Saturday, August 8, 2009

Strategic Book Publishing

Dishonest vanity presses tend to be smart, both to deal with warnings about such presses and compete with each other for victims. So for instance, they claim they’re not vanity presses: they’re traditional publishers or joint-venture publishers. And they’re careful not to charge sums of money upfront. Instead, they shift their fees to some other aspect of publication that isn’t likely to register on writers’ radar.

For instance, in PublishAmerica’s case, writers are charged for their own (overpriced) books. Plus inflated shipping and handling charges. Plus advertising, corrections to mistakes made by the publisher, calls to the publisher (PA now has a 1-900 number), and so on. Strategic Book Publishing is similar. It’s amazing how many ways such outfits can take writers for the proverbial ride.

Just looking at their website first, Strategic Book Publishing claims,

We are a smaller "boutique" publisher. We seek authors that want a close relationship, and trusted counsel from their publisher. Our turnaround times are faster, and we believe we are more responsive than larger publishers.

Red flag right there. I don’t want a publisher that has a warm relationship with its “family” of authors, I want a publisher which sells books in substantial quantities or which has titles on the NYT bestseller list. Also, only vanity presses would boast of their fast turnaround times.

The rest of Strategic Book Publishing’s website doesn’t set off any DANGER WILL ROBINSON alarms, though the lack of testimonials from readers and heavy emphasis on authors doing their own marketing isn’t a good sign. However, what’s really fascinating is the link to Strategic Book Marketing - “Leading Edge Marketing Services To Help You Sell More Books”.

Cha-ching! (all color-enhancing is mine)

Book review blogs

Also, it is a good idea to optimize your Amazon listing as well, there are a some other techniques to enhance your listing, and we can do all the above for $295… We have been building a network of blog reviewers and we can get your work into their hands. We pay them a small amount so they prioritize our clients. Typically, we ask for $192 from the author to cover costs.

I’m a book review blogger for Thomas Nelson. I’m willing to bet they don’t charge their authors a cent for that service.

Internet radio talk show

A non-refundable one-time setup fee of $199.00 for our Author Exclusive package, or $149 for our 30 minute Author Showcase package, or $99 for our 15 minute Author Showcase package.

Additional shows cost
$75 for each half-hour. Remember, we do all the work, all you have to do is talk about your book, yourself, and your market.

All you have to do is talk about your book, yourself, your market and the new charges on your credit card.

Audio books

Audio sample of your book $99

There are more services, such as building a website, coaching, electronic press kits, author displays and so on, which don’t have charges mentioned. Instead, Strategic invites authors to email them for quotes. I can only imagine how much all this might eventually add up to.

Especially when you add fees to the list.

AEG/Strategic Book Publishing (a.k.a. Robert Fletcher) is currently offering authors a choice of buying 5 books a week for a year at list price (250 books total) or paying $675 upfront.

And all this is before the fact that if you’ve had dealings with Strategic, the Florida Attorney General wants to hear from you. This place is best avoided.


Anonymous said...

Good grief.

I want to commend you for all the time you take to speak out against these practices. Hopefully, less and less newbies will be taken in.

Hazardgal said...

You sound like John Stossel here... Gimme A Break. So glad I found a traditional publisher this go round. Small but traditional, they will market my book. PA was a bump in the road for me. Eye Box will see the light! Title is... The Holler. Thanks again.

Marian Perera said...

I looked John Stossel up on Wikipedia... very flattering to be compared to him. :)

I'm glad you found a good publisher too - one who's going to be the primary push behind your book when it comes to marketing. PA cannot keep a determined writer down!

Marian Perera said...

Hey Tasha,

Thanks for your kind words! We can only get the news out about such scams, and hope that new writers will do the research before they're taken.

Anonymous said...

Much thanks for this info, the clearest yet on the ways these companies generate income from authors. I found enough red flags in the emails I received from Strategic Book Marketing that I decided to google complaints and I found A LOT of site. By the way, this all got started when I clicked on a link in a sidebar of a Facebook page. That led me to an online query form where I typed in my novel's blurb, etc.--which then quickly got the attention of these scammers. The good thing is that in typing a short blurb about my book, I practically have my query letter done for sending out to reputable agents and publishers!
(not a subscriber yet but will be after posting this)

Stephen39 said...

Now I'm official!
@Marian: I like your blog as I also write sci-fi. Good reviews.

Marian Perera said...

Hi Stephen! Sorry, I didn't notice your post until today. I'm glad you find the blog helpful, and best of luck with your writing!

Anonymous said...


I recently signed a contract with children's literary agent who had convinced me that they were a reputable company. I am a single mum and money is hard to come by and I was happy when I read that we dont get paid unless we sell your work. Then I got an email saying it would be helpful to have my book critiqued, for a discount price and if the critique was good then they'd go ahead.I had that done and dont regret it because they did make some good suggestions which I thought had lots of merit. However then they said well now get it edited by our reffered company ,for a price and we will market. I thought hang on you said I wouldnt have to pay anything unless the book was sold so I did some research. I feel duped and heartbroken because it would seem they are a con. I cant find anything anywhere positive about them. I confronted them by email and saying I wanted to hear their side to make a decision. I dont feel they answered my queries.

