September 15, 2007
Dear Airleaf Authors,
I am working dilligently to make sure that all of your complaints are being handled through police detective Buskirk in Martinsville, Indiana. The list continues to grow, and we have over 60 people in our group.
Here are the highlights from this week:
1. On Wednesday, I got in touch with Ron Hawkins, news editor of the Reporter-Times in Martinsville, Indiana where Airleaf is located. He is very interested and commited to doing a feature expose which will hopefully get picked up by the major wire services. I've been feeding him your information. Now he is looking to talk to authors who are willing to tell their stories. If you are willing, please send your information to me (name, email, contact phone number) and I will forward it to him. In the future, there will be more press opportunities, and if you are willing to be a spokesperson for this group, please let me know. Ironically, it will also be a way to publicize your book! I guarantee that this will get you far more media attention then Airleaf ever did--and it will be free! The more people he can talk to, the better. He will also be interviewing the Attorney General and the police department to see what criminal action will be pursued on our behalf.
2. I haven't made any progress this week on finding a class action lawyer. I have three phone calls in, but no responses yet. I will continue to work on that this week.
3. Thanks to one of our Airleaf authors, I am in touch with someone from Publishers Weekly who will be in touch with me next week because they want to do a story about Airleaf. That's why it's important to let me know if you're willing to be interviewed.
4. Here's an important piece of information that someone passed on to me this week. I was told that if you paid for your Airleaf services via your credit card, you can call the company and tell them that the services were never delivered and you want your money returned. Several authors have done this successfully, even though there was a period of time that elapsed. You have nothing to lose by trying. If you do, please let me know your results so I can let the others in the group know.
5. This story just came out from San Diego. I called the reporter there, but she wasn't interested in pursuing a further story. But she did refer me to a woman who is investigating scam publishers. I did put in a call but haven't had a return call yet. I'll keep trying.
SignOnSanDiego.com > News > Business -- Literary dreams end in litigation
6. Each week, I'd like to get you to know some of our other co-authors who are part of this group and tell you their compelling stories. If you would be willing to have me share yours, please let me know.
This story hurt me the worst because Gracie Hubal, who invested everything she had to get our son's book out has yet to see it. Her son, Jason, age 31, is dying. When you read her heartbreaking story, you'll feel the same sense of anger that will keep all of us fighting until we win. Here is Gracie's story:
September 14, 2007
This is my story: I am Gracie Hubal.
On March 16, 2006, I paid Airleaf Publishing & Bookselling $2,700 over the telephone with my debit card to publish and market my son, Jason Hubal’s young Christian novel, For Meaning. We do not have a receipt except for the debit transaction from my checking account. Then on March 20, 2006, I decided to have Airleaf publish and market my crime drama novel, The Cammaratta Connection. I, again used my debit card. I paid $2,649 to have my novel published and marketed and while on the phone I was talked into the Hollywood Book-to-Film Promotion. I paid Airleaf another $500 for that campaign. Then on April 14, 2006, I paid Airleaf the last installment of my Special Elite Bookselling & Promotion Campaign. That was a total of $8,028. I did receive my fifty books, but never received any accountability statements of any kind---no royalties—nothing---no advertising. Jason never received his fifty books, only his printer’s proof.
Months flew by as I sat idly by and waited for Airleaf to contact me. When I grew tired of waiting for Airleaf to contact me, I finally contacted Robin Surface. She directed me to Krystal Hatfield, Airleaf’s Marketing Executive. A week later, she emailed me back with my promotion campaign attached. I have detailed every benefit.
1) Never saw my book in 10 retail bookstores.
2) A full time telemarketer was never assigned to me to set up book signings, etc.
