Snead’s Screed — Dishonest or Stupid?

I don't know whether Louise Snead, publisher of Affaire De Coeur, is dishonest or stupid or self-deluded..or a little of all three. As you may recall, I took her magazine to task for her unethical editorial practices (accepting advertisements in exchange for reviews) and for an outrageously unethical conflict of interest  (her advertising director co-owns a sham publishing company that received cover stories, features, and extraordinarily positive reviews in the magazine).

In subsequent public comments on this blog and others, Snead and Bonny Kirby, her advertising director, unapologetically confirmed both the reviews-tied-to-advertising policy and the conflict-of-interest and defended them as appropriate conduct.

But now, in an Affaire De Coeur editorial, Sneed is trying to reframe the discussion by grossly mischaracterizing my objections, lying about her advertising policy, avoiding any mention of the magazine's conflict-of-interest, and chiding publishers for not rushing to her defense. Snead writes:

These are very serious, slanderous allegations, not even borne out by his own review. He didn't take out an ad and his publisher has never taken out ads either, so how did he manage to get a five star review if what he allegesis true?

As she knows, I never said my five-star review was bought. What I said was that AdC offered publishers the opportunity to buy reviews (and other editorial coverage) in exchange for an ad…and that, in some cases, purchasing a review was required before the book would be reviewed. Don't take my word for it, take Snead's, as stated in AdC's own advertising package:

To compliment your ad and review we also offer interviews or articles.
If you would like an interview let us know 3 months in advance so it
will go in the same issue as your review and ad.[…]Book cover
ad.–This is the cover of the book that goes right beside (or above or
below) the AdC review of your book.[…]We do not review books after
publication unless it is done in association with an ad.

It's sleazy and unethical. And, therefore, I wanted nothing to do with them or their positive review of my book. She pretends not to have this policy in her editorial and then has the gall to say:

I was under the impression people could not simply tell lies on the Internet as if they were gospel. I was wrong.

But apparently she's under the impression that it's okay to tell lies in a magazine, since that is what she's doing. She's denying an advertising-for-reviews practice that both she and Kirby have previously defended in comments they posted here and on other blogs. Did she think no one would notice?

But of equal surprise was how disinterested in the truth some readers are. Some of the AdC staff and I responded to Goldberg's allegations with the correct facts, borne out by statistics which anyone can gather from our magazines, only to be completely ignored.

She's being disingenuous. It's not possible for readers to make an informed judgment about the magazine's biases and conflicts of interest when those relationships aren't disclosed.  You won't find any disclaimers alerting readers to reviews and articles that were written as a result of an advertisement being purchased by a publisher or author…nor any disclaimers alerting readers to articles, reviews, and cover stories about publishers and books in which executives at the magazine have a financial interest. Therefore, it is impossible for readers to gather anything from flipping through the magazines about the objectivity of Snead's reviews and articles. She writes:

[…]for 27 years we have strived to produce
a product and reviews that are as good and unbiased as we can make then.

If that were true, she would have informed readers that all the Light Sword books that were reviewedall but one of which received four stars or better — were published by a company co-owned by AdC's advertising director.

If that were true, she would have informed readers in the cover stories about Light Sword that the company they were raving about was co-owned by an AdC executive.

But those facts, representing an outrageous conflict-of-interest and bias, were not disclosed. And yet, Sneed expected publishers to line up to defend AdC's dubious editorial integrity.

A greater revelation is how cowardly some people are. AdC reviews over 100 books per issue, the vast majority of which do not have ads in the magazine. Hundreds of authors and publishers could have stepped forward and declared that Goldberg's opinions were false but sadly, only a few authors did — some with qualified statements — and only one publisher stepped up to the plate, saying that we review dozens of their books and they've never taken out an ad. And even then, she did it anonymously.

guessing that publishers didn't defend
of Snead because they have very little respect for the magazine and are
disgusted by the repugnant conflicts-of-interest. I'm making that assumption
based on the tons of emails I've received from authors and editors
thanking me for taking a stand and exposing Snead's highly unethical
editorial practices.

I am not surprised that Snead is using her magazine as a soapbox to present her side of the story nor that I am
depicted as the anti-Christ nor that she doesn't acknowledge the unethical relationship between
AdC and Light Sword Publishing.
  It makes sense. She doesn't think that
there is anything wrong with her ads-in-exchange-for-reviews policy
or that her advertising director co-owns a sham publishing company that
has been heavily promoted in her magazine and has been found guilty in court of defrauding authors. In her view, the
only wrong here was that I dared to call her on it.

(Thanks to EREC for alerting me to the editorial)

8 thoughts on “Snead’s Screed — Dishonest or Stupid?”

