Dictator Tate

Those lovely people at Tate Publishing, the sleazy vanity press, are in the news again, this time over president Ryan Tate's firing of 25 employees,and the circumstances surrounding the action, and for threatening financial ruin to any others who dare to speak about the company's plans to outsource their operation to the Philippines.

Tate Publishing President Ryan Tate said the company is opening an office in the Philippines, but denies there are any layoffs planned. He said the 25 workers who lost their jobs Thursday were terminated for breaching confidentiality agreements in their employment contracts after leaking rumors about the outsourcing.

[…]In a recording of an employee meeting held this week obtained from a Tate employee by The Journal Record, Ryan Tate threatened to sue staff members and file liens against their houses and cars if they violated their employee contracts by talking to the media or sharing information about the company on Facebook and Twitter.

In the recording, Ryan Tate said he would fire 25 production workers after no one came forward to take responsibility for the anonymous email sent out to employees on Sunday that decried the rumored layoffs.

“Good people are going to lose their jobs – it’s not fair,” Ryan Tate said in the recording. “It’s not right, but that’s the reality of the situation. Jesus himself is the perfect mix of mercy, grace and justice. I have probably failed you in that I have been a little too lenient and a little too on the side of mercy and grace and not on the side of justice.”

At the meeting, Ryan Tate then went on to say several employees had already been named as defendants in a $7.8 million lawsuit for breaching their employee confidentiality agreements. A search of state and federal court filings revealed that no such litigation has been filed as of Thursday, a fact Ryan Tate later confirmed. 

What a great guy…and such a fine example of the Christian values he espouses and ueses to selling his outrageously over-priced and utterly worthless vanity press "services." His behavior in the 17 minute recording of the meeting is truly appalling and shows his true colors…you can hear it in its entirety on the Journal Record site

Scammer Still Scamming

Pity poor Brien Jones, the veteran vanity press sleazo behind Jones Harvest…who preyed on old people, taking their money on the false promise of "publishing" their books, getting them into bookstores and into the hands of Hollywood producers. Scores of people, most of them elderly, lost thousands of dollars to this unrepetent scammer…and now he wants you to feel sorry for him…and write another check. In a letter to his suckers, republished on the Jones Harvest Fraud Victims blog, he writes, in part:

I tried to sell [BOOK TITLE] and the rest every way possible—more ways than you ever heard about. As with 99% of our titles I failed. It’s hard. And if you ever try selling somebody else’s book (or even your own) to bookstores you’ll find it’s also unpleasant.

By 2010 I spent half my day listening to bookstores hang up on me and the other half listening to authors that paid $950 to publish (usually less than we spent on the print run) complain about lack of sales. I have to admit I don’t feel very bad about giving up on some of those clients.

I do feel bad about you. You were one of the few that even acknowledged our website was free of vanity publishing information or that we had a bookstore. Most of our clients never noticed. I kept on trying anyway. 

Astonishing, isn't it? One moment he's talking about taking $950 from authors to "publish" their books and ignore their calls…and the next he's taking pride in the fact that he never disclosed on his site that he was running a thinly-disguised, nickel-and-dime vanity press that primarily preyed on the elderly.  And by his own admission, he failed to sell books 99% of the time… a fact I'm sure he never mentioned when he was sweet-talking some grandma out of a thousand bucks.   

Jones then has the audicity to recommend to everyone that he bilked that they go to Accurance and write another check for $850 to actually get their books "published" this time  (What do you bet he gets a commission on each of those "sales"?)

Bill Earle, a huckster for Accurance, then sent a letter to the Jones Harvest suckers, breaking the news that, despite all the money they gave to Brien Jones, their books were worthless and unsaleable. In other words, they threw their money away. Here's an excerpt:

Right now, we are concentrating everything on the Jones authors who were published with Jones. Those ISBNs are dead now so those books are no longer for sale. Even if sales were poor in the past for whatever reason, you don't have a chance at even one now. 

Our Jones Publishing Package, is fast, high quality, as affordable as is possible, and most importantly – complete. Right now, the book you had published with Jones is no longer valid. The ISBN from Jones for your book is a dead account. We are honored to be able to offer you the fastest way back to the market for just $849. 

It's so nice that Bill is "honored" to offer the Jones Harvest suckers a chance to throw their money away again. 

I have no sympathy at all for anyone who, after already being screwed over by Brien Jones, would now take his advice and write another fat check to yet another vanity press. 

