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The Urban Legend and HOAX Page

©09 The Media Desk

Scam Spam Online Book Edition

"We are committed to creating ongoing, powerful partnerships between you and the destinations you pursue." tag line

      One advantage to being an established, world famous, published author of multiple titles is that you get a whole new type of Scam Spam. Oh yes indeed.

      The latest one the Desk received will stand for the entire breed. See quote of email and examples from their website at end of article.

      The concept is not new, even though the application of that concept is.

      But, come to think of it, whatever is meant by the above tagline seems to be new. Exactly how do you establish a partnership between you and a destination?

Some background

      Vanity presses (or the more PC term "subsidized publisher) have been around for a very long time, and they did, and still do, have their niche market for small publications with a very narrow audience or market, such as trade specific manuals, family histories, or even textbooks published for a single school. The author or other party would pay the publisher to run anywhere from a few dozen to a couple of thousand books, which would then be bound and shipped to whoever paid for it. The reason it was called a "vanity" press was simple, a lot of times that was the only way those authors would ever see their work in print. Or in the case of a school, it may have been cheaper and more effective to have the publisher run off a couple of hundred actual books for their students than to burn up a copying machine doing it.
      Some of these publishers, such as the venerable Vantage Press (which trumpets about how they've been around for Sixty Years!) are still going strong and publish multiple titles and have even breeched the traditional book market with some of their titles ending up in traditional "brick and mortar" stores as well as the online sellers. Unlike the new "on demand" publishers where if nobody orders a book that is exactly how many are printed, vanity publishers will do a first run of however many you pony up to have printed. If it's a hit, they'll run more, if not, well, you may end up with a couple of boxes of your book to pass out to friends and family that you paid for.
      Since we mentioned the online on demand publishers we'll touch on them now. Those are the companies where you are the editor and publisher, they simply have the machinery to turn your electronic manuscript into an actual bound paper book. Some offer editing services, others don't, but all will print just about anything, once somebody orders one.
      Both of the above are different than a traditional publisher with editors and proofreaders and all that. Which we'll come back to.

      The problem with titles published through vanity and on demand publishers is that there is usually little or no publicity support for the books they publish. It is up to the author to fight with newspapers and other outlets to get word out that "hey, I wrote a book!"
      Most newspapers no longer have the staff or the will to cover a local author unless they hit the big time with a nationwide best seller, and then they'll just run an AP article with a little bit of local color added to it. And for TV stations, unless it's on fire (literally or figuratively), they're probably not interested.
      So it's up to the author to go sit at local events with a sign and send out free copies to review sites in the hope that somebody will pick it up. They can try to send out a blurb to various online groups with the hundreds of others and take the chance that it will catch somebody's eye. But in general, its an uphill battle, and you are alone.
      For the record, the Desk is pretty much letting it's work speak for itself and has decided against wearing itself to exhaustion doing the self-promotion dance. So, is another way?

Enter the publicity houses.

      First off we'll start by saying that there ARE real, honest to goodness, publicity agents and companies that have inside contact, that can get you on a TV talk show or send a press release to newspapers that the features editor will actually read. Yes, they are out there, and you have to pay them, but they will do what they say they will and in the end it will help you.
      Short version:
            BookWhirl probably ain't it.

      Now, to be fair, the Desk did go through the process to have one of its books listed "for free" on their "bookshelf". The results of that submission have yet to be seen. As soon as there is an update that way, the information will be posted. [UPDATE: The Desk's entry was approved on 16 October and appeared on their listing the same day. However, that listing doesn't seem to be available anywhere except on their site, unless you subscribe to their emails. While it is indeed a free promotional tool, it's effectiveness and reach is somewhat suspect.]
      now. Just Maybe is a legitimate company that is just getting its wheels under it and will soon be in the lead in its industry, and maybe somebody from the company will end up in jail for fraud like exploretalent's former owner over his modeling scam, as well as the founder of Enzyte, Steve Warshak (and his mother). Either way, they won't be doing it with any of the Desk's money.

      When you deal with a major publisher, those New York outfits who have luncheons with their new authors after they make the rounds of the morning TV shows, have their own in house editors and publicity people who... well, take you out to lunch after you do the TV shows.
      When you do it yourself, you do it yourself.

