A spam from Airleaf Publishing recently turned up in the mail queue of a senior editor. She forwarded it to me:
From: email@example.com [mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org]Airleaf Publishing is the most recent name of Bookman Marketing. They aren’t the good guys. One of Making Light’s old comment threads discussed them in some detail: one, two, three, four, five. Other venues have done so as well: A comprehensive denunciation at Lone Prairie. The Absolute Write thread on Bookman/Airleaf, which also has information on their marketing scams aimed at filmmakers, and their short-lived Bowker Book Club division (which falsely claimed connection with the real Bowker). A denunciation at Lulu.com’s weblog. A thread at WritersWeekly.
Sent: Saturday, November 11, 2006 3:23 AM
To: [name of recipient]
Subject: Reach 400 Decision Makers at Traditional Royalty-Paying Publishers!
The scene these days is full of POD, subsidy, and vanity publishers who try to sell writers on the idea that they can deliver the same results as a conventional publishing house, if only the writers will work hard enough at promoting their own books. This is false. It’s like selling them on a gold rush in an area where little or no gold exists to be found, and telling them they can get rich if only they’ll dig hard enough. A phenomenal number of authors fall for this. And when they do, Bookman/Airleaf is standing there, ready to sell them their picks and shovels.
B/A’s specialty is doing useless promotion in huge quantities—for example, sending 4,000 email copies of a press release about your book to bookstores across the country, where they’re guaranteed to go unread. They also have a vanity radio operation that charges $499 for a ten-minute interview, and a vanity TV branch that charges $499 for a 15-second spot. You won’t have heard or seen any of them, which should tell you something.
This latest program of theirs is very much in Bookman/Airleaf’s usual style:
Subject: Reach 400 Decision Makers at Traditional Royalty-Paying Publishers!Royalty-Paying Publishers means they’re aiming this at hapless writers whose chief experience has been with the non-royalty-paying sort: POD, subsidy, and vanity publishers. Traditional means they’re hoping to pick up business from PA’s thousands of dissatisfied authors. The villains at PublishAmerica have always referred to their operation as a “traditional publisher.” This couldn’t be further from the truth, but they get away with it because there are no standards for what can and can’t be called a traditional publisher. Their authors tend to pick up that language, not understanding that the standard term for a traditional, royalty-paying publisher is “publisher.”
Selling a book to a royalty paying, traditional publisher is always a long shot for unknown authors.The impossibility of a newbie getting published is a standard trope among scammers. They want you to despair of your own chances of legitimate publication and go with them instead, or buy their overpriced and underskilled “professional editing,” or accept the necessity of paying for a major promotional campaign out of your own pocket.
However, Airleaf Publishing & Book Selling Services has developed a unique list of Senior Editors at the biggest publishing houses, and we also know how each publisher accepts new submissions. This puts you at least two steps ahead of the thousands of authors submitting books every week.The names of editors, and the submission guidelines of publishing houses, are not hard-to-get proprietary information. Just ask the reference librarian at your local library.
What we do is compose a special full-page release about your book. While we write the promotion, you approve it and have final authority.First, I’ve seen numerous complaints about the quality of their copywriting. Second, a press release is going to do exactly nothing to sell a book to an editor. It’s not a query letter. It’s not a submission, either. It’s just a mediocre advertisement, sent as spam.
Once you are satisfied with the promotion we send it directly 400 Senior Editors at Traditional Publishers.It’s a good thing they’re just scammers, because otherwise I’d have to think they’re insane. Imagine you’ve written a science fiction novel. If you only send it to one editor per house (as is proper), how many recipients are we talking about? Let’s say twenty-five in the English-speaking world, if we don’t count small presses. That means fifteen out of sixteen releases are going to inappropriate editors. They may pay attention to the first five or ten of those that arrive, but after that they’re going to be flagged as spam about books, and automatically discarded. The sixteenth editor, the appropriate one, will ignore it too, because he or she is constantly getting spam about books, and deletes it all unread.
Then we follow up whatever way we can to try to secure a contract and an advance. If we are successful, we will not charge any commission.Does that look like the La Brea Tar Pits to you? Because it does to me.
If they’re offering your book for sale to third parties, they’re acting as your agent. If they aren’t your agent, they can’t sell your book. I have no idea why they aren’t saying “agent” here.
When they talk about charging commissions, things get even more complicated. When an agent sells a book to a publisher, the publisher pays the advance and other monies to the agent, and the agent passes them on to the author less the agency commission. If Bookman/Airleaf is proposing to handle the money, it would be a very good idea to first have a signed agenting agreement. It would also be a very good idea to check out Bookman/Airleaf’s qualifications to act as an agent and negotiate your contracts.
Also: if they’re successful, they won’t charge a commission? You charge a commission when you’ve succeeded in making money for the author, not otherwise. It’s hard to collect a set percentage of zero.
As always, you will reserve all the rights to your book.Of course you will. That’s the default. These days, you have to actively sign away your copyright in order to lose it.
The regular price for this unique service is $499They’ve put together a mailing list of 400 people who work in publishing and have “senior editor” in their titles. If you purchase their services, they’ll send you a questionnaire asking for information about your book. Some talentless hack will munge the information together in an untransformative fashion, and Bookman/Airleaf will send it as spam to their editor list.
RIGHT NOW, THE PRICE IS JUST $270
If you have what it takes to be an author, you can do that for yourself, and make a better job of it. You may even be able to figure out that it’s a useless maneuver, and do something else. Cobbling together a release and spamming a list of editors with it is cheap and easy to do, which is why Bookman/Airleaf offers the service; but that doesn’t mean it’s an effective way to sell a book.
As always, we will sell your book even if you publshed with another company—and, more importantly, we can have your book for sale on our websites NOW! Don’t miss the best time of the year to sell books. Just give me a quick call at 1-800-342-6068!I’ll stop now. Suffice it to say that Bookman/Airleaf have a lot of useless package deals on offer.
Brien JonesScott Janssens’ dog could call himself an Author Consultant if he wanted to, and I’d be likelier to hire him.
PS. Check out our ads this month in Oracle Magazine and Veterans Reporter, and our new websites http://www.airleafeuro.com/ andA convenient list of URLs to avoid: finally, they give us something useful!