Thursday, January 29, 2009

Victoria Strauss -- Jones Harvest Publishing Goes Hollywood!

Jones Harvest Publishing, a vanity publisher/"marketing" service founded by Brien Jones, former VP of disgraced vanity publisher/"marketing" service Airleaf, wants to get you into the movie biz!

Jones Harvest authors recently received this pitch:

We'll take Your Book to Hollywood!

We have already made three trips to Hollywood and we are going back again in June! Before we make the trip, we want to know which books to propose. In the past 18 months there has been a dramatic upsurge in the number of feature films based on books. Today most of the films in theatres were originally a novel or have been based on a novel. Documentaries have always been based on non-fiction books. Now we have an affordable, 3-step plan to break through with your book and we need to start NOW.

1.. We will write a treatment about your book and contact 500 executives in the entertainment industry.

2.. We will provide you with feedback from these producers and directors in advance of our trip.

3.. We will pay your admission or pitch your book at The Great American Pitchfest, June 27 & 28, 2009 at the Los Angeles Convention Center!

We need to start today to find the leads and have your book reviewed. That gives you time to transform your book into a screenplay and be ready for our trip to Hollywood in June. We will do all three steps for just $550.


Now, Brien Jones has been emphatic in attempting to distance himself from Airleaf, and in denying his involvement in the dastardly doings that finally brought that company down. In private correspondence with me, he objected to my characterization of Jones Harvest as an Airleaf clone, and claimed to be "just an employee [of Airleaf]--specifically an employee that was not even allowed to look at the mail."

Well, I think he at least looked at the outgoing mail, because his Hollywood offer bears an eerie similarity to the Hollywood pitches Airleaf used to spam. Here's a sample, from my files:

For two years we have been working hard to get our author's books made into movies. We have made many trips to Hollywood, so many in fact that we opened an LA office with our partner Cinemagic!

What started it all was our Filmmakers service. We are offering that service today, but now we have 1000 brand new producer/ director contacts!

What we do first is design a special promotion for Producers and Directors (called a treatment) about your book. While we write the treatment, you can make any changes you want (no charge.)

Once you approve it, we send it to 2000 Filmmakers.

We follow up responses whatever way is necessary including visiting in person. I personally have been to Hollywood six times in the last 9 months.

As always, you will reserve all the rights to your book.

The regular price for this unique service is $350

TODAY AND TOMORROW, THE PRICE IS JUST $199


So okay, Airleaf was cheaper. And promised to send the treatment to more filmmakers. And Jones Harvest throws in The Great American Pitchfest (note the strategically placed "or" in item #3). But otherwise, the similarity is pretty striking.

We know how the Airleaf pitches turned out--many authors paid, and Airleaf did nothing. Even if Jones Harvest is really contacting those 500 executives (and I've seen nothing to date to make me think it isn't), the odds of getting any kind of interest as a result are probably about the same as for an email spam campaign via ScriptBlaster or Media E-blast--i.e., exceedingly slim. Basically, it's another chance for writers to shell out cash with little hope of return, and for Jones Harvest to make a profit.

31 comments:

Jane Smith said...

Good grief. Yet another way for authors to spend their money on a service that will get them precisely nowhere. If only more people would do proper research before signing their cheques: it's a terrible shame.

Anonymous said...

So the ubiquitous Mr. Jones is at it again. Thanks for the warning. If I receive his e-mail or anything like it, I'll bin it at once.

Anonymous said...

You mentioned Scriptblaster. Is this in any way related to BookBlaster? I got an e-mail from them once offering to send my work to dozens of agents with a "good chance" of a book deal "soon" but I don't know how they found out I'd been writing, let alone got my e-mail address. A puzzle till this day... How do they get your e-mail address and seem to know so much about you?

BuffySquirrel said...

Data miners. Say no to cookies!

Victoria Strauss said...

Anonymous, ScriptBlaster and BookBlaster are two halves of the same service. I eviscerated BookBlaster here.

