Spam/Scam Contacts by Company

This page is an alternate view of my Writers Beware page that lists specific individuals who have contacted me over the years and who they claimed to represent when trying to sell me services. What I have found is that there are some groups that contact me more commonly than others. Rather than list out the individual contacts in a chronological order of contact, this page organizes the contacts by company.

While some of the contacts do not have the initial contact date from the individuals listed, each "Contact #" entry represents a new unsolicited contact to me from them. The contact numbers are in chronological order to show how frequently each individual has contacted me. Some, as you can see, are near relentless in their efforts contacting me numerous times.

If someone has contacted you trying to sell services for your book, I encourage you to search (Ctrl+F if using Windows) this list to see if I have had contact with that group or individual and what my experience was. Always ask for references and never give anyone substantial sums of money without some level of assurance or guarantee that they can deliver what they promise. Sales people commonly get paid by commission and not actual output. They will sell you the moon even if their group can only deliver a rock because their commission is not dependent on your satisfaction.

 

@BookMarketingProfits.com

  • Al Galasso, NABE
    • Contact #1
      • Services: Listing in some book directory called "Best E-Book Directory"
      • Cost: Only $35.00 per title
      • Received an email from this Al Galasso and it was immediately apparent that this was little more than a mass mail-out. It was addressed to "Dear Author or Publisher:" so it wasn't targeted at just me. The email consists of only a single paragraph about the 2022 edition of the "Best E-Book Directory" about to be digitally released and how for "just $35 per title" I can opt to have my E-Books listed in the directory.
      • First off, I've never heard of the "Best E-Book Directory" and a Google search for that name reveals absolutely nothing. If it is a real directory, it is not a popular one so even at the low cost of $35 I don't see the value, if it is even legit to begin with.
      • Al leaves no signature or any information regarding who he is, who he represents, nothing. The only reason I know the name Al Galasso is because its associated with the email address the message was sent from. I can make the assumption that perhaps his group's name is NABE based on the email address and the copyright info at the bottom of the email but a BBB search for that name in Oregon yields no results. It turns out that NABE is short for National Association of Book Entrepreneurs which, according to Al's bio, he's been the director of for 40 years now.
      • I didn't bother replying to Al with a series of questions. I clicked the link in the email and visited the website for bookmarketingprofits.com and found them eerily similar and completely underwhelming. Both websites looked like they were created with basic HTML in the late 90's. The design was BASIC, the colors were atrocious, and there was no content. The link in the email was basically a single page with an order form and the other page was pretty much the same thing. There was nothing that made me think this was an outright scam but at the same time I didn't feel comfortable doing business with something that looked like it was thrown together by a beginner but wanted to collect my financial data.
    • Contact #2
      • Services: Entry into the Pinnacle Book Achievement Award contest
      • Cost: Not real clear!
      • Al doesn't waste time. Before hitting me up about the Best E-Book Directory, Al reached out about getting me to submit my book for his contest. The email itself is again very basic with minimal information designed to get me to click the link to go to his page. The page, like the others, are pitiful looking. There is no level of professionalism or design in these rudimentary and questionable webpages.
      • The page for the contest has a lot of information that is poorly organized while not actually telling much. It talks about picking multiple options to get a savings but not what each option costs. It talks about becoming a member for 2 years that gives you perks but not what the cost is for non-members. The page's disorganized flow makes it difficult to really understand what is being offered in a cohesive and comprehensive manner. Is that be design, I can't say. All I can say is that as a former web developer and programmer, this is something I would have a beginner create as a learning tool, not as a fully functional e-commerce site.
      • Just like before, I don't know if I'd call this a scam but I won't be doing business on such an unprofessional looking site. If they've been around for 30-40 years and do these contests annually then why don't they have a more attractive and functional website? What value is there in participating in this contest if the award for winning is being added to this website? I would not want to use this website as any part of my marketing strategy because it looks so bad, so outdated, so unprofessional, almost childish.
    • Contact #3
      • Service: Got a new email from Al on 4/12/22 selling advertising space in some online book/pdf.
      • Price: $150
      • This looks to be some part of a automated email list that I didn't subscribe to. I clicked the Unsubscribe button but we'll see if that actually does anything.

Author Express

  • Chi/Che
    • Contact #1
      • Services: Unknown
      • Price: N/A
      • Like the other calls from this number, the connection was bad but for the first time I heard a name. Still same pitch, "your book was recommended but there are concerns about price. Call us, we can help." Blah, blah, blah.
      • I haven't found a website for this company only a Facebook page that is minimal to say the least. The phone number on the Facebook page doesn't match the phone number in the message, I mean like its not even close.
      • When I did a look up for the company I found a website that showed books published by Author Express and it was less than a dozen books and most of them looked like self-help type stuff.
      • I don't find anything on the BBB website for Author Express in California, where the calls claim to originate and the caller suggests the company is located. Just because the company isn't listed doesn't mean that it isn't real but it does raise some flags and concerns for me.
  • Unknown Contact
    • Contact #1
      • Services: L.A. Festival of Books (I think)
      • Cost: Unknown
      • I contemplated not putting this contact on the list since I'm unsure exactly who it was that contacted me or who they claimed to represent. Truth be told, there was a horrible connection on both call attempts made by this individual that left me searching for information in the voicemails he left for me and his accent apparently caused some translation issues with the speech-to-text translation feature in my voicemail which only worked to compound my problems in deciphering who this was and what he wanted.
      • From what I could tell from the messages, his name was something like Ned, Ted, Ed, or something along those lines. The company he worked for may have been called "Author Xpress" but I'm not sure. That part of the message cut out real bad and the accent with the translation means I can't be certain that the transcript automatically created is accurate. From what I could hear, it sounded like he was trying to get me to participate in the L.A. Times Festival of Books (like so many others before him) but again, between the connection and the accent the exact message was lost.
      • I never got an email from the caller but he did call twice in one day within less than two hours. The first call came in at approximately 1:45pm and the second around 3:30pm. Both messages sounded to be similar but each had their own quality issues that made them both unintelligible.
      • The calls showed to be out of Orinda, CA but the voice messages made reference to what I think was Pittsburgh, CA.
      • I decided not to return either call. If his call quality was that poor on two attempts then there was nothing that led me to believe that a third call would be better and there was no point in spending my time asking him to repeat himself due to connection quality issues to discuss an event that I am already skeptical about when it comes to random callers like this and I really have no desire at this point to even entertain the idea of participating. Why waste his time but more importantly, why waste mine.
      • After doing some research, the company name is likely Author Express. This contact happened before the first call from Chi/Che listed above but I had this classified as an unknown contact before I realized this caller was from the same company as Chi/Che.

