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Thread: NTN Associates (Neil Thomas)

  1. #1
    Karen1054
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    NTN Associates (Neil Thomas)

    Hi, I think this is my first post here. Checked the index and didn't see this market. In fact, have found nothing on it anywhere, so I'm asking if anyone here knows of it. Here's the deal:This entity placed a blind ad in the New York Times looking for business writers (I saw it in AbsoluteWrite Premium newsletter). Asked for resume and sample articles, which I sent.Yesterday I received a letter from Neil Thomas at NTN Associates (735 Northstar West, 625 Marquette Ave, Minneapolis, MN 55402, no phone, no e-mail) giving me the "opportunity" to provide "articles of approx. 700-750 words on business, management, sales, leadership, and motivation type topics, with humor sprinkled in."Pay: $800 per article.He included several examples, written in first-person with no byline.I'm asked to "submit a sample article. If it is acceptable, we will contact you and make final arrangements. If not acceptable, the article will be returned to you promptly."This smells fishy to me for several reasons: The pay seems too good to be true. The guy has already seen my writing, so why ask for an article on an unspecified topic on spec? There's no mention of rights purchased, byline, or even where the work will be published. "Final arrangements" is not a phrase the editors I know usually use.Does anyone have any experience with this outfit? Is it a scam? If so, I guess this post can serve as a warning.Thanks,Karen

  2. #2
    figuring it all out crashbam's Avatar
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    NTN Associates

    Karen:

    This is my first time to this website. I came here specifically looking for information on NTN because today I received the same letter you did! Very strange. The envelope was typed on a typewriter and there is a typo in Minneapolis (three n's). The letter was handsigned but not on any type of letterhead. No phone number and I can't find anything when I google either NTN Associates or Neil Thomas.

    I am going to contact him and see what happens. I'll post back here if I learn anything else.

  3. #3
    Karen1054
    Guest
    Hi, crashbam,

    My envelope is also plain white, addressed on a typewriter, and Minnneapolis has 3 N's in it! It's also mailed from zip code 55414, and his is 55402, for what it's worth.

    I think I have answered my own question. This guy can't be on the level. Taking the logic one step further, I don't think he's using his whole name so he can't be located. Neil Thomas of NTN Associates? Methinks his last name begins with an N.

    What I don't understand is his point. Why go to so much trouble to dupe writers into giving him articles on such mundane topics? He could write them himself.

    I was going to write to him as well with my questions and see if I get a response. I'm not expecting one. Thanks very much for comparing notes with me. I'll report back if I find out more.

  4. #4
    Ooo! Shiny new cover! Absolute Sage Cathy C's Avatar
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    Checking into it now, guys. Stay tuned.
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  5. #5
    wishes you happiness JennaGlatzer's Avatar
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    Cathy, I don't know anything more than they do. We just linked to the ad from the NY Times.
    I am no longer here. If you'd like to visit me, please find me at www.jennaglatzer.com or on Facebook. Thanks!

  6. #6
    Robert Toy
    Guest
    Quote Originally Posted by Karen1054
    Hi, I think this is my first post here. Checked the index and didn't see this market. In fact, have found nothing on it anywhere, so I'm asking if anyone here knows of it. Here's the deal:This entity placed a blind ad in the New York Times looking for business writers (I saw it in AbsoluteWrite Premium newsletter). Asked for resume and sample articles, which I sent.Yesterday I received a letter from Neil Thomas at NTN Associates (735 Northstar West, 625 Marquette Ave, Minneapolis, MN 55402, no phone, no e-mail) giving me the "opportunity" to provide "articles of approx. 700-750 words on business, management, sales, leadership, and motivation type topics, with humor sprinkled in."Pay: $800 per article.He included several examples, written in first-person with no byline.I'm asked to "submit a sample article. If it is acceptable, we will contact you and make final arrangements. If not acceptable, the article will be returned to you promptly."This smells fishy to me for several reasons: The pay seems too good to be true. The guy has already seen my writing, so why ask for an article on an unspecified topic on spec? There's no mention of rights purchased, byline, or even where the work will be published. "Final arrangements" is not a phrase the editors I know usually use.Does anyone have any experience with this outfit? Is it a scam? If so, I guess this post can serve as a warning.Thanks,Karen
    The physical location of 735 Northstar West, 625 Marquette Ave is real. The building(s) are owned by Trizec, and their contact number is:

    Leasing Contact:


    Deb Goodman
    (612) 321-2121


    deb.goodman@trz.com

    If you want to see more info on building(s) click:

    http://www.trz.com/properties/pdf/2_1.pdf

    Suggest that you call Deb Goodman to find out about their tenant NTN Associates.