Do you subscribe to any writers' magazines? Have you registered a copyright? These are common avenues of solicitation.

Lee Goldberg said...

Brien is bringing back an oldie but goodie to squeeze more dollars out of his elderly clients...he was selling this same package at Bookman back in 2005:

http://leegoldberg.typepad.com/
a_writers_life/2005/08/
more_ways_for_t.html

It's not like Jones is opening any doors with his reputation as a vanity press huckster... all he's doing is attending The Great American Pitchfest, which is open to the public. Any wanna-be can attend and pitch their ideas without having to pay Jones a penny for his laughable Hollywood savvy.

I'm sure my gardener has more Hollywood connections than Brien Jones does. He mows the lawn of at least one Oscar winning actress, two Emmy-winning producers, and two studio heads that I know of...

Lee

C.E. Petit said...

Gee, I wonder if Jones Harvest (or Airleaf) complies with California Labor Code § 1700, the Talent Agency Act... and registers as a talent agent (including paying the annual fee) and limits its compensation to 10%, as required by the statute... on those Hollywood trips?

Airleaf Victims Fightback said...

Thank you, Victoria, for exposing the kind of fraudulence that continues to be perpetrated by Jones Harvest and Brien Jones. As the organizer of the Jones Harvest Fraud Victims group, at www.JonesHarvestFraudVictims.com, I now have received 62 complaints from authors who have paid for bogus services.
In this past week alone I received two letters from children of authors whose parents passed away still waiting for their books to be printed after paying thousands of dollars.
Jones Harvest targets elderly people, Christians through their two sites of Perfect Heart and Chosen Few, people with limited English speaking or understanding, and new writers who haven't had the opportunity to learn the ropes of POD companies.
I am working hard to get the government agencies in Indiana to take action against this fraudulence which the Jones family--wife, cousin, mother, mother-in-law, sister-in-law, nephew--keep plugging away at.
Just as we were able to get Airleaf to fall, so will Jones Harvest, but unfortunately, not quickly enough to stop more innocent authors from getting scammed.
If you are a Jones Harvest victim, please contact me at Bonkaye@aol.com and I will work with you to try to get your money back through the government channels responsible for this. Brien Jones has as much chance as getting an author's book turned into a movie as I have of starring in that future film--NONE. This is just another desperate move to support the Jones charity where authors donate money to keep his business of scamming people alive. It's no wonder he had to remove his "guarantee to return money to unhappy authors" that graced his website for six months. Once people started asking, that guarantee magically disappeared--just like the authors' monies.
If you are a victim, don't feel ashamed or embarrassed. Jones is one of the great con men of our decade. Please contact me so we can work to stop the fraudulence once and for all.
Bonnie Kaye

Marian said...

Brien Jones is not a happy camper when people (or should that be women?) blog about Jones Harvest.

"Aso I didn't ask or invite HER to plaster MY NAME all over the internet... and the next thing I know this woman is SLAMMING me on the internet."

That was about my writeup, so I can only imagine how he feels about Writer Beware mentioning his practices again.

Janny said...

For some reason, every time I see the name Jones Harvest, my brain thinks about Jonestown...not a big stretch, apparently. This toxic Kool-Aid won't kill you, but it may kill your budget, and it'll definitely kill a dream or two.

So sad.

JB

Anonymous said...

I attended one of these pitches with Brien Jones, last year. The hotel he booked us in San Diego was in such a bad neighborhood the cab drivers refused to go there after dark.One of the other attendees actually told me later she photographed all of her belongings every time she left the hotel out of fear for her belongings being stolen while away.
Walking 2-3 blocks from a trolley station, tripping over transients and drug paraphernalia, in the low rent district of an unknown city was at the very least an adventure I could have lived without!(As I'm sure you can imagine).
I actually preferred being packed like sardines into the seven passenger van he provided as transportation for the 10 attendees he sponsored. Until the VP, Diane Bratton, got drunk and became vulgar; proceeding to tell everyone about her non-existent sex life. Brandy Jones, on the other hand, did coin quite a catchy phrase that trip.."Diane, Shut your margarita lovin mouth". I still laugh at that one.
All in all, NOT a very professional experience..more like a scene out of the Beverly Hillbillys.