Author's Press

  • Gee Smith
    • Contact #1
      • Services: The London Book Fair?
      • Cost: Doesn't say
      • The email is nothing but an image flyer. There are no links, no signature line, nothing but the flyer and the typical expected footer info.
      • I'm just going to classify this as spam since there was no attempt at communication and it appeared to be nothing more than a mass mail-out aimed at book people. Is it a scam in addition to spam? Hard to say since there was no content aside from the image. There was no attempt to solicit or sale anything but nor was there more than a basic attempt to advertise anything. This one was just another poorly constructed email that makes me leery to do any business with those associated with it.

Book Bean

  • Julia Martinez
    • Contact #1
      • Services: A paid advertisement in the form of an interview with a radio host (Ric Bratton)
      • Estimated Cost: $699
      • The conversation started off normal as she explained that Book Bean was "relatively new" and largely comprised of agents and workers that were formerly associated with a multitude of publishers and she was there to "level up" my marketing by helping me to secure this radio spot on Ric's show, which is basically a podcast type broadcast from what I understood on things like Youtube, Spotify, iTunes, etc. but not a typical radio show on the AM/FM stereo.
      • Following our phone call, Julia sent me an email with criticism of my website. This was after she questioned the effectiveness of my current social media management team from Snow Tree Media (who have done an amazing job). Interestingly, "Book Bean" has no website or social media presence that I was able to find and when I requested information on where to find their website and social media presence in response to Julia's email I have not gotten a response.
      • I mentioned references in my phone call with Julia and again in an email stating my desire to speak with someone who has used their services but no references have been provided to date.
      • Julia made contact with me on 4/19/21 and the BBB website shows nothing for that company despite Julia claiming to have booked over a dozen people with radio spots in the last month alone and the company being started in 2015. How does a 6 year old company not have a listing with the BBB? Smells fishy...
      • Her email address ends in @gmail.com. When I called this out to her it was explained as something they were working on because they were still "a new company" but she also claimed that the company had been around since 2015. 6 years in business with dozens of clients each month and you use basic gmail accounts for your business? I don't think so.
      • In the end, there were too many things missing that anybody would expect a company to have. No website. No social media presence. No company email addresses. No brochures or marketing material. All I got was information in an email that looked suspect and a lot of criticisms about my online presence when they had none of their own. Julia would later change her claim from being a 6 year old company to a 6 month old company and blamed me for misunderstanding how when I asked how long had Book Bean been around and she answered since 2015 that she meant she had been in the industry since 2015. It just seems too much like a classic deflection technique in an effort to make me think I'm the one at fault for suspecting them as being a scam when everything they say and do is classic scam tactics.
      • I don't care if you've been in business 6 years or 6 months but a free social media account and company emails are a must at day 1 and don't claim cost prohibitive as your reason, especially after you claim to book 15-20 clients a month just for radio interviews at $700 a pop. $700/each x 15/monthly bookings = $10,500.00/month and that was just for Julia's efforts. That's over $120,000 annually just from radio spots she supposedly sold so in the last 6 months they would have made $60,000 just from her efforts and yet somehow it is too expensive to have company email. That doesn't make me think that they are legit and even if they are, I don't want to work with a group that shortsighted.