3) An in-person introduction of my book was never presented to five regional book chains
4) 10 face-to-face meetings with feature films & directors never took place
5) I never saw my book on the marquisbooks.com website
6) My book was listed on thebigbooks.com web page—took several months to find it
7) Never saw my book on the bookatron.com
8) My book was posted on the airleaf.com home page, briefly
9) I never found my book on ebay.com
10) Never heard anything about the status of my book being a commercial
11) Never saw a full-color glossy newspaper insert to 200,000 subscribers
12) I am enclosing my copy of the book club members copy—never heard if it was opted-in
13) Never had the two fifteen minute interviews on nationally syndicated AM/FM radio shows
Jason’s novel, For Meaning was supposed to be placed on amazon.com, but we never found it there. His book was supposed to be in 15,000 Christian stores in the United States. We never received any indication that his book was being promoted.
For several months now we have been calling and emailing Airleaf to find out the status of Jason’s book and each and every time, we are even more disappointed. If it weren’t for my son’s medical condition, (his heart is pumping at only 20%) I wouldn’t be bugging them and pushing them so much to get his books. First our former pastor died, then one of the deacons from our church died, and then a 99-year old woman died. Everyone had been waiting to read Jason’s books. It is so unfortunate that they didn’t get to read Jason’s book. It has been so frustrating waiting and wanting and never getting any satisfaction. I emailed Airleaf several times and told them that if I didn’t get any concrete shipping status information, I was going to file a complaint with the Indiana Better Business Bureau. On the 29th of August, I called Airleaf and demanded to talk to anyone in the printing department. I spoke to a young man named Andrew. I know now he was merely a puppet for Airleaf. My heart broke when I heard the frustration in even Andrew’s voice as he said he would talk to the president and see if they could put Jason’s book at the top of their priority list. I, in fact filed that complaint with the Indiana Better Business Bureau.
To date we have not invested any monies to have our books published elsewhere, but are pursing and inquiring. I know I have to get Jason's book printed before he dies.
Jason said that he feels like his ‘dignity’ has been robbed from him. I feel my future has been robbed from me because I invested my money to have my book published and marketed so that I’d be able to take care of myself when my son takes his walk with God and I no longer have any social security benefits to support me.
I know that all of our hearts go out to Gracie and Jason. I lost my own beloved son, Jason, age 23, in November 2005 from a rare genetic disease that he was born with. That's why Gracie's story hit me particularly hard.
Thank you all for being fighters against the fraudulence of Airleaf and Carl Lau. United we will stand--and we will definitely win!
With love and hope, Bonnie Kaye
Dear Airleaf Authors,
This is an update for this week. We have 3 new authors who have joined our group based on the fraud of Airleaf. This brings our number to 65. The word is spreading.
This week, I spoke to Terry Tolliver from the Attorney General's office. I received a verification of my complaint in the mail. Some of you have told me that you received it also. Please make sure you send back the signed copy to Terry. He told me that there have been numerous complaints from our group and he is taking the situation seriously. I told him that several authors informed me that they checked with the Attorney General's office before dealing with Airleaf, and there was nothing negative stated. He went and checked and told me that there would be something posted. I told him that he needs to do that immediately or he would be responsible for misleading people. We also discussed authors being reimbursed for their lost money. He stated that it is possible to go after Carl Lau's personal assets to do this, so I felt encouraged.
I also spoke to Detective Buskirk on Thursday. Most of you should have received his email by now. If you haven't, please email me and I will forward you a copy of the letter. I appreciate your support with this because we need to make a criminal case. Detective Buskirk will be getting all of Airleaf's records which I think will be excellent so we can see what really happened to our money. Most importantly, once he has the records, he will be able to contact former employees for their testimonies.
This week, I am going to contact some of the media contacts I have developed in the past few years with national television shows and reporters. I will put our story together and see if there is a response. I want this to become a national story.
I haven't proceeded any further with the class action suit since none of the four attorneys I contacted have gotten back to me. I feel that it is fine as long as criminal charges are moving ahead through the law officials.
Some of you were dealing with Airleaf when they were Bookman. I don't want Carl Lau to go out of business at Airleaf and start another company. I want to make sure that he is prosecuted for fraud and never allowed to operate anywhere again. Hopefully, he will face jail time for what he's done to our group.
Each week when I send you an update, I would like to include an author story for you. This way you'll have an idea of the extent of the fraud for yourself. If you would like to share your story with our other authors, please let me know.
