Thursday, December 13, 2007

Publishing company still conducting business. Workforce feduced to three.

Dear Friends,

This is from the Martinsville paper today. Please see my post, and please feel free to post your own comments.

I want to make one issue very clear. I am going to blame or defend Brien Jones because my issues are with Airleaf. Carl Lau blames all of the Airleaf problems on Brien who left there nearly a year ago. Much of the fraudulence, including mine, had nothing to do with him. I never dealt with him at Airleaf and had never heard of him until after he left and Airleaf sent out notices to authors.

I started this campaign because I was victimized by Airleaf. I tried every legal measure to have them give me my money, including having a high profile law company request the money owed to me. When they refused to respond, I decided to start this campaign. At that point, I already knew some of the other horror stories. As the weeks went on, I started finding more of you, and you started finding me.

Airleaf did try to pay me off, but I refused to allow them to do so because I felt I had a mission--to help all of you get back what you had lost. There will always be "detractors" trying to throw us off base by discrediting my motivations or accusing me of working with Brien Jones, but we know the truth. Together, we will make sure that the truth prevails, and the criminals find justice.

More on Saturday.
Love, Bonnie Kaye

Publishing company still conducting business. Workforce reduced to three
By Ronald Hawkins Thursday December 13, 2007


Embattled Airleaf Publishing and Book Selling has not gone out of business, owner Carl Lau says.
"We're still here working," Lau said Wednesday.

The name of the business was removed Friday from the door of the company's home at 35 Industrial Drive and from a sign in front of the building listing its tenants.

Additionally, two of the company's five full time workers and one part-time worker have been laid off, leaving the company with three employees. The remaining workers include Lau, the business' accountant and an outside production coordinator.
"I laid them off because I can't afford them," Lau said.

Lau said he took the sign down because of "the crazies out there. I have to protect our employees."

The Indiana Attorney General's office, the Martinsville Police Department and Better Business Bureau of Central Indiana have all received complaints about the company's alleged failure to pay royalties, publish books and deliver other promised services. Airleaf is a vanity publishing and marketing firm that started 5-1/2 years ago as Bookman Marketing in Martinsville.
The business has financial problems, but Lau said the remaining employees are working on its commitments.

Asked if the firm would fulfill all of those commitments, Lau said, "I don't know. We'll do the best we can. We're trying. ... I'll do all I can until I run out of money."

Philadelphia-based author and counselor Bonnie Kaye launched a Web site,, as a network for people who've had problems with the company.
Lau said the company has been hurt by "lies" about the company. He said a report that two people had lost their homes because of the money they paid Airleaf for publishing and marketing expenses was untrue.

Kaye said at least two people who sent Airleaf money lost their homes. One invested $10,000 for a book and its marketing and another one $14,000, she said.
Lau disputes that saying, "Nobody lost their house over this."

He said he had "built a nice business" and that he hopes he can someday justify the company's actions.

Lau said he is planning lawsuits against Kaye and Brien Jones, his former business partner. He said there were criminal offenses committed against his business, but he has been unable to get law enforcement agencies to take action.

Martinsville Police Department Detective Jeff Buskirk, however, said he's received at least 120 individual complaints against Airleaf. He said he's trying to determine if the case is a criminal or a civil matter.

The state attorney general's office and the Better Business Bureau of Central Indiana also have received complaints about the business.

The attorney general's office in some cases has helped the authors get their money back.
"The attorney general's consumer protection division has civil authority, not criminal and will assist with criminal investigations if asked or needed," said Staci Schneider, a spokeswoman for the attorney general.

The Better Business Bureau has warned consumers about doing business with Airleaf.
"Based on BBB files, this business has an unsatisfactory rating with the BBB due to a failure to respond to complaints," according to the BBB's Web site. "This company has an Unsatisfactory Record due to a pattern of complaints. Specifically, consumers allege the contract to publish books were never fulfilled. Consumer also allege contracts to market and advertise books were not fulfilled. Files also indicate a pattern of consumer allegations that the company does not return phone calls or respond to letters or e-mails."

