Friday, July 24, 2009

Victoria Strauss -- Wake Up.. and Pay (Redux)

Nearly two years ago, I did a writeup on a vanity anthology scheme called Wake Up...Live the Life You Love.

Just for agreeing to buy 200 books for $2,697, or 500 books for $5,497, authors could have their 1,000-1,200 word story or article included in the latest Wake Up book (a series of inspirational compilations along the lines of Chicken Soup for the Soul), along with "some mega-best selling authors, speakers, trainers, mentors and world class business leaders." The result: "Instant Credibility (tm) with your clients and customers...because, with a book, you will be considered a 'celebrity' in your industry as a best selling co-author." And if that weren't enough, a lucrative affiliate program allowed "co-authors" to earn up to $1,000 per head for referring others to the program.

Now the Wake Up folks have branched out: into "private author publications" (a.k.a. vanity publishing) and contests.

Wake Up Publishing is a Full-service Publishing House. We offer all the services of larger publishing houses with two key exceptions: Wake Up develops books under a model of author-based control and author-based speed of production...Gone are the days of the “12 month plus” production calendar. Speed in no way diminishes the quality of the end product; it merely allows you to move ahead with your intended purpose for the book.

Uh huh.

Wake Up Publishing offers a smorgasbord of services that may be purchased in bulk or a la carte (including the obligatory junk mail-style marketing), plus additional "courses" on sales and marketing and training and development--no doubt at fat additional prices. Speaking of prices, money is not mentioned anywhere on the website--but per a report I've received, authors can wind up paying as much as $10,000 for just a few hundred books.

The Wake Up Celebrity Author book contest seeks to give recognition to authors who successfully promote their books. You see, having a great book is very important, but equally important - especially these days - is knowing how to go out and market your book.

All you have to do is register, pay a truly outlandish entry fee of $50, upload your book cover and a 300-word description, and then get people to vote for you. (Official contest rules are here.)

The book with the most votes by September 25, 2009, wins a BarnesandNoble.com best-seller placement package from Wake Up, valued at $12,000. Per the contest FAQ, this is "a focused and comprehensive direct mail campaign targeting people interested in the specific genre your book is in...invit[ing] these people to come and buy your book on a specific date to push your book to a higher rank than other books in your genre--" i.e., a version of the familiar Amazon Bestseller Campaign, workshops on which are offered by many online consultants and promotional services for hefty fees, but way less than $12,000.

Second prize is a book distribution package from contest sponsor Authors on the Net (an "author's community" that also sells book marketing services), which will take the author's book to "40 book fairs in the Salt Lake City, Utah market." Again per the FAQ, "These book fairs occur in large corporate offices, board rooms, factories, hospitals, colleges and other venues." Not prime bookselling territory, I'm thinking--and what if the book isn't Mormon-friendly? Purportedly, this package is worth $2,000.

Third prize is "lifetime membership to Authors On The Net's social media coaching program and the Self-Publishing in a Box kit," a $400 value.

Interestingly, the contest entry fee is due not to the Wake Up people, but to Authors on the Net. And Authors on the Net's owner, Phil Davis, has entered his own book, How To Become a Total Failure, in the contest--though the FAQ explains that this is just "beta testing," and "this book is not eligible to win any of the prizes." All in all, I'm guessing that the real prize in this contest--apart from the fees--is the business that Authors on the Net may be hoping to get from entrants.

There are only about 30 entries so far. Many are, as you might expect, self- or micropress-published, but the contest also seems to have been seeded with some commercially-published books, including one by Jennifer Crusie (I wonder if she knows?)--for whom, if she were to win, the B&N bestseller package would surely be a bit redundant.

17 comments:

Christy Pinheiro said...

Great post. Vanity publishers are the vampires of the publishing industry. But even with all the bad press, they never seem to go away! How is this possible? With all the self-publishing options available to authors, how do so many authors still get sucked in by vanity presses?

Rebecca said...

I think this happens because people don't do thier homework abotu self-publishing or publishing in general

Jane Smith said...

I second what Rebecca wrote. And I wonder: did you write a blog post quite a while ago about another "interesting" publisher charging to present books at a trade fair? I'm sure you did; but I lack the skills to find it. If so, it seems that these people learn from each other.

Dharma Kelleher said...

I was approached by Rich German (a "life coach" who's into the Law of Attraction thing) a few years ago about that book deal.

I told him, "You want me to pay YOU to include MY essay in the book? Are you daft?".

It's sad to see so many swindlers using the ruse of spirituality and combining it with the promise of fame and riches to take advantage of gullible, desperate people.

Liana Brooks said...

Be nice, not everyone in the Salt Lake valley is Mormon. And there's nothing wrong with them if they are (just my opinion of course).

