You’d Think Anybody Who Has Read This Blog Would Know Better Than to Send Me This Shit…

Lately, I’ve been getting a lot of junkmail solicitations from con artists who prey on aspiring authors.  Here are two of the latest. One is from a guy who is offering to interview me on his radio show… for a price.

ATTN: Lee G – Want to be a radio Star? I can make you a  bestseller by advertising on my radio show Call me 781/860-9548. My name is Stu Taylor. I provide a unique service for publicly traded and private companies.  I am the host of two nationally syndicated, weekly radio shows, both entitled Equity Strategies that are broadcast on Radio America Network and the Business Talk Radio Network. For a modest fee, I will serve as a host and  interview a member of your management team to achieve whichever goals matter to you. Stu Taylor will also assist your company with public relations and media relations. Your success in business is Stu Taylor’s success.

That’s because your money will be going into his pocket. Don’t you just love people who refer to themselves in the third person? Well, let me tell you, Lee Goldberg won’t be calling Stu Taylor any time soon. Lee Goldberg urges you not to, either. If your book is any good, and if have any promotional skills at all, you should be able to score some free radio interviews on your own.

The next piece of junk mail was posted here as a comment (which I deleted because my blog isn’t a bulletin board for Internet scam artists).  It came from Randy Gilbert & Peggy McColl, who run a "get rich quick" scheme for writers called the "Zero Cost Bestseller Formula" (which they are also selling as "The Bestseller Mentoring Program")

Authors & Publishers – Tired of
  fighting for bookstore distribution? Even if you’re a complete computer
  novice and have no marketing expertise, we’ll coach you to follow our
  proven formula
and . . .
We’ll Help You Make Your  Book An Bestseller  in Just 48 Hours … Guaranteed!

They say it’s the same formula that’s turned folks like Robin Sharma, George McKenzie, Rick Frishman, and Andre Lara into household names. What? You’ve never heard of them? How can that be?  The gist of their scheme, which they are offering for "a $385 discount" from their usual price (whatever the hell it is), is:

In short, the formula involves  getting people with big email lists to send out an announcement asking  people to buy your book on a given day at Amazon. This method isn’t “spamming” because only “opt-in” email lists are used.   To motivate people to purchase  the book, you promise them a lot of  digitally-downloadable “bonus gifts” for  when they submitted their Amazon email receipt.  For instance, buy a $20  book and you could get $500 of more of extra bonuses – a tremendous   incentive to buy the book. Even better, because the formula uses email,  it  costs nothing to promote the book!

Their scheme is directed, of course, at self-published authors desperate for a short-cut to becoming the next John Grisham. ..and all too ready to hand their  credit cards  over to people like Randy & Peggy, whose come-on is:

Just think…for the rest of your life, people will hear the phrase “bestselling author” whenever you’re being introduced.

Randy & Peggy have several self-published books to their credit, including the  "Proactive Success – The Amazing New Science of Personal Achievement," "On Being a Dog With A Bone," "Success Bound: Breaking Free of Mediocrity" and "The Eight Proven Secrets to Smart Success." They also have a company called "Bargain Publishing Inc." Hmm.

Randy, who likes to call himself  "Dr. Proactive," also hosts  "The Inside Success Show" Internet radio program and, get this, he actually managed to score an interview with  Peggy! Wow.  On his website, he says he was "priviledged" to interview her and he offers you this fantastic, once-in-a-lifetime opportunity:

Gold  Member Mania!  Click here and learn how to become a Gold Member  so you can hear all our shows, plus
download convenient MP3’s,  plus get discounts on other products,  and  get much much more.  (All shows are now valued at over   $2,000, plus  you get two other Gold Memberships and Mega-Bonuses.)

Such a deal! But I’ve got to wonder…  how good can their advice be if their idea of a brilliant promotional move is  to post their get-rich-quick come-ons on my blog? Here’s my key to success and I’ll give it to you absolutely free (you don’t even have to be a Gold Member) — stay away from get-rich-quick schemers and Internet scammers who say they’ll make you a bestselling author.  Spend your money instead on some good creative writing courses from established authors (like my brother Tod). Work on making your writing better and learning your craft.  You become a bestselling author by writing great books — not by writing checks.

