Over the past couple of days I’ve gotten multiple reports from writers who received this solicitation via the contact forms on their websites:
Spamming via contact form is way more labor intensive than just regular spam, so you’ve got to respect the commitment–though I have to say a bit more time could have been invested in proofreading. Also, is it 4 Seasons Book Awards, as in the solicitation, or Four Seasons Book Awards, as in the little medallions in the typo-ridden image at the top of this post? It’s a bit confusing, brand identity-wise.
Anyway, the 4 (or Four) Seasons Book Awards appears to be your standard profiteering awards program, where the intent is to generate a bundle of cash for the owner (I’ve written about several of these on this blog, and why they should be avoided). Spam solicitation: check. No-name judges: check. High entry fee: check. Zero-cost prizes, to avoid cutting into profit from entry fees: check (the “Time [sic] Square Billboard” etc. are available only to “Grand Price [sic] Finally [sic]” winners chosen from all entrants at the end of the awards cycle; everyone else gets “celebratory badge and digital certificate of victory”).
Unlike some profiteering awards, there aren’t dozens of entry categories in order to maximize revenue, but you can pay extra to enter all four awards at the same time, via an upcharge that’s added to your basic entry fee:
The award website URL was registered less than two months ago.
So who is Atlas Elite Publishing Partners (alternate website: Atlas Elite), which the spam solicitation–if not the award website–indicates is the owner? There’s no specific mention of fees on either of Atlas’s two websites, but the available services and testimonials make clear that it’s a publishing and marketing services provider, rather than a publisher. (Translation: big fees.)
The company CEO is Michael Beas, whose bio cites business and entrepreneurial accomplishments and deploys buzzwords like “disruption” and “brand management”. Beas owns several other ventures, including The Beas Group Inc (registered just over a year ago); eBook Marketing Solutions, which sells what, scraping away a lot of verbiage, boils down to Amazon bestseller campaigns (you know, where a bunch of people all buy your book on the same day, hopefully boosting it into temporary “bestseller” territory in at least one, preferably obscure, Amazon category); and The Book Revue, a pay-to-play review service ($150 a pop).
Profiteering awards programs can be pretty lucrative, and many sponsors own more than one. Beas is no exception. In addition to the 4 (or Four) Seasons Book Awards, there’s also the Global Book Awards, which charges $130 for entry and doesn’t seem to be accepting submissions for 2023 (its website doesn’t acknowledge Beas’s ownership, but its business registration info tells the tale); and the Amor Book Awards, for romance titles. The Amor website doesn’t disclose its sponsor either, but Beas has promoted it on his LinkedIn–plus its website bears some suspicious similarities to that of the 4 (or Four) Seasons Book Awards, including the same entry fee ($125) and identical Grand Prizes, right down to the mis-spelling of Times Square.
The Amor website claims that semi-finalists were announced on February 14 (Valentine’s Day–romance–get it?). Today is March 3, and there’s no sign of any announcement. I did manage to find three authors on Facebook who say they were declared a semi-finalists, though, so maybe Beas just hasn’t gotten round to an update.
Here’s the promised “high quality digital award medal”:
Well worth $125! /sarcasm/ I can’t help wondering what percentage of entrants got this badge.
Bottom line: profiteering awards exist not to honor writers and writing, but to enrich their owners. They tend to have little (if any) name recognition, and offer even less transparency about their policies and processes. They are a waste of money.
A bizarre aside (because you know I love those).
In 2014, Michael Beas registered a publishing business in North Carolina called MB Imaginum LLC. Per Amazon, the company seems to have published just three books: one by Beas himself, and two more bearing the name, as co-author, of Wid Bastian.
If you’re a dedicated reader of this blog, that name may ring a bell: Wid Bastian ran a boxed set publishing scam via his company Genius Media (which is listed as co-publisher on one of the MB Imaginum books). Unbeknownst to his victims, Bastian was a convicted felon who had served a jail term on multiple counts of embezzlement, bankruptcy fraud, and money laundering. After I published my post about Bastian’s scam, the author of one of the Bastian/Imaginum books contacted me to let me know that Bastian had embezzled money from him (you can see the author’s email toward the bottom of my post).
There’s nothing to indicate that Beas was aware of any of this, or participated in Bastian’s schemes. Still, it’s an interesting intersection. (Beas appears to have had his own past problems with the law.)
According to the North Carolina Secretary of State, MB Imaginum has been administratively dissolved, which happens when companies don’t file the required documents and/or reports.
UPDATE 3/9/23: Here’s another solicitation, received in email: