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.

July 15, 2015

Pay-to-Play Alert: #WORLDCLASS Magazine

Posted by Victoria Strauss for Writer Beware

Authors: have you received an unsolicited email from a "talent scout" at #WORLDCLASS Magazine pitching an interview and/or cover feature? Here's what you need to know in case you do: it's pay-to-play.

Here's a sample pitch, sent to me by a wisely wary author (emphasis added, and all errors courtesy of the original):
Dear [name redacted],

You were selected by our talent scout to be featured in #WORLDCLASS magazine as an author of [book title redacted].

We interview and feature top achievers in all areas of lives: entrepreneurs, world-class athletes, bestselling authors, top doctors, celebrity plastic surgeons and dentists, life coaches and icon experts in other areas.

Just a few names: Dr. Bill Dorman (ABS “Extreme Makeover”), Bill Walsh, David E. Stanley (Elvis Presley’s step brother), Dr. Raj Kanodia (World’s Leading Plastic Surgeon), Michael Irvin – NFL, Matthew Hatchette – NFL, Bryon Russel-- NBA, John Assaraf (Featured in movie Secret), Loren Ridinger ( just to name a few. You can view them here:

We are so passionate about inspiring and empowering people to get empowered and live the lives they deserve: from an outstanding energy and health, to passionate relationship and financial success.

Here are just some examples of the interview we have conducted:

We would love to interview you and feature on a COVER of #WORLDCLASS magazine. Our guest features had great success working with us. The exposure and credibility brought hundreds new leads as well as other media sources picked up and featured our guests in major media sources which led to thousands in sales on a front end and high ticket sales in a back end.

You can check our testimonials here:

We do charge to produce each interview and magazine feature to cover some of our crew and editor expenses. Investment is only $950 for the whole feature. You will get 4-page article with full color pictures of yourself and your featured services in addition to a COVER feature. This exposure will add tremendous value to your credibility and authority. (Just to compare our 2 page ad-spread runs between $5-$7 K)

Currently we have 2 more prospective experts interested in next month issue. Let me know if you want to take on this opportunity.

And if you have any questions, please ask away.

All best, and thank you for all that you do,

[name redacted]
Senior Talent Scout
E-mail: [email redacted]
Office: 888-580-5532
Note the semi-illiterate writing (whoever created the email is allergic to plurals and pronouns), the "What a deal!" price comparison, the "act now or someone else will get your spot" pressure tactic. And while for pay-to-play interviews, $950 doesn't seem all that bad--at least, not compared with some of the other interview schemes I've featured here (Close-up TV News, for instance, which charges between $3,000 and $5,000, or The Balancing Act, which charges $5,900)--there's an associated YouTube talk show. What do you bet that it's pitched to anyone who takes the email bait, at the cost of some serious extra zeroes?

Either way, interviewees will wind up more than $950 out of pocket. You might assume that those "full color pictures" will be courtesy of the magazine, but you would be wrong: you will have to provide the photos yourself.

#WORLDCLASS Magazine is owned by Katrina Starzhynskaya, a.k.a. "Katrina Starz," a self-described bestselling author and "serial entrepreneur" who "is known as an ambitious woman building businesses, creating high-end brands and getting celebrity endorsements all while saving the environment on 6-inch Louboutin stilettos." #WORLDCLASS is only the tip of the Starzhynskaya iceberg: she also offers health retreats, book launches, "publicity and branding", Amazon bestseller campaigns, and more.

If you're going to spend money on promotion, don't waste it on pay-to-play interviews (or reviews, for that matter). There are better ways to get a bang for your buck.


Joel Nelson said...

When I read these, it always feels like someone is trying to pull our leg. But your second to last paragraph put that question to bed. It just all sounds so silly!

CS said...

"Empowering people to get empowered?"

I really think that's all you need to read about these clowns right there.

Mark said...

I just got this exact email sent to me three times.

It is an obvious scam and shouldn't be legal. It's worth noting they contact without anyone subscribing which is against Canadian law and they could be hit with a 7 figure fine.

Jill Vanderwood said...

I just received this poorly writen email and the wording is the same as the one above. You are right in the statement about the cost being lower than other scams. I saw a cover with Oprah and wondered why she would ever need to pay to be featured on a magazine cover.

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