The "deal" that Accurance offers is a rip-off…just like everything Brien Jones has ever been associated with. A non-Jones author could get exactly the same services from Accurance for $500 (I wonder where that extra $250 is going?). But wait, it gets even worse. As Bonnie Kaye, founderof the Jones Harvest Fraud Victims Blog notes:

And guess what—if you take this route, you don’t even have a publisher. Accurance isn’t a publisher—it’s a set-up company that brokers you out to companies like Lulu, where you are your own publisher.

In other words, you could just go to Lulu yourself and cut Accurance out entirely. And you know what it would cost you to get your book published?

Zero.

Now that's a deal.

The fact is, in today's new world, you'd have to be a brain-dead to pay anyone $900 to publish your book, whether it's Accurance, Tate, DogEar, Author House or anybody else.

Why?

Because you can publish for FREE digitally (on Amazon, B&Nand in print (with CreateSpace, Lulu, etc). Amazon, Lulu and CreateSpace take their money as a very small cut of your royalties. They make money when YOU make money. You don't have to pay a dime up front, to say nothing of $850.

You can even avoid the minimal cost of having your work formatted for ebooks by using Smashwords, which will also distribute your book to scores of online retailers. You can even make a cover yourself using your own artwork and a basic photo editing program.

It's time for aspiring authors to wake up and stop being carrion for vultures like Brien Jones. 

UPDATE: 1-3-2012: Adding insult to injury, the notorious sleazo Brien Jones is now sending letters to the authors that he swindled, offering them the "opportunity," if they hurry and act right now, to buy all of the existing, unsold copies of their books back from him for $5.99 each…oh, and be sure to make the checks out to him personally, not his pseudo publishing company (hmm, do you think he could be trying to evade creditors like, for instance, the same authors he's trying to screw now?). 

Sucker Country

With the launch of Book Country, Penguin is the latest major publisher to open a "self-publishing" division aimed at taking advantage of the desperation and naivete of aspiring authors and charging them outrageous amounts of money for useless publishing "services."

Joe Konrath,  David Gaughran, and many others have done a terrific job of outing Book Country for the enormous rip-off that it is.  Here's how Joe sums up their "service:" 

For $549 they will format your ebook and print book, and then upload it to retailers.

Or for $299 they will let you do your own formatting, and then upload the book to retailers.

Huh?

Formatting ebooks and paper books is tricky, but Rob Siders at52novels.com is less costly than Book Country, and Rob does an incredible job.

After formatting, you should upload your books to Createspace,KindleNook, and Smashwords on your own (takes about an hour) for FREE and you're done. You're published. That's all there is to it.

Why would you pay Penguin to upload your titles? That's the easiest part of the self-publishing process.

But wait, there's more. Penguin also keeps 30% of your royalties.

So not only do you pay them, you also keep paying them. 

It's a con job aimed at people too naive to know how badly they are getting screwed…usng the same playbook as scammers like Authorhouse (the vanity press that Harlequin and Thomas & Nelson partnered with for their "self-publishing services")

The one smart thing Penguin has done is make it very clear that this "service" has nothing to do with their esteemed publishing division, thus avoiding the big landmine that Harlequin stepped on when they initially announced their own division aimed at gouging aspiring authors.

If you click on the Penguin logo at the bottom of the Book Country site, you get a disclaimer, which reads in part:

Book Country, LLC is a subsidiary of Penguin Group, a Pearson company. Though owned by Penguin Group (USA), Book Country is a separate entity, both legally and practically with full-time Book Country staff members. 

In other words, they've erected a Chinese wall between their reputable, classy publishing imprint and this sleazy, vanity press-style cash-grab from aspiring writers.  

They are being careful not to potentially tarnish their brand, provoke the ire of their established authors (who don't want their work associated with a vanity press), or face possible delisting by the major, professional organizations for writers.  

But that doesn't make Book Country any less of a rip-off. Shame on Penguin.

Inept Publisher Rises from the Dead

You may remember Lightsword, the scandal-plagued publishing company that defrauded authors and crumbled under author/editor Linda Daly's ineptitude and scores of lawsuits. Well, now Daly is back with LSP Digital and has announced that she's accepting manuscript submissions next year. She writes:

Linda continues her quest and passion for writing by working on several manuscripts and screenplays; while still mentoring gifted storytellers. As much as she enjoys creating a holiday for the mind, she remains mindful that without the guidance and direction from above, none of this would be possible.