Christian Works Media

  • Ryan Scott
    • Contact #1
      • Services: Paid advertisement time in the form of an author interview on the radio show "This Week in America" with host Ric Bratton (the same thing Julia from Book Bean tried pitching to me a week earlier).
      • Cost: $899 (it is also worth noting the $200 price difference between this "group" and Book Bean)
      • So far I have only received an email from Ryan that included the same template content about how securing my spot on one of Ric's upcoming shows and how widespread my appearance would be given Ric's impressive background and how it would increase my sales by helping me reach my target audience.
      • They do have a basic website but no information about them on the BBB's website. I don't find a Facebook page for any group with that name. A quick Google search for the company name only found the website for the group but no immediate posts either praising or criticizing the group.
      • I politely replied to Ryan and indicated that I would want to speak with authors who successfully used their services previously. I made it clear that there was not an expectation for him to give me personal contact details for those authors but instead directed him to share my email address (which he clearly had since he emailed me first) or to direct them to contact me through social media (and I provided him my social media information). All that is left now is to wait and see if Ryan replies and if so, what that reply includes.
      • Update 5/6/2021: It has been a week since I replied to Ryan saying that was interested in hearing what he could tell me about the service and suggested that he suggest one of their success stories to reach out to my social media account on their behalf but I’ve heard nothing in response.
      • Update 5/25/21: Still no response. I guess the mention of references was enough to scare Ryan away for good. Who would have thought that something so simple would scare someone so completely as to never respond. I guess if it were a legit offer that a response might be warranted but if its a scam then I can't be too surprised.
      • Update 6/14/21: Still no response from Ryan, although I did get a call and an email from someone claiming to work for the same group (see below). I still think this group is likely a scam. Initiating contact with a new name but the same information doesn't instill a great deal of confidence either.
    • Contact #2
      • Services: A website
      • Cost: $499
      • Yes, this is the same Ryan Scott (I assume given the same email address) that contacted me a few months earlier about doing a "radio" interview on Ric Bratton's podcast show.
      • I didn't even entertain a conversation with Ryan. I replied to his email and let him know that I currently have a website and that I was not interested in their services. I added that I had his contact info so if I changed my mind in the future that I would contact him. In addition, I asked that he remove me for their mailing lists given this was no less than the third contact I've had from their group this year.
    • Contact #3
      • Services: Social Media marketing for my book
      • Cost: $199 (Special)
      • Same Ryan Scott as above. I guess he didn't bother to remove me from his mailing list after my last request which just goes to show their true nature.
  • Cyrus Lee
    • Contact #1
      • Services: Just like his colleague Ryan who reached out to me at the end of April, Cyrus wanted to book me on the Ric Bratton show! This is like the third person to contact me in reference to this show.
      • Cost: $780. Still more than the price quoted by the person from Book Bean but less than his fellow colleague.
      • Cyrus initiated contact with me via telephone roughly a week ago. It showed as a number from California. I didn't answer and he left a voicemail. It was a bit hard to understand. I had to listen to his message a few times before I understood even his name but I was never fully able to understand what it was he was trying to sell me. I could make out something about an author selected for a live interview but that was about it.
      • I tried to call Cyrus back twice but never reached him. On the second attempt, I left Cyrus a voicemail asking him to send me the details of his offer via email and provided him with my email address (though I'm sure he had it from the press release where he found my phone number). I received the email from Cyrus on Friday, June 11, and it included the same templated sales pitch for Ric Bratton's show that I had already received from his colleague Ryan and Julia @ Book Bean. I replied letting him know that someone from his group had already approached me with a similar offer but that I would require the same thing from him as I had his colleague, references of previous clients. Again, as my usual spiel, I was very explicit in my request that I did not expect Cyrus to provide me with private or personal details of these individuals but that I would like for him to give them my email address or social media contact information so they could reach out to me. As of 6/14/21, I am awaiting to see if Cyrus will reply. His colleague Ryan never responded after I made my request for references, let's see what Cyrus does.
      • Update 6/16/21: Surprisingly, Cyrus replied. When prompted for references, most others simply fall off the face of the planet and never reply but Cyrus did. Not surprisingly, he did not provide me with any information regarding my request. In fact, it was pretty much the opposite. He stated that I was the first to ever ask for references and then immediately in the next sentence started asking what it would take for us to do business today. Really? I point blank said "no reference, no deal" in my first email so that question was answered before it was even asked. The best he had to offer in this email was a "I guarantee you will love it!" statement which is not very reassuring. I replied to reiterate my requirement for references. I also took the opportunity to remind him that they contacted me to sell me their services despite no prompting from me so it was up to him to prove the value of what he wanted to sell me, not for me to determine the value of what I was wanting to buy simply because I was not wanting to buy their services prior to them contacting me first. Also interestingly, he did not seem concerned or curious about who else from his organization may have contacted me previously despite me pointing that out in the beginning of my initial response.