I am now going to send you Ken Pullen's story for you. It is very heartwrenching.
I'll update you next week.
With love and hope, Bonnie Kaye
Hello. My name is Ken Pullen. Among many things that I am I'm now a very disgruntled and upset Airleaf author. Like many relationships it did not begin this way, but like many relationships I entered into this with trust - thinking the people I was dealing with were straightforward, honest, on the up and up.
Why else would they have called me out of the blue and said what they did?
While home one day working - writing - I was just in the process of slowly getting up and attempting to move about a bit to reduce the pain and stiffness - I'm a permanently disabled man in his mid-fifties having gone through four major spine surgeries and having three discs removed, and having permanent and severe nerve damage in my legs, with my right leg and foot requiring a brace so I can hobble about as I do - and as I begin limping around my writing area as I can only sit for periods of twenty-five minutes maximum, the telephone rang. (And Airleaf is fully aware of my physical limitations and disability, and the fact I'm on a set, small, monthly income from Social Security.)
On the other end was a Mr. Brien Jones. A vice-president of this company called Airleaf Publishing and Booksellers.
While being trusting and open to a degree I have built up an ingrained cynicism, especially for people I don't know calling out of the blue on the telephone. Sadly it is the time we live in where an ever increasing percentage of people have bad intent. I hate having to live such a way, but what passes for civilization dictates we must.
After initial introductions over the phone Mr. Jones of Airleaf said, "We are thrilled to have come across your book. The wife of our companies owner read it and told her husband he just had to bring you on board as an Airleaf author your book is so good, and with her ringing endorsement I just had to call you."
He went on to say Airleaf was a good, strong, reliable company, a growing company, and it had a stable of good and varied authors, yet one area it was lacking in was young adult, or children's writing, and my particular book was written for the nine to twelve year old reader primarily.
Mr. Jones went on to say, "Your book is so good we are considering it for a very special offering. Your book is one of only twenty-five we'll be working with to create a national bestseller through our experience and marketing."
Then he told me all the things Airleaf would do for me.
1.) Get me on national radio. A number of interviews around the nation.
2.) Present my book to no fewer than three legitimate feature film producers in the Los Angeles, California area for possible optioning as a film.
3.) My book would instantly be placed and continually stocked in no fewer than 10 brick and mortar honest to goodness real bookstores right away.
4.) My book would be part of a special trade publication advertising campaign to get it in front of the people that buy books for bookstores...
and on and on to where he listed about 10 different things Airleaf would do, including all printing, getting books in distribution, doing all necessary art work, etc.
And I then said, "What's the catch?"
Brien Jones feigned being hurt and offended at this - and so you know Brien Jones either left Airleaf or was fired and he went off and started his own company using Airleaf's blueprint, and he is full of nothing but pure 100% unadulterated malarkey, so if you get any mail solicitations or phone calls from his company, and see, or hear the name Brien Jones beware! Know you'll end up in the very same situation we all have in our dealings with Airleaf!
The real catch was - there ALWAYS is a catch even when people say there isn't...was that in order to have my "very special book" included in the limited offer of only 25 books being promoted nationally I had to pay Airleaf $8,000.
Now that's a lot of money to my wife and me. As I mentioned I'm permanently disabled. I receive a very small check monthly - under $1,000 a month - and I would have to take that $8,000 from our retirement savings, and I told this to Brien Jones at Airleaf right from our first contact. I told him I had to think about his offer, thanked him, and hung up.
I talked things over with my wife and she asked if I had the feeling Airleaf was on the up and up and genuine. I said I thought so. Foolish me!
So I called Brien Jones back a few days after our initial contact and asked him some more questions, and he even provided me a list of Airleaf authors and their phone numbers so I could check references - they had to be on the up and up to do this right? WRONG!!!
I called every name and number on the list. No one said a word that would make me withdraw or pull away. I trusted Brien Jones. I trusted Airleaf. I trusted all the referenced Airleaf authors I had called and they had told me of their happiness in working with Airleaf.