57 thoughts on “You’d Think Anybody Who Has Read This Blog Would Know Better Than to Send Me This Shit…”

  1. I spent some time purusing Ken Atchity’s website yesterday. 70% of his clients cam from his pay-to-play division. He has sales, but you have to wonder if he isn’t towing the scammers script here. What’s your take on him Lee?

  2. Welcome to the internet age. Where we get scams based on stupid internet searches and bots who don’t pay any attention to the page it’s actually being posted on.
    Face it. You’re getting the equivelent of blog/internet junk mail. They don’t know you from Adam or they’d know better then to post this stuff here.

  3. I looked at the site, and while he seems to have some “name” clients, I wouldn’t sign with him. I’m troubled by these clauses in his TV and Film representation agreements:

    When screenplays are judged ready for the marketplace, AEI places them directly with studios or with a co-producer who can assist in assembling cast and/or director before approaching financers or broadcasters. Upon sale, AEI retains a management commission.

    That’s not what troubles me…though I’d be curious what his commission is…10% or what? No, here’s the part that gives me pause..

    AEI also serves as producer on the project, and contracts to receive producing fees. When a project moves into development, AEI refunds its commission to the writer.

    I wouldn’t sign with any agent who insists, from the outset, that all deals include him as a producer.

  4. Well, he is but he has an agency type of deal going with it that looks much like this AEI thing except worse. You get an offer of representation from a Claire Wee that wants a fee. He’s officially produced but not in the way that say, you are.

  5. Mark, Clair Wee may have asked you for the moon, the stars; and the sky; The point is I didn’t and wouldnt.
    By the way, you sound like a complainaholic, I have been reading your Blogs, is this all you have to do.
    Tell me one credit; one book; one script; one anything that you have ever done?
    I hope you have because, I know from other unhappy “writers” that it’s hard to get quaility writing time in when your working at Kinkos.
    One thing about the Internet, is that anybody can say anything, about anyone, without a shred of evidence, basicly people like you….
    Why dont you write a compelling story, script, magazine article, inststead of crying like a little baby…………

  6. Why don’t you pay more attention to your employees? I don’t pay fees to anyone. Especially you. I have several books in the pipeline. My recollection is that Clair Wee wanted a fee for representation in your name. That’s your problem not mine as I wouldn’t have that sort of representation. Get over it.

  7. “I know from other unhappy “writers” that it’s hard to get quaility writing time in when your working at Kinkos.”
    My last employer was the US Government. I don’t do “Kinko’s.”

  8. Mark,
    I see you have several books in the pipeline, let me translate:
    My job at Kinkos means I get a discount on the copy machine in the back of the store………Your a guy with a lot of wise guy sarcasim. When you check credits try the IMDB you know the International Morons & Dummie Base

  9. Lee, your “books” wont be coming anybody’s way……..
    Your personal priinting press at Kinkos is working full time

    I think you meant that message for Marky48, not me. By the way, you may not remember this, but back in the early 80s, you once tried to option one of my books. We met in your office on Sunset (you were partnered with someone at the time… Renee Valente perhaps?) and later went to lunch at Le Dome to discuss it. I ended up selling the rights to New World Pictures instead.

  10. We were discussing Ken Atchity, but the Wee experience came to mind during the process, and she did ask for money. That’s a problem, but if it wasn’t with your knowledge I apologize for the misundertanding on my part. Hollywood’s enough of an insult without this.

  11. To Mark & Lee,
    Thank you both, I do understand that people are always trying to separate people from their money, all I am doing is looking for compelling material for Hit TV shows and Movies.
    And for Lee, I do remember that meeting, I then went on to make False Witness in partnership with the then New Line, starring Phylicia Rashad for NBC, it did a 19.9 29.9 share

  12. Ah, those were the days. It’s not easy to get numbers like that today in the fragmented media environment with five broadcast networks and countless cable alternatives. When I was working with Fred Silverman, he would show me some of the staggering numbers that programs like ROOTS got — at a time when there weren’t VCRS and TiVos.