SCAMS by the book

      Just like with the above mentioned Modeling Scams of a few years ago (see the linked article), there is no lack of criminals, and those who may not be crooks but are in fact... well... OK they're crooks too, who are selling hope for a price and deliver either absolutely NOTHING or very precious little and instead just make more promises. Kind of like the campaigns of major politicians.
      Some charge more, some less, but ALL want their money up front and claim to have the ear of everybody from the New York Times on down. This should be a clue.
      And there are dozens of them out there, some like claim to still be operating and going great guns. But "outcry"s website hasn't been updated since 2003. Makes you wonder what they have been doing for six years, promoting books?
      Again, just like the modeling industry, there are publicity and promotional companies out there that ARE for real, will do at least most of what they say they'll do, and have shown actual results instead of fabricated testimonials. Most of these don't promise the moon, but still want money, in some cases, a lot of money.
      One of the more reputable ones is, the Desk has heard good things about them, and a check for client complaints came up more or less dry (unlike bookwhirl which has page after page of serious complaints), but it's not going to be signing a check to them anytime soon either.

"Based on how they market, what they deliver, and the price--I would advise avoiding Bookwhirl like the plague." - customer comment posted online

      OK, is a new company, according to the Better Business Bureau they were founded in July of 2008, in the publishing business. But that is no excuse for their "all hat and no cattle" marketing effort which includes spam emails and a massive telemarketing campaign. None of which they actually denied in a press release sent out in May (link below).

" helps self published authors promote their published works with its cost efficient book marketing tools and resources to reach genre specific readers in a more effective, systematic and convenient manner. We observe good business ethics and we respect the rights of the self published authors that we deal with." press release, link to full text below.

      Based on various sources, including some which admit to be "sour grapes" types of complaints, the only thing is good at promoting is... bookwhirl.
      That's not what you're going to be paying hundreds of dollars for them to do is it?

EMAIL SCAM SPAM and a reply below links
(all outside links will open in a new window)'s press release about negative publicity as mentioned above:

Wisconsin's Better Business Bureau page. Their grade is the default for all new listings.

May 2009 Writer's Weekly, warning about with links to the below and other articles about them.

Example of their telemarketing campaign

A 2008 discussion from

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The Desk's The Urban Legend, Hoax... and scam ...Page

spam scam email exchange presented in full
Email address and phone number of individual has been deleted, otherwise, the emails are presented as received except for formatting.

On Wed, 10/14/09, Leigh BookWhirl wrote:

From: Leigh BookWhirl
Subject: Update for your Book
To: Doc L
Date: Wednesday, October 14, 2009, 5:00 PM

Dear L,

A pleasant day.

I haven’t received any word from you since the last email I sent you so I thought to send you another email.

Treat yourself a Promotional Campaign that will help you define your message across globe; build publishing industry connections to make people aware of your book and your site where they can purchase your book. It deserves to be a great success and I can't wait until many of your desired potential buyers get to enjoy reading it!

In order for you sell your book, you need to promote it online so potential buyers can make an informed decision, in turn, making your book their choice. Take the best of our Author’s Customized Package with you:

Web Promotional Tool

Web Promotional Tool is a term that describes all forms of activities geared toward increasing traffic to your website. When potential customer goes to their favorite web site reading information, a pop under of your website will appear. Once they are done browsing through the existing page, they will close that window and right then, they’ll notice that your website is displayed in a window behind the page that they were looking at earlier thus, a pop-under. It functions as a one-for-the-road perspective on marketing, just catching viewers before they leave.

Campaign Volume:

25,000 web visits - $199.00         50,000 web visits - $349.00

75,000 web visits - $499.00         100,000 web visits - $649.00

You can select the Country to Target: US, Canada , United Kingdom ( One County per order):

Category to Target (Select from our Targeted list; 1 category per order):

Website (Site where you Wish to Drive Traffic to; 1 website per order):

We use unique and proprietary technology so that your website will be seen! This traffic selection option will display your web site to thousands of potential buyers and customers!

Media Release Campaign

Ø   In which we will create a customized press release of your book and it will be distributed to a media organization consisting a minimum of 100 all the way to 3,000 media contacts—a notice that your book is for sale, for the purposes of getting invitation of a media personnel to grab a copy of your book for book review, have it posted in magazines, newspapers and for you to be invited for an interview on television or radio stations. Our Author Book Publicity – Pakage A is only $249

Media Organizations composed of TV, radio, newspaper or magazine (our main target is in your local area. Furthermore, we can also venture other areas to spread the news). We serve as your middle person who gets through the connections for you to be engaged into any future possibilities.

