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

January 3, 2018

Book Promotions International, or, How Not to Get Your Book Into a Library

Posted by Victoria Strauss for Writer Beware

Hot on the heels of the infamous Christmas writing contest spam comes another spam solicitation aimed at separating writers from their money.

The link leads directly to PayPal.

So if you're not already ROTFLing at the sheer chutzpah of this, um, offer, why would it be a terrible use of money?

First and most obvious, because once you sent your payment, you'd have no way of confirming that a) this person had actually bought your book, or b) actually donated it.

And second, because this is not how books get into libraries. Some libraries don't accept donations at all (my local library among them; when I was doing book reviews, they declined my offer to donate brand-new direct-from-the-publisher hardcovers). Even if they do, there's no guarantee they will actually shelve the donations, especially if the books aren't professionally packaged. Where donated books will probably wind up is in the annual Friends of the Library book sale.

So is this a scam? As cartoonish a ripoff as it seems, it's hard to say--the line between scammery and simple cluelessness can be difficult to discern. G.E. Johnson does seem to be a real person; her activities as a book promoter appear to consist of posting book cover images on Facebook and Pinterest, and offering vaguely-described "marketing":

As with the library spam, the link goes directly to PayPal. Ms. Johnson's webpages don't include testimonials, but I did find this, from a discussion thread on Goodreads--I'm guessing it was unsolicited...

UPDATE: Did you think that Ms. Johnson's attempt to sell authors a completely unverifiable promise of a book purchase was just a one-time, ill-advised spamstravaganza? You would be wrong.

Here's the diamond:

Rock salt, anyone?


Pat Dilloway said...

A pity anyone fell for this.

Sue Bursztynski said... had to pay them to buy your book, assuming they did? And then donate it? Weird! Why not just donate it yourself, if public libraries did accept donations?

School libraries might, depending on what the books are, by the way. With tiny budgets, brand new review copies of *suitable* books, eg YA or children’s, would be gleefully accepted by teacher librarians; I remember the year a friend who had been reading for a science fiction award gave me all the books he was finished with. Our students were all in the senior years of high school, so could enjoy them.

gilgamesh said...

I sometimes think that there are more persons out there "helping" writers to sell their books then there are authors.
At any rate, they seem t make more money than the authors.
The author of this blog should think of writing a best-seller--simply list all those making money by frauds

Sue Bursztynski said...

I guess it’s easier to “sell”books than actually write them. As a reviewer I get so many inquiries from marketers, and they’re not specifically addressed to me. So you put together a stock inquiry and send it to hundreds of bloggers at the same time, and on your web site you advertise your scale of fees - so much to pester fifty blogs, so much for five hundred - no harder to send one than the other, is it? For sure SOMEONE out of 500 inquiries would answer. So much to organise a blog tour, presumably with those blogs you know will do it, and there would be a list after a while.

“There’s a sucker born every minute” must be the motto of some of the marketers, such as the one mentioned in this post.

AmyShojai said...

A diamond? a DIAMOND? BLING...Oh my, hold me back. *snert* Thanks for shining a light on this. Sadly, some will take up this offer. And doubly sad, I wouldn't be surprised if there aren't some extra-bad-actors teaching would-be promoters how to make a buck doing such things.

Anonymous said...

Westwood Books Publishing is not connected to Authors Press.
Authors Press is not a DBA of the said comoany , Westwood Books Publishing LLC.

Anonymous said...

This is group of scammers who moved from different publishing companies namely :
Jason Tyler
Michael Harris/Chris Michaels
Gwen Dwayne/Kirsten Frost
Jake Anderson/Jacob Green

Let me share you a story, they were originally from Author Solutions/ Xlibris and BookVenture. Their plan is to get author's information and create a pool of their own authors to scam!!! They are not americans, they are pretending to be. they are bunch of smart *** filipinos trying to fool people overseas. You know why i know the story? Because I was also a victim. I trusted specifically Gwen to republished my title and she promised the moon and earth to me but guess what they are just into their personal gain, of course money !!!