  7. #7
    Crossbows and Handgonnes SuperModerator rtilryarms's Avatar
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    I know a lot of small businesses that still use typewriters to address envelopes. As far as the zip code goes, the place I worked had it's own zip code, since we were a large business, but our general mail was picked up and trucked to a post office in another zip code, hence the difference. We had bulk direct mailing capabilities but that was in another building.
    I wouldn't read too much into the legitimacy based soley on those two items.
    As far as Minneapolis having only 2 n's, well it is summer and a lot of businesses have high school students doing clerical and typing.

    I'm not defending anyone, just some thoughts.

  8. #8
    Karen1054
    Guest
    Thanks, Robert, for the excellent lead on the building. At least it's not a vacant lot.

    Yes, I agree the zip codes are probably irrelevant, but we're just sifting through all the clues here. (I just noticed that numbers were transposed on MY zip code on the envelope.)

    The contents of the envelope are of more concern. Why would any legitimate editor fail to include a phone number and/or e-mail address in this day and age, even if only as a courtesy? Why no letterhead? Surely, someone who can afford to pay better than $1 a word can spring for a simple logo.

    I'm still smelling fish... but I hope someone who has actually worked for NTN and can vouch for them will surface.

  9. #9
    Robert Toy
    Guest
    Quote Originally Posted by Karen1054
    Thanks, Robert, for the excellent lead on the building. At least it's not a vacant lot.

    Yes, I agree the zip codes are probably irrelevant, but we're just sifting through all the clues here. (I just noticed that numbers were transposed on MY zip code on the envelope.)

    The contents of the envelope are of more concern. Why would any legitimate editor fail to include a phone number and/or e-mail address in this day and age, even if only as a courtesy? Why no letterhead? Surely, someone who can afford to pay better than $1 a word can spring for a simple logo.

    I'm still smelling fish... but I hope someone who has actually worked for NTN and can vouch for them will surface.
    No problem.
    A good start would be to call the building owners and get the telephone number and what ever info you can on NTN, then call!

  10. #10
    figuring it all out
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    Quote Originally Posted by Karen1054
    Here's the deal:This entity placed a blind ad in the New York Times looking for business writers (I saw it in AbsoluteWrite Premium newsletter). Asked for resume and sample articles, which I sent.Yesterday I received a letter from Neil Thomas at NTN Associates (735 Northstar West, 625 Marquette Ave, Minneapolis, MN 55402, no phone, no e-mail) giving me the "opportunity" to provide "articles of approx. 700-750 words on business, management, sales, leadership, and motivation type topics, with humor sprinkled in."Pay: $800 per article.He included several examples, written in first-person with no byline.I'm asked to "submit a sample article. If it is acceptable, we will contact you and make final arrangements. If not acceptable, the article will be returned to you promptly."This smells fishy to me for several reasons: The pay seems too good to be true. The guy has already seen my writing, so why ask for an article on an unspecified topic on spec? There's no mention of rights purchased, byline, or even where the work will be published. "Final arrangements" is not a phrase the editors I know usually use.Does anyone have any experience with this outfit? Is it a scam? If so, I guess this post can serve as a warning.Thanks,Karen
    Hi, Karen. I believe I can answer this one.