      • Update 8/5/21: Cyrus never replied to the second email. The fact that in order for our two groups to do business would require them proving that they can deliver what they claim to sell is too much to ask or even warrant a reply makes me feel pretty confident that they are either a scam or know the product they're selling to be ineffective at best.
  • Glenn Sanders
    • Contact #1
      • Services: Los Angles Times Festival of Books
      • Price: $599
      • First contact from this individual but not the first contact from this group.
      • Got am email from Glenn on 1/12/22 with some pretty basic information about the L.A. Times Festival of Books (which looks like it might be a legit event). Glenn's email said for $599 that they would do a "Book Display" for the 2 day event and some ad in the L.A. Times magazine. Aside from those details, the majority of the information was about the event and almost nothing about what i got beyond a "Book Display" and magazine ad. It did not include any sample ads from previous years, display mock-ups or example photos. There was nothing in the initial email that described in any level of detail what was to be obtained for this fee of practically $600, what the expectations were, what the goal or results were to be, just nothing.
      • I replied to Glenn's email later the same day. I asked for particulars about how this worked. What would I get out of it. What I might be responsible for outside of the fee. What they would provide. What they would do with my book. I asked for sample ads and as always, references. I didn't go as far as to say the usual "no references, no deal" but I'm always keeping that in my hip pocket. I'm curious to see what Glenn says this $600 fee actually covers.
      • Funny enough, Glenn's email contains a fun typo in the signature line. The company's website is misspelled and doesn't work. That's not to say that it isn't intentional but I still find it funny. I am still deciding on whether or not to point it out.
      • I also reached out to the Festival of Books group to see if I could verify if this group was indeed a registered exhibitor for the event. I suspect I may not get a reply for a few days and even then it might be a long-shot to get confirmation of anything.
      • Update 1/13/22: It has been 24 hours since I replied to Glenn with my questions and requests but have not received any reply. However, I have received a reply from the organizers of the Festival of Books who have confirmed that Christian Works Media is NOT a currently registered exhibitor at their planned event. Huh? How can Glenn sell me promotion in their booth at the fair if they aren't registered to attend the fair? Sounds a bit fishy.
      • Update 1/19/22: It has been a week since I replied asking for examples and details but have yet to get a response from Glenn Sander. Color me surprised!
      • Update 2/1/22: Still no reply from Glenn. His silence speaks volumes!
    • Contact #2
      • Services: Something about an interview on Daily Spark TV with Dr. Angela Chester.
      • Cost: $899
      • As per the usual spiel, the email came unprompted to my Inbox with the entire pitch formulated in an HTML based message. There really was nothing too eye catching about the proposal. It suggested that if I paid them $900 that they would give me a 30 minute interview on some lady's "TV" show that airs in 3 major areas; Atlanta, NY, & LA. Of course this is a show that I'm unfamiliar with but any show that you have to pay to be on is less of an "interview" and more of a paid advertisement. Essentially it sounded more like they wanted me to fund an infomercial on some small-time public access show. And considering the various other things that this group has unsuccessfully tried to sell me over the past few years, I already was skeptical of whatever Glenn's email had to offer even before I opened it.
      • I politely replied to Glenn within an hour of receiving his message. My reply was the standard "I would like to talk with other authors who have used your services before proceeding". A similar line was give in my reply to Glenn's last attempt to sell me representation by his group at a book fair that they weren't registered to attend and like that last email, I didn't expect to get a reply from Glenn.
      • Surprisingly, Glenn replied the same day but with the typical we can't give our reference info excuse. Instead, he referred me to the links he provided in his original email. How thoughtful to direct me to your own marketing materials that are in no way biased about your products/services as a form of reference to a hesitant prospect. Why didn't I just think to look at that information and take its word for how awesome their group is instead of wanting to talk to a real person who has had first-hand experience in dealing with them. Ugh, how short-sighted am I?
      • I did really appreciate Glenn's attempt to assuage my concerns about the validity of group by including the statement, "I mean you no harm and deceit," in his reply. How can you not trust that? I mean, he contacted me to sell me a service I never requested and then only offered his biased marketing email as a foundation of trust along with such a reassuring sentiment in his follow-up email in which he directly refused my request to speak to references willing to discuss their experiences with his employer.
      • Given that Christian Works Media seems to contact me regularly with poor attempts to sell me services that I seriously question their ability to deliver, Glenn never bothered to respond to my request for references in his last attempt to sell me something they weren't even a part of, and now his outright refusal to do so, I politely reminded Glenn that he was the one trying to sell me something, that he was the one who sought me out and not the other way around, and then I asked him to never contact me again unless he was willing to provide references because I would not conduct business with him or Christian Works Media without them. Let's see how that goes.

