Shining a bright light into the dark corners of the shadow-world of literary scams, schemes, and pitfalls. Also providing advice for writers and industry news and commentary. Writer Beware is sponsored by the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America, Inc.

November 12, 2014

Alert: Cookbook Marketing Agency

Posted by Victoria Strauss for Writer Beware


Are you thinking of creating your own cookbook--or have you already created one? Good news: an apparently new venture called Cookbook Marketing Agency is here to help.
Cookbook Marketing Agency (CMA) is a global book marketing agency, publisher and branding consultancy. Along with our partners, we have helped thousands of authors, as well as other publishers increase their book sales potential.
Sounds pretty impressive--if not very specific. That's OK, though, because CMA is ready to offer you a whole menu of assistance, including a promotional plan.
Some benefits you will enjoy as a client of Cookbook Marketing Agency:

1. Prominently displayed at national and international book fairs and shows
2. Featured in a proprietary catalog of authors and titles
3. Ability to have E-book distribution
4. A professionally written and distributed press release of your Cookbook
5. Access to a full staff of experts to aid with the design, editing, and distribution of your Cookbook
And much more!
There's even an affiliate plan, where you can earn 20% of "any revenue generated by your leads."

If you've guessed that none of this is free, you're right. There's a fee attached to every service provided by CMA--including its affiliate plan, which requires would-be affiliates to hand over $20 for "business calling cards." The affiliate plan page, however, is the only place on CMA's website where it's explicitly acknowledged that CMA clients are buying services:
You get paid if the prospective customer buys any of our products — anything from an a la carte marketing or publishing service or a full marketing campaign.
Another acknowledgment that's hard to find: the name of the company that's actually behind CMA. There are hints on CMA's catalog page, where all the listed books are published by a single publisher whose initials may be familiar to readers of this blog. But it's only in CMA's press release that the truth is revealed: CMA is "a publishing imprint of Publish On Demand Global (PODG)."

Why is this a concern?

Well, PODG and its other half, SBPRA (Strategic Book Publishing and Rights Agency), has been on Writer Beware's radar--under a dizzying variety of names--since 2001. Starting as a fee-charging literary agency, it expanded over the years into other agencies, vanity publishers, and marketing services, charging fees all along the way. Writer Beware has received hundreds of complaints. SBPRA/PODG and its owner, Robert Fletcher, recently settled a deceptive business practices lawsuit brought by the Florida Attorney General; among other things, the settlement requires Fletcher to pay $145,000 in court costs and author reparations. (For the full SBPRA/PODG story, including its failed defamation lawsuit against Writer Beware, see our Alert.)

It's always a good idea to know who you're really working with.

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