Monday, December 29, 2008

Jones Harvest Publishing

Yesterday I read of a blog entry which apparently mistook Victoria Strauss of Writer Beware for a publisher. Then again, the blogger also mistook Lee Goldberg for a woman (and also a publisher). I was intrigued and read further, learning that the inaccurate blog was written by the owner of Jones Harvest Publishing.

Jones Harvest Publishing (JHP) was formed by Brien Jones, a former employee of Airleaf Publishing. Airleaf was a literary fraud which was shut down by the Indiana Attorney General after over 450 scammed authors joined forces against it. I decided to take a look at the JHP website.

Under the company’s name are the words “Co-op publishing for new authors”. That’s two red flags in five words. “Co-op” is a euphemism for “vanity”, and new authors are often too inexperienced to spot the warning signs of such a vanity press.

On the plus side, the website didn’t contain a submissions link or inaccurate information about publishing that I could see, nor does it make any reference to payment to the publisher. It also features JHP titles and covers prominently.

Unfortunately, several of the book covers don’t look professional or artistic, and they don’t give me an idea of what the books are about. Here’s an example which I picked because the cover art seemed to indicate a fantasy.

The drawing on the cover is not in proportion – the horse isn't large enough to carry the man’s weight, but judging from his position, he’s not exactly riding it. Also, since it isn't colored, it has an unfinished look. The title (The Unsearchable Title, which makes the book sound like humor or a parody) also seems to be done in the Vivaldi font, which isn’t easy to read.

The Love Scrolls is a non-sequential rhyming epic series, and The Unsearchable Title, its next work is a love story for the ages, one that might just define our age. --> Link

Whether this is a fantasy or not, at $21.95 for 128 pages I’m not paying to find out, especially if it’s written in the same vein as the synopsis. I continued reading and found the JHP has several imprints and its own review service, Starred Review. It reviews books published by JHP, which is a conflict of interest to say the least.

Starred Review does feature another reviewer, though – "T&R Reviews”. I’d never heard of them before, so I Googled them. Only one page of hits came up, all associated with – you guessed it – Jones Harvest Publishing. According to Bonnie Kaye of Airleaf Victims Fight Back,

People pay Jones Harvest to get their books reviewed. I read the review. It was signed by Tim, Brien's former phone receptionist and college nephew. His title under his name was "Media Researcher and Educator, T&R Reviews." The T&R stands for Tim and Rosa, Tim's wife.

Then I checked out Brien Jones’s blog. Jackpot!

Why choose Jones Harvest Publishing?

Cost - Everything is included for just $950. We never charge for corrections.

This information may have been purged from the website, but it’s still on the blog, in the form of an email meant to show what a bad person Bonnie Kaye is. As far as I’m concerned, it just shows what a vanity publisher JHP is, and there’s further evidence from the same entry to back that up.

Hometown Campaign - $350

Regional Coverage - $750

National Blitz - $1450

All that money to “blitz” the media about a book that is unlikely to have received professional editing and is unlikely to be available to the public. The personal pitch from Mr Jones names an even higher figure, though.

We will not be satisfied until we place [Your book] in bookstores everywhere and [You] is a celebrity. This program has a one-time fee of $7500. There are no further charges of any kind.

The writer was offered a chance to pay only $5000, since this was the publisher’s way of “apologizing for the past misfortunes”. Considering that JHP seems to target senior citizens, this is even more sad. I emailed Mr Jones as well, inquiring about the services offered by JHP, and received a copy-and-paste spiel that didn't even address me by name but which offered the "Jones Harvest Publishing stimulus package".

For the rest of the year (This one-time offer only available for three days? -- Marian) we are charging just $950 to publish in paperback. That’s an eight hundred dollar discount from our regular price of $1750.

I found one last piece of evidence regarding JHP’s fees on another blog; apparently JHP “will guarantee an interview on a nationally syndicated AM/FM radio show”, but for this and other services, the fee was $2700.

In a movie called Where Does It Hurt? Peter Sellers played an extremely crooked hospital administrator who had a system designed to fleece patients as much as possible. The film begins with a perfectly healthy guy going in for a minor checkup, only to be talked into going for a complete round of tests. As each test is conducted, a close-up at the bottom of the screen shows a typewriter noting the cost. Cha-ching! That’s what came to mind when I thought of all the Jones Harvest Publishing charges.

Mr Jones’s blog was the final nail in the coffin.

Perhaps after wading through the “impartial forums” I might see the Better Business Bureau emblem on the Jones Harvest website. If I clicked on that emblem I would then see that Jones Harvest Publishing has a PERFECT record with the BBB.

The BBB is toothless when it comes to literary scams. As long as the publisher pays its dues and claims to have looked into complaints, the BBB is satisfied. Any time anyone defends a publisher by citing a BBB record, they’re either clueless about publishing or don’t have anything better to provide.

The blog also confuses vanity publishing with self-publishing. Although it does have support and testimonials from a few of its authors, there’s nothing to contradict the evidence of large fees being charged. Instead, there’s simply a lot of denigration of Bonnie Kaye.

I notice she says, “Happy Holidays”, instead of “Merry Christmas”. In this day and age of political correctness, this tells me something-that she is secular.

Best not to jump to conclusions here. I say “Merry Christmas” (and sing Christmas carols) but I’m more of an unbeliever than Thomas Covenant.

So, that’s it for Jones Harvest Publishing. Do I get to be a publisher now?


Madison said...

I say "Merry Christmas" as well.

Thanks for the warning on these guys. It's sad how many scams are out there. :(

writtenwyrdd said...

Thanks for sharing. I'd have been suspicious at the co-op line, too, but I'm sure a lot of new writers wouldn't be. It's sad that the new writers out there are the ones whose good will and innocence are preyed upon.

And it's sad that people like this keep coming back!

Marian Perera said...

Thanks for commenting, guys. :)

Vanity presses are one thing, but dishonest vanity presses are another. I probably wouldn't have had too much to say if Jones Harvest Publishing made its costs clear upfront and didn't create fake reviewers.

I just hope that JHP authors don't lose more than they can afford.

Frank Baron said...

Nice bit of sleuthing. We need to keep shining a light on these insects whenever they're unearthed.

laughingwolf said...

happy new year, marian :D

Marian Perera said...

"Nice bit of sleuthing."

Coming from the writer whose very effective article about PA first got me interested in scams, that is much appreciated. Thanks, Frank. :)

Marian Perera said...

Happy New Year to you too, wolfie. :)

Jane Smith said...

"Yesterday I read of a blog entry which apparently mistook Victoria Strauss of Writer Beware for a publisher. Then again, the blogger also mistook Lee Goldberg for a woman (and also a publisher)."

It seems he also mistook himself for a decent publisher, too.

A good piece, again, Marian. You're making a habit of this!

Marian Perera said...

"It seems he also mistook himself for a decent publisher, too."

Good one! And thanks for the compliment. So many vanity presses, so little time... ;)