Tuesday, November 05, 2013

Going Out of Business, Nigerian Spam-Scam Style

Posted by Victoria Strauss for Writer Beware

Back in August, I blogged about the latest effort by Cheryl Lee Nunn, owner of vanity publisher American Book Publishing Inc., to expand her author-fleecing efforts with a network of new publishers, bogus publishing organizations, and triple-barrelled aliases.

Following my expose, Nunn slapped ludicrous "for sale" notifications on the websites of the fake orgs and two of the new publishers, Alexis Press and Atlantic National Books. The one that brought her scheme to my attention, however--All Classic Books--remained active, possibly because it was the only one that had actually recruited authors.

Now it appears that Nunn, who runs All Classic Books under the name Rebecca Reece Winslow, is throwing in the towel on All Classic as well. But when you've put a lot of effort into a scheme, it's tough to let it go without at least some return on your investment, right? In a move reminiscent of those Nigerian spam-scams where recipients are threatened with FBI investigation if they don't hand over money pronto, Nunn, a.k.a. Winslow, is attempting to soak her authors before the door slams closed with a long, bullshit-stuffed email designed to scare them into paying to get their rights back.

Take a look. All typos and emphases courtesy of the original. (How many falsehoods and logical inconsistencies can you spot?)
From: Rebecca Reece Winslow
Date: Sat, Nov 2, 2013 at 7:22 PM
Subject: URGENT 10 Day Legal Notice
To: [name and email redacted]
Cc: legal@allclassicbooks.com

Dear [name redacted],

Please respond today so we know you are getting this e-mail ASAP and let us know what you plan to do.

Some authors have delayed responding because they think that they may have a better opportunity if All Classic Books is sold or merged with another publisher someday. It is NOT likely, as it has been for sale for a few years without any serious buyers.

Most likely our book contracts will go to a transfer agent that will hold it for a long time before it is merged or resolved. This is why we are offering to help our authors do their full rights buyouts before they get caught in the middle a legal limbo with their titles tied up in red tape for possibly a very long time.

I advise you not to hesitate to do the buyout, your book's sales opportunities are not going to get better if you merely let it stay as is here.

The board of directors of American Book Inc. that owns and operates All Classic Books have voted to sell our assets and book contracts to another publisher and close this month.

The directors have been financing our operations with additional investment since the company has not been earning a profit. After reviewing author responses to our marketing campaigns and their own marketing and promotional plans the directors believe this was not a viable business model in selecting talented, but non professional authors. We had hoped with the right selection, and planned marketing campaigns we could overcome the unknown author issues. But without the level of cooperation from the authors needed in building their author platforms and other tasks, it is not possible for this new publishing company business model to succeed.

We have been losing money as have many other publishers over the last few years and so All Classic Books is also not likely to be an attractive company to purchase.

We want to ease any problems this creates for you and the listings and sales of your book.

Therefore it is critical you respond to this e-mail without delay and and act quickly to move your title to another publisher now before it gets tied up with a transfer agent.


Management has instructed me to offer you a full rights buyout where we can provide you our edited book files and full rights to publish them with other publishers that you may want to submit them too for possible cash advances or to now self publish them.

[Redacted: a bunch of unintentionally true propaganda about how much better the released authors can do by self-publishing with Amazon.]

Therefore we are offering you a finial full book rights buyout opportunity on your title (per book title) for $695.00 until November 12, 2013 that will prevent your title from being tied up in the sales or closing transition or with a transfer agent over a few years.

We will provide you a formal letter stating that all book rights have been returned to you in full on your title and permission to use all our editing work and copy our book cover (if it has been completed, the buyout is "as is" to whatever production stage your book is currently in). Then we will send you the book files and information about setting it up for free with amazon.com's book publishing program (for both in print and e-book editions), or you can use them to submit to other publishers.

I have received my notice or pink slip as have many of our staff this week that our services will no longer be needed as of November 15th, 2013.

Time is of the essence we are quite busy wrapping things up here and the sooner you respond the better because we want to make sure you have everything you need and are set up with your new publisher before the company transfers.


