EDITED APRIL 2014 TO ADD: As a result of my exposes, the bogus companies mentioned in this post have been deleted or “closed.” It’s not clear to me whether American Book Publishing is still active–it has closed down one of its websites and disabled the main URL of the other, though subsidiary pages remain. Its Facebook page hasn’t been updated since September 2013, and its dedicated bookstore has been removed from the web. Its books are still for sale on Amazon, though.
Last October, I started getting inquiries about a publisher called All Classic Books. I hadn’t heard anything about it, though its rather odd website (a sort of online journal format, with content mill-style essays) along with the lack of concrete information about its staff and its apparent lack of publishing history (according to Amazon, just four books published, all of which appear to be public domain titles) did give me serious pause.
So I wasn’t entirely surprised, a couple of weeks ago, to receive my first documented complaint about All Classic Books, from an author who reported a variety of problems through the production process.
What really caught my interest, though, was the heavy pressure placed on the author to spend thousands of dollars to buy hundreds of printed galleys to send out to reviewers. 500 was the “ideal” number suggested–though if the author really couldn’t afford that many, 300 was OK too. Helpfully, All Classic’s “Book Promotion Basics” brochure provides a pack of lies in support of this suggestion:
It’s common practice at traditional publishing companies today that all but their top 1% or “A” list celebrity authors cover their own galley expenses. It’s becoming more rare to find these exceptions, usually now made by a previously negotiated contract with literary agents or in book auctions or bidding wars for the celebrity author. Most authors today understand that sending their galleys are an expected and standard industry business expense and practice. All Classic Books is similar to many of the top New York Publishers in this regard. While we cover all other book publishing, distribution and marketing and promotion expenses, our authors do cover their galley expenses.
All of this rang a bell for me, because it’s also the M.O. of a publisher Writer Beware has been getting complaints about since 2001: American Book Publishing (here’s its other website), the subject of an Alert at the Writer Beware website and one of the dodgy publishers on Writer Beware’s Thumbs Down Publisher List.
Could there be a connection, I wondered? ABP charges a “setup” fee ($880, as of my most recent documentation), and All Classic Books doesn’t. It even pays a tiny advance. But while plenty of vanity publishers require or urge their authors to buy large quantities of their own books, ABP is the only one I’ve ever run across that pressures authors to self-purchase galleys for the purpose (well, the supposed purpose) of obtaining reviews.
So I started to research. And what I found was much more than I expected–not just a connection between ABP and All Classic Books, but between ABP and a whole network of satellite publishers, bogus organizations, shill websites, and imaginary publishing professionals. For those of you who are curious, I’ve included a section below with screenshots and other evidence that led to my conclusions. For those who want the quick version, here it is (the Alert at the Writer Beware website has been expanded to reflect this information).
ABP’s satellite operations and websites include:
- Alexis Press (no books pubbed to date)
- All Classic Books (four books pubbed to date, all public domain titles, with a bunch of apparently original releases in the pipeline–no sign of them on Amazon, though)
- Atlantic National Books (no books pubbed to date)
- Publisher Standards Board (supposedly a “Self Regulatory Trade Organization for the Book Publishing Industry”; most of its website links lead to 404 messages)
- Publisher Services Group (“Editing and Design Solutions for Indie Presses & Authors”)
- Media Book Group (“Book promotion is our passion”)
- Stopvanitypublishing.com (supposedly a web resource warning authors against vanity publishing, but really a device to drive traffic to all three of ABP’s satellite publishers–scroll down to the bottom of the page)
ABP’s founder, Cheryl Nunn or C. Lee Nunn, is fond of triple-barreled aliases. Names she may be using include:
- Nathan Fitzgearl, Kathleen Brooks Montgomery, Abigail Woodward Wright (ABP)
- Elizabeth M. Bennett (Alexis Press)
- Susannah E. Solomon (Atlantic National Books)
- Rebecca Reese Winslow, Kelly Kenworthy, Sherry Quinn (All Classic Books)
- Kory Kessal (Media Book Group)
- James Jackson Jones (“egalleys”, whatever that means)
- Madison Armstrong (“book publishing industry executive,” author of a book that doesn’t seem to exist)
So, evidence of all these connections.
There’s some suggestive stuff at the websites linked in above: same WordPress theme, some similar design features (check out the red advertising strip across the top of the satellite publishers’ websites and ABP’s blog, each offering a free, yes FREE, download of some kind), and a similar focus (most of the websites make a particular–not to mention hypocritical, given the source–point of railing against vanity publishing).
That’s not conclusive, of course. But here’s what is. Having created separate identities for her various endeavors, Cheryl Nunn seems to have decided to streamline her workload a little by giving every one of them, including ABP, the exact same Twitterfeeds and Facebook timelines. Twitter screenshots are below (I’ve included them because the feeds may vanish or go dead once this post goes live); if you’re really obsessive and want to see the Facebook timelines, they’re easily Googled.
There’s also this complaint by “Katie Montgomery” (one of the names used by Cheryl Nunn–see above) who–oh dear, what is the world coming to–claims she got ripped off by a graphic design bid site called DiginDigin.com when she attempted to get logos for Alexis Press and All Classic Books. Thank goodness that “Abp222” seems to have had more luck at 99designs.com with logos for Alexis Press, All Classic Books, and Atlantic National Books. (Do check out the logo campaign page for Atlantic National Books, where, in a serious fit of wishful thinking, Cheryl describes her competitors as “Amazon’s Creative [sic] Space, Simon & Schuster, Random House etc.”)
Click on the images to enlarge them.
|All Classic Books|
|Atlantic National Books|
|Media Book Group|
|Publisher Services Group|
|Publisher Standards Board|
|Madison Armstrong, “Book Publishing Industry Executive”|
|James Jackson Jones, “egalleys”|
|Kory Kessal, “CEO for Media Book Group”|
|Poor “Katie Montgomery”! Someone ripped her off!|
|Thank goodness, Abp222, second time’s a charm!|
Edited 9/26/13 to add: Dodgy publishers don’t like sunshine. As of this writing, Cheryl Nunn has deleted her contests at 99designs.com, and Publisher Standards Board is gone. Alexis Press, Atlantic National Books, Publisher Services Group, and Media Book Group now claim they are “currently for sale.”
Stop laughing, people!
Thanks to Sydney Oliver for the tip.