Below are some lists of our Media Outlets:

Media list
Organization, Organization Type ,City, State, Zip Code
Times Daily, Newspapers, Florence, AL 35630
WBRC (Fox 6), Television Stations, Birmingham, AL 35209
WLRH 89.3 FM (NPR) Univ. of Alabama, Radio, Huntsville, AL 35899
Fairfield Daily Republic, Newspapers, Fairfield, CA 94533
Ms. Magazine, Magazines, Beverly Hills, CA 90212
KMIR (NBC-6), Television Stations, Palm Desert, CA 92260
KCLU 102.3 FM / 88.23 FM (CA Lutheran Univ. ) (NPR), Radio, Thousand Oaks, CA 91360
New York Times, Newspapers, New York, NY 10036-3959
Essence, Magazines, New York, NY 10036
ABC News, Television Networks, New York, NY 10023
Daily Press, Newspapers, Newport News, VA 23607
WAVY (NBC-10), Television Stations, Portsmouth, VA 23704
WMPO 1390 AM ,Radio, Blacksburg, VA 24063
Federal Times, Trade Publications, Springfield, VA 22159
KHON (Fox-2) Television Stations, Honolulu, HI 96814

Online Directory Listing

Ø   This service promotes your book to the internet community as well as it can drive traffic to your website. The components of your online listing; it has your name, book title, book price, 20-word book summary, ISBN, Publishing Services Provider, Ordering Information, and the link to landing page where in the customer can buy directly by simply clicking on the link of your online bookstore / retailers that will be provided. We can post your ad on 500 highly visited websites for as low as $209

Email Advertisement Campaign

Ø   An effective way to get book buyers comes and shop with you is to BROADCAST YOUR MESSAGE featuring your own book cover design, your picture, a short summary of you book, an active link directed to your website, to Amazon, to your publishers site or to any link you desire that will bring in interested readers to purchase your book for their online shopping convenience. We can go directly to your desired recipient’s drive them to any online bookstores while increasing the popularity of your book, increase the chances of getting book sales and keep it rank higher with search engines. You can avail our minimum 500,000 recipients for as low as $528

Author’s Website Designing Service Package

Ø   Need a website to market, or aren't happy with the one you have? We will help you create a fast, flexible, fun, and search engine optimized web site for you. You can choose from our Lite - $329, Avante - $419 and Professional - $529 packages that are certified SEO-friendly.

For us to get started, what I need from you is to follow the 2 steps:

1. Please click on our “Online Order Form” fill it out and send it back to me so we can start making the lay out of your Campaign. If you have a picture have it scanned and sends it along with the form so as the book cover design.
2. Provide the payment information through credit card, by Visa, Amex, Master Card or Discover.

A. The name that appears on your card:
B. Card number:
C. Expiration date:
D. Verification number:
E. Billing Address:
F. Phone number:
G. Email Address:
H. Website:

Capture your most valuable audience with impressive results and widespread exposure, this unique initiative proved to be the perfect start to the day. One thing is for sure, you will benefit from our help if you are willing to act on our ideas and expertise!

We are committed to creating ongoing, powerful partnerships between you and the destinations you pursue.

Sincerely yours,
Leigh BookWhirl
Marketing Specialist

Marketing Services -
Toll Free: 1 (877) 20x-1xxx ext 304
Fax No. : 1 (800) 85x-4xx


Networking Sites: Facebook Fan Page

Mailing Address:
867 Howard St.
Green Bay, WI 54303

The information contained in this message is confidential and may be legally privileged. If you are not the intended recipient, do not disseminate distribute or copy the information contained in this Internet message. Please notify the sender of the delivery error and then delete the message from your system. If you do not wish to receive messages from this mailing address please respond to this email stating your request for removal. Communications will be monitored regularly to improve our service and for security and regulatory purposes.


From: Dr. Leftover
Sent: Thursday, October 15, 2009 8:13 PM
To: Leigh BookWhirl
Subject: Re: Update for your Book

It's late and I'm too tired to get into it right now.

I'll get back to you tomorrow about what package I want.

What's the best bang for the buck?



Dear L,

Thanks for your prompt response. Don’t worry I understand that you are too tired to get it now. In fact its already 8pm my time now but I work over time just to make sure you get the message because this is the second message I sent you.

The best and Effective Packages are the combination of Media Release Campaign, Web Promotional Tool, Email Ad Campaign and Online Directory Listing Campaign. However, if you don’t have a website as of yet we can set up a Website for you with our Professional Design. Take a look at one of our design .

I’m looking forward to hear from you tomorrow, please let me know what’s the best way to contact you. Call me at 1-877-20x-1xxx extension 304 look for Leigh Anderson or you may reply this email.

Rest assured I’ll do what I do best to help you. We are committed to creating ongoing, powerful partnerships between you and the destinations you pursue.

Good Night!

Sincerely yours,
Leigh BookWhirl
Marketing Specialist
Marketing Services -

End Email Exchange

The Media Desk Urban Legend and Hoax Page


[NOTE: The Desk is a published author, both self and otherwise. It is not otherwise affiliated with any of the organizations linked to, nor is it likely to be anytime soon. All products and identifying information is trademark of the producers of the product. This article is NOT an endorsement of any of the products or services mentioned or linked to. Any rebuttal (other than their already posted press release) by the headlining organization will be posted in full.
Thank you]

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