As for the rest... I hope desperate authors find you before they find Wake Up!

lmmay said...

Another great post. I wish Writer Beware was required reading before anyone submitted to a publisher.

Also, I've emailed Jennifer Crusie to let her know about this. Doesn't sound at all like something she'd do.

Jenny said...

No, I didn't know, so thanks for the tip-off. I appreciate it.
Jenny

ALC said...

A non-Utah Mormon chiming in here:

Vultures seem to flourish there because most members of the church are far too trusting. Sadly, I think quite a few of the vultures ARE members of the church who know of this gulibility. I suppose THEY would be better labeled as wolves in sheeps clothing.

It's sad that so many writers don't take the time to learn about publishing before getting snookered in by these vanity presses. I believe that WB is making great strides towards changing this, but it will never be eradicated completely.

Eirin said...

Appaling.
One can only hope that, as money-grubbing scams go, this one is too blatant to deceive (most) people.

Eirin said...

Jane Smith, possibly you are thinking of this post from May:

SterlingHouse Publisher's Cover Gambit

CatAdams said...

I didn't know either, although I admit I should have done more research before signing up. Thanks for checking it out, as always. I won't remove my book, but I won't hype it either.

Anonymous said...

Why pay to have your book pushed up the bestseller lists when you can simply ask someone to interview you on a high-profile podcast and have the listeners do the same for free? Mur Lafferty, Scott Sigler and Seth Harwood did fine without paying someone such outlandish fees.

No thanks, I'll keep my money in my pocket.

JS said...

Be nice, not everyone in the Salt Lake valley is Mormon. And there's nothing wrong with them if they are (just my opinion of course).

I don't think that Victoria meant any insult to members of the LDS church.

However, "40 book fairs in the Salt Lake area" would not be the most ideal venue at which to present, say, a bartender's guide.

graysey said...

I agree with Rebecca. Which is why it is important to know how publishing really works. That way, people will know how to play the field.

M.R.J. Le Blanc said...

You know what the sad part is about that contest? Is people believe it's sponsored by Barnes and Noble. Deliberately being misleading? I think so.

Writer be Where? said...

One of the authors (Kurt Behm) is offering a $1,000 wristwatch to a "randomly" selected person who votes for his book.

The announcement was posted on a watch collector's chat forum called TimeZone. Apparently, some TimeZone members posted public comments complaining that the giveaway was cheating, but those comments were promptly deleted by the moderators, leaving only the original prize giveaway announcement (which is now "locked" so no one can comment on it).

I wonder how the other authors would feel about the $1,000 watch giveaway, not to mention Barnes & Noble if they were to learn how titles get "placed" on their bestseller list.

Ironically enough, TimeZone user guideline #4 says "Do not buy, sell, advertise, or promote except as allowed in Sales Corner and TZ Showcase" (!)

Anyway, here's a url for the announcement: http://forums.timezone.com/index.php?t=tree&goto=4655438&rid=42349

In case that link goes down, here's the text of the posting by Michael Sandler, moderator of the TimeZone forum.

Hi All:

Many of you know Kurt as a long-time participant on TZ, and perhaps some of you have already seen his banner on this site. Kurt has recently published a book entitled ""The Death of the Playground", and he is in the running in a Barnes & Noble Contest for emerging authors from all over the world. These authors are competing right now to become the next Barnes and Noble.com Best-Seller.

So....for all people who vote: Kurt will randomly select one voter and will send him/her either of the two watches pictured below (the winner's choice). MSRP on the watches is approximately $1000 each. They are both in LNIB condition have have almost two years of warranty time remaining.

Here's Kurt's banner....please click on the banner and vote:

Once you have voted, please email Kurt and let him know you've voted, and which comment was yours. Kurt's personal email is kpb48@aol.com

As mentioned, Kurt will select a random winner, and that winner can choose either of the two watches pictured below. So let's help Kurt tally the highest

Thanks!
Michael

[ Exposure though Barnes & Noble seems to be the ultimate goal, so here is the e-mail address for Mary Ellen Keating, B&N's SVP of Corporate Communications and Public Affairs, in case anybody wants to bring any of these promotional tactics to her attention: mkeating@bn.com ]

Phil Davis said...

Victoria, Phil Davis here, sponsor of the Wake Up Celebrity Author contest. Would you be interested in interviewing me about the contest and putting the interview on your blog? I understand the points you are making, but if you were to speak with the authors who got in and played they would tell you the benefits they received. It is a new kind of contest and so I understand people's fear of the unknown and you are doing a good job educating your tribe, but there is more to this contest and I'd like to share it with you if you are interested in speaking with me. You can find my contact info. on my website. Thank you.