  1. Here is some new information about Linda Daly, Bonny Kirby, and Light Sword Publishing. This all comes via an officer of the court in Michigan and is a matter of public record in Michigan and in Texas.
    Last week, when civil bailiffs went to seize the property belonging to Light Sword Publishing and Linda Daly, located at the home of William and Linda Daly in Westland, Michigan, Linda Daly scampered on down to the courthouse where she filed a hand-written motion to stay the seizure of properties, claiming that all property belongs solely to her husband Bill, and that she has not been able to do any work, nor has she had any income for the past five years due to health problems. The motion for stay of seizure is dated October 24, 2008. The motion does not list an attorney for Daly or for Light Sword Publishing. By affixing her signature to this statement, Daly has presented to the court the absurd notion that this information is true and correct. By doing so, Daly has put off the right and proper disposition of Light Sword Publishing assets until after November 25, 2008, when a court hearing has been scheduled where the trier of fact will determine the veracity of this statement.
    Daly’s affirmation is contrary to the fact that she is the sole proprietor of Light Sword Publishing. Over the last 2 years she has caused to be published over 20 individual titles, all represented by her company. She has hired staff, produced digital pdfs for print, negotiated with print companies, and received inventory. She has distributed these titles to book outlets. She has developed marketing materials, sent out mass-mailings, operated a chat session on Saturday nights, solicited authors for more manuscripts, and done all of the other things incumbent to her position as CEO and owner of Light Sword Publishing. Ms Daly acting as Light Sword Publishing produced royalty statements for the authors contracted to her company and has paid out royalties on the books that have been sold. Numerous of her company’s titles are currently for sale on as well as other online outlets. They are also available for sale on the Light Sword Publishing web pages. One former client of hers has sold, according to Daly, herself, thousands of books.
    Having read many of the court documents surrounding these matters, I have every confidence that the court will order that this seizure go forward. My only question now is whether or not Light Sword Publishing Company’s assets won’t just sprout wings and fly away–to a relative’s home or a storage unit, for example–before the court can take possession.
    Additionally, I am in receipt of court records from the state of Texas regarding one Bonny Lorraine Kirby–the self-same Kirby who is the former Vice President of Light Sword Publishing and the Advertising Director at Affaire de Coueur. According to the National Criminal database, Ms Kirby is currently serving ten years’ probation for half a dozen theft offenses, all occurring in Texas. They range from misdemeanor bad checks to 3rd degree felony theft. Kirby’s probation is due to end in 2012. Kirby has now left the state of Texas and is purportedly living in Arkansas.
    Make no mistake about it, this is the same Bonny Kirby who arranged for reviews and articles about Light Sword titles to be prominently placed (as in ‘on the cover’) in Affaire De Coueur Magazine during the time that she was VP at LSP. She is the same Bonny Kirby who reportedly wrote a NSF check to the Michigan attorney who was hired to defend Light Sword Publishing and its principles in the lawsuit so richly discussed in these pages. The check was uttered on a Light Sword Publishing account, and, like Light Sword, was dishonored.
    Authorities in Texas are going forward in their attempts to recover assets from Ms Kirby.

  2. It’s such a sad situation, isn’t it? All the vanity press has to do to become legitimate is exactly what the lotto’s have done: just disclose what they are doing and the odds of success: the lotto sells 13 million tickets, the chances of succeeding are 1 in 13 million, and yet 13 million persons will buy a ticket hoping they’ll get lucky: “Well, somebody’s got to win!”
    The vanity press is, I would argue, a lotto, if they would just say so: “Look, this’ll cost you $1,000 for the book, $200 for a review, and $100 for an ad. Your chances of selling 1,000 books are 1 in 10,000,000 — but some authors will do it!” There. In two sentences, the vanity press has gone legit, as the lotto did.
    So the crime is not in the book publishing, the ad or the review, but in the COVER-UP. Even with legit publishing companies, the odds for a book to become a bestseller is, as everybody knows, astronomical, and yet tons of books keep being written, because it’s a lotto and “somebody’s got to win!”
    Ah, me. But maybe from the ashes of this scam, a legit vanity press will arise just as Las Vegas arose from the love of gambling which, at one time, was illegal.

  3. Affaire de Coeur permits nonsubscribers to read its five-star (top-rated) reviews. There were twenty in September-October. Of these, half were of books published by known and established publishers such as Harlequin,Zebra and Avon. The rest were obscure publishers, who not so amazingly scored as many top reviews as established ones. That suggests that the real purpose of Affaire de Coeur is to promote these obscure presses (like Light Sword) and to camouflage their intent by mixing in reviews of established authors and publishers. I’m willing to bet that if these five-star-winning novels from obscure publishers were to be reviewed by competent independent reviewers elsewhere, scarcely any would merit a five-star review. In other words, Affaire de Coeur’s integrity is highly questionable.

  4. According to the National Criminal database, Ms Kirby is currently serving ten years’ probation for half a dozen theft offenses, all occurring in Texas. They range from misdemeanor bad checks to 3rd degree felony theft. Kirby’s probation is due to end in 2012.

    Wow…Louise Snead certainly knows how to pick her employees. I wonder if all of her staff meet the same high ethical standards as Kirby.
    This certainly explains Kirby’s inability to comprehend the concept of conflict-of-interest. She’s a crook. I’m not a lawyer, but I am surprised that a court finding that she defrauded authors doesn’t constitute a violation of her parole.

  5. I have also learned that Kirby filed bankruptcy in Texas before she split. I wonder if there are any other small publishing PublishAmerica-clone houses out there with which she is associated, and who just happen to be featured at AdC. T’would certainly be interesting to find out if that’s happening.
    I also wonder if Ms Snead has been made aware of the information that’s been presented on this blog. My guess is no. Maybe someone should forward these posts to her??? Hmmmmm?
    I would truly, truly, love to read her response.

  6. “I also wonder if Ms Snead has been made aware of the information that’s been presented on this blog. My guess is no. Maybe someone should forward these posts to her??? Hmmmmm?”
    What’s stopping you from doing it? You’ve posted this info on many other blogs already, why not on the AdC blog as well?

  7. Ah, c’mon, Lee–I was being facetious. You know as well as I do that Snead has got to be reading this blog. If she’s not, she’s got a screw loose.


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