Schnitzel said...

hello, marian, this blog is wonderful, id like to talk to you via email if thats possible? i have been talking to a 'strategic publisher' but i havent made a deal, so im glad i found you, but id like to chat with you if you could?
thank you.

Marian Perera said...

Sending you an email. :)

Karen said...

thank you. I received two emails from this company today. I decided to check them out before dealing with the emails and your blog warning was high on the first page of the google search.

thank you again,

Marian Perera said...

Glad it helped you, Karen. :)

I also had no idea that my blog appeared on the first page of the Google search for Strategic Book Publishing, so thanks for letting me know!

willie said...

So what can an unpublished author do to get published?

Marian Perera said...

Depends on what you're trying to publish - is it poetry, fiction, general non-fiction, specialized non-fiction?

Depends on what you want from publishing - a few copies to give to family and friends, an e-book, a book in print, a book in print with marketing and distribution, all that and a nice advance as well?

Most of all, though, an unpublished writer has to write excellently, has to target their submissions to the correct markets and has to follow guidelines. Do all that and publication is likely.

Bookwhirl said...

Thank you for sharing your experience. Your post can actually help a lot of authors out there. Keep on writing!

single malt said...

Thank you, you have saved me from being wonderfully duped. It is wonderful to find someone who has the time to be concerned and puts it out there.

Aditya Gupta said...

thnx for the info;
but to all the writers out there, the only way is the traditional way, slow and steady wins the race; dont rush in for fakes :) cheers

OO said...

Right on time.
I'v been corresponding with Strategic regarding the publication of my web site "The Hidden Truths of Parenting" (you're welcome to check it out on, their offer did seem slightly fishy and boy am i glad I did the research and found your post.
Still looking for a publisher though...

Barbara said...

I'm a writer of Christian romance. I prayed that God would lead me to a publisher. I found the web-site for Writers Literary Agency and its sister company, Strategic Book Publisher. I read over their site and their Christian views. I felt that God had led me to the right place. I have an agent, my manuscript was critiqued, and my final step is to make the commitment. At my husband's urging, he told me to blog outside of their web-site. Authors they have listed rave about Strategic. It made me feel that they were the publisher for me. However, after reading these opinions, I'm totally disallusioned. They've told me what they'll do for me and the fee. Other things they've listed, and the price for everything were things I wouldn't consider doing. They give you the option for editing yourself since it's so costly to have someone else do it. I edit my own work. They haven't pushed me into anything. They've left the ball in my court. The one thing that bothers me is that I e-mail my agent and ask her simple questions and she responds to my e-mail but doesn't answer my questions. If I don't use Strategic, who can I use? Who's reputable? I've already been dragging my feet to get published. Anyone have any suggestions?

Marian Perera said...

Barbara - The Writers' Literary Agency is as much of a scam as Strategic, I'm afraid - they're both owned and operated by the same person. Writers get taken coming and going.

Claims of Christianity don't equal a reputable publisher. A lot of scammers talk religion to make people believe it's safe to trust them.

Who's reputable? Go to a bookstore and see who's published books in the genres you write. If they have books on the shelves, they're probably legit. For a start, Thomas Nelson is a reputable publisher of Christian fiction (though I wouldn't advise going with their vanity publishing arm, West Bow Press).

Good luck!

Anonymous said...

Thanks for your post. You stopped me from making a huge mistake.

Scooter Center - Crevalcore, BO said...

Thanks a bunch. You might have saved my life... =)

Persevering said...

Thank you so much for your warning on Writer's Literary Agency and their sister company, Strategic Book Marketing. My husband has been trying to find an agent for his screenplays for years, and this was his first positive response. We were both so excited but decided to check them out first before committing to anything. I'm so glad we did the research. SBM is currently going through a lawsuit by the Florida Attorney General, and in SBM's email to my husband they said they were proud of the fact that they'd never been involved in any litigation. What a lie! I also saw many other red flags in their e-mail.

I'm a little angry that they are such a deceptive company. We were very thrilled about finally getting a positive response and having someone interested in his work, but I am glad we researched this before going further. We will continue trying to find reputable agencies to represent his work.

Thanks again.

Indre Jon said...

I already had my manuscript attached and ready to send. It was nice feeling after 5 years of searching for publisher to get positive answer. Sad it all was a scam.
Thank you.

michelle said...

Thank you so much for this information. I, too, googled them because something seemed off to me about their email to me, and that's when I found your post. It is a shame they get writers all excited only to get let down. We all work so hard to be published, and get excited when we see a positive response of someone wanting to take a look at our work. Only to discover they are frauds. Such a shame they do that....

I.J. said...

O wow. I got contacted by this people to send my manuscript for reveiew. I wanted to be sure they were real but their website appeared dodgy and I got no relevant info off it. I emailled them and asked what exactly they wanted to do for me and the reply I got was "Mostly self publish". Nothing more. Then I knew I couldn't trust them to do what was best for me.
So thanks very much for exposing them.