  13. Lee,
    I’m an established screenwriter / author. CONGRATULATIONS on your comment on the BEST SELLER MENTORING PROGRAM. I smelled a scam immediately. They ask for $2, 500.00 PLUS for their program that’s “guaranteed”….of course right after the disclaimer that fills a whole page saying they are not responsible if you fail.
    To make a claim that ANY book can go to the Amazon best seller ranks insults one’s intelligence.
    To put simply…write a great book…and they will come!

  14. I had dealings with Claire Wee a long time ago. We talked about a couple of my scripts that she seemed to think had some promise. And she never asked me for a dime. Although in fairness it never got past her talking about the improvements she felt I needed to make, so whether that was coming up later or not I don’t know, the contact sort of died for some reason. But still, she didn’t ask for a penny, and I was pretty sure she had actually read the scripts.

  15. Excellent. I agree. I worked my butt off to become a success in my writing. I used the “trick” above and spent eight months of my life doing it and it got me less than 89 books sold, even though I was No. 99 (wooooaa!) on Amazon.
    However, I started doing even more real work, without email, and a lot more work on radio and television because I gave the real deal and the more I gave away, the more I received.
    After all the hard work and sweat and tears poured over the email “blast” which was a sad moment for nothing, but a meger selling and a lot of dashed hope…
    Once I focused in the correct direction and started to give away my information I really and truly become a No. 1 best-selling author, WITHOUT any help from email “blasts” at all and no tricks, just plain hard work, a lot of press releases, a lot of radio and television, which I booked myself by calling up the producers and building a relationship with them.
    Shortly thereafter I was signed by one of the top publishing companies (check my story about. You can research me on the net and you will see I am not saying anything that isn’t true.)
    If you want to get ahead and sell your goods, you must have the goods to sell. But the real trick to it is you must be passionate about your work and not see it as a paycheck. Trust me, the desperation shows through. I applaud you for showing the true story of the life of an author. Blessings! Jaci Rae

  16. So I found myself in the gutter again, and by gutter you might guess I mean craigslist. And guess who posted an ad?
    I replied to the call for scripts to be purchased by an already successful producer looking for material first by asking him to send me a direct email contact, which he did. I’m glad he did cause it gave me a chance to see his website and then find this blog. So I was already prepared to hear back from Eddie Kritzer. His resume looked impressive, if you consider riding the coat-tails of one of America’s finest citizens and most influential of comedians Bill Cosby to be impressive. Once I provided him with my phone number to call I heard back from him in about 2 days, on New Years Day. He literally wasn’t on the phone with me 3 minutes yet when he explained his program to me as one in which I pay his 600 dollar commission in advance for the unguaranteed selling of my script to his magical world of “contacts.” I got into a little bit of debate with him about the ethics of his business practice.
    Times are tough.
    True enough.
    Without people like this
    giving us guff.
    Hope you see the light, good and faithful servant. Peace. M.

  17. Mr. Goldberg, I’m an aspiring screenwriter and have recently been contacted by Eddie Kritzer, who has commented on this site in the past about not taking a fee for representation. I’m confused as to why he requested $600 with a copy of my script to read over. Is this legit?