It was a total waste of time and money. Of all the "producers" I met there, only one was dressed like a professional and had any knowledge of the industry. The rest were flunkies trying to gain clout and get a free lunch. Not one of the 100+ books Brien "represented" benefited. I say "represented" because Brien did not attend the event at all. He went to the ZOO instead.

p.n. elrod said...

So many books and victims.

So few movies.

Anonymous said...

It has been brought to our attention that this site is lambasting Bookblaster. Bookblaster and Scriptblaster are not scams. They provide the service that is promised: queries sent to over 350 agents. The price is informed beforehand. If you consider the price too high or do not agree with e-mail querying, you are under no obligation to acquire the service. Nobody is forced to do anything and the service provided is exactly that which is promised, therefore it is not a 'scam' or fraudulent scheme. As for not naming agents, it was said in this very forum a few days ago by an author that she would never inform the name of her agent online. Authors who acquired an agent through Bookblaster also have this right. Bookblaster cannot inform the names of agents online for the same reason that the Coca Cola Company does not post its formulas.

Bookblaster does not guarantee book contracts or assure you that you WILL get an agent. The service merely cuts out the red tape. Snail mailing a manuscript or query to agents can run into hundreds of dollars, which is seen as acceptable here on this site, but by paying for a service that cuts out the red tape, people are being 'scammed'. This is a horrendous double standard applied by people whose thinking is stuck in the twentieth century. The conclusion is smugly reached here that all e-mail contacts are viewed as 'spam' and that any agent who has an e-mail address must be a crook. How can people be so crass as to make such a statement without ever having used the service? There are success stories. One quote shows that a scriptwriter received 32 (yes, a staggering 32) contacts from agents and producers after using Scriptblaster. This is proof that the service CAN work. No guarantees are made that it WILL work, however. It is a sad truth that many aspiring writers are simply not up to scratch. If your writing is not good enough, it will not matter how you send out queries and scripts. By snail mail or e-mail, you're not going to make it. But no one blames the United States Postal Service when their manuscript is turned down, so why blame Bookblaster, which is using the 21st century equivalent of snail mail?

Don't blame the messenger because of the message. And remember, the service promises only to make contact by e-mail. Nothing more, nothing less. That service IS PROVIDED and at the cost that is advertised beforehand. Therefore, it is not a scam. If you think the agents/publishers that Bookblaster works with are sub-standard, you are entitled to your opinion. However, calling something a scam before you even know what it is is just plain wrong.

Don't kill the messenger because of the message.

Deirdre Mundy said...

Dear Mr. Bookblaster shill--

Yes, many agents take e-queries now. Many agents also delete spam.

What I don't understand about the Jones scam is that they assume that the AUTHOR of the book is also the one to turn it into a screenplay....

Except in rare cases where the author is ALSO a professional screenwriter(Princess Bride for example) doesn't the studio usually hire a screenwriter for the script?

And doesn't it usually help to have a bestselling (or at least good-selling) published book BEFORE you try to get a studio to pick it up for a movie?

(insert a bunch of headshaking)

C.E. Petit said...

Methinks the scammer's sockpuppet (Anonymous, 31 Jan 09 0919) doth protest too much. There are two, non-exclusive varieties of scams in the contemporary marketplace:

(1) The most-frequent variety of scam is the offer, for money, of a service or product, followed by failure to deliver the promised service or product. Presumably, the Bookblaster service (et al.) does actually deliver something resembling what it promises, so it doesn't fall within this category of scam.

(2) More insidious, more profitable, and less common, a scam could also be the offer, for money, of a service or product that does not have the value ascribed to it — frequently, it has no value at all. One classic example — so classic that it has become a cliché — is the "snake-oil salesman." In that instance, one does indeed fork over money and receive snake oil in return; the problem is that snake oil is worthless, and in particular does not cure the maladies it is advertised as curing.