EC Publishing LLC

  • Marshie Prieto
    • Contact #1
      • Services: Looked to be primarily digital marketing though the conversation did not get far enough to really establish which service(s) were being sold to me through their cold contact.
      • Cost: N/A. Their website did not display any prices for any of their services that I found and given the conversation with Marshie never advanced beyond a couple of short emails, I have no idea what anything they have to offer might cost.
      • This contact started as an email to me from Marshie on 7/29/21 with a very brief introduction and a request for 10-15 minutes of my time. The initial email did not include any information regarding target services being offered, promotional pricing, nothing. Just a "Hey, this is who I am, who I work for, and I'd like a few minutes of your time to discuss your needs" type email.
      • I did a little poking around online looking for information on this group and basically all I found was a BBB profile which indicated they had been in business roughly 3 years, a website with minimal information, and a Facebook page that showed random posts dating back to about Feb 2019 (a little more than 2 1/2 years ago). I didn't really find anything where others talked positive about them but did find a few negative comments on the BBB page.
      • I replied back on 7/30/21 to Marshie saying, "let's chat". I had expected to get a phone call setup for that quick 10-15 minute discussion that Marshie had suggested in the initial email but instead I was just greeted with another email from Marshie later that same day.
      • The second email from Marshie included a picture of my book's cover art and some explanation that some Amazon Associate had recommended my book to them. From there, Marshie posed a few questions to me in the email but that was it. I replied to the email and provided answers to the questions submitted with honest feedback. I did close out that second email with a statement that I had looked through their website to see what services they provided but wasn't sure which services would be a fit for my needs but that I was open to seeing what Marshie had to say given that they are suppose to be the experts in that area.
      • Update 8/5/21: That was a week ago and I have not heard back from Marshie. Perhaps Marshie thinks I would be too difficult to work with and has opted not to pursue me as a client given my feedback and blunt comments or perhaps Marshie realizes that I will not be so easily swayed into throwing away my money on empty promises. I can't say why Marshie stopped talking to me so suddenly but it does make me wonder how legit Marshie may have been given that such a simple statement could have scared them away so easily.
    • Contact #2
      • Services: Book fair
      • Price: $1,000
      • This is not a error. Marshie has made the list multiple times. Marshie reached out about 6 months ago and then again on 1/5/22.
      • An email trying to get me to invest $1,000 to get my book into 2 book fairs. I did not reply. The email was another poorly formatted and rather cheap looking presentation. There was a lot of highlighting but really nothing much else to capture your attention. It was more of a fear tactic in that it talked about the raising costs of book fairs and they were my savior to get me a good deal for only $1000 to get into 2 books fairs, 1 in Tucson and 1 in LA.
    • Contact #3
      • Services: An ad campaign/book fair showcasing
      • Cost: $499
      • They wanted to showcase my book in the Tucson Book Festival and the London Book Festival. This of course came with an ad in their magazine, promos on social media, etc. It all sounded very similar to what Glenn had promised for the other book fair that his group wasn't even registered to attend. However, due to time constraints, I was unable to contact either group to verify this group's participation in either event.
      • I didn't beat around the bush with this one since this is Marshie's 3rd cold call attempt to sell me something I didn't request via an email blast. I replied the same day and explained that I wanted samples of the ad and that I would require references or there would be no deal.
      • Marshie actually replied shortly after my request was sent. Sadly, he couldn't provide me what I asked for. He sent some links that were busted while others went their content. Interestingly, one of the links he sent referenced the same LA Time Festival of Books that Glenn tried to sell me on (something of a red flag at this point for me).
      • The real kicker was why he said he couldn't provide references. In addition to the normal "privacy" excuse, Marshie added a new twist. "They also have time on their own and we respect that." Basically, he can't provide references because his clients are busy and they don't want to bother them. Well, if my business is too much of a bother for you to get a reference for me then I'm too busy for you too!
      • The main outcome of this interaction was that I replied and told Marshie that I am not interested and to remove me from his mailing list for all future offers. He replied in kind, thanking me for me feedback but nothing about removing me from his mailing list. We will see what the future holds between Marshie Prieto and myself but something tells me that I'm going to have to get a little hateful before Marshie leaves me alone.
      • I did do an updated BBB search for this group and it was a mixed bag. The company shows an A- rating which isn't bad but the 2 complaints on file are concerning. One person claims that after they filed the complaint with the BBB that EC Publishing basically extorted him using his refund as leverage saying that they would only issue him a partial refund if he revoked his complaint with the BBB, citing breach of contract somehow as their reasoning. If it is a breach of contract to file a complaint when you don't uphold your end of the bargain then that sounds like a pretty shady contract to me.
    • Contact #4
      • Services: 2022 In-Person Los Angeles Times Festival of Books
      • Cost: $1,299 (a reduced price from their standard $3,299 because my book was "recommended".
      • Pretty much the same services at the same event as Glenn but at a significantly higher cost.
      • I didn't even bother checking to see if EC Publishing LLC was a valid attendee for the event like I did the other group. This is the 4th unsolicited email from Marshie since my first book was released in June 2022. I just responded to this message that I was not interested and explicitly advised Marshie to stop contacting me. Hopefully Marshie will get the point and this will be the last I hear from Marshie.

Filmways Pictures Agency/Filmways Pictures LTD

  • Victoria Powell
    • Contact #1
      • Services: Wants to make my book into a movie
      • Estimated Cost: Pending
      • They have an almost legit looking website that claims they've been around since 1952 but the BBB has no data on the company. Any company that's been around for nearly 70 years is going to have a history.
      • Just doing a quick Google search on the company name I found 1 post where the consensus was the group was a scam and another post where someone had received the exact same email that I had from the exact same person. I am trying to reach out to that individual to see how that went for them but I'm not optimistic that they had a positive experience.
      • I made it known upfront that I would require a minimum of 2 verifiable references and if they were unable to provide those then there was no point in even talking. I'm waiting to see if they reply or where this may lead.
      • Update 4/29/21: It has been over a week since I replied to "Victoria's" email in which I made it clear that I would need references to be included in any discussions had. I have received no response to my reply. Likewise, my attempts to contact the individual I found online that mentioned receiving the same email I did from "Victoria" has not yielded any fruit. I had hoped to validate the company's status with someone else who had spoken with them to see what their experience was like but I can understand that individual's possible desire to not talk to strangers online.
      • Update 5/6/2021: Another week passed and still no response. It seems pretty clear at this point that the mere mention of references is enough to scare Victoria away. 
      • Update 5/25/21: Still no response. I guess Victoria Powell with Filmway Pictures wasn't as serious about her offer as her email suggested if the mention of references scares her to the point of no contact for 30+ days.
      • Update 6/14/21: Still no response from Victoria. I am going to write this off as a scam since the mere mention of references has led to a complete lack of response from her.