Oh what a grand mistake! A mistake that cost me more than the $8,000 financial loss. It has had an adverse affect on my health in dealing with all this crap they spew.
I paid Airleaf $8,000 in May of 2006. I was told it would take until early September of 2006 before my book was actually published. Two weeks after I paid Airleaf the $8,000 I got a call from a woman named Liz Ladd at Airleaf. She had set up one of the national radio interviews for the first week of June 2006.
Right away this got me to wondering if I'd done the right thing. Who in their right mind, intelligently using marketing money, promotes a book from an unknown author 4 months before it is even available? I told Liz Ladd even big household name actors don't go around promoting their new films until a week or so prior to release. 4 months before? From a complete unknown? My name is Ken Pullen, not J.K. Rowling! That just seemed crazy to me.
I questioned Liz Ladd about this. She did her dog and pony show of "It'll be fine, it'll be all right, you'll still sell books as a result." Baloney. No way. So right away Airleaf set the tone of my not being pleased with how they did things - but I didn't squawk too much, or demand a refund or anything. I didn't want to act in haste and then regret my actions. I continued to trust them, be nice to them. HA! What a trusting fool I was! I actually thought they would do things like a real, ethical, legitimate business. Like real people do instead of like grifters do.
So I did the radio interview in June 2006. Thinking back on it there is no way of knowing if I was even on the radio. They have a guy call you around a pre-established time and he talks with you on the phone for about 15 minutes. No call ins. No way of knowing whether you're really going out over the airways, or just wasting time talking to some guy in an office in Martinsville, Indiana.
I was to get either 3 or 4 of these national radio interviews in the 25 Books National Bestseller package or whatever they called it at that time. Liz Ladd then emailed me and told me there were problems with the radio interviews and they were being canceled until further notice.
This did not sit well with me. I paid for them. What did they plan on doing instead? Now I want you to know I was always decent, civil, considerate, and nice when talking or emailing Airleaf, although as time went on I grew more leery they were actually doing what they said they would - and it took almost a year for me to get downright angry with them, and not treat them with consideration or kindness, since they had not shown any to me. Sadly, I did a very uncharacteristic thing. I laid down, rolled over, and did not attempt to get some justice on my own from this experience. I felt it was them versus me, and I was alone, although in my life I have taken on and beat city hall - something we're all told we are unable to do (another myth people like to spread, but we can all beat city hall wherever they are if we deal truthfully in some injustice,) and I have taken on great and small injustices elsewhere and prevailed. But this time, for some reason, perhaps weariness to the bone, I did not prevail and did not take them on as they needed taken on and confronted.
Liz Ladd and I went round and round a bit with my leaving her messages she never replied to, and emails that she finally did reply to after I'd sent her about 5 or 6 emails over a 2 week period asking what they planned on doing to replace the radio interviews.
Airleaf was going to take my book to Germany instead! She informed me. Okay. International sales. Not such a bad thing to replace the now defunct radio interviews, I thought. So I was under the impression they jetted off to a large international book fair in Germany to promote my book. Since this is getting rather long, and I have a tendency to try and include as much detail as I can I must fast forward a bit and work in a more abbreviated form from this point on to save you some time.
My book, Rescue Me, finally did come out in print in September of 2006. The initial marketing rep. they assigned to me did absolutely NOTHING for me. I mean NOTHING.
I complained. I was then given a new marketing rep. and a brand new employee of Airleaf by the name of Melissa Cabbell. Melissa began setting up local book signings for me. At flea markets, way out of the way 2 hour drives into the middle of nowhere little places, community centers, general stores, more flea markets, and really small local booksellers.
I went to every signing. I believed I was making a difference and working locally to get my name out and my book out to people, even though I told Melissa I was disabled, and one and a half to 2 hour drives one way actually took me much longer because I needed to stop every 45 minutes to hour and get out and walk around slowly a bit before resuming.
As this went on the end of 2006 came and we entered 2007. I asked Airleaf numerous times for some accounting of book sales, royalties, etc. They never obliged and just passed me around and did the usual 3 card Monte routine every good grifter knows how to work. I was passed from person to person all with a bogus spiel to take up my time - like shuffling cards - and they had no intention of providing me any accounting.