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Sunday, December 9, 2007

Police, BBB besieged with complaints about local publisher

Police, BBB besieged with complaints about local publisher
By Ronal Hawkins awkinsrhawkins@reportert.comSaturday December 8, 2007

Philadelphia-based author and counselor Bonnie Kaye says she is just one of hundreds of customers that Airleaf Publishing and Book Selling has misled.

Indeed, she wasn't the first to have a complaint about the Martinsville-based self-publishing company. The Indiana Attorney General's office, the Martinsville Police Department and Better Business Bureau of Central Indiana have all received complaints about the company's alleged failure to pay royalties, publish books and deliver other promised services.

Kaye, however, began a crusade earlier this year warning people about the dangers of doing business with Airleaf, a publishing company that was started 5 1/2 years ago in Martinsville by Carl Lau, who had previously worked for Author's Press in Bloomington.

Kaye was a previously published author and a counselor specializing in the field of straight/gay marriages. She has served as a consultant to television talk shows such as "Oprah" and "Montel Williams." She hoped Airleaf could get the book printed quickly and would help her market it, she said.

Kaye was happy with the printing of the book, but she ended up promoting the book by arranging interviews on television shows. The problems continued when the company failed to pay her royalties she was due on the sales of the book, she said.

Until she contacted police earlier this year, she'd only received a check for $300, she said. Since then, she's paid an additional $683.

Kaye launched as a network for people who've had problems with the company. It's a way for those people to know they're not alone in their experience and to encourage the victims to urge action by law enforcement agencies, she said.
Kaye has talked to Martinsville Police Department Detective Jeff Buskirk, the attorney general's office and the FBI.

Buskirk was joined by a county computer expert and an attorney general's representative in October when he seized the computers and records of Airleaf. The computers and records have since been returned.

Buskirk has been contacted directly by more than 120 customers from throughout the United States who've had difficulties with Airleaf, he said.

The investigation won't be complete before the end of January, Buskirk said. He, however, may no longer be a city detective after Phil Deckard is sworn in as mayor at the end of the year. Deckard defeated incumbent Mayor Shannon Buskirk, brother of Jeff Buskirk, in the May GOP primary.

"I'm trying to see if there is criminal activity or if it's all civil," Buskirk said. "They're still taking money in. ...This is ongoing, continuous."

Kaye says she has no doubt that what Airleaf has been doing is a criminal activity. She believes the company has been guilty of fraud, before and after a close associate of owner Carl Lau left the company, she said. Lau has attributed many of the problems to Brien Jones, the former company vice president who left in January and started a similar business in Bloomington.
"They're still taking money," Kaye said. "Many became victims after Brien Jones left. ...
"It's more and more of the same; promising to fulfill hopes and dreams and giving nothing back in return."

Kaye said she has been disappointed by the work of the state attorney general. The attorney general's office, however, has filed complaints against the firm in the past and in some cases helped the authors get their money back.

"The attorney general's consumer protection division has civil authority, not criminal and will assist with criminal investigations if asked or needed," said Staci Schneider, a spokeswoman for the attorney general.

The attorney general's office is working with "local authorities as we investigate civil violations of Indiana's Consumer Protection statutes," Schneider said. The state office didn't receive any materials obtained during the October visit to Airleaf's offices, Schneider said.

Dozens of complaints have been investigated by the state. Some have been settled and others are marked as complaints headed for litigation. Nearly all of the complaints allege "failure to deliver" or "failure to perform contract."

Although Airleaf isn't a member of the Better Business Bureau, the BBB has received multiple complaints about the company and has given it an "unsatisfactory rating."