It's nice to know that Daly is on a mission from God, but what could she possibly "mentor gifted storytellers" about? She doesn't know how to write, she's never had a screenplay produced, and she clearly doesn't know how to run a publishing company. But don't take my word for it. The shameful, sordid history of Lightsword is easy to find on the Internet…and her own, um, writing speaks for itself.  Here's her description of her book SEA OF LIES:

From the opening scene, it is unclear he appears to be, or the devious and manipulative gigolo Jordan's uncle, and her friend Jules Storey, believe him to be. As two women, who look very much like Jordan, are brutally murdered, and a mysterious man shadows Jordan, fear sets in. Jordan begins to question just how well she knows her husband. Believing Grant intends to kill her, Jordan flees with Jules for the safety of her uncle's home in England that culminates into an explosive finale.

And here's her pitch for her novel PAPER HANGER.

 

Hours following the release of an inmate from Cumberland Penitentiary, the savage rash of  murders including a seasoned and honored FBI agent are discovered. Further investigation unravels a life of corruption that may include conspiring with a fugitive from one of the FBI’s 10 Most Wanted and  the unsolved Gardner Heist, valued over 500 million.Saucy, intelligent, and beautiful, Sharon Walker, a seasoned agent for the Department of Homeland Security, accepts the challenges and dangers surrounding her work, that is, until it reaches her own private world. Following the untimely deaths of her parents, killed execution style, Sharon's world is further rocked when she uncovers their secret lives as plate forgers for a counterfeit ring. Further investigations reveal that those who murdered her folks intend to keep their secret life a mystery, and will stop at nothing to assure it. Chad Lewis, (from "Sea of Lies") retired from the department is called in to uncover the truth.

 

The only thing sharper than her writing is her business savvy. LSP is launching a new line called "Coffee Break Reads" and she is generously sharing 45% of the royalties with the authors. But it's not clear what service LSP is providing in exchange for their 55% cut, since she requires authors to pay for the editing:

These stories must be in the most pristine edited condition before they will be considered for publishing. During the submission read-through process, we will determine the need for further editing, and while LSPD will not provide editing service on these reads, we will provide you with names of editors familiar with LSPD format. These editors are professionals and usually charge on average $3.00 per page. This is a one-time fee for a one-time edit, but it's well worth it, and you will be working with these editors one-on-one and completely separate from LSPD. We want these little reads to be exemplary and polished. And make note, we will not suggest you go through the editing process if we don't truly think we will publish your story. We live on tight budgets, too. We're here to help you make money, not cost you needlessly.

I suppose what Daly is offering is the same, stellar marketing expertise that has propelled her to the heights of literary obscurity and bankruptcy. Or perhaps it's the combinaton of all of that and her amazing eye for cover art, like this:

AwakeAdSlick-758x1170
Despite her utter failure as an author, screenwriter, and publisher, she has the chutzpah to peddle a book that she's written called "ASPIRING WRITERS GUIDE: An Author Screenwriter and Publishers Perspective on Creative Storytelling, Volume 1." It's a whopping 32 pages and it's a steal at $7.98.  

I can't imagine why any sane person would get into business with Linda Daly…or LSP Digital. There's is nothing she can do for you that you can't do better yourself…and that includes flushing your money down the toilet. 

UPDATE:  I am still trying to figure out exactly what LSP Digital is going to do to earn their 55% of the royalties from the books that they "publish."  The authors have to pay for their own editing and, as it turns out, they are also responsible for all the marketing as well. She calls that LSP's "Commitment to Marketing." By that, I guess she means your commitment to marketing. Here's how she explains herself on her site:

I'm not suggesting that the marketing plan that we at LSP Digital have developed will offer you an opportunity at this year’s recipient of a Pulitzer or making the New York’s Best Sellers List.  What I am suggesting, though, is that before your career can ever take off, you need to promote your work — create a buzz and we intend to help you.

How?  

The first thing we ask each of our authors to remember is that YOU must promote your book.  That requires hard work, dedication, persistence and a solid marketing plan as the foundation for your business.  One that we at LSP believes will pave the way to your and our success . Below is a list of fundamental tools needed to 'Market your Wares', many that LSP create for our authors to assist them in their marketing endeavors.  NOTE:  Although LSP Digital will offer support to our stable of authors, by providing them with an extensive marketing kit and valuable tools, we firmly believe that it is the author that must promote their work, not the publisher.  We publish books and should not be confused as an authors publicist.