Ingress Advertising LLC

  • Alex Wayne/Alex Morris
    • Contact #1
      • Services: Something about a book fair based on the poorly formatted and brief email containing poorly constructed writing and sentence structure.
      • Estimated Cost: Pending
      • I got an email on 4/12/21 from someone with the email address header of Alex Morris but the email contained a signature line for Alex Wayne. Is Alex a recently married individual and the names don't match up because of some mismatch of data or is it just lazy scammers not realizing that the data doesn't line up? Anybody's call at this point but to say that I've become somewhat jaded and pessimistic in these situations is an understatement.
      • According the BBB's website, Ingress Advertising LLC had a profile created on 4/7/21, a mere 5 days before Alex emailed me. That's not a promising start.
      • Due to work obligations, I replied to Alex's email on 4/19/21 to discuss the possibility of setting up a quick phone call in the off chance this is not a scam but as of 4/21/21 I have not gotten a response from "Alex".
      • Update 4/29/21: I have not received a response back from Alex. It has been over a week since I responded and indicated that I would like to include references for their work as part of any discussion. Others at least replied to play down the need for references or claimed they couldn't give me any. We'll see if a response ever comes but I am not going to hold to my breath.
      • Update 5/6/2021: Still no response from Alex. All I said is that I’d want references as part of the discussion but apparently that’s a deal breaker to the point that they won’t even reply to say ‘no thanks’.
      • Update 5/25/21: Still no response from Alex. It seems the idea of providing references is scary enough to them that they hide and can't even reply to say "sorry, but this isn't going to work". If just mentioning references is enough to scare them away then it only serves to increase my suspicions of their legitimacy.
      • Update 6/14/21: Still no response from Alex. I'm going to write this one off as a scam. It has been 6 weeks with no contact from the group since requesting references.

New Reader Magazine

  • Kelly Smith
    • Contact #1
      • Services: Treatment of my manuscript for Hollywood studios and streaming services that might consider my work for a movie or tv show.
      • Estimated Cost: $13,000.00
      • I exchanged emails with Kelly a few times and spoke with her at length in a phone call that lasted over an hour as she touted her company's success rates (60%+ if I recall correctly)
      • The company had a very negative rating with the BBB with multiple complaints on file regarding failure to deliver and the company's difficulty in honoring their "cancel anytime" clause in their contract that called for a refund of monies paid for services.
      • I found ZERO positive stories regarding this group online but the majority of posts I found specifically called Kelly out as being the person they spoke to initially but was getting nowhere with when the project soured.
      • I made multiple requests for references but Kelly never provided any, claiming that the testimonials on their website was the best they could provide despite their asking price of $13,000 of my money.
      • After expressing my concerns and findings with Kelly who tried to discount the numerous complaints as hearsay, I promptly rejected Kelly's proposal but it took multiple email exchanges with her before she accepted the fact that I was not going to be the next sucker in line. This level of pushiness did not do anything but add to my suspicions regarding the nature of their business model.

STRAT Advertising

  • Unknown Contact
    • Contact #1
      • Services: Marketing/Advertising for authors
      • Cost: Not sure but others have posted roughly $699
      • I've received 2 phone calls from someone representing this group in the past month. both calls have come after normal business hours which seemed odd enough but in the voicemail the individual says their hours are M-F 5PM-Midnight! That has all the makings of someone overseas operating through a U.S. based redirect phone service if you ask me but who knows, that might be their legit hours in NY.
      • The person in the voicemail is kinda hard to understand for me. I had to listen to the messages multiple times to work out the name of the company she said she represented and she butchered the name of my book too. I have yet to make out what her name is though.
      • They do have a website but it is very basic with NO information. There is a signup form where you can request information but I could not find anything posted openly about their services and costs. There was only a banner that said we provide the following services but no real details. There isn't even a phone number or company address listed that I found.
      • The website shows a copyright date of 2016 but I found no record on the BBB website for a company with this name.
      • I did a quick Google search and found other people trying to figure out who this group was and the general consensus was a waste of money. The best record I found was a guy talking about they wanted nearly $700 to rent a spot on the group's table at a book fair event or something along those lines.
      • The lack of information, the odd business hours, and the fact that after nearly 6 years in business they have no BBB record tells me to not go near this group with a 10-foot pole.
      • Update (11/29/21): Somebody from this group called me again. Still, my book was "highly recommended" to them but she didn't say much else. I also wasn't able to make out her name. Still not interested in calling this one back to see how far down the rabbit hole this goes.

