Sunday, June 29, 2008

AIRLEAF VICTIMS UPDATE JUNE 28, 2008

Dear Airleaf Victims and Friends,

I have had the wonderful opportunity to meet nearly five hundred of you via email, telephone, mail, and in-person visits. I feel as if you are my extended family because we've shared so much together. Some of us will remain lifetime friends long after Airleaf is behind us.

It has been nearly a year since I started my campaign to stop the fraudulence at Airleaf. In this past year, together we have done what people said was impossible—namely put Airleaf out of business and have charges brought by the Indiana Attorney General's office all within this relatively short time period. I have no doubt that other charges will be brought on the criminal end even though things are not moving as quickly.

For the past 10 months, I have sent out my updates on a weekly basis to expose the fraudulence that went on at Airleaf as well as to give important information about republishing your work. Recently, I exposed similar Airleaf-type fraudulence going on at Jones Harvest Publishing. Brien Jones has sent out notes asking people why I am doing this to him. All I am doing is alerting people to the marketing fraud that Brien is repeating at his own company in the same contemptuous way he did at Airleaf.

I would like to tell you something of my past relationship with Brien. When I started my group of Airleaf Victims, a number of people believed and accused me of working with Brien Jones to start the group. They thought he was using me to get back at Airleaf and Carl Lau. Although Brien was very helpful in giving me information about Airleaf, as were other former employees, he was certainly not responsible for my actions. In fact, he was not in favor of them and discouraged me from starting the Airleaf Victims campaign. He still felt some sense of loyalty to Lau or perhaps it was fear of repercussions to him if Lau suspected Jones of working with me.

Many of you wrote to me in the early days when I started my campaign that Brien was the person you held responsible for the loss of your money. I tried to "redirect" your anger against Carl Lau because he was ultimately the person responsible for not providing the services and taking the money into the Airleaf bank account.

From our first conversation, Brien swore to me that he was going to be different than Airleaf. He only wanted to sell books. He said his goal was to travel from bookstore to bookstore asking them to take books because authors want their books in bookstores. In the beginning of his business, he told me that the Hollywood pitches were a waste of time and knocked Airleaf for doing that. He promised me that every promise he made to authors would be kept. HE WAS DIFFERENT THAN CARL LAU AND AIRLEAF. And guess what? I believed him. Because I believed him, I allowed him to use me to gather other authors for his business. That would have been fine if he was doing an honest job. But he wasn't—and he isn't. So many of our authors told me horror stories about Brien, and in time, it became impossible to overlook them. He had an excellent explanation for every accusation, but could so many people be wrong? Now I realize I was na├»ve and trusting even after being stung. So if it happened to you TWICE, know that you're not alone. But guess what? It won't happen to me ever again. I've learned to be smarter.

Since exposing the fraudulence of Jones Harvest three weeks ago, two people have written to me to tell me that they are happy with Brien Jones and Jones Harvest Publishing. I'm glad to hear that. But I've explained to these authors that there were people who were very happy with Airleaf as well; however, that didn't mean the majority of us weren't victims of predatory publishing. Brien makes promises in writing that he is not keeping nor does he have any intention of keeping. Even stamping that a book is has a copyright when there is no copyright is a blatant slap in the face of every author when that happens. Promising people fame when there is no fame to be had is repeating the same scam as Airleaf did. As so many of you have written to me over the past six months, you can no longer tell the difference between the Jones Harvest ads and the Airleaf ads. This is sickening for sure.

The lesson to be learned from our tragedy with Airleaf is not to make the same mistake twice—or in some of our cases, three times. And, if you made the mistake a second time, you can fix it. Make sure that you have a signed contract in hand from whomever your new publisher is. Make sure you get statements and payments as you were promised. Write down on your calendar the quarterly dates they are do. When you go to a publisher, have him put INTO writing what you can expect to make with the sale of your book. Seeing the profit margin may drive you to keep checking out other possible solutions. Do research on Google. Put in the name of the company and put Complaints about…. And see what comes up. You learn a whole lot that way. And then check with others who have used the company. Check with me! I'll research it for you and let you know what I find out. I have friends now in the predatory publishing world—thank you Victoria, Anne, and Dave! You are all guardian angels of our vulnerable and believing authors. Check out their Preditors and Editors and Writers Beware columns. Learn how to be a good detective before falling for promises that will be broken.

At this point, you will stop receiving the Airleaf Victims update on a weekly basis. I will send you all a blitz whenever there is news on the case. If I need help in getting results, I will write to all of you for your help. I am trying to refocus myself into positive action such as our Books of Excellence Author Co-op and exposing other predatory publishing to make sure victims have a platform.

If you need help in anything and want my help, don't hesitate to write to me. Otherwise, you'll hear from me on an informational basis only. I will let all of you know once our site for the authors' co-op is up and functioning. We will be very proud to accomplish this to show the world that our books will continue to be seen and read.

Incidentally, if you have the WE Entertainment channel on your cable (Women's Entertainment), you can see me in an episode of Secret Lives of Women being rebroadcast on July 1st at 11 p.m. and 2 a.m. You can also catch it on July 4th at 8 p.m. and 4:00 a.m. The episode is "Dirty Little Secrets of Suburban Housewives." It is certainly quite a shocking hour not for the faint of heart—or those under aged! I'm in the segment with the woman who has a gay husband. They interviewed me doing a counseling session with the woman. It's on the second part of the show.

Love to all of my victim fighters who helped make history happen. Better days are ahead.

With love and hope,

Bonnie

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

It is horrible that you all got scammed by Bookman/Airleaf/Jones Harvest. I worked at Bookman years ago and resigned when it was obvious Carl and Brien were scam artists. I had actually worked with both at another company and should have known better in the first place.

That being said, one thing Carl and Brien never had the gall to say is that many of the books they "market" should probably have never been written anyway. Most were poorly written, fraught with errors, lacked plot, etc. The authors of these books, unfortunately, were taken in by thinking that their books were actually good. Writing, in many cases, is a dream for most. But the reason it is a dream is it is a lot like playing pro sports. Some have the talent to make it, but most don't. The real publishers will tell you that you lack it, even if it hurts.

It's unfortunate too, because scam presses like these do a disservice to authors who actually do have talent by flooding the market with junk. It makes traditional publishers less than cordial to new authors because there is so much crap saturating the market.

All of this is not to say stop writing. A stroke of genius can happen to anyone and every once in a while even the worst writer can churn out something great. The first step is to be your own worst critic. If you hate what you write, there's a good chance it is no good. The problem is so many people think that every word they write is golden, don't criticize themselves enough and take offense when other people do. Criticism is all part of the publishing equation, ask King, Kerouac, Steinbeck or Ginsberg (well, if the last three were alive anyway).

The biggest advice I can give you is this: if you can afford to spend thousands of dollars to pay to get your work published and have that money stolen, then you can afford to hire a good agent and a good editor. Both of them will tell you if your work is viable and if the market will support it. Just be prepared for the "not good enough" spiel because that is what most of us get in the beginning (and what the majority will always get!)

--A traditionally-published, getting paid author whose inspiration is the stack of rejection letters tacked to his wall.