Uh-huh. So I guess what that means is that Daly will add a cover on your book and send it to Kindle and CreateSpace for you. Well, that's certainly worth 55% and not something you could do yourself. But wait, what about all those kernels of marketing wisdom Daly can provide? Here's a taste of her marketing brilliance, which has served her so well:

** Create your own Business cards (include logo and / or tag line (see below). MS Word has templates to choose from.

** Create a Tag line – one or two sentences describing your story to use for promotional materials.

** Add an Email signature. It should include your logo and/or personal tag line.

Wow. That's powerful stuff. How come nobody has ever thought of that before? Print my own business cards? Why the hell didn't that ever occur to me? Add a signature to my emails? Sheer genius. I'm putting that advice to work for me right away. But wait, there's more. She expects her authors to:

*** Requesting that they mail out (a minimum of 100) announcement letters to family, friends and colleagues introducing their release.

*** Send an email blast announcing the release.

*** Mail an introduction press release to local & national publications, talk shows, local media and local book stores.

My God, I am breathless. Her approach is revolutionary. No, that's not giving it enough credit. Her ideas are a revelation.

It is with great pride that we at LSP Digital offer such an extensive marketing plan and support to our authors. Ultimately, we accept without reservation that it is up to the author to embrace 'Marketing Your Wares' if they are to become the success that they are striving for, we just believe that by assisting them on this wondrous journey these added steps will set LSP and our authors apart from the others. After all, LSP Digital was founded to help others see their dreams come true, and we continue to do so as we move forward in this technology revolution.

It's so great that they embrace, without the slightest reservation, that their authors are responsible for everything and that LSP is responsible for absolutely nothing. That takes guts. No wonder Linda Daly has had such incredible success as an author and publisher. Now, if you will excuse me, I have to embrace my potential and print up some business cards.

Inside the Mind of a Literary Thief

Everybody knows by now that the spy thriller Assassin of Secrets was stitched together by "author" Quentin Rowan from passages stolen, word for word, from other espionage novels. But he went even further than that… he also stole from other authors for the essays, blog posts, and the Q&A interviews that he did to promote his book.

Novelist Jeremy Duns, who blurbed the original novel, has been extraordinarily aggressive now in exposing the ruse and, in the comments section of his excellent blog post dissecting the Assassin of Secrets, Rowan shows up to explain himself, leading to a revealing, back-and-forth interview. It's fascinating stuff. Here's an excerpt of Rowan's mea culpa…

"[…] the minute I got an agent and started showing it to people who suggested changes, I began to distrust the quality of whatever real work I'd done on it. So I started ripping off passages from spy novels in my collection that fit. Somehow public scrutiny has always been the pressure point for me. Once I feel I'm doing the work for someone else's eyes, I begin stealing, because I want to impress.

Once the book was bought, I had to make major changes in quite a hurry, basically re-write the whole thing from scratch, and that's when things really got out of hand for me. I just didn't feel capable of writing the kinds of scenes and situations that were asked of me in the time allotted and rather than saying I couldn't do it, or wasn't capable, I started stealing again. I didn't want to be seen as anything other than a writing machine, I guess. Some call it "people pleasing." Anyway, the more I did it, the deeper into denial I went, until it felt as if I had two brains at war with each other. Half of my time this past year was spent in a strange internal argument: Yes I can, no I can't. They'll figure it out! No they won't! It became like a strange schizophrenic form of gambling, and for some reason – viewing myself as a failed 'literary' writer – I saw this book as my "last shot." So even though what was left of my rational mind understood I would probably be found out, I still thought I had to bet it all on this one horse."

The Bookwhirl Morons Never Learn

Those imbeciles at Bookwhirl, who offer inept publicity services, sent me… a guy who has been trashing them for years….a promo for their Thanksgiving sale just to prove that they still can't promote themselves effectively,  much less an author. The best proof of their staggering ineptitude as publicists is that they even have me on their mailing list.

One of the hallmarks of Bookwhirl's publicity efforts has always been their stunning inability to write. That hasn't changed. I loved this paragraph from their promo:

Early Bird Catches the Early Worm Promo is a race on catching the finest prices on the earliest dates. BookWhirl.com encourages you to harvest the fattest perks of being early. Here's a run down of how being an early bird can get your money's worth fly at an extra-extra mile. 