  18. Everybody say’s they have a compelling script.
    However if your not a brand name i.e. had a script produced for the screen that has been distributed, then your an aspiring writer.
    In this very tough economic climate, I (and others) need to know the writer is commited.
    I’ts just to hard to place a script, and see it made into a distributed movie, this is why, I always receive an advance for taking on a script to sell (Spec Script)
    Many people complain on The Internet, however, they are not realistic about their chances see below
    Eddie Kritzer
    Subject: SAG Forecast From CAA
    This letter was sent to clients of a prominent CAA Agent.
    Dear Clients,
    I wanted to take a moment and give you a number of important updates….
    Before I begin, however, I wish to tell you all that I am so very proud of you all for your dogged determination during these most difficult times. Hollywood is being challenged on multiple fronts – labor uncertainty, paradigm shifting and the ‘great recession’.
    I know a lot of your are getting antsy to get out more, and frankly many of you are in a tight financial pinch; as such, I wanted to describe to you all the current climate in LA and the factors influencing the current environment.
    1 SAG STALEMATE: Since the SAG contract expired on June 30, 2008, there have been few to no STUDIO feature films (this does not include companies such as Lionsgate and the Weinstein Company who are not in AMPTP and as such have completion agreements). Some analysts say there are up to 200 feature films on hold. Around September, we started to see a mass movement of film actors to TV projects. Many of my “name” actors have done one-day guest stars (this is very typical right now), and we are seeing a number of Guest Star level actors doing CO-STAR roles. Remember from November of 2007 to March of 2008, due to the Writer’s Strike, again there were no feature films shot. So for the film actor, there has only been 4 months of work in the last 17 months. THE BOTTOM LINE: Due to the lack of studio feature film production, BOTH film and TV actors are now competing for a limited number of jobs in the episodic and pilot environments.
    2. PILOT SEASON: During the Writer’s Strike of 2007-2008, Studios adapted and used the void to eliminate pilot season as we know it. Gone are the days of hundreds of pilots. In fact, this year, there are only 67 pilots to have registered for production – of which only about 35 have bee green lit for production. And this year, due again to a sagging economy, studios and networks believe that by committing named stars to their projects, they will receive more money from this year’s up-fronts from ad agencies. They are banking on star power to leverage better buys at the all important UPFRONTS. So, stars and pop-stars like Richard Dreyfuss, Chevy Chase, Brittany Snow, Elle McPherson, Rebecca Romijn, Ashley Simpson, Scott Caan, Skeet Ulrich, and proven TV talents like Kelsey Grammar, Eric McCormick, John McGinley, Joel McHale, Jenna Elfman, Donald Faison, Maura Tierney, Peter Krauss, Craig T. Nelson, Dax Shepherd, etc…. You do the math, 37 pilots… top stars being sought… BOTTOM LINE: the conflagration of the economy and a lack of roles being cast, means that this pilot season may be even more competitive than the concurrent regular TV market right now. So those of you who have gotten auditions for series regulars… feel great about that!
    3. TV: While TV has been steady, again due to the conflagration of film and named actors doing Guest Starring roles, we have seen a horrible trickle down. Many Guest Stars are now doing Co-stars and Co-stars/Developmental Actors (those with less than 5 primetime credits) frankly are not getting seen much. One CD recently told me that she had over 25 women who would be considered ‘working actors’ going for a co-star role. BOTTOM LINE: Again, due to the abundance of name and working actors, many less-developed actors are not even being seen right now.
    4. ECONOMIC IMPACT I – THE EROSION OF QUOTES/RATES: There are really three major impacts to actors during this economic crunch. First, we are seeing the erosion of quotes. Due to the availability of so many talented actors, CD’s and Producers are in the driver’s seat in negotiations. When they say, “well we got someone else who will do it for less”, they ain’t kidding. I have spoken to a number of my peers who have confirmed this erosion of pay for their actors. In short, right now, quotes are eroding and for many, the minimum has become the maximum pay.
    5. ECONOMIC IMPACT II – THE CONCLUSION OF SAG STALEMATE: Many are hoping that with the end of this stalemate, Hollywood will get back to normal. I have to say, that I am not one who necessarily believes this. First off, due to the economic conditions, most studios have lost their millions of dollars from hedge funds; and European, Asian and Middle Eastern money has dried up. Even Stephen Spielberg has had to beg, borrow and steal to get his company financed…. And it wasn’t anywhere near what he originally asked for. I believe that, even after the SAG stalemate is over, there is probably not enough money for 50 Studio Feature Films to be done right out of the gate. BOTTOM LINE: While this will help us move towards normalcy, it will not be the cash cow some people think it will be. One side note, is that I expect that more formulaic projects will be down out the gate as Studios will be less likely to take significant risks since most of these projects will be financed by both the studio and their investors. In short, you will see more Iron Mans, Animation, and SAWs… they are money in the bank when you factor in ratios, etc.