According to the BBB Web site, "based on BBB files, this business has an unsatisfactory rating with the BBB due to a failure to respond to complaints. Based on BBB files, this company has an Unsatisfactory Record due to a pattern of complaints. Specifically, consumers allege the contract to publish books were never fulfilled. Consumer also allege contracts to market and advertise books were not fulfilled. Files also indicate a pattern of consumer allegations that the company does not return phone calls or respond to letters or e-mails."

Airleaf, formerly known as Bookman, has offered packages for authors that include printing and marketing the books. Some packages for an additional price offer pitches of the books to movie studios. Others promise ad placements in major newspapers and magazines along with interviews on national radio shows and more.

The packages for the movie pitches were sold even before the manuscript has been received by Airleaf.

The company takes advantage of the elderly, disabled, poor and others by selling them the idea that their book can sell and in some cases be made into a movie, Kaye said.

At least two people who sent Airleaf money lost their homes, Kaye said. One invested $10,000 for a book and its marketing and another one $14,000, she said.

Gracie Hubal invested $8,028 for two books, one by a dying son and another a crime novel she'd written. Promises of marketing services that were to include 15-minute interviews on nationally syndicated radio shows, commercials, glossy advertising, and face-to-face meetings with feature film directors never materialized, she wrote in a posting at

Kaye said other promises such as Lau or Jones going to Germany and England to pitch books at major book fairs never happened. Company officials were found sitting at their desks while the major book fairs were underway, she said. Former employees have shared their experiences about what has been happening at the business, she said.

When she was told about Lau's statements that he regretted what has happened, Kaye said, "A kind person doesn't take people's money and leave them hanging. ...

"Why do you keep pitching. ... He's selling a dream that could never happen. That's the greatest crime of all."

Copyright © 1997-2007 / Hoosier Times, Inc. No reproduction without prior written consent.

Airleaf Victims, Internet Crime Complaint Center, Governor of Indiana.

December 8, 2007

Dear Airleaf Victims and Supporters,

First, allow me to welcome our 13 new members bring our totals to over 225 victims.
This has been a productive week which I feel will make us some headway. Due to the important information in this update, I will hold off on new author stories. You can read more of the new ones posted on our website at

As of today, Saturday, December 8, it appears as if Airleaf is no longer opening their doors. I hesitate to use the term “out of business” because I believe there is a new reorganization going on. But Airleaf as we knew it is no longer operating. Their website went down as of Thursday, December 6. I will keep you posted on this development as soon as I can confirm any information early next week. This means you will receive a short update from me before next Saturday to let you know the status. I don’t want you to have to wait a week for confirmation.

Just to refocus, let me review what our three major goals are:
To make sure Airleaf is out of business so it can no longer take money from new unsuspecting victims or keep our royalties that are paid to them through their website and other sources such as Amazon and Barnes and Noble.
To have our money returned to us for the fraudulent services of book publishing and promotions.

To have Carl Lau, owner, prosecuted for his criminal activities.
When Airleaf closes for good, we need to focus on goals two and three. We are not going to settle for Carl Lau going out of business and not being held accountable for our losses. He needs to return our money.

I really need your help at this point to take two important steps.

First, please fill out this link to the FBI when you have a chance this weekend.
Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3)

I had an extensive conversation with the FBI here in Philadelphia on Wednesday, and they are opening up a case to investigate the charges. Due to the fact that this fraudulence was not only national but international, and the number of people and amount of money is so great, the FBI will investigate the case.