Nobody crafts a sentence quite like the wonderful wordsmiths at Bookwhirl. I wonder whether anyone at Bookwhirl ever went beyond the sixth grade or if they only hire non-English speakers. You can find amazing examples of their inability to craft a sentence all over their site. Here's one of my favorites, especially given the context….

Apparently, someone has been sending out emails to authors warning them not to use Bookwhirl's over-priced, worthless services. Bookwhirl has a notice on their site urging potential customers not to heed the warning:

The scammer operates by sending warning messages to authors that contains false allegations and bad publicities about BookWhirl.com that has never been proven accurate.

I'd say Bookwhirl just proved the "scammer" right. That said, I think the warnings being sent out by the "scammer" are pointless. Anyone who hires Bookwhirl after reading anything they've written deserves to be screwed over by them.

Jones Harvest is Dead

Bonnie Kaye reports on her Jones Harvest Fraud Victims blog that Brien Jones' sleazy vanity press is finally dead and buried. She writes, in part:

Brien Jones is a predator. He had his staff calling people in nursing homes to solicit them for money. Some of his past employees have called me with the horror stories of how horrible they felt doing this. Children of three different elderly authors have contacted me after their parents died waiting for books that were never printed. 

[…]Some of you are aware that Jones opened a bookstore in a strip mall in the middle of nowhere. Since he was unable to get author books into real bookstores, he rented his own with the money donated by two authors in order to have the store named after them, Bidwell Moore and Merlene Byars. […]I called several stores in the shopping strip where the store was located and they confirmed that Jones “snuck out” in the middle of the night due to non-payment of rent.  

Brien Jones has given up snookering elderly people out of their savings to "publish" their books to reportedly concentrate on becoming an author himself. I only wish he was writing his books from a prison cell.  The real tragedy here is that law enforcement officials in Indiana let Jones continue with his sham publishing company until it finally, and thankfully, crumbled under his staggering incompetence.

The Wit and Wisdom of Brien Jones

Yesterday, I wrote about the apparent demise of Jones Harvest Publishing, huckster Brien Jones' notoriously sleazy vanity press. Today I stumbled on his blog…and his posts are very telling. Here are a few samples…

Yesterday, he wrote a post that began:

Sorry I’ve been AWOL. I got caught up in legal proceedings. Not against ME (for once) but an actual-factual criminal. 

A few weeks earlier he wrote, in part:

THIS subject is closest to my heart it will probably not be terribly amusing—ESPECIALLY if you’re underpaid and stuck in a dead-end job with AN ASSHOLE for a BOSS.

Recently I was HORRIFIED TO LEARN that was precisely how my colleagues viewed ME.

THAT’S MY FAULT. As with EVERY rule, law, or responsibility IGNORANCE IS NO EXCUSE. In fact, NOT knowing makes the situation WORSE.

THAT’S NOT how things USED TO BE. If you spent a day working in our office last year you wouldn’t have thought BRIEN JONES was in charge of ANYTHING.

My wife and co-founder Brandy (who remains UNIVERSALLY REVERED) had clearly been at the helm.

Then I stepped in and made a couple VERY BAD DECISIONS. As a result of those decisions what had been a vibrant, happy and even slightly profitable little company augured into the ground…

We can only hope. Also, about a month ago, he wrote, in part:

About once a year I have the following conversation with our attorney.

“Hi counselor, one of our author friends is SUING US.” 

[…]So I hope you understand why I don’t go OUT OF MY WAY to sign CONTRACTS. In fact I try to avoid writing ANYTHING down.

[…]Ironically I learned this lesson rather late. During the five years I lived in California I kept a journal. When I moved back TO INDIANA I went straight to Lake of the Woods.

It was there Gramma saw me writing in my big black book. She asked me what it was. I told her it was my daily journal. That’s when that wonderful woman gave me PRICELESS ADVICE I still live by TODAY.

She said, “If you don’t HAVE a journal then THEY CAN’T SUBPOENA IT.”

And a month before that, he wrote about dealing with angry authors:

I don’t know about YOU but the whole time I worked for other people’s companies I had an overwhelming urge to tell rude customers to ‘GO JUMP IN A LAKE!’

