Found this on our old ez-board while doing a Google search. Can't find it here, so I figured I'd copy the thread over. Pardon the highlights and any formatting messiness.
This company's site seems to be gone (grin), but the lesson here is still an important one.
Warning about Creative Hive Please be aware of any dealings with Creative Hive, LLC in Los Angeles, CA:
The company essentially consists of one guy out of his rented apartment, who offers unsigned and self-published authors several conflicting services. This includes:
1. Editing or ghost writing manuscripts.
2. Trying to get the author an agent for representation. 3. Pitching unsigned books to publishing companies.
4. Promotions for books that aren't even published yet.
Results are not guaranteed, and yet these authors are charged several thousand dollars per month. This is all a serious conflict of interest. Especially if he's acting as an agent and pitching manuscripts to publishing companies- authors should not be spending a dime for this service. Also, I know of several former employees who have not been paid for their work. Please spread the word if you can.
(10/16/03 8:46 am)
Reply Re: Warning about Creative Hive
Writer Beware has gotten some reports about Creative Hive. We heard from one author who'd paid more than $10,000 for an editing job with which she wasn't satisfied (as the post above points out, it's a conflict of interest for someone claiming to act as an agent to promote his own paid editing services). If the company is asked questions about success stories--books placed and agents secured for clients--they are simply ignored. Our own independent research hasn't turned up any books sold to publishers by Creative Hive.
Creative Hive is just one of a number of companies that promote a "pre-publication" publicity service for authors--supposedly to raise your profile so that a publisher will be more interested in you. In addition to being quite costly, this is a worthless service. Unless you yourself are newsworthy (in which case you're better off with a professional publicist or a manager), publicity isn't useful until you actually have something to promote: i.e., a published book.
Stanton80, I'd be interested in hearing more, if you'd like to contact email@example.com.
P.S. Writer Beware now has its own domain!
(10/16/03 11:25 am)
Reply Creative Hive
I received an email about this yesterday, Victoria, and I recommended that the individual contact Writer Beware and also suggested posting warnings here and in another heavily used forum. Judging by the complaints I have already, Creative Hive LLC possesses several conflicts of interest to say the least. P&E has them listed as a promotional firm within P&E's promotional pages with "not recommended" beside it. Later today, a new listing in the agency pages will likewise recommend against Creative Hive LLC.
(11/12/03 6:11 pm)
Reply RESPONSE TO THE ONLY EMPLOYEE WE'VE EVER HAD TO FIRE November 12, 2003
Well, even those who try to be the best at what they do -- in this case expertly editing and creatively promoting the works of a long roster of very talented first time authors who deserve to be published -- are going to come under criticism from time to time. It's unfortunate that, in the above case, the criticism comes from a former part time employee who, after we let her go, and after her labor case summarily was kicked out by the Labor Board for lack of merit, now resorts to printing unfounded and libelous claims against our company.
Creative Hive, LLC was founded on a very smart, novel, and creative approach to marketing first time author talent: For clients seeking editing only, we expertly edit each client's manuscript, tapping the creative services of a roster of proven independent and company editors. For clients seeking editing and book promotion, we first evaluate each author's manuscript (at no charge to the client), then, if the staff agrees that the respective property is a really good read and is timely, we develop an entire marketing campaign designed to employ the same proven public relations counsel and marketing skills used to promote a published property, and devote these to promoting the author's work in advance of a publishing deal.
Regardless of the policies of a few web sites which maintain you should never pay for promotion and yet seem to provide no forum for a creative challenge to these policies, if you think about it, if you're an author, why not have the same people who promote published works also pick up a phone and present your unpublished work to their contacts in the publishing industry, provided the work is good enough? If you're a first time author, it's tough enough to get an agent. It's almost impossible to get a publishing house on the phone. But a call from a book publicist to a publisher? As a seasoned third party endorsement from people who understand the effort and smart creative strategizing it takes to get the word out, who better to represent your work, especially if you're good? And other professionals -- agents and publishers, alike -- take our calls. There's probably a good reason, there's probably a lot of good reasons. But to list those here, we'd be potentially accused of flaunting our credits and successes.
We understand why some people might feel that public relations professionals and editors promoting manuscripts to publishers might potentially blur the lines between agenting and publicity. We see no conflict at all. We see only opportunity for each unpublished author. The differences large. Among them, unlike an agent, our employees never work on commission. We're paid an honest wage for researching, developing and crafting a marketing plan, preparing the author's manuscript for presentation, developing ancillary promotional channels (such as dynamic web sites solely aimed at a publisher audience, savvy direct mail pieces, etc.), and placing the property and accompanying marketing campaign with the best publishing house editors and contacts to whom we can get it. We also paint the marketing picture, i.e., we demonstrate how the book might be promoted after it has been published. This places the manuscript in a positive, elevated light which highlights the project's merits even before opening Page 1. In short, we give a face to the property. Is this a bad thing? Surely not.
So why do a few people -- primarily an irate fired employee who became frustrated at her own inability to get talk show producers on the phone for a very newsworthy project -- suggest this is such a bad idea?
