Readers of this blog may remember The Albee Agency, a so-called PR firm run by one Mike Albee, which posted fake testimonials from well-known authors and was outed by me and others. Read the whole story here.
Well, it wasn’t too long after that shitstorm of negative publicity that Albee disappeared. However, like many con artists who pull up stakes when their deception becomes too widely known, he couldn’t kick the habit. Selling high-priced services of dubious value to inexperienced writers who can ill afford them is just too easy and lucrative to resist!
How do I know this, you may ask? Well, Sandpiper’s website is not identical to Albee’s. But it shares many of the same red flags: a claim of years in business contradicted by the website domain’s February 2013 creation date; claims of media contacts and success with no specifics; campaigns that rely on cheap (for Sandpiper) and/or spam PR methods (with fees, based on documentation I’ve received, in the $2,000 range); and zero verifiable information about staff.
That’s not conclusive, of course. The Internet is littered with dishonest and amateur PR firms that charge a premium for services that are worthless or that authors could easily accomplish themselves.
But as sometimes happens when dodgy businesses engage in name-changings-of-convenience, Mike forgot to keep his deceptions straight–or assumed that no one would put two and two together. Here he is, connecting himself to Sandpiper Publicity:
Here he is again. And again. And yet again, spamming blog posts. Writers who’ve approached Sandpiper also report being contacted by a woman named Lura Dold–who previously worked for The Albee Agency. (Actually, Lura Dold is Lura Dold Albee, Mike’s wife.)
A couple of other notes: Sandpiper says it’s a member of the Book Publicists Marketing Association, an organization that doesn’t appear to exist (though there is a Northern California Book Publicity & Marketing Association). Elsewhere, Sandpiper claims to be a member of the Publishers Marketing Association–an organization that does exist, but for some time has been called the Independent Book Publishers Association.
Adding these indications of unprofessionalism to the warning signs I listed above, there’s plenty of reason to be wary of Sandpiper Publicity–even if it weren’t run by a man with a history of deception.