Sometimes customers say really mean things to employees. And if that employee was me, I wanted to say mean things right back. But had I responded in any way, that customer might have asked to “speak with my supervisor.” You know what THAT means…

The risk was just too great. I had to remain polite. Otherwise I could have LOST MY JOB! But OH, how I wanted to say something like ‘GO FLY A KITE’ to those JERKS.

Now it’s MY COMPANY and that changes EVERYTHING. Only NOW do I understand the true gravity of the situation–that the wrong response could have dire consequences for everyone.

It really changes your perspective. In fact, no matter how impolite or unreasonable a customer is, I remember it’s critical to remain polite and professional. Right?

I had you going right? RIGHT? DIDN’T I? C’MON I HAD YOU GOING! ADMIT IT!

I say “GO FUCK YOURSELF” at least ONCE A WEEK!

And at MY COMPANY if somebody asks to talk to one of MY PEOPLE’S ‘supervisor’ and they get ME? GOD HELP em’!

We got a call this week from an author I’ll call MARY JONES-DURBIN (because it’s her name) the author of “Words From My Soul.”

THIS IDIOT called to DEMAND the money we were making from selling HER BOOK. Never mind the fact that WE DIDN’T PUBLISH her book, nor EVER HAD ANY COPIES. I listened to one of my people spend 10 MINUTES trying to explain that. I did it in 10 WORDS!

“Are you listening moron? I DARE YOU TO SUE ME!”

That reminds me, of the CONSEQUENCES. Aside from breaking the phone by slamming it too hard, here is the COMPLETE LIST of the consequences in order of DIRENESS.

1. People say mean things about me on the internet.

THAT’S IT! But GOOGLE ME or my company you’ll discover I am a REALLY BAD PERSON.

2. I am not ONLY publishing books in a FIENDISH manner but also the MASTERMIND behind the MADOFF SCANDAL as well as THE BOSTON STRANGLER!

3. It goes without saying I was NOT born in HAWAII!

In fact, one woman created an entire website JUST FOR TRASHING ME! I know! AWESOME RIGHT? You can’t BUY that kind of PUBLICITY!

What a lovely guy. Let's hope Jones Harvest doesn't rise from the dead…and that Brien Jones finds a new way to earn a living that doesn't involve talking senior citizens into dipping into their retirement fund or social security income to "publish" their books.

Let’s Dance on The Grave of Jones Harvest

It appears that Jones Harvest Publishers, the vanity press run by huckster Brien Jones, has finally died in shame.  His company website has disappeared and he's reportedly closed the pitiful  little storefront that he operated to convince his gullible "authors,"  primarily senior citizens, that their poorly-printed books would be available in brick-and-mortar stores.  

Bonnie Kaye, who operates the Jones Harvest Fraud Victims blog and the Jones Harvest Fraud Victims site, reports:

I have been receiving letters from people who are customers of Jones Harvest stating that there is no way to contact them. So I did some of my own investigating and found out they were right–the website has been down for at least a week. The emails are being returned. No one is answering the phone… 

Kaye was one of the victims of Airleaf, the disgraced vanity press scam that once employed — you guessed it — Brien Jones, who then scurried off to start his own print-on-demand press.  By then, he was an old hand at selling empty dreams of publishing success to wanna-be writers. Before Airleaf,  Brien worked for Bookman Marketing, an even more notorious publishing scam. Some people never learn…and that includes the suckers. Many victims of the Airleaf scam actually followed Brien to Jones Harvest, only to reportedly suffer the same disappointment and financial loss all over again. 
Frankly, I'm surprised Brien and his shabby operation lasted this long.  CreateSpace and Lulu, which allow people to publish their paperbacks for free, and Amazon and Barnes & Noble, which make it easy to self-publish ebooks for nothing, have been the Black Death for outfits like Jones Harvest.  I'll miss Brien.. only because his lame-brained schemes, like asking you to hire his staff of "expert" screenwriters to adapt your unpublished books into hit screenplays, were so much fun to ridicule.   
 
Let's hope the long-overdue, well-deserved demise of Jones Harvest will be the last time we see Brien Jones laughably passing himself off as a publisher.

Rumor has, he's decided to become a writer instead…

UPDATE 10/11/2011 (11:41pm): Maybe I spoke too soon. Here's what Brien Jones wrote a few weeks back on his blog:

So, You want to start your own company? It’s lonely at the top…

As far as THIS SERIES is concerned EIGHT is DEFINETLY ENOUGH.