Victoria Strauss said...

Anonymi 6/26 and 7/03,

You're leaving your comments on the wrong blog post. I think this is the one you want.

Unknown said...

This morning I received an out of the blue email from a publisher called Okir Publishing telling me that they were interested in my book and would I be able to answer one or two questions about my book and myself as an author. And though the woman grammer was a bit off a bit on one point, I had started to write a reply email. But after being caught out by Xlibris my radar antenna have become very sensitive to 'scam waves,' I thought it better to check Okir out. So glad I have. Thank you for your very informative article.

Unknown said...

On Saturday morning I received a phone message, followed up by a lengthy email out of the blue from Tony Hopkins from Westwood Books Publishing, interested in my book as it had been recommended and received great reviews on Amazon (as a Silver Award winner of a 2016 e-lit award, my gut didn't react to that). There was, almost computer generated, sounding English on the message, but speaking to the person a few days later when he called again, the Phillipines connection you mentioned does sound plausible - I'm sure you know the rest - the hook on this one was the Texas Book fair, which they wanted to charge $599 to participate, and then of course it was usual enticements of re-publishing, movie, traditional publishing deals etc. Yet when I had said that I had participated in 3 book fairs in 2016 for that price, he said an agent actually promotes the book on site. After another lengthy phone call and even lengthier email from him, I decided to do some digging and came across your site.....thank you for naming and shaming!

Victoria Strauss said...

Unknowns 8/22 and 8/28,

So glad you were able to find my posts and avoid these scammers! There are a ton of them--I literally discover a new one every few days. Many of them are just different names for the same operation run by the same people.

Anonymous said...

Hi Victoria,

Please do research on bookwhip. I find something is not right with the company. They sell $2500 package with a 1 year marketing service and gives publishing for free. They are not BBB member and their address is a home address.

Victoria Strauss said...

Anonymous 11/05,

Bookwhip is a scam (just like Okir and Westwood)--one of a number of similar scams run out of the Philippines (the US addresses and phone numbers are fake), in many cases by ex-Author Solutions call center employees. Avoid!

Anonymous said...

I received similar phone call as Unknown 8/28/18. My book was the best seller and it received 5 stars reviews, as a result, Amazon highly recommended my book to Author Press. The caller from Author Press said to me, "We want you to do book signing in Tucson and LA. Don't bring more than 20 copies." Yet, I was told that they usually have about 120,000 attendees, including authors, students, publishers, and booksellers. After taking 2 days to absorb the information, I am not too convinced. Please add your thoughts.

Victoria Strauss said...

Anonymous 11/17,

Amazon didn't recommend your book to Authors Press (Amazon does not make recommendations of this kind)--that's just a line this outfit uses to get potential customers to buy into their scam. Authors Press is actually a d.b.a of Westwood Books Publishing (formerly called Greenberry Publishing)--one of a growing number of publishing and marketing scams run out of the Philippines (the US addresses and phone numbers are just window dressing). For more information, see my blog post.

Ari said...

Another for the list of dodgy book companies: Black Lacquer Press & Marketing Inc.

A certain "Gabby Garcia" recently did a mass mailing (with all the recipients' email addresses visible, no less!) with all the usual scam offerings. The address listed is similar to that of AdBook press, whose 1-year business license expired 30 Oct:

Black Lacquer Press & Marketing Inc.
Tel. # +1-855-505-5640 ext. 204
3225 McLeod Drive
Suite 100
Las Vegas, Nevada 89121

Donald Cline said...


Thank you so much for this. I have been contacted by a few of these companies you have listed. Currently it's a "Senior Marketing Executive" from Toplink. The one characteristic they all have is they are relentless. But pretty much everything you have listed in your article is right on the money. I have wondered about the Filipino thing. Other than there is such a desire for Filipino's to get employment from most anywhere (I have many, many Filipino friends). But they definitely prey on our desire to take our books to another level. Honestly, when first contacted some time ago I almost bought into it. I was "honored" that my book was "chosen". Fortunately, common sense and reality kicked in and I started doing the research. My book was fun to write, but it's not a "literary giant". Yes ... writer beware.

