I Knew This Was Coming

Victoria Strauss reports that BookWise has gone — surprise! surprise! — into the vanity press business, a natural extension of their multi-level marketing scheme. They are charging gullible aspiring writers $6000 to "publish" their books and for "intensive training" at their WriteWise (aka PublishStupid) seminars taught by "Industry Experts" who, outside of BookWise founders author Richard Paul Evans and get-rich-quick huckster Robert G. Allen, have no actual industry experience.

Their "expert" faculty consists of the teacher of the Info-Preneuring Teleclass for the Enlightened Wealth Institute, a self-published cookbook author, and three authors who write fiction exclusively for the "LDS market"  ("work consistent with the standards and principles of the restored gospel of Jesus Christ").  I guess Lori Prokop, Michael Drew, and Brien Jones were unavailable.

You will also get such amazing benefits as "an official BookWise review" and your photograph taken  with BookWise founders Evans and Allen. Wow! Where do I sign up?

BookWise thinks that "anyone who is a serious writer" would gladly pay $20-30,000 for all of this,   so six grand is a bargain. But "serious" writers know better than to take seminars from vanity press publishers and industry know-nothings who have a clear profit motive and glaring conflict-of-interest behind their "teaching."

This is no ordinary vanity press scheme. To lure in as many suckers as possible, BookWise is offering a $1000 bounty for every paying sucker their multilevel marketing associates can bring in. Prepare to be spammed. But wait, there’s more, as Victoria reports:

There’s another twist to the story. For writers accepted into
WriteWise, Richard Paul Evans and Robert G. Allen will become their
literary agents, receiving, according to the WriteWise brochure, "the
standard agency fee [of] 15% of the royalties that an author receives
from the publisher." The brochure makes it clear, however, that not
every book will be shopped: "…depending upon circumstances, BookWise
Publishing may also present your book to other major publishers." In
this arrangement, most of the benefit is on the agents’ side: they
don’t actually have to do anything for you (unlike in a normal
author-agent relationship), but if they do, they get paid twice.

These guys are taking the vanity press scam to a whole new, and truly sleazy, level.

8 thoughts on “I Knew This Was Coming”

  1. This “serious writer” won’t be paying a dime to anyone. Instead, I’ll be paid. My year is shaping up in this fashion: an on-publication payment for one of my Skye novels; payment of two halves of a work-for-hire contract; a delivery and acceptance payment for another Skye novel; an on-signing advance for two more Skye novels; plus spring and fall royalties from NY publishers; plus a wide assortment of royalties from audio and reprint publishers. But the year is young and who knows what else will come in?

  2. Thank you, Lee, for this information, it certainly is eye-opening and exposes something sleazy. It is easy to see how students who are blinded by publishing’s glamour and promise of riches can be lured into such a scam.
    This is different from a writer who is testing new technology. This is a case, it seems, where new technology is being used to exploit the writer rather than where a savvy writer is exploiting the new possibilities that decentralized printing and binding, or e-book downloads, are opening up for good writers, writers who would be paid for their books by legitimate NYC publishers. This is a warning that needs to be on the radar of developing writers.
    Anyway, though, it sure is heartening to hear that Richard has so many irons in the fire. Here in Guelph, Richard, some of your Skye books are in the library so I’ll pick one up and read it. On another front, Lee’s birthday is coming up, so best wishes on that and hope you enjoy a great meal with your loved ones.

  3. I’m not surpised. I had heard Robert Allen was going into something new a year or so ago but didn’t know what. This also has a lot to do with the way a certain segment of nonfiction writers approach writing and producing books. Having come from the more traditional approach of writing being a craft that one learns, I had the weird feeling of being slapped in the face every couple of minutes or so when I went to a conference where that view is clearly not held. Writing a book is easy. The book is a means to an end and not the result of labor and writer’s sweat and craft.
    It’s the new, big vehicle that makes you an “expert.” It’s your credibility factor in tangible form that causes people to read your newsletters, buy your books, courses, and, of course, attend your seminars.
    So, yes, it was inevitable that a book-generating mechanism would feed upon the new generation of newbies. These are not fledging writers in the old sense. They are people in search of the “expertise” factor.
    I left that alternative universe and am once again happily entrenched in the love of writing and the appreciation of the craft it takes to create one.

  4. From the Author’s Guild:
    Recently, a handful of POD publishers have been soliciting and “accepting” manuscripts at an astonishing rate and not requiring money up front to publish a book. They even offer what on its face apperas to be a relatively standard publishing agreement and sometimes agree to pay a nominal advance (eg one dollar). This has led writers — particularly novices– to think they are being published by bona fide trade publishers.
    […]They typically will not publish any copies other than those ordered at the authors discount. Apparently, the total number of books purchases for friends and relativesat the “special” author’s price by the presumably large number of people taken in by this scheme makes it a profitable venture for the ethically challenge.
    […]If you are still interested in proceeding in the hope that your publisher is bona fide, be sure to insert, in addition to the requirement that the book be published within a specified time period at the publisher’s sole expense, language stating tha the number of print-on-demand copies of the book initially published at the publisher’s expense “will not be less than ______ copies” (eg 500 or 1000). Language like this, as well as a good out-of-print clause, should flush out the intentions of the publisher and save you from a bad surprise.

  5. Beware the “Term of License” Contract

    In this month’s Authors Guild Bulletin, Mark L. Levine warns writers to be very wary of publishers offering a so-called “term of license” contract (signing you for seven to ten years with an option to renew) unless you are already…


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