Also because THIS subject is closest to my heart it will probably not be terribly amusing—ESPECIALLY if you’re underpaid and stuck in a dead-end job with AN ASSHOLE for a BOSS.

Recently I was HORRIFIED TO LEARN that was precisely how my colleagues viewed ME.

THAT’S MY FAULT. As with EVERY rule, law, or responsibility IGNORANCE IS NO EXCUSE. In fact, NOT knowing makes the situation WORSE.

THAT’S NOT how things USED TO BE. If you spent a day working in our office last year you wouldn’t have thought BRIEN JONES was in charge of ANYTHING.

My wife and co-founder Brandy (who remains UNIVERSALLY REVERED) had clearly been at the helm.

Then I stepped in and made a couple VERY BAD DECISIONS. As a result of those decisions what had been a vibrant, happy and even slightly profitable little company augured into the ground.

Clearly I’m no good at running things.

For example MY LATEST HIRE has failed to meet every benchmark and quota imaginable (aside from FARTING) and often appears only long enough to ask if we’ve RECEIVED ANY CHECKS.

THAT ATTITUDE is not unique.

Over the past five years we’ve had QUITE A FEW PEOPLE that think MONEY JUST RAINS IN OUT OF THE SKY and we’re not CATCHING IT RIGHT.

Huh. Maybe they're onto something, after all…

Now we’re losing our last and BEST COLLEAGUE. And THAT is a CRISIS.

It is well known that the word ‘CRISIS’ in Japanese, (危機=kiki) is a combination of ”danger” and 機=”fucking up completely.”

ALL SUMMER I have been busting my ass to pay people that are just farting around, LITERALLY. (And THEN listening to THEM lecture ME about responsibility!)

That’s all over now kids!

But JONES HARVEST PUBLISHING is very much alive. It’s just going to be UNDER OLD MANAGEMENT.

I’ll still be around! AFTER ALL, if you read about me on the internet THE WHOLE THING WAS MY IDEA.

No matter WHAT happens we’ve already beat the odds!

According to Business Week, “The data show that, across sectors, 66 percent of new establishments were still in existence 2 years after their birth, and 44 percent were still in existence 4 years after.”

OCTOBER 24, we begin our SIXTH YEAR! I can’t WAIT to see the new DEATH-THREATS!

Agent Scams

Victoria Strauss at Writer Beware offers an excellent primer today on how to spot, and avoid, literary representation scams. As it turns out, the sample solicitation she's using was sent by Dan Grogan, an ex-employee of Jones Harvest, a two-bit and particularly sleazy vanity press. Clearly, Dan learned from the best. Here's some of Victoria's warning signs to watch out for:

– Cold-call solicitation. Reputable agents will sometimes directly approach an author whose work they've seen and liked (and if so, will reference that work). But they don't rely on mass email solicitation to build their client lists. 

– Multiple punctuation and spelling errors, both in the email and on the agency's website (missing apostrophes, "summery" for "summary," etc.). A literary agent should be able to write error-free English–and to proofread it once it's written.

– Claims of experience that can't be verified. There are more of these on the agency's website. Alleging "long term relationships with particular publishers and editors" or "connections in the film industry, publishing companies, and multi-media marketing companies" are meaningless without specifics. A real agent with real experience who wants to tout that experience will say exactly what it is (see, for instance, the staff bios at the Nelson Literary Agency, or those at the Waxman Agency).

– Promotion of services irrelevant to literary representation.Reputable agents help guide their clients' careers, but they don't typically double as "public relation [sic] representatives." And see this page of the agency's website, where they claim, among other things, to be able to provide an ISBN, list clients' books on Amazon, and "Copyright your work with the Nation [sic] Library of Congress." These are services important for self-publishers, but not relevant to authors expecting their agents to sell their books to reputable trade publishers. (And wouldn't you hope your agent would know that your work is copyrighted from the moment you write it down, and that what you do with the US Copyright Office–not with the Library of Congress–is register it?)

– A critiquing service for a fee. The publishing world is changing, and reputable agents are more and more branching out into other areas–including the provision of various paid services (I'm planning a post on that in the near future). However, offering a paid service to a potential client is a conflict of interest–never a good thing–and if you're cold-call soliciting that client, it suggests that maybe shilling the paid service is your main objective.