Our clients, past and present, confirm to us that they admire our approach very much. After they've engaged our services, these authors begin using words like "professional," "creative," "savvy," and sentences like "You're not just editors and publicists, you're the writer's advocate" and "You guys are unstoppable." We thank all of our clients for praising our efforts and for making unsolicited referrals to our company. We are very good at what we do. If hired to edit a property, and later hired to promote it (the two services are independent, we are, in fact, often hired just to edit a manuscript), because we have spent a lot of quality, creative time working closely on a manuscript and closely with the author, we are uniquely qualified to speak for the project. After all, we know what's in there. Consider: While we're editing the property, we're also producing copious marketing notes which will certainly come in to play should the author later hire us to promote the work to publishers.
We stand by what we do at Creative Hive, LLC and we're very proud of our service. A quick search on google suggests that our model is being copied. We take this as a complement. We hope that our high standards are being copied as well.
R. Scott Penza
CREATIVE HIVE, LLC
"Where Buzz Begins!" (TM)
PH: (310) 842-5719
(11/12/03 6:29 pm)
Reply Blah blah blah
Gosh, you forgot to list the authors who have benefitted so greatly by the service that they got a great book deal with a big name publisher. Please, stop back by and list them, author's name, publisher sold to, (editor would be good, too -- I'll be glad to call the editors just to be sure you wouldn't blow smoke up our tailpipes -- heck, I might even know some of them personally.) If it is such an excellent wiz-bang service, it'll probably be a really long list. That's okay -- you can cut it down to just those people who got the very best deals. I don't mind making ten or fifteen calls so feel free to limit the list to the top dozen or so.
As for other folks copying your idea. I wouldn't doubt it. As soon as one person finds a good way to separate the naive hopeful new writers from their money -- lots of other slick operators want to hop on that train.
A money hole is only of value if it has a good record of burping more out than it sucks in. It's likely this one has been nothing but a black hole for excess writer finances.
(11/12/03 7:32 pm)
Reply Re: RESPONSE TO THE ONLY EMPLOYEE WE'VE EVER HAD TO FIRE
Mr. Penza sent me this message privately, but since it's also posted here, I'm responding publicly.
>>we develop an entire marketing campaign designed to employ the same proven public relations counsel and marketing skills used to promote a published property, and devote these to promoting the author's work in advance of a publishing deal.<<
Unless an author is newsworthy in and of herself (in which case it's she who should be promoted, not her unpublished book), this strategy is not going to get an author an inch closer to publication. For your average novelist or nonfiction generalist, the only thing that's promotable is her book--and if her book isn't published or under contract, it's not a promotable thing. People can't buy it; they can't read it; nor is there any guarantee they'll ever be able to do so. What, therefore, is there to publicize?
>>But a call from a book publicist to a publisher? As a seasoned third party endorsement from people who understand the effort and smart creative strategizing it takes to get the word out, who better to represent your work, especially if you're good?<<
Publicists perform a valuable and skilled service. They are not, however, editors or agents. They may be able to bring a published book to the public's attention, but what do they necessarily know about choosing a marketable literary property for publication? Moreover, if they aren't already well-established in the publishing business, how will they know which editor is best to approach?
A publicist's endorsement of an unpublished manuscript is likely to mean exactly as much to a publisher as an endorsement from your real estate agent. Your real estate agent may be a respected professional, but selecting books for publication is not her field of expertise.
>> Our clients, past and present, confirm to us that they admire our approach very much. After they've engaged our services, these authors begin using words like "professional," "creative," "savvy," and sentences like "You're not just editors and publicists, you're the writer's advocate" and "You guys are unstoppable."<<
Are these satisifed editing clients (even Edit Ink had those) or clients who are satisfied because you've brokered a publishing deal for them?
There's one very effective way of shutting up the skeptics: rather than describing the effectiveness of your service in general terms, be specific. Please provide a list of authors for whom you've gotten publishing contracts through your publicity service; please also provide the names of the books and the publishers, so we can verify these claims.
>>And other professionals -- agents and publishers, alike -- take our calls. There's probably a good reason, there's probably a lot of good reasons. But to list those here, we'd be potentially accused of flaunting our credits and successes.<<
And why shouldn't you flaunt your credits and successes? What better form of advertising could there be? Please, let us know about some of the agents and publishers who take your calls.
>>A quick search on google suggests that our model is being copied. We take this as a complement.<<
A complement of pre-publication publicists promoting pre-published properties? I think not. This is not a service with any credibility in the industry.
P.S. After I wrote my previous post on this thread, I was contacted by a writer who pointed out--very correctly--that there's no reason that unpublished writers shouldn't engage in self-promotion--as long they have a service or product other than an unpublished manuscript to promote. This is very different, however, from hiring a third party to contact publishers about your unpublished work.
(11/12/03 8:58 pm)
Another thing to consider Mr. Penza does not address the fact that P&E has received several complaints about his business from customers who were dissatisfied with his performance and results. He seemed instead to have glossed over or ignored that issue. The complaints we have received are not solely from a former employee.
Like Victoria, I'd like to see some successes posted that can be verified.