Airleaf Victims Update June 7, 2008
Dear Airleaf Victims and Friends,
Our numbers have now reached over 450 members. Welcome to the new members of our group.
We had a positive response to our Authors New Start Co-op group this week. So far, in our first week, we have 28 people ready to go. I will give this one more week in hopes of getting our targeted 50 members, but we can always add new members when people want to join who are part of our group.
Once again, the cost to join will be $50.00 for the first year, and $25.00 a year after that. For that money, you will get one book of your choice on the front page of the website and then a full page about you and your book or other books. If you need to make changes to the site such as adding books, there will be a minimal charge. In addition, members have to commit to buy five (5) books per year from other authors who are members of the co-op. These books can be used for gifts or for your own reading enjoyment.
Any additional money that comes in beyond the cost of the website design and web hosting will be used for advertising the website on Google and other search engines as well as sending out press releases to appropriate news sources.
If you have sent me your confirmation, you'll receive information from me in the next few days. If you still want to join this exciting new undertaking, drop me a note at Bonkaye@aol.com.
Déjà vu, Airleaf vu, Jones Harvest Publishing too!
Part of moving forward is learning from the mistakes of the past and not allowing ourselves to become victims again. It is with great sadness that I have to warn our members about another predatory publishing scam that has re-incarnated itself and replaced the fraudulence of Airleaf Publishing.
In the past six months, I personally have received nine different horror stories about Jones Harvest Publishing primarily from senior citizens who invested thousands of dollars into an Airleaf-type dream and in all but one case, after they invested and lost thousands of dollars at Airleaf. These people were sold promises—just like at Airleaf. Here is a typical sales pitch (from one of the numerous Jones Harvest websites listed below) that one author sent me from the package she paid $5,000.00 for over a year ago:
(I am substituting the book title and author name to protect the innocent)
Bright Tomorrow should make you a celebrity!
Dear Joan C.,
Has your publisher or publicist ever even read Bright Tomorrow? Or are you and your book known by an account or book number?
There are hundreds of vanity publishing, publicity and literary agencies across the nation—some charging ten to twenty thousand dollars—and all of them waiting for the thousands of authors that write new manuscripts every year.
These companies will publish or just print overpriced books, and attempt to provide royalty-paying publishing deals, or write press releases and promotions to try to get a review written…all of this is done by email (SPAM), of course, if that.
Author Celebrity Associates is different. We make promises and keep them. WE WILL READ YOUR BOOK. We will find out what makes it special and how best to present it. If you choose, we will publish or republish your book at no extra charge.
We want Bright Tomorrow to make you a celebrity. You deserve it. We also want to make this very easy for you. All we need from you is your book or manuscript—whatever way is most convenient. With that, we make the following commitments to you:
• WE WILL READ YOUR BOOK IMMEDIATELY
• We will publish or republish your book in 60 days or less. (Optional, but no charge)
• We will pay you 100% of the profits from the book sales until you have earned back our fee.
• We will feature a picture of you on the home page of www.Authorcelebrity.com
• When a reader clicks on your name or picture, they will see your book(s) and information.
• We will place your book for sale on 10 websites including amazon.com
• We will call every newspaper, magazine, and radio station in your hometown and report.
• We will guarantee one television appearance and provide you with a DVD version.
• We will guarantee 3 separate AM or FM interviews in major metropolitan markets.
• We will guarantee a fourth interview on nationally syndicated AM/FM radio show.
• We will submit your book to a film producer for review and recommendations.
We will not be attempting to make these things happen. Each of these commitments is guaranteed. We won't stop there either; our plan is to do much, much more. We will also continue to publicize and sell your book as long as you let us, (or until you get a better offer) at no extra charge.
We will not be satisfied until we place Bright Tomorrow in bookstores everywhere and (name) is a celebrity. This program has a one-time fee of $7500. There are no further charges of any kind.
Brien Jones, President
P.S. In your case, the price is $5,000. That is my way of apologizing for the past misfortunes AND showing you what we can accomplish at cost. Please keep this offer confidential. All but a very few authors must pay full price.
Wow—this is AIRLEAF all over again. The authors who have become Jones Harvest victims all have the same story about broken promises including time delays, failure to see galleys, numerous errors in the proofs, virtually no sales, lack of coordination of promises, and disrespect by some of the staff. When the first set of victims came to me in November, I told them to request their money back as I did all of the future ones who wrote to me. Some of these new victims had their money returned after they wrote Jones Harvest a letter threatening to report the company to the FBI and Attorney General. However, there are other victims whom I have recently learned about who have not had their money returned. And I can bet that there are other victims who don't know to come to me for help. Interestingly, most of these victims who contacted me are 70 years or older and vulnerable.
When Brien Jones started his own business in January of 2007, he made claims that he was going to be different than Airleaf. He left Airleaf because of the broken promises that were made to authors. As he stated in a letter to me dated January 30, 2007, "Carl and I had different opinions on how to use Airleaf's resources. I did my best to keep authors from being dissatisfied with our services. In your case I failed and I apologize."
I should have known there was a problem from that letter because I never worked with Brien Jones or even knew who he was. I only learned about him after he left and sent me an introductory letter like many others received. I took the bait because at that point, I knew something was wrong at Airleaf since my money wasn't coming through.
In my early conversations with Brien, he was clear that he had one goal and one goal only—selling books to bookstores. He was totally against the Hollywood trips, the book fairs, and other Airleaf plots because that's not how to sell books. He sounded legit to me, and not knowing differently except from Airleaf making some snide comments about his leaving, I had no reason to doubt him.