    6. ECONOMIC IMPACT III – OVERALL STATEMENT OF ENVIRONMENT: It is important that everyone follow the economic conditions closely. I know it is easy to be skeptical over the studios, networks, cablers, production houses, show runners, etc, losing money, but it is a cold-hard fact right now. These entities are truly in a difficult spot. If you have read much lately, there have been dramatic cut backs at every studio and network, from firings to asking show runners to cut between 2-7% of their budgets (not to mention the 25+% cutback shows like the Sarah Silverman were asked to swallow recently).Furthermore, these networks and studios are largely owned by conglomerates who have lost in the billions over the last 6 months. When I attended NATPE in January, all the talk was how to get ‘thinner.’ Everything is getting tight. Budgets, Marketing, Staffing, etc., and this will undoubtedly impact the actor. Also, the foreign sales market (where much of the TV and Film money is made, is being hit hard by the erosion of the US Dollar. So these entities are not able to recoup the costs they were in better days by the one-time explosion of the foreign markets. BOTTOM LINE: The economic conditions are forcing the industry to be as ‘thin’ as possible.
    7. COMMERCIALS – INDUSTRY AND ECONOMIC IMPACTS: One analyst said last year, that 2008 was the worst commercial market since maybe 1974. I would not argue with this. Think about it: three of the top products/services for ad agencies are banks, cars and other financial services – all of which were struck down in 2008/early 2009 by this recession. This was confirmed when news struck that even the Super Bowl did not sell out advertising this year. The good news is that the advertising industry tends to be one of the first ones to be negatively impacted by a recession, but one of the first to grow as the recession moves to an end as advertisers of products want to start accumulating market share before the turn of the economy. Another impact trelates to the overall conditions of the TV/FILM/PILOT situation. Many strong actors have made enough money on TV/FILM, etc so that they have not had to do commercials in years. Due to the last few years and the lack of work, many top actors are now back in the commercial market; thus again, causing a logjam in casting. BOTTOMLINE: The economic slowdown has caused a dramatic decrease in ad sales and the lack of work has caused more actors to re-enter the commercial market.
    THE GOOD NEWS!! Okay, so that is where we are today. You know me, I try to always call it straight as I see it. So, I am not going to sugar-coat this either. I anticipate that 2009 will be a tough year overall for actors (and agencies). First off, the economy will not likely get straightened out until at least the 3rd to 4th quarter of this year and so all the factors above will remain in place through most, if not all, of 2009. Secondly, until the labor situation gets straightened out, we will not be seeing dramatic amount of film production, and this seems to be dragging along as well (as we enter the 8th month of the stalemate – it was announced today that SAG is thinking now about taking AMPTP to court for anti-trust violations). But again, even if it was finalized, there is not enough investor money to see the film production level normalize and increase for most, if not all, of 2009. Also, since movies cost around $40 for two (tickets, popcorn, etc) – this is not a recession proof field anymore. During our last significant recession, there were few choices for guilty pleasures to get away from the stress of our times – so many people flocked to the theatres. NOT SO THESE DAYS, one can go to the web, TV, cable (not around in 1974, 1982, 1988 much), Video Games, Netflix, RedBox (movie for a $1). So studios are probably not in any big rush to make films– as people cannot afford this once cheap diversion – better to divert for a few bucks to all the many other sources of guilty pleasures. OKAY, so that didn’t sound like good news… The good news is that there are some paradigm shifts occurring that make 2010 -2012 look like it might be one of the most prolific times in Hollywood history. Due to technological developments, there are more platforms being developed than ever. The internet is driving millions of new viewers each year. Zillion is going to transform the way we view advertising. For those who don’t know, it has recently been unveiled by the maker of Real Player and the ‘mouse.’ It is a system that makes you watch ads before downloading movies (they already have 14,000 Titles> ready for download), TV, other forms of entertainment to your TV Screen. However, the consumer can choose the products they want to see (let’s say you go retail clothing and watch a Macy’s ad and love the jacket; you can immediately click on the ad/jacket and go directly to their website where you can buy it). Also, you earn points by watching the commercials that you can use towards purchases. Furthermore, SONY and others are now selling TVs that wirelessly connect to your computer, so you can download TV/FILMS at anytime from your computer (websites like Hula, Netflix, etc) directly to your TV. In short, technology is making more platforms which will require more content than ever. Also, Cablers are all embracing doing scripted shows, some have up to 5 shows this year… again, more content is needed and thus MORE ACTORS!
    BOTTOM LINE: More platforms = more content = more actors! So as long as SAG/AFTRA can protect your rates and jurisdictional issues, there will be more good compensated work than ever in Hollywood by 2010-2012.