Mandi Figlioli said...

Within a week of my book being released, I was contacted by Paramount Media and Authors Press. They aren't on your list, but their approach mirrored what you described. I'm going to take your advice... I've got a great book and I'm going to work hard to share it with the world. This information was incredibly helpful. Thank you for sharing your expertise.

Victoria Strauss said...


Both Paramount Books Media and Authors Press are on my list--see the sidebar of the blog. For my posts that include analyses of them, plug "army of clones" into the search box at the top of the sidebar. (I'm glad you were able to identify them as scams!)

Anonymous said...

Hi Victoria!

You have been naming quite a few companies and tagged them as a scam or if not, a clone of Author Solutions with its more than 14 imprints:


So from the way it looks on how you described these "new" companies, you are saying that Author Solutions should be the only company (with its 14+ imprints) that they should go with? As far as the record in the internet is concern, didn't Author Solutions had a Class Action Law Suit filed in New York by group of lawyers? which none of these companies had, for the time being. I am quite surprise as well on how you repeatedly mention about these "New" companies being located in the Philippines, it shouldn't be a surprise to you since Author Solutions Inc. (previously called Xlibris) originated and still in the Philippines up to this date. You can google it and search Author Solutions Philippines.

So to wrap this up, if the company is not under the umbrella of Author Solutions Inc. you are either a clone or a Scam.

Please enlighten us. Thank you

Victoria Strauss said...

Anonymous 2/14,

I've written extensively about Author Solutions and its various imprints on this blog (plug Author Solutions into the search box to see my posts). I've highlighted its dubious business practices, its poor reputation, the lawsuits that have been unsuccessfully launched against it, its acquisition by Pearson and then by a venture capital company, and its shrinking market share.

Author Solutions didn't originate in the Philippines. Nor was it originally called Xlibris. Author Solutions was originally the parent company of AuthorHouse, which over the course of several years acquired rivals iUniverse, Xlibris, and Trafford, and then branched out into the additional imprints you (correctly) list in your comment. It outsources a lot of work to the Philippines--but it was and still is a US-based company. As I've explained in various blog posts, the clones--which _are_ based in the Philippines--are a direct result of that, copycat companies that borrow various aspects of the predatory AS business model, but go beyond predation into actual scammery (for instance, pretending to have connections with publishers and bookstores, or taking people's money and running).

Why do I emphasize that the clones are located in the Philippines? Because they all lie and pretend to be in the USA.

Victoria Strauss said...

By the way, this more civil trolling is a refreshing change of pace.

Mark Coker said...

Ha! A salesman from Stratton Press just called me at home, offering to republish one of my books. He told me Amazon gave him my phone number (a lie). Claims their scout read my book (another lie), and found it at a book conference in Miami (another lie). Then he told me that self-publishing services like Smashwords only pay 10% royalty. Another lie, and this one went too far. :) I'm the founder of Smashwords! We pay 60-80% list. Shame on this scammy company masquerading as a "hybrid press" for ripping off unsuspecting writers with overpriced services and deceptive sales tactics.

Victoria Strauss said...

Mark--boy, did he pick on the wrong person! Thanks for the comment.

BVisascam said...

Omg! My daughter who is disabled wrote a book and BV published. You can find it on Amazon. She paid for the book and whatever sold on Amazon I don't know because Amazon deals with BV. However, Amazon said their about out and going to order more. BV has not returned an email or call in months. I called the local PD about the location of BV in Ishpeming Mi. I won't go into it all, but it was the most bizarre misinformation ever heard. BV maybe involved with the phillipines but the lady Ivy paying the abandoned building rent which has a BV sign on building is involved! How can BV's number be associated with her and the detective said the scammers were just using her as a front! That was just one story! Jesus! I've made many calls and hoping the AG will do something as they have four cases and about to receive another case. Anyone who can help or visversa please contact me asap.

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