[Redacted: a long, long list of ways in which authors can pay.]

Please let me know you received this e-mail and your plan for your title and how we can assist you no later than November 5, 2013.

WARNING, please keep in mind those who do not do the buyout will have their book contracts and production or distribution work transferred to another company or new owner which means that all your book rights and our editing work will remain with them and they will have legal rights to sue for any use of the your title content without their permission.


[Redacted: a bunch of links to scary articles about how publishers are in trouble and the publishing industry is dying.]

Sincerely,
Becky
All Classic Books authors, take note: This email is bogus. There is no American Book Publishing Inc. "board of directors." There is no "Rebecca Reese Winslow." It's all Cheryl Lee Nunn, and the only financial "investment" that would ever have been made in All Classic Books would have come from its authors, who'd have been pressured to buy hundreds of their own books.

As for the supposed sale--no one is going to buy a money-losing publisher, even if it were a real publisher and not a phantom operation, and even if Nunn were really contemplating finding a buyer. Nor is there any such thing as a "transfer agent" for publishing contracts. If a publisher goes bankrupt, contracts do indeed get tied up in the mess, and may be frozen until the court decides to sell or release them--but that's not what's happening here. All Classic isn't going bankrupt. It's doing a bunk.

DO NOT PAY TO GET YOUR RIGHTS BACK! Don't put money into a scammer's pocket, and don't dignify this disgraceful extortion attempt with a response.

If your book hasn't yet been published or put on sale, you can wait out your contract's 18-month publish-or-revert period. Or, if you don't want to wait 18 months, you can send a termination notice to All Classic's most recent snail mail and email addresses, addressed to whichever staff name is on your contract. State that since the publisher is ceasing operations, you're terminating your contract immediately, and reverting all rights to your work. If you like, you can cite Paragraph 21 of your contract, which provides for automatic termination and return of rights "in the event of the Publisher’s insolvency, bankruptcy, or assignment of assets for the benefit of creditors." The email above clearly states that All Classic is closing down because it's losing money--i.e., insolvent.

EDITED 11/13/13 TO ADD: All Classic Books' website now has a big "For Sale" sign on it. 
As of November  29, 2013 All Classic Books will be available for purchase. Serious company purchase offers may be made to Becky at info@allclassicbooks.com
Don't hold your breath, folks.

EDITED 11/19/13 TO ADD: All Classic authors have received this final demand for cash from "Rebecca":
I'm about to leave my employment at All Classic Books and need to know if you are planning on accepting our book full rights buyout offer since it expires in 2 days on the November 20, 2013.

Most of our authors are doing their book buyouts except for a few that are mislead or confused by some erroneous false information they read about it. Without your full book rights buyout your book will still be listed with some stores, and our book contracts will be assigned and managed by a transfer agent that will be managing the sale or merge of our company with another. Since it is unclear how long that will take, we are strongly recommending authors do the buyout to avoid long delays and red tape as you will not have the administrative and book marketing e-mail support you have had with us.
Again, there's no such thing as a "transfer agent." Nunn just wants to wring whatever money she can out of the scheme before she folds it.

9 comments:

Anonymous said...

And this LinkedIn is bogus too?

http://www.linkedin.com/pub/rebecca-reece-winslow/52/6b6/27b

Victoria Strauss said...

Yup.

Adding linkage.

Petrea Burchard said...

Super sleuthing! Plus I love the illustration.

Dennis Latham said...

Great work. I hope everyone involved sees it before she scams someone.

Susan Uttendorfsky said...

Wow, that's horrible. Unfortunately I'm sure will pay up, not knowing the truth.

J M said...

Bless you for reporting on this.

Anonymous said...

I am not holding my breath to hear about the scam of your attorney for writer beware--ac crispin claimed him as your attorney in a blog several years ago!

Victoria Strauss said...

Ah, the predictable return of the troll. How brave of you to be Anonymous.

bubblegum casting said...

Yep the internet is sure full of those (trolls)