Ms Strauss correctly analyzes Bookblaster, and for that matter virtually all other "electronic PR/exposure via spam" operations, as being one of the second type of scam. Mr/Ms Anonymous claims that Bookblaster et al. does not fall within the first type (and we have only his/her word for it), and therefore is not a scam at all. That's the sort of logic that falls apart in third grade; apparently, y'all believe that writers didn't get past second grade. (Sometimes I think that's true, given the number of writers who've fallen prey to that sort of reasoning; but that's for another time.)

Anonymous said...

The statement that the service provided by Bookblaster does not have the value assigned to it is subjective and arbitrary. As i said, if you don't like what's on offer, don't buy it. Snake oil? We all value things that other people don't. Some people pay fifty million for a Van Gogh. I guarantee that if I had that sort of money, I wouldn't spend it on a painting! But if other people do, that's up to them.

Bookblaster forwards queries to agents. That's all. That is the only promise it makes. Is some of the language hyperbole? Perhaps. It's called advertising.

Does advertising provide everything that's implied? No, of course not. A beautiful woman sitting on a car about to be purchased by a fat fifty-year-old man. Now, only a real bozo would buy the car thinking that it can actually attract women! But that's advertising.

I just don't see all the problems that you guys do with Bookblaster. All it does is forward queries to agents by e-mail. If authors dream that they're gong to make millions, well, it is possible but NOT promised by Boobblaster.

Bookblaster is modern 21 century service, not the snail mail thinking of the 1890s. The future is a nice place to be.

Victoria Strauss said...

As noted in a previous post, I try to keep these comment strings on-topic. So I'd appreciate it if further discussion of BookBlaster/ScriptBlaster could move over to my post about BookBlaster.

For the record: nowhere did I say that BookBlaster is a scam. I said it was a pointless service unlikely to produce results, and that writers should save their money--but that's not the same as identifying something as a scam.

Anyone is welcome to debunk me here. But please, read what I've actually said before you do, and try to get your facts and terminology straight.

Anonymous said...

Ms. Strauss, it is your follower CEPetit that is calling it a scam. I am arguing the opposite.

Anonymous said...

C. E. petit claims that ms. Strauss 'correctly identified bookblaster as a scam'. So, that is what was indeed said.

Victoria Strauss said...

I will be glad to debate the merits or otherwise of BookBlaster IN THE APPROPRIATE POST. I've provided a link above. All comments come to me via email, as well as appearing on the blog, so if you comment on any of my posts, no matter how far back, I'll see the comment.

Further BookBlaster comments in this post will be deleted.

Victoria Strauss said...

And by the way, I am perfectly capable of speaking for myself. When attributing words to me, be sure they are my words.

Mad Scientist Matt said...

Anonymous Pitch Attendee, thank you for sharing that. I guess Brien has a loose definition of executives.

And I just felt like I had to comment to lend some moral support. There's been so many trolls, shills, and the like here recently.

Deirdre Mundy said...

Well, I guess the prevalence of trolls and shills means this blog is now recognized as important enough to hate!!!

So Good Job, Writers Beware!!!! =)

behlerblog said...

Why oh why don't these swamp donkeys get a real job instead of fleecing authors out of their hard-earned dollars and dreams? Disgusting. I can only hope that my neighbors to the north show Mr. Jones the same good time that Ms. Divine Brown showed Hugh Grant...

Kami said...

Just FYI to folks only recently tuning in:

" ... Snail mailing a manuscript or query to agents can run into hundreds of dollars, which is seen as acceptable here on this site, but by paying for a service that cuts out the red tape, people are being 'scammed'. ..."