As the months went on and I was really disgusted with Airleaf, Brien offered to print my book for free in the summer of 2007 if I would be on his website. I was not opposed to that at all since I had reached the end of my rope with Airleaf. But as I became more involved with the Airleaf Victims group I started in August 2007,(which incidentally was NOT a plot with Brien as Airleaf kept suggesting) and started to read complaint after complaint about Brien Jones, I started to wonder why so many people were holding him responsible for their losses. People were looking for vengeance against him more than Carl Lau. I tried explaining that Brien had nothing to do with the money—that was Carl Lau. But people were adamant—Jones was guilty. They didn't accuse him of keeping the money, but rather of taking their money for packages that were never delivered.
I wrote those authors back saying that we need to target Carl Lau since he was the owner of Airleaf and ultimately the one responsible for not delivering what was paid for and keeping our money to enhance his lifestyle. He had visions of grandeur of becoming a famous Hollywood figure in the movies. His ego allowed him to be taken by the likes of Al Smith and Litestone Entertainment, a crooked "production" company that collaborated to make a number of you believe that your books were being turned into films by highlighting them on their now defunct website. Lau opened up his "Allen Agency" in California to sign movie contracts with authors. The whole thing is beyond bizarre and actually a story worthy of a real Hollywood movie.
I confronted Brien on the complaints coming in, but his answer was always the same. He claimed he sold services—he had no idea the services weren't being delivered. When he learned about it, he left. I would also call him on the complaints about misleading people, but the answer was the same. He was just as salesman. Somehow, Executive Vice President seems like more than a salesman to me. But Brien kept stating he was reforming from whatever sins he participated in while at Airleaf, and people should give him a chance. He even published some of the authors' books for free to show good faith.
But moving forward, I started to see that Brien was doing things in the same way that Airleaf did. I guess Brien realized that just publishing books and selling them wasn't going to make him money. First it was sending media blitzes for $450.00. Then it was going on book tours for $750.00. And of course, he was now going to take your book to Hollywood and pitch it to the movie directors.
If you look on the Jones Harvest website, you will see a whole bunch of other websites that he sponsors including: Author Celebrity Associates, Starred Review, AuthorSoldier (New!), Perfect Heart Publishing, Great Concept Books, Bookwheat, Bargain Book Basement, and Chosen Few. Each concept lures people in through a different door, but all roads end up at the same place.
Also, at the bottom of the shopping list is My Author Profile. According to the website, you can have yourself featured on there for $499.00. Yikes! You can have your own website designed and hosted for less than $100.00 and not have to share it with a bunch of others who will only be viewed by Jones Harvest authors and potential Jones Harvest authors.
Another note of interest: Part of the hook is promising reviews to customers. In a standard letter, it stated:
Also enclosed is a review we've received after sending it to a professional reviewer. We are our reviewers to be honest and to offer a clear perspective of what other readers could expect. As such, we really can't do anything about what it says, that's kind of the nature of the reviews. The reviewers are professionals so they are generally quite respectful and view your work as having an audience, even if it's not every audience.
People pay Jones Harvest to get their books reviewed. I read the review. It was signed by Tim, Brien's former phone receptionist and college nephew. His title under his name was "Media Researcher and Educator, T&R Reviews." The T&R stands for Tim and Rosa, Tim's wife. That's really a credible "professional" source to pay money for, isn't it? Next it will be the scary pumpkin head on his logo or possibly the wilted hay stalk writing the reviews.
Jones Harvest has gone from the original promise of only selling books to bookstores to:
National Blitz - $1850
We will feature your book on the HOME PAGE on our websites, www.jonesharvest.com and www.bookwheat.com, usually the same day you start! That means that any reader or bookstore owner that sees those websites sees your cover.
We will also read your book and write a comprehensive review. This review will then be featured on our unique website www.starredreview.com. We will also submit the review to 20 websites.
We will then write a custom, full-color, one-page promotion for your book. We will send it to you for your approval. You can make whatever corrections you want, at no additional charge. We will then mail it to 1000 bookstores in any markets you choose with an invitation to buy your books and/ or set up book signings. We will follow-up on all responses by telephone or whatever is necessary to place your book or generate a book-signing.
We will also write an AP style press release about your book and submit it to 100 newspapers and magazines. Before we mail it, we will send it to you for approval--again you can make changes at no additional charge.
Most importantly we also assign a telemarketer to you not only to answer responses but to also make outbound calls to newspapers, magazines, media and bookstores in the markets of your choice.
And now he's progressed to a super, duper, deluxe package of the secret price of $5,000.00 reduced from $7,500.00 so you can be a guest on vanity radio with Ian Moore and Stu Taylor, Brien's friends that almost no one listens to. But please keep that information "confidential" because only a few lucky people are getting that special price and we wouldn't want to let the word out!
Bottom line—there's a saying: Hit me once, shame on you. Hit me twice, shame on me.
So far, I haven't seen any of the Jones Harvest customers on television as some have been promised. And I certainly don't see any celebrities in the making. I have to wonder how I ended up on the Jones Harvest Celebrity Authors MySpace account with all of my books since I'm not a Jones Harvest Celebrity. Oh well, maybe Brien will update his site.
My bottom line is that predatory publishing must be stopped at every level. It's doubly insulting that the man who scammed at Airleaf is still pulling the same scam at his own company. It's time to put a stop to the illegal taking of authors' money. If you think you are a victim of Jones Harvest, please contact me and I will be there to guide you into your new membership group!
With love and hope,