URLLink Media and Publishing

  • Blake Brown
    • Contact #1
      • Services: Republishing and Marketing
      • Cost: Undisclosed
      • Got email from Blake on 11/3. The email suggested they would republish my book for free provided that I purchase marketing services. The email listed several service packages but no prices for any package.
      • My email automatically flagged the message as Spam and put it in my Spam folder so that's what I'm treating it as but felt compelled to add this contact to the list for future reference.
  • Katrina Parker
    • Contact #1
      •  Services: Unclear. She left a voicemail suggesting that the cost of my books were "too high" which is typical of poachers trying to get authors to "republish" with them to decrease book prices as a sales approach to increasing sales. Her follow-up emails did not go into any detail but that may have been due to my replies.
      • Cost: Unknown. Since we never discussed exactly what she was trying to sell me there was never any discussion regarding cost.
      • Katrina called me on 3/16/22 and it came up as Spam. I let it go to voicemail, because why would I answer a call flagged as Spam? A minute later my phone popped up saying I had a new message. When I listened, it was the typical "we've been recommended your book but there are concerns about the price being too high," etc., etc., etc.
      • Katrina's voicemail was quickly followed up by an email to me that only asked if I was the author of The Ascension Legacy: Book 1: The Shamed Ranger. There was no content regarding what her interest was in the book, what services she was peddling, nothing. Just that question and her email signature. Of course, the really condescending part of it all is that they get my contact info from the press releases for my books so the phone number and email address are clearly mine and there is no reason to ask but I can understand the attempt at courtesy.
      • I replied to her email indicating that I was indeed the author but that I was not interested in acquiring any services. She was not the first person to contact me from this group so I was already familiar with what they offered and what they commonly tried to sell me. I headed off any attempt at conversation or sales discussion because I knew there was nothing I wanted from her group. My reply was polite but it was clear, I was not interested in any services such as republishing, changing publishers, etc.
      • Katrina actually replied too. She said she wasn't trying to get me to change anything or republish anything but likewise, she never said what she wanted. Her voicemail suggested that she was interested in helping me reduce the price of my books which typically means paying them to reprint my books, i.e. changing publishers and republishing. The fact that in two emails she never said what she was trying to sell me suggests that either she wasn't committed to the sale or my initial reply made it obvious that it wasn't worth her effort. Either way, her voicemail gave me all the information I needed.
      • I replied to Katrina's reply and asked to be removed from her group's contact list. Katrina is the 3rd person from that group to reach out with the same message. If I haven't been convinced to do business with you by now, just give up.
    • Contact #2
      • Update 4/6/2022: Katrina called again and left the same voicemail as before. Unlike before, I did not receive an email this time but it still does not change the fact that despite my previous request to be removed from their contact list that I still received another call from this group. This type of disrespect and disregard for the author's wishes only serves as a good reminder of why I have not opted to do business with this group and why I likely never will. If they won't listen to what I say before I give them money, why would I expect them to listen later?
  • Unknown Contact
    • Contact #1
      • Services: Republish my book and various other "recommended" services
      • Cost: "Free" for republishing and other services will cost an unlisted amount.
      • I'm not even going to give them a chance to discuss this with me. Yes, I've become somewhat jaded after dealing with multiple groups that can't even sound trustworthy or believable to even give this group a chance after looking into them for only a small amount.
      • When I checked the BBB's website (bbb.org) on 9/14/21, this group had a rating of 3 out of 5 stars. On the face of it, that looked good but as I dug deeper it seemed the positive reviews were suspect. Most of them came within a few days of each other in Sept. 2019. What are the odds that multiple people are all going to post 5 star reviews, most of which were not very specific regarding services rendered. One, in fact, made a point to call out that clicks do not equal sales. It said nothing about what the group did for them but seemed to be more making a sales excuse to refute a complaint regarding the group's marketing services not resulting in sales.
      • When reviewing most complaints, they all seemed to share a common theme, fees were paid but services not provided/projects not complete, and communication was horrible (although friendly). It seemed that the group was good at making excuses but not delivering. And for nearly all complaints, the company replied to the complaint in an effort to justify the issues reported but the complainants generally rejected the customer's response as misleading or incorrect. One person even had to get an attorney involved. That does not inspire one to use the services if it will require you to have legal representation to get your money back because the provider fails to provide the services they were paid for.

Westwood Books Publishing

  • Peter Pascual
    • Contact #1
      • Services: Publishing, republishing, targeted email marketing, etc.
      • Cost: I don't know. I didn't talk to them but their sales emails, yes EMAILS, were very general and aimed at trying to get me to contact them so they could figure out what services I needed.
      • I received 4, count 'em 4, emails from Peter over a course of 22 days. Yes, you read that correct, he sent me 4 unprompted emails in the span of less than one month. Of course, looking into it a bit more, I discovered that all 4 of these messages were part of some mailing list campaign. The group uses Mail Chimp, suspiciously the same mail provider I use for my book marketing newsletters, and it had the same familiar newsletter template (and the Mail Chimp banner at the bottom of the email).
      • I replied to the email address listed (Peter's) and suggested that they remove me from the list in addition to me clicking the unsubscribe button on the email. I'm guessing they auto-added my information to the mailing list when they found it in a press release because I know I didn't sign up for it!
      • I checked them out on the BBB website. They have a 2.5 out of 5 rating. It shows they've been in business since 2018 (3 years). In those 3 years it seems that 9 complaints have been filed with the BBB where all of them seem to claim a lack of services and communication and the company seems more than happy to publicly argue with the complainants through the BBB website. It would seem reading through those threads that the best way to establish communication with this group is via a BBB complaint and anything less will go ignored...ouch.
      • There aren't very many reviews on the BBB website for them either. And they are either 1 star or 5 pretty much. The positive reviews were less descriptive than the negative ones and somebody likes to argue with reviewers too. I can understand wanting to "protect the brand" but I'm not so sure going back and forth with an angry customer in a public forum is the most professional way to resolve a complaint or that it protects the brand much. It actually causes me to have some sense of security about the truthfulness of the complaints.
      • They do have an actual website that looks pretty standard, nothing fishy. Their online bookstore is 90 pages with 8 books per page which would indicate that they've got nearly 720 books under their belt. Now the quality of those books, I can't say but it seems they've done something at least.
      • I don't know that I would consider this group a scam in the typical sense but it does seem that it might be one to have some serious hesitations about doing business with.
      • The biggest thing for me is when I looked up the company on a website that rates publishing service providers this is what they had to say about Westwood Books Publishing: "Formerly known as Greenberry Publishing, a vanity press rated "F" by the Better Business Bureau." Apparently they were once known by another name with a horrible BBB rating. If that's not enough of a reason to think twice about dealing with this group then I don't know what is.