The agent I spoke to gave me the link listed above so we can start to bring the urgency to their agency. This form will take about ten minutes to complete. After your personal information, it will ask you if you are filing related to the Internet or online service. Since almost all of us have corresponded through the internet through emails and online advertisements, check yes. Next, you will be asked about the individual/business that victimized you.
You will need to have the Airleaf address, phone, and Email address handy for this form. They are:

Business Name: Airleaf Publishing and BooksellingFirst name:

Carl Address: 35 Industrial Drive · Martinsville, Indiana 46151Telephone: 1 800 342-6068 Email Address: (this is Carl’s email)

The rest of the information will ask you basic information, including how you feel you have been victimized. This is where you tell them the same story you sent to Detective Buskirk. They will also ask you what other agencies you have been involved with. There are five choices listed including a consumer protection agency. That is for everyone who filed with the Indiana Attorney General. Most of you have filed with Detective Buskirk, so also check “Police.”
If you don’t have the exact information or dates, don’t worry. Put in what you can remember to the best of your ability just to get it submitted. The FBI agent was encouraging about our getting restitution for the money we’ve lost, so please take some time as soon as possible to take this step. I would like for the FBI to have over 100 complaints when they walk into their offices on Monday to give this case a big push.
The second step I need you to do is fill out the link below to the Indiana Governor’s office, Mitch Daniels. This form is shorter and invites you to ask the governor a question. In that box, please tell him your story.
The reason I am asking you to do this is because I had an antagonistic conversation with the Attorney General’s office in Indiana on Tuesday, December 4. Last week, I reported to you that Terry Tolliver is no longer part of the case and that I was trying to reach the person who took over our case. When I called the new person on Tuesday because I had no response from last week, it was a voicemail for a “paralegal.” I became angry and called Indiana’s AG Steve Carter’s office directly. His aide was not supportive when I told her that there is a “mountain” of complaints and this should not be handled by a paralegal. She looked at her computer and said, “This is hardly a ‘mountain’ of complaints.” I became angry because I have tracked over 70 complaints from you. She was only able to find a few scattered ones. I told her this is unacceptable. I decided to call the Governor’s office in Indiana for help. Again, I was transferred to a voicemail, but at least when someone did pick up the message, I had very quick action. Within an hour, I received a message from Joanne Hartford in the Indiana Attorney General’s office representative who now stated (changing her comments from the day before—and I quote because I have her message on my voicemail), “I have talked to several people that are working on investing this…it is still a very active investigation…obviously we can’t take it to any kind of litigation, we can’t go on without heavy duty investigating, and since the majority of these were filed late in the year we are doing our best…and I explained all that to the governor so he understands too.”
I don’t think the Governor does understand at all. These complaints have been coming in for five months. I think he needs to know first hand.
Here is the link to the Governor: ASK MITCH
At the bottom, it will ask you to write a question to him. That’s when you can ask him why the Attorney General’s office was not active in closing this company. Remember, as Airleaf closes, it is due to US, the vigilant victims, not the legal agencies that should have done it.
The closing of Airleaf brings up many questions including what happens to your books and how will books recently sold through Amazon and other outlets go to you. To help us unravel this mess, I turned to predatory expert Victoria Strauss who owns the website Writers Beware. I sent Victoria a copy of my Airleaf contract which I assume is similar to most of yours. In there is this clause:
Author Assurances
AUTHOR retains all rights to any book, manuscript or other written material submitted to AIRLEAF. Author is in agreement with the following statements:
1. AUTHOR is legally responsible for the content of any written material.
2. AUTHOR will not hold AIRLEAF responsible for delays or errors caused by any company or other distributor, beyond AIRLEAF's control.
3. AUTHOR is the sole owner of the written material submitted and has full power and authority to enter into this agreement.
4. AUTHOR is responsible for any written material that infringes any other copyrighted material, violates anyone else's rights, or contains unlawful, or libelous material.
5. AUTHOR retains all rights to any book, manuscript or other written material submitted.
6. AUTHOR understands that the laws of Indiana govern this agreement, and that Indiana would be the venue for any dispute.
The sentences I highlighted made me feel confident that we are clear of any tie-in with Airleaf. However, Victoria wrote this back to me to share with you:
The contract may say that "Author retains all rights," but that's not strictly accurate, since the contract grants nonexclusive publication rights to Airleaf. As long as the contract is in force, Airleaf has the right to print and sell your book. For your rights to be fully free and clear (which they would need to be if you wanted to try to sell your book to a commercial publisher), the Airleaf contract needs to be terminated or voided.Since the contract is freely terminable at will, sending notice to Airleaf that you're terminating the contract should be sufficient, even if you don't get a response from them. I'd send both an email and a certified snail mail letter, just so you can say you did everything you could.However, before you do anything, I suggest you consult a lawyer knowledgeable about publishing or intellectual property law. Would canceling now have an impact on your standing as a creditor if Airleaf does declare bankruptcy? On the other hand, it might make sense to cancel right away to avoid getting caught up in bankruptcy proceedings. I'd definitely want to have an informed opinion on this before I took action.On the Overview page of Writer Beware (, there's a section on Legal Recourse that provides links to the American Bar Association Lawyer Referral Service and Volunteer Lawyers for the Arts (a volunteer organization that specializes in providing legal assistance for people in the arts). Either service will arrange an initial low-cost or pro-bono consultation for you to discuss your situation, after which you can decide on what further action to take.- Victoria
I would like to thank Victoria for the support she is providing to our group. She has an important similar story on her blogsite this week that will encourage all of you. Here is the link:
Link: At Last! Writer Beware Blogs! A.C. Crispin and Victoria Strauss Reveal All!: V
We do have several lawyers in our group, so I’m hoping that one or two of them can check this out for us. In the meantime, you can feel free to email Carl Lau at and tell him that you are terminating your contract with him and keep a copy of that email for yourself.
This week, I had three conversations with Al Smith, President of Lite Stone Entertainment whom I have accused of being in partnership with Carl Lau to defraud authors. First I received this email from him:
December 4, 2007