Elbie said...

I want to thank you for all the comments on this site. I am a first time writer and am looking for an agent. I came across 'Strategic Book Publishing' whilst searching the web for agents. The response I got from them gave me hope to have my book published, but at the same time I had a feeling that all does not seem right. I found your information on them and want to thank you for preventing me from making a bad mistake. As a South African I tend to be quite trusting in the 'general good' of people...

Anonymous said...

I am from Poland. I was scammed by Fletcher's company by dint of his "critique". Fortunately, our contract will be finished in the beginning of the January. Go to Hell, Fletcher. I am a good writer in Poland and I would like to publish in the USA. My mistake! Do not send money for those scammers!

Tanyaradzwa Masaire said...

ThAnk you so much for the information-you helped me to avoid being duped by SBPRA a.k.a AEG.if it were not for you I wonder where I would be a few months from now...thank you again..,,

BookWhirl said...

Thanks for reminding us though! Just keep everything posted with your good deeds.

Anonymous said...

I should write a book about the last two years of living with Suzann Durrette (who works for Robert). Needless to say after witnessing Miss Durrette working and answering the phone to customers while intoxicated several times with her massive alcohol problem, in addition to her being a sociopath, putting me in the hospital twice with physical assault, driving intoxicated regularly, a liar and a cheater. And I just caught Suzann Durrette cheating on me with a 26 year old and has been for over 3 months (Suzann is 47 years old), and hasn’t paid state and federal income tax since the start date of her employment (which she is being reported to the IRS).

So it doesn’t surprise me why she works for this Robert M. Fletcher.

And the tax fraud that she is does accounting and book orders with Strategic Book Group and she has to attend for questioning Tuesday in Port Aransas TX in regards of this lawsuit against Robert M. Fletcher and his many alias business names.

I would recommend staying away from this company.

Unknown said...

I have just been hoodwinked and bamboozled by STRATEGIC and ROBERT FLETCHER!!!! I am an aspiring Jamaican writer, residing in said country, and I came across these fraudsters sometime in 2011 when I was trying to find a publisher for several of my stories. I was frustrated with the local publishing houses because they take your manuscript and sit down on them for years. I was thrilled when Strategic told me they would be happy to work with me. They sent me a contract for US$995 which would include production, marketing and distribution.
At the time I was unemployed and could not accept the offer. Since then, they had been sending me emails from time to time wanting to know whether I was ready. Sometime in September 2013, they sent me an email saying they were planning to increase their fees after 3 years and this would be the final opportunity to publish with them at that LOW cost before the deadline - SEPTEMBER 30TH!
I was now employed but still unable to afford the total fee of JMD$100,000+. Bruce, the "acquisitions personnel" assured me that all I needed to get the ball rolling was US$200.00 which is $20,000+ in Jamaican dollars.
Being desperate to get my work out there and excited by the prospects (I never knew that legitimate, traditional publishers do not charge for their services!)of seeing my work in print and on bookshelves FINALLY. I decided to take out a loan in order to make the payment. Repaying that loan is costing me an arm and a frigging leg!!!
I sent them the funds and Bruce told me that everything was "good to go" and I received a well-detailed document explaining the whole production process from start to finish, proposed time and everything.
It looked legit to me (as did the contract and all paper work I had received plus they were all very professional) and I felt reassured that I was not being scammed.

Unknown said...

So, I re-sent the formatted manuscript to them as requested. The first red flag came when the Manuscript Review came back saying that my manuscript was "well-written" and had the potential of being a bestseller but still they would recommend a "FULL EDIT". I thought: if it is "well-written", y does it require a comprehensive edit? Then get this: the quote they sent me was for an additional US$880.00! Almost as much as publishing the whole book!
I told them in no uncertain terms that I could not afford it and did the editing myself using their suggestions.
So, I took a week and a half to do this and gladly resent the manuscript file with copyright page (as supplied by them), Dedication and Acknowledgements as recommended by them also. I was on Cloud 9! Everything looked good and my story was finally on it's way down the road to Publishville! Only to find out that Mr. Bruce receives the finished manuscript, gives me further instructions on firming up the deal and tells me that "he has safely filed my file away until an additional US$150 minimum has been paid on the contract then he will hand it over to the Print Layout Designer who will start the text block".
That was Red Flag #2!
The same "Bruce" had told me that I only had to pay the US$200 to accept the offer then i could put a payment plan in place to pay over 6 months so i was surprised that he was asking me for more money in the space of 3 weeks before they had even STARTED ANY WORK!
So, that's when the alarm bells started ringing in my head and I decided to look if I could find anything published with the Strategic name anywhere online (other than their websites) and that is how I came across a review and a Court Document proving that they are, indeed, scammers. I also came across your blog and Oh How I wish I had found this a month and a half ago!
I am currently awaiting Bruce's response to a stinging email I sent him earlier but I will be demanding a refund of my money! Thanks for putting up this blog! Hopefully it will save others from ending up in my shoe.