I sent out a *personalized* email query out today. (I doubt these services personalize each email or snail mail query they send out.) I know I sent what the agent wanted because I actually looked at her submission guidelines and looked at her book list to see if we'd be a good fit. I doubt these 'blast' services tailor anything. I shudder to think of what the recipients of a Scriptblaster spam think of the submissions. I wouldn't be surprised if they filtered it out and all those subs end up being automatically deleted at server level once a month. So much for 'value.'

By the way, it cost me zero dollars to do my own query. When I send out a snail mail copy, it costs me a couple of bucks a pop. The only way my queries would add up to hundreds of dollars would be if I spammed everyone on the AAR list. They don't respond to spam. They like to see their names actually on the query, and maybe even a reference to their book list.

I refuse to pay anyone to spam in my name. The amount of damage that does is just ... words fail me. Submitting your own queries ... priceless.

Jill Elaine Hughes said...

First of all, I think somebody should write a screenplay based on the pitchfest Brien sponsored on Skid Row.

Drug paraphernalia? Drunk scammers talking about bad sex lives? Overstuffed crummy van? Now THAT would be a great flick. (Please note I just described the plot of LITTLE MISS SUNSHINE).

And second of all, I'm sure Brien uses all the $$ he collects to make a trip to Hollywood. But somehow I think that he goes as a tourist, not as a "pitch professional."

There's a sucker born every minute. Sigh.

December/Stacia said...

That message sounds an awful lot like Dorothy Deering's "Do you want us to personally take your book to Hollywood/New York on our next trip? Send us $500 and we will!" newsletter messages, doesn't it?

rharter said...

I have researched the most popular and famous of agents and agencies over the years. The most frequent disclaimer found is: "We do not accept unsolicited submissions." What magic, then, is used by scriptblaster to overcome this obstacle? Have they reached some arrangement with these people to accept Scriptblaster submissions? I think not. People! Think about the business. Unsolicited submissions is an impossible burden! Why would these same people then accept unfiltered submissions from Scriptblaster??? I suspect Scriptblaster is sending out the submissions, which are then tossed manually or electronically into the nether regions of cyberspace.

Ioan Dirina said...

After a delay of one year,my book was finally published in June 2009 by Jones Harvest Publishing at my own expense;although our publishing agreement provides that,quote,"AUTHOR may call JONES HARVEST at any time for up to the minute report on sales",
no such report was ever sent to me despite my repeated such inquiries and despite a tremendous promotion campaign which I did since then.

Ioan Dirina,author of

My Dreams Come True

Anonymous said...

DO NOT GIVE JONES HARVEST ANY MONEY. DO NOT FALL FOR ANYTHING THEY SAY. PLEASE DO NOT BELIEVE THEM. Jones Harvest pitched my book at the Hollywood Pitchfest (I paid them before I knew they were not reputable) and now they are telling me that they want $5000 more to have their own screenwriter write a screenplay from my book (in one week) to give to the three companies who THEY SAY requested a screenplay of my book. I feel very uncomfortable about how they have approached me about hiring 'their' writer - of whom very little is known. Are they produced? What did they write? Did they have samples of that writer's work? I do not believe the rush to pay such a large sum of money to an unknown and possibly unproduced writer with no credits is the best decision that could be made in a situation like this.
I have contacted the three companies myself and they are very willing to deal with me directly. DO NOT GIVE BRIEN JONES ANY $$$$$$

Anonymous said...

Yes, I too was a Jones-sucker. He still owes me $9800.00 from 2008 with interest. Lately I received a letter from Jones willing to return the books from another publisher that I have given to him to sell in his book store. Out of one hundred book sent to him he has 32 left willing to send them back to me at the cost of $2.25 postage per book, a total of $72.00 supposedly postage. Why, it cost me only #30.00 to ship 100 books to him. He was supposed to sell them and send me half of the sales. What happened to the money for the 68 books he sold? What a schister! He sent a letter he signed admitting that he has my books. That is all I needed. Now I am going to file suit againt him for all the money he owes me with charges of fraud. Beware of supposed honest guys who claim they can help you. They lie!