Dear Ms. Kaye,
I have just been informed about your web statements regarding Airleaf. The information you have stated about myself and Lite Stone Entertainment is incorrect. We have Airleaf Publishing our book and that is it. Airleaf wants to do books to film with us but only if they paid for production cost.

I understand you have a problem with Airleaf and I am not a part of your relationship or issues. Please give me a contact number, so that I may speak with you.

Lite Stone Entertainment

I sent him my phone number, and he did call me. After our first conversation, this was my response to him:

Dear Mr. Smith,
Thank you for your candid conversation this evening. As I explained, I accused you of being in a conspiracy with Airleaf because on your website of books in production or pre-production for Lite Stone Entertainment, all of the books listed except for two matched the Airleaf site of Books to Films.
Airleaf has repeatedly advertised Jessie's Girl and The Touch as Airleaf books that were being made into films. We know that is not the case. Based on the false advertising that went on for so many months regarding this, numerous people were misled to believe that their books could end up being produced by your company and invested large sums of money for a dream that became a nightmare.
I am attaching a compilation of my updates so you can read some of these stories. You can also read some of the other horror stories on our website at
I will gladly give you an opportunity to post a response as you discussed with me stating that you were not in a conspiracy with Carl Lau to rob people of their money. I still don't understand how you could list people's books as being in production or pre-production, but maybe you can explain that in your response as well so we can put this issue to rest.
I appreciate your responsiveness of changing your website so more people won't be misled. I will forward you the advertisements that Airleaf had sent out to people to make them think that you were part of this fraud.
I am attaching a compilation of my updates to date where I do speak about you and your company. I will be happy to print your side of the story.
Bonnie Kaye, M.Ed.

After Mr. Smith read the compilation of updates, he sent back this response:

December 5, 2007

Dear Ms. Kaye,
I appreciate you forwarding the information regarding Airleaf. It's all quite overwhelming. We will be speaking soon.

Thank you,
Al Smith

Mr. Smith called me on Thursday evening, December 6, to let me know that his website was being taken down. He asked me if I could retract my statements. I told him I would change my website after I received a letter from him that I could share with you. He promised he would send it.