Finally I got nasty. I told them under Federal law they had a legal responsibility to provide this information, since I also operate a website, and I needed all this information for my taxes - especially since I was operating in the red, and at a great financial loss for the year.
I received a one page statement from them and a check for $96.00 and some change. That was it. I was not happy since I knew firsthand that one dog rescue organization alone up in Michigan had purchased enough books that my royalties should have been more than that from that one organizations sales alone.
Into 2007 Melissa - now my only real contact with Airleaf - kept setting up ridiculous, nothing, spend more on gas than anything else book signings. I told her I wanted to go to REAL book stores. To begin setting up signings at Borders, Barnes & Noble, etc. I got a couple of those. And yet nothing else EVER from Airleaf. No more statements, no phone calls, no replies to my emails, nobody taking care of or answering my questions. Nothing. Oh, except further mail solicitations promising great things and asking me for more of my money - so I told them they had to cease and desist in sending me any more mail or email solicitations. They weren't getting another dime of mine since they failed to deliver on what we agreed upon them initially doing for me and my book.
I felt alone. I felt as if I'd been nothing but a big old crippled fool that was trying to make some use of his life again, feel worthwhile again, like I could contribute again, and was trying to make things better for my wife and I...and all I'd really done was make our lives worse by getting involved with Airleaf, and giving them $8,000 of our precious retirement money for them to do heaven knows what with - certainly they did not use it to market or promote my book as they claimed and promised. So for $8,000 I got to talk to one guy on the phone for 15 minutes one time. And I received 50 books in the mail. And I was sent all over the Ohio countryside, killing my back, increasing my pain, wasting more money, more wear and tear on my car and body...to end up at some one traffic light town community center where no one would ever come by and no one would ever buy a book.
Angry? Upset? Yeah. A bit. Then out of the blue a great voice came into my life, a positive voice, one that let me know I was not alone. One day I received an email with the heading regarding Angry Airleaf Authors from a woman named Bonnie, who had been taken advantage of and lied to just as I had been - and she wasn't going to take it lying down and silent.
Now I find there are many of us, and even with all the wrongdoers, all the crap in life, all the pain, all the con artists, all the cynicism...I still not only believe...I know from living and being a part of history that one individual can accomplish amazing and great things in life. Everything begins in one mind, one heart, one soul. Be it how to design and build a light bulb...or how to get civil rights.
And now, as individuals coming together in a group we can achieve justice. We must tell our stories. Tell them truthfully and strongly, and stand united to take on and defeat the con artists that Carl Lau and those at Airleaf truly are. They are thieves. Operating perhaps under the guise of legitimacy, but they are unethical, illegitimate thieves. They do not deserve, they have not earned, they do not warrant any kindness or consideration at this point - other than to consider them as criminals, and to work towards getting our money back, and having justice met out against them. They deserve to loss money stolen from us. They deserve jail time. They deserve to be put out of business so they can't infect anyone else's life in this manner. That's all they deserve.
I know we can do this together. I look forward to our day of justice. No matter what it takes from us, no matter how long...together we can achieve it better and faster.
They literally stole $8,000 form my wife and I. I only really had 50 printed books to show for that $8,000 even though they refuse to admit they did anything wrong, or have not lived up to their end of the deal.
They are con artists. Liars. Thieves. We should all get our money back - every cent - and we should also work to not only put Carl Lau and Airleaf out of business, thus sparing others from their con game and thievery, doing the world a favor, we should also apply the heat and expect and demand that Carl Lau and others at Airleaf do jail time for their felonies.
They knowingly take advantage of people that have dying sons and break their hearts, affect their souls, and steal from those people. They knowingly steal from the disabled. I'm sure I'm not the only disabled person they stole money from, made false claims to, and took the money and ran. We must work towards and demand justice.
I am with you every step of the way. Anything I can do to help please let me know.
Ken Pullen Somewhere in Ohio