    Best regards,
    Eddie Kritzer

  19. Same deal. Sent my script to Kritzer and he wants $600. I’m a no name, with my first professionally read and polished script. I was excited til seeing this.
    I’m still tempted, though, at just the suggestion that he could be legit.

  20. Called/E-mailed Kritzer on Celebrity Reality Script as I am new to industry.
    Selling himself as an “agent”, wants $1000 up-front to pitch to networks…I have Talent attached…but wants to Exec Produce in addition…so advised him conflict, if working as an agent…just propose that he work to do what I am asking…as by doing it his way, would be optioning my script without him paying me option fee, and on top of that having me pay him as an agent, with all associated costs…and would get percentages plus Exec producer pay/credit!!!
    Was just looking to find out if any problems reported and came across this site.

  21. Zee,
    In my opinion, any agent or producer who asks for a fee to read, consider or market your script is not engaging in professional conduct.
    If what you are saying is true, I would advise you to walk away from the deal.

  22. Not sure if I want to try using Eddie’s services, but will talk with him and see what we can work out if any thing…and I will be sure to report my experience which may be of help to others.
    My best advise for those looking to work with any one is to make sure you have protected your work…lot’s of helpful hints and chance for direct sales at TV Writer’s Vault.

  23. Thanks for the heads up re Peggy McColl.
    Just listened to a teleseminar in which she was plugging her “guaranteed publishing system.”
    Wondered why she would need to sell a publishing course, if her books were so successful.
    Good thing I’ve learned to always check first.

  24. Todd,
    Um, how would I know if the Eddie Kritzer you submitted your story too is the same one being discussed above??
    If it is, I’ve already given my advice.

  25. I did my research and it appears to be the same..all I can do I guess at this point is heed your advice or trust him and go for it and see what happens. Nothing ventured nothing gained. Thanks for your reply.

  26. Seems like all of the above was true of Eddie Kritzer…should have listened and gone with my instinct from the beginning. Oh well, Not the first time I was scammed…..but sure will be the last…
    Embarrassed to say I sent him money and for what?

  27. I have concluded that all of the above information on Eddie Kritzer proves to be true.He does ask for money and I have my receipts to prove it. Apparently just another Scammer taking advantage of unsuspecting, decent hardworking people.
    I wish I had discovered this site a lot sooner!

  28. Todd,
    You have no one to blame but yourself. You WERE warned…but you decided to ahead anyway. I have no sympathy for you. You were a fool.

  29. Eddie Kritzer was my first agent for my screenplay “Daughter of a Rogue.” He simply signed all the paper work for one year, so I could not do anything with it and never sold it. He also never CALLED ME AGAIN! It was the most unprofessional situation I ever went through in my life and I had no control over my writing. I didn’t know what was going on with it. Be careful newbie screenwriters! They recently sold the “Soloist.” It is a lot like mine. I had my screenplay out the firt, but a bad agent named Eddie Kritzer!!!!!!!!

  30. From an older post but nevertheless intriguing exchange of messages above.
    I think that in recent years there have been many more websites and e-mails/posts on blogs that attempt to lure people in with various offers of marketing or some help in publishing.
    As stated, a writer that creates a terrific book will have a good chance of finding an agent and publisher, and in turn offers for interviews even through having a small amount of marketing savvy. Such posts like the message at the top prove there are people out there willing to take the money, I suppose.

  31. I got here because I was curious about Harrison and McColl’s Become a Bestseller program. Actually, I was suspicious about it and for the strangest reason: the font. The email uses several different fonts, text sizes, and colors to repeat a message without giving much information. I listened to the free webinar, and there’s nothing wrong with the technique they use (find interested email lists, offer free bargains, set a launch date for a marketing campaign), but the fact that they charge huge amounts for what is just a series of web videos rather than targetted help and their goal is to game the system.
    These people are swindlers. Never trust bad font choices.

  32. Wow, thank you for writing about this. I was seriously contemplating Peggy McColl’s courses. I was hesitant because it didn’t sit right. I also felt like if my book wasn’t any good, why would I advertise that I am an Amazon Bestseller… I feel that’s cheating.
    Anyway, thank you for voicing this. There aren’t too many negative comments on Peggy McColl and I was desperately seeking someone who spoke the truth.
    I found that person in you!

    Best Regards,



Leave a Comment