Mr. Smith called me again yesterday, Friday, December 7, to explain that it will take a few days to get the website replaced because of the complexities of the codes. I do understand this because I have someone else doing my websites. However, I still wanted him to send me a letter before making any changes. Early this morning, I did receive this note on his stationary:

December 7, 2007

Dear Ms. Kaye,
I appreciate you informing me on all the issues regarding Airleaf. We have the website being updated as of this moment. We are extremely disappointed in this situation with Airleaf also. We have disassociated ourselves with Airleaf Publishing completely. In addition, as mentioned, the books that were on our website’s listing was to be made into films only if Airleaf paid us to do so.

If you have any further issues, please let me know.

Al Smith
Lite Stone Entertainment

I am giving Mr. Smith the benefit of the doubt after my three conversations with him. I still don’t understand why he was naming “films in production or pre-production” knowing that there was no production, but I’ll assume that Carl Lau was promising that the money would be found. Based on that, I did change the language on my website about Lite Stone and changed that they were the partners in fraud with Airleaf to also being victims of a fraud.
For those of you who were listed on the site hoping that your books were going to become films, I'm sorry, but the truth has to be known.

I have mentioned to you in earlier updates that I am seeking a marketing company that you can trust for marketing your books for those who are looking to do so. I have been very careful not to promote any publisher, printer, or marketing source in these updates. I only mentioned Axess Printing because many of your books were stuck in that loop. A number of other printers, publishers, and promoters contacted me when they learned about our plight. But unless I feel totally confident in a company, I am not advocating them. In the weeks ahead, I will send you resources for republishing your books because when Airleaf is out of business, you will need to find a new publisher, as I have. But for the time being, I’m still doing research.

I believe in this company called Spotlight Publicity. I have worked in the past with one of the employees, Jessica, when she was at iUniverse where my earlier books were published. She was truly excellent, efficient, and effective as far as getting me excellent publicity which helped my book sales. I wrote and spoke to the manager, Lea Toland, and I asked her if she would be willing to work with some of our authors who are seeking publicity services. I asked her to put together some information about her company, and she sent me this response:

Spotlight Publicity guarantees that every author that we meet, consult, or work with will walk away with more knowledge and know-how when it comes to the book publicity process. Our main reason for founding Spotlight Publicity was to take the guess work out of marketing and publicizing books for authors of all levels. If you don’t know your target audience or aren't sure what your book marketing goals should be, that’s OK, we‘re happy to get you on track. If this is your ninth book and you're looking for a book promotion on a budget, then we can help you too.

All of our marketing services are billed at a rate of $42/hour and are customized for each individual author. Our services range from individually purchasable basics like a media press kit to nationwide book tours with location and genre specific media coverage. An outline of all services with more specific campaign details and length specifications can be found on our web-site at We're happy to answer your book promotion questions, just submit some information about yourself and your publication to us through our web-site or contact us directly at We would like to leave you with this, “Not every book is a guaranteed best seller, but every author deserves answers when it comes to marketing and publicizing their work.”
Our best,
Spotlight Publicity

Lea Toland
Spotlight Publicity, Business Manager
Office: (800) 914-1375 ext. 701
4451 S. 45th Street
Lincoln, NE 68516

Putting the Spotlight on Our Authors, Not Just Books.

Let me talk for a moment about marketing and publicity services. If you have hopes about your book becoming a national best seller or a movie in Hollywood, please do away with those thoughts. It is very unlikely to ever happen. Please be realistic with your marketing goals before you invest more money to find yourself disappointed. If you talk to Spotlight or other companies, ask for a realistic assessment of what will happen. Ask for them to provide you with a list of work they are doing for you. Ask for a written contract if you are paying for services. Don’t assume anything anymore!

If you have any questions or comments, please don’t hesitate to contact me.
I’ll write to you as soon as I get the status of Airleaf confirmed. Please fill out the links to the FBI and Indiana governor, and when you complete those steps, PLEASE EMAIL ME AND LET ME KNOW so I can track the complaints.

With love and hope,