Writers Apex

  • Kelly White
    • Contact #1
      • Services: Writers Apex wanted to "republish my book" because my book's prices were "too high". Their service would reduce my printed book cost by 25% and my ebook cost by 50%.
      • Estimated Cost: Unknown. I hung up on her before we even got there.
      • I had two questions for Kelly during our phone call. 1) How does your company plan to accomplish such significant cost reductions without altering the format or content of my material? Her only answer was "we will republish your book" which does little to explain how that accomplishes such a goal. 2) Do you have references of other authors that you've republished who saw the claimed reduction in price that led to an increase in sales? Her answer to that was "our client details are confidential".
      • Since Kelly could not explain how her company planned to achieve what they were trying to sell me and refused to give me references who could speak to her company's ability to deliver on their promises I gave Kelly an ultimatum, give me references or we end the conversation. She continued to tell me how I needed their help because I didn't know things that they did and repeatedly dodged my questions until I grew frustrated enough to terminate the call. I flagged her email as spam and the number she called from already showed up as spam on my cellphone (clue #1).
    • Contact #2
      • Update 8/1/21: Wow! Just wow! Kelly sent me a new email basically trying to have the same conversation with me again. It was like she had no knowledge of our previous contact. Do they not keep a record of who they have and haven't reached out to? Do they not keep a record of who has and hasn't shot them down recently? I mean, it has only been 4 months since she sent me the EXACT same email (subject line and everything).
        • I replied and politely reminded her that she and I had already spoken on the subject and that unless she could arrange for me to speak with authors who used their services with success and she could offer a better explanation than "because we will republish your book" as to how they plan to achieve things that my previous decision will remain unchanged.
    • Contact #3
      • Update 8/30/21: I guess the last email she sent me at the beginning of the month that I replied to did not register with her because I got a 3rd email from her, this time for my latest book release. It was the same email as the two previous ones she sent. I am flabbergasted that she would contact me a third time given our last two exchanges.
        • Once again, I politely replied and questioned if they tracked their contacts given our previous exchanges. I reminded Kelly that I would not entertain any services she offered unless she could explain how it would work AND provide references. I ended the email with asking her to lose my email for any future contacts if she was unwilling to provide that information since that would be the only way I would move forward with her attempts to sell me services I didn't request.
    • Contact #4
      • Update 9/7/21: I received the same email again from Kelly. That is 3 emails with the exact same content in 5 weeks. I replied to the first two with NO response from Kelly. At this point, I have no reason to think that this is anything but harassment given that she keeps sending the same email, she never replies to my responses, and I previously asked her to stop emailing me. If this isn't sufficient excuse to NOT do business with someone, I don't know what is.
    • Contact #5
      • Update 3/19/22: Yet another email from Kelly that matches the previous ones. I guess my refusal to participate in their programs multiple times are easily forgotten or she hopes that I have but either way I replied the next day to decline her services (again). I did add a line requesting to remove my information for all future contacts. I guess we'll see if she pays attentions and honors my request this time since she obviously didn't honor my last one. If it happens again I may have to look into escalating the issue because this is bordering on harassment in my mind.
    • Contact #6
      • Update 4/5/22: Yet another email from Kelly. The same as the others. I guess she either didn't see or chose not to respect my last request to stop contacting me. This time I was less polite and more blunt with "Stop contacting me" and "Do not contact me again" statements clearly at the top of the message with no additional data.

Writers Branding NJ

  • Kevin Price
    • Contact #1
      • Services: Marketing, publishing, social media services
      • Cost: Varies
      • Kevin first reached out via a cold call on 10/27 but the voicemail was difficult to understand. He left only his name and phone number but nothing about a company website or email address that I could use to lookup the company he said he represented. The name of the company was difficult to make out in the recording. Given the poor quality of the recording and lack of researchable information, I opted not to return his call.
      • Kevin reached out again, another cold call, on 11/5. This voicemail was clearer sounding but again I wasn't sure exactly who he represented. This time I returned his call and left him a voicemail with my email address and asked him to send me some information, mainly so I could figure out who he worked for.
      • Kevin emailed me twice on 11/5. One was a general sales email that talked about what I could achieve by working with them but little mention of exactly what they would do or how much it would cost. The second email was a special email where for only $2000 they would write a 500 word review that they would get "published" in different places which would entitle me to put a "as seen as" logo on my website. Yippee!
      • The thing that most turned me off on Kevin's approach is that in his voicemail, before he ever had a chance to talk to me, made mention of my books "still having a fighting chance" and "a rough experience". He had no idea how rough of an experience my books have or haven't had nor is he able to quantify what a fighting chance is until he speaks with me about their sales performance vs my goals. In his email, he also made mention about marketing campaigns "not doing anything much". Again, how could he know what had or hadn't been done and the results of such campaigns? He suggested his presumptions were based off of data acquired from the printer despite that data not being publicly accessible which only undermines his assertions as true and valid.
      • Through additional back and forth via email, Kevin suggested that he had somehow acquired my sales data from the printer, which is not available publicly which would suggest his latest claim was a lie. When I fired back about his lack of information and other false claims, he "excused" himself from the conversation and it ended there. I made it clear that I was not interested in talking with him given his poor attitude, lack of insight, and false claims about being BBB accredited when the BBB website specifically said they weren't.
    • Contact #2
      • Update: I guess Kevin "didn't get the memo" or understand his own words about "excusing" himself from any conversation because he called me on 11/20 and again on 11/24 leaving me the same voicemails as before. It was as if he had no memory of our previous conversation, how he got caught lying about things, and that I expressly said that I was not interesting in doing business with them. Today (11/29) I politely replied to Kevin's previous emails indicating that I had received his latest messages but that I still had no intention of doing business with him. I made it very clear, in a respectful manner, that I did not want any contact from him. I requested that he stop calling me and that moving forward the only contact between us would be initiated by me if for any reason I ever lose my mind and choose to do business with a group that can't even keep their own word during pre-sales efforts.