I received an email press release today from Ben Costello, who has written a non-fiction book about GUNSMOKE, one of my favorite shows. Naturally, I was intrigued. I was even more intrigued when I saw the book came from Five Star, one of my favorite publishing companies (which is bringing out my book THE MAN WITH THE IRON-ON BADGE).
I checked out the book on Amazon and discovered it was selling for the outrageous sum of $75. Surely, Five Star wouldn’t price the book so high… and then I noticed something. His book was published by "Five Star Publications." I’m published by "Five Star Publishers." (aka "Five Star Press," though not to be confused with Five Star Press, Five Star Publications’ publicity arm)
So I checked out Five Star Publications and discovered it’s a vanity press (to further complicate things, there’s also a Five Star Publishing, a completely different company, which does magazines for the Agricultural and Construction industries). Five Star Publications offers every publishing service you can imagine…for a price.
While I was at it, I visited Ben’s website, and discovered he’s represented by Janette Anderson, an agent with Five Star Celebrity, which appears to be a division of — you guessed it — Five Star Publications, which published Ben’s book.
[Portions Deleted 7-27-05]
UPDATE 7-27-05: I’ve been contacted by Five Star Publications, who would like me to make it clear that Ben Costello’s book was not self-published. Although Five Star Publications does offer self-publishing services, they state that his book was published under a traditional publishing contract (you can see the complete text of their letter in the comments section of this post). I apologize to Ben Costello for the error. By the way, before I heard from Five Star Publications, I ordered the GUNSMOKE book. I couldn’t resist. I’m a GUNSMOKE geek.
I’ve also been contacted by Janette Anderson’s representatives, who wish to make it clear that none of her clients have paid to be published. I apologize for the error and have deleted the inaccurate portions of the post.
They also state that she doesn’t work for Five Star and that there is no affiliation between "Five Star Celebrity" and "Five Star Publications." I replied to Ms. Anderson’s representatives that the press release on her site
seems to say the opposite — and that she shares the
same logo and website as Five Star Publications. Any reasonable person
would conclude there is an affiliation. But I said that if I am
mistaken, I will be glad to immediately correct any errors or
misinterpretations I have made.
UPDATE 7-29-05 – Janette Anderson responds with a letter, presented unedited and in its entirety, to the issues raised in this post.
5 thoughts on “The Five Stars”
Don’t pay money for it! That’s crazy. Email him back and tell him to send you a freebie and if it’s any good, you’ll blurb it.
Lee, this is a really confusing post because all those names are so close together. Could you do a chart so we know which are the legitimate operations and which are not? Otherwise, any of us even see the words ‘Five Star’, we are going to flee, screaming, into the hills.
If you’re not sure about the book, why not pop down to your local Borders or Barnes and Noble and flip through it.
Oh, yeah, right. Forget it…
Lee says that “[Janet] touts, with pride, that she’s a WGA signatory, which only means she’s signed an agreement with the Guild to abide by certain rules.” Can I just remark that the WGA rules are completely worthless to writers of non-dramatic materials? The WGA, in fact, allows its signatories to do anything they want to book authors… as long as they follow the rules for screenplays. In fact, one can be an agent in good standing with the WGA if one follows the rules for screenplays and abuses the same client for his (or her) prose.
While it’s true that we offer different publishing services, Gunsmoke: An American Institution is not self-published. Ben Costello was offered a standard author contract and receives royalties and didn’t pay one cent toward having this book published. It would be great if you could correct this information on your website. (Which I happened upon while searching for Alex Cord.) We have several other authors who received a standard author contract, including:
We have been in business for over 20 years and we are very proud of the quality of each and every project we’ve worked on, be it offering publishing services or being the publisher.
Regarding The Janette Anderson Talent Agency: Ms. Anderson shopped us several manuscripts – we chose to work with two of them. They are part of our traditional publishing program.
The quality of the book will speak for itself. I guarantee you’ll be thrilled or we’ll refund 100% of your money.