Kristin Laughtin's comment: there are good reasons to self-publish, and print-on-demand is a useful way to reach readers globally, and can lead to the ancilliary income writers often depend on (permissions, speeches, etc.) And there are plenty of sharks in the establishment lit biz, too.

Anyway, I'll be checking back!

Jane said...

Great article. I'm sympathetic to new writers getting scammed - up to a point. Why don't people just do a bit of internet research? All you have to do is enter the name of the company and the word 'warning' or 'scam' after it? A case in point is the dreadful Publishamerica, a company which STILL seems to be hooking people in, despite the reams of negative press about them. Are people really that blind, naive and desperate? Answer - yes. *sigh*

Cheryl Pickett said...

To sort of combine a couple of the thoughts posted so far, it really does come down to research and education.

If you wanted to open a Subway franchise, you'd likely investigate thoroughly. I think a big problem with writing and books is that it gets very emotional for people.

They get into the whole art of writing thing, or they're so passionate about wanting to tell their story, that the normally clear thinking side of their brain gets pushed aside until the book is published. Then it often gets brought back to reality with a slap.

Great thing is that writers generally look out for one another,trick is to find people before they get to far into the process.

Keep up the great work Victoria.

Cheryl Pickett
Publishinganswers.com

Mimzy said...

Recently I received an e-mail from Amazon stating that I would no longer be receiving any e-mails about Borders/Waldenbook promotions through them. As Borders is my favorite bookstore to frequent (and I've heard it isn't doing very well at the moment) I was wondering if you knew why Amazon was cutting Borders off.

Thank you!

BuffySquirrel said...

Borders are developing their own website rather than selling through Amazon, is what I heard.

I suppose refusing to be conned a second time would involve admitting you were conned the first time....

Victoria Strauss said...

Bonnie Kaye, the writer who was instrumental in mobilizing victims of fraudulent vanity publisher Airleaf, has established a similar website for victims of Jones Harvest: http://www.jonesharvestfraudvictims.com/.

Anonymous said...

I've been to the Jones Harvest web site. In looking at their staff, the majority have no education beyond high school. I also see little in their professional backgrounds to lead me to believe that they any experience in marketing. How can they make good on all those promises? I do feel sorry for everyone who was taken advantage of by them. Keep up the good work and get the word out about scammers like them.

Anonymous said...

What do you idiots know about anything? Get a life. If you have to pay to publish your book it probably sucks anyway. Self-publishing is for losers that can't get their books into the traditional market because, well, the books are just bad. That is why they have to pay to have them published. They will likely have to pay someone to read it too. As far as the education of the employees at JHP, what is it to you? What is your education? Do you need a P.hD to format, publish and market books? You people really need to get a new hobby.

Anonymous said...

In defense of Brien Jones, I would like to say that the accusations and fingers that are being pointed his way are unfounded, vociferous, and maliciously designed to defame his character so that the accuser may benefit from the end result. This whole "smear campaign" is beginning to look like a pattern from this rabble-rouser and self-appointed whistler-blower by the name of Bonnie Kay. It appears to me that she has a self-centered interest in seeing Brien Jones go under because she offers services that are directly related to book publishing and such she stands to profit and prosper in the void and wake of destruction that she is causing for legitimate companies, such as Jones Harvest Publishing, by lying and gossiping and stealing clients and customers away from JHP so that she can channel the alleged lucre toward her bank account. I don't believe for a minute that her concerns are geared primarily toward the well being and better interest of the "self-publishing" lot of authors that have been allegedly abused by the vanity press industry.

Victoria Strauss said...

Anonymouses, your diatribes would have more force if you were courageous enough to use your own names.

Victoria Strauss said...

Dear, oh dear. Poor Brien Jones.

Brien, I'm trying to guess--am I one of the "four blogging women?" But that can't be, because I don't have my own publishing company. So you must have left me out.

Pout.

Anonymous said...

Bonnie Kaye is the only one benefiting with her lies and attacks. Victoria Strauss is one of her shills. They accuse Jones harvest of having shills and then have the nerve to spill their filth because their books are garbage. Bonnie Kaye is a fraud. I have been to Bonnie Kayes site and not one of her authors is worth picking up and reading. To have to pay to be on the site and then buy five books to help the other losers is pathetic. Actually if one were to write a screenplay about this I am sure they would make a fortune.

Victoria Strauss said...

Anonymous (or should I say Brien?), your condemnation of me and Bonnie might carry more credibility if you had the courage to sign your name.

Margarette Knutsen said...

Jones Harvest Publishing has done an absolutely outstanding job with publishing my book! Brien Jones and the rest of the staff at Jones Harvest have been great to work with, and I have nothing but good things to say about them. They did everything they promised and more. Brien and his staff always had time to answer my questions. I really appreciated the effort they put into making my book everything I hoped for and so much more. Jones Harvest did a wonderful job for me, and I am sure there are many other authors who feel the same about their experience with Jones Harvest.

The negative comments being made about Brien Jones and Jones Harvest Publishing seem to be originating from a source that is extremely biased and interested only in a smear campaign. I have doubts about the credibility of the accusations being made against Brien Jones and Jones Harvest Publishing. If these people making all the accusations truly cared about other people, they would channel their energies in a more positive direction. Their zeal would be better directed towards helping a reputable charity rather than engaging in such mean and cruel tactics directed towards Jones Harvest Publishing and the people who work there.

My experience with Brien Jones was positive, and I would, without hesitation, recommend Jones Harvest Publishing to anyone who desires to be published.

Margarette Knutsen

Annie Monsen said...

Annie Monsen, here, author of DEAR LELAND...A Special Request. First of all, GEE WHIZ PEOPLE, what the heck is wrong with you? My book was originally published by Airleaf, and due directly to my own persistence, my book sold. I believe in it, that's why I've sold over 500 copies to date. I have had my book published with Jones Harvest and might add that I am quite pleased with the results and with their work ethics. HAS THE WORD ETHIC ESCAPED YOUR MIND?

Anonymous said...

My mom published with Jones harvest They tried. I don't think her book was as good as it might have been but that was her doing, not Jones. she was self-centered and wished to publish, but was too old and not savy enough to figure out how. Jones wants me to publish with them too, this time for free. I already have a book publication, so mine will be for them a bit of a cooe. As I have tried to find a publisher that fits my needs, interests and concerns and have yet to succeed, I figure, this may well be the easy way to do so and not go through the ego hastle of publishers who make a person feel small, rather than big about their work. And then I don't have to publish it myself as a friend had. What will Barnes and Noble do- well in my first book, they now sell it on line. This time, I intend to make a profit. Whereas before, the contract deal left me 1100 and now 16 years later, the book is still going strong and I get `nothing' but the bit of recognition on the inside cover.
Marx would have been proud and I am no socialist, but a social scientist concerned with making a real contribution to science.
Dr. Robyn A. Goldstein, Author
Essentials of Sociology