    There's a complex family of interrelated scams involving "reports" -- or, more recently, "content". (This one goes back a ways, but it's a perennial.) You're asked to write short articles, which will supposedly be sold, or syndicated, or used as promotional material. Or the articles you write will drive reader traffic to your e-zine site, where you'll sell stuff to the readers, or just show them ads. Or your articles will be given away to people to use as content for their e-zines or sites, on the condition that they link to your site at the bottom. Or you're offered a vast supply of useful short articles that will enable you to set up in business as a publisher, because everyone loves timely, useful information. Or you're offered a vast supply of short articles to use in your e-zine in order to drive traffic to your site. Or -- I love this one -- you can write and give away short articles as a way of promoting your self-published book. Or ... there are about a zillion other variants.

    (Really, when you think of all the underemployed folklorists and sociologists out there who could right now be compiling motif indexes, and reconstructing the chronology and phylogeny of interrelated scams -- which are, after all, one of their own culture's least-understood communal art forms ...)

    (But I digress.)

    It might be clearer to just show you some examples:

    http://www.articles-galore.com/
    http://searchwarp.com/swa70187.htm
    http://www.articleson.com/
    http://iolite1.net/
    http://www.eclipse-articles.com/
    http://qprefab.net/
    http://generous-free-downloads.net/
    http://www.mega-articles.com/
    http://getrichonline.com/

    That ad clearly sounds like a come-on for a Reports-style scam. The topics are extremely general. The question of how this is going to get published is passed over with scarcely a murmur. There's no mention of suiting the article to the magazine in which it's supposedly going to appear. The proposition is described as "an opportunity". There are no deadlines.

    If you want to test the proposition, copy an entry out of an encyclopedia, give it a cosmetic rewrite, and submit it to them. As long as you don't give them permission to publish it, you should be in the clear. Alternately, write a short utilitarian article on some subject you know very well. In either case, submit it and see what happens.

  11. #11
    'bye soloset's Avatar
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    Okay, I'm probably as dumb as a brick... but what does the scammer get out of it?
    #

    Nothing’s inherently wrong with telling; nothing’s inherently wrong with showing. . . .
    When Picasso paints a canvas using only blue, you can still tell that he knows what he’s doing with color. When I paint a canvas using only blue, you will be quite certain from the result that it’s because I have no clue what to do with red or yellow—and you won’t be too sure I’ve got a grip on blue, either. Learn all the colors; then choose whichever seems right at the moment. Master the whole craft. ~ Keith Snyder

  12. #12
    Karen1054
    Guest
    By George, Speed, I think you've got it! I suspected it was something like an "article mill," but I haven't been sucked in by one before, I couldn't describe it as well as you did.

    The first-person point of view now makes perfect sense. NTN is selling an "insert your name as author here" kind of deal.

    I would assume the NY Times ad pulled in a good number of responses. If NTN can dupe writers into submitting just one article on spec, they could build quite an inventory for themselves.

    If I find some old piece lying around that I can polish up a bit and use as bait, I may do as you suggested and see how it plays out. I don't believe for a minute I'll ever see $800 for my work.

    I'm so glad I posted here instead of wasting my time on a scam. Thanks!

  13. #13
    5 W's & an H Sassenach's Avatar
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    The $800 fee is what obviously makes this bogus. No one is paying $1/word for content.
    I feel God in this Chili's.
    -Pam Beesley









  14. #14
    Karen1054
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    I know there are higher paying markets out there, but not for THIS sort of generic content. I wonder if Neil Thomas' ears are burning yet over this expose of his doings?

  15. #15
    figuring it all out
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    Article mill! Would you believe I've never heard that term used for them before? It fits perfectly, so thanks -- a good descriptive name is always useful.

  16. #16
    figuring it all out crashbam's Avatar
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    NTN

    Thank you for the education everyone. I knew the letter looked fishy, but I couldn't see what the company had to gain. I wrote Neil a letter and will report back if I learn anything new.

  17. #17
    Karen1054
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    "Article mill" is a term I've never seen before either. It just popped into my mind as I tried to describe the scam. If it catches on as a name for these lowlife operations, I'd be thrilled. You saw it here first...

  18. #18
    Your Genial Uncle Absolute Sage James D. Macdonald's Avatar
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    It's a scam.

    Also: as far as posting "articles" all over the 'net in an attempt to advertise your self-published book: that doesn't work either.

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