Strategic Book Group / Strategic Book Publishing / Eloquent Books / SBM

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Editing for authors: because every writer needs a good editor.

BruceStrickland

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Strategic Book Publishing/Eloquent Books

Hi there,
Many thanks for the information and kudos to my google search engine. I just downloaded a contract from Strategic Book Publishing in which I either pay $680.00 up front for 'publishing costs' or agree to purchase five books at the retail price weekly for a year. When I initially researched this agency, they appeared to be a big time New York publishing house. Lots of author blurbs, books they have published, marketing director (very sexy picture) etc. The contract did not mention anything about getting my money back if the publisher chose to not proceed. The contract was listed as a 'provisional' contract.

It all seemed so above board at first. I initially corresponded with an acquisitions editor who said my book was too graphic. I cleaned up the text, removing all graphic violence, language and sex, then my manuscript was accepted for publication. I received next an email with an attached contract and that's where I am at this point.

There is a web site that lists an ongoing investigation by a Florida senator into this agency's practices.
http://myfloridalegal.com/lit_ec.nsf/investigations/31273A2F06893B9B852573760050A9EA
I'll keep this blog updated as I find information.

I did not suffer financial damages, but for me, an unpublished writer with a good novel in his hand, this was almost a disaster, if what I have read proves to be true. The contract signed away ALL rights to the book. (Not to mention the emotional letdown.) I was so close (or so I thought) to becoming a published writer of fiction. Oh well, "pick myself up, dust myself off, and start all over again."

Bruce Strickland
Orlando, Florida
 

Jaydavid

Yeah Bruce...Know what you mean...These conmen did about the same with me...But I still have my book...Didn't let them steal it.
 

M.R.J. Le Blanc

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If it's a good story, a legitimate publisher WILL pick it up. Keep trying, don't give up. Be glad you managed to dodge the bullet and still have your book.
 

BruceStrickland

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Here's my latest e-mail to Strategic Books. As I see it, this outfit does exactly what they say--publish your book. Unfortunately, they publish so many that I don't see how they can spend much time marketing or promoting any individual book or writer. If they had 360 authors last year and charge $1500.00 for editing--that's a cool half million dollars. Not a bad enterprise for them. Suck in the neophyte who is dazzled that someone wants to publish their first novel, extract the money from their bank account and go on to the next sucker. An afterthought: I forgot to ask her how many of those 17000 books they sold last year were bought by the author's in their compulsory buy-five-books-a-week deal.
I've checked the ranking on Amazon.com of four of their books. One is ranked at the 500,000th in book sales, the other at over a million and a half. The other two didn't even list sales rankings. Not an impressive record, wot?


Dear Lynn,Thanks again for your prompt reply and for answering my questions. 360 authors and 17000 book sales--that's about fifty books per author, averaging it out. Now if you are charging everyone for the initial fees and/or requisite five books per week purchase for a year AND you are charging editing fees AND you are charging illustration fees--lets say $680.00 (up front fee) $1500.00 (edit fee) $750.00 illustration fee--that comes to a grand total of around $3000.00 out of my pocket. Fifty books with royalties of the quoted amount of 6% of say, a $25.00 book. Fifty times (.06 X 25.00) = $75.00Now, I understand that book sales may or may not increase with time with, ongoing active promotion by the publisher. The concern I have is this: for an inital outlay of $3000.00 I get a return of $75.00, a book listed on Amazon.com and a publisher who has 360 other books (and counting) to promote. Just doesn't sound like a good deal for my money. You mentioned negotiating. What you offer basically is the ability to get my book published--after that, all bets are off as you acquire more and more new authors and put out more and more books. So, it's left up to me. How, then, is this much different from self-publishing if the expense is all born by me, the marketing is mostly by me, with the important exception--you have ALL rights to the book should it ever take off. And you get 50% off all the stuff that really makes money. I can't understand how this benefits me financially. Once again, thanks for your time and it's been an interesting experience. Never thought I'd be turning DOWN a publishing contract. But, that's show bizness.Cordially yours,Bruce Strickland
 

lemmje

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Anyone? Anyone? Bueller?

Does anyone know anyone who has signed with these guys, and what their personal experience really is? I mean, it's all well and good for someone who has already cracked this very tough nut -- having a successfully published book -- to say stick with it, good stories will eventually get picked up, blah, blah, blah. But most writers can't seem to get in the door with anyone. It seems no one actually reads new author's work, they just reject it out of hand because they "get many solicitations" and can't respond to every one.....

Anyway, i know there is an investigation in Florida, and i see them as blacklisted here, but i haven't seen any personal testimony one way or the other?

Just trying to be fair minded.
 

M.R.J. Le Blanc

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Does anyone know anyone who has signed with these guys, and what their personal experience really is? I mean, it's all well and good for someone who has already cracked this very tough nut -- having a successfully published book -- to say stick with it, good stories will eventually get picked up, blah, blah, blah. But most writers can't seem to get in the door with anyone. It seems no one actually reads new author's work, they just reject it out of hand because they "get many solicitations" and can't respond to every one.....

Anyway, i know there is an investigation in Florida, and i see them as blacklisted here, but i haven't seen any personal testimony one way or the other?

Just trying to be fair minded.

*sigh*

For the record, I'm an unpublished writer. But one who has and is continuing to do her research. This type of thinking:

But most writers can't seem to get in the door with anyone. It seems no one actually reads new author's work, they just reject it out of hand because they "get many solicitations" and can't respond to every one.....

Is false thinking. New writers get signed all the time. Just because someone writes a book, it doesn't mean they automatically have the right or deserve to be published. Majority of books written these days aren't ready for print, and it seems many of those new to the industry who don't do their research tend to send their mss off before they're really ready. Publishing is not like those soccer leagues where everyone got a trophy at the end of the season; it's a competitive business. You want that trophy, you gotta work hard for it and write a damn good book. Some stories just aren't saleable, it's a fact of life. All you can do is write the best book you can, get it as polished as you can and start querying. Once you start querying, write another book.
 

victoriastrauss

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Anyway, i know there is an investigation in Florida, and i see them as blacklisted here, but i haven't seen any personal testimony one way or the other?

Have a look at this thread.

Where there's smoke, there's fire. There would not be an investigation unless the FL Attorney General's Office felt there was something to investigate.

What I'd say to authors is: try the commercial publication route first. You have nothing to lose but a bit of time and maybe some postage--and if you don't try, you'll never know whether you could have made it this way. Search for an agent, or approach larger independent publishers that get their books into stores. If that doesn't work out, you can consider epublishers, or one of the functional micropresses (many are not especially functional), or self-publishing through one of the POD services. In my opinion, any of these would be a more viable alternative than a publisher that's the focus of numerous consumer complaints and an official consumer-focused investigation.

- Victoria
 

DavidNPR

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Strategic Book Publishing

Like so many others I received a positive response from SBP just twelve hours ago. I responded first thing this morning sending off copies of manuscripts for a trilogy of books. But being a suspicious character by nature I started to do all the research figuring it couldn't hurt to have them holding copyrighted mss.

A few minutes ago I emailed them and asked them to destroy the mss as I was no longer moving forward with them.

Thanks to all who have posted here. Your stories and warnings have saved me from potential disaster.

. . . now back to the grindstone of finding an agent

Again, thanks
David
 

scifi97

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Personal experience

No persoanl testimony?! Didn't go very deep into the thread I'd say as I have posted plenty about a year ago. Now I have some follow-up. After reading the Florida DA Complaint, I decided to see how far I could push SBP without having to pay anything.

I will post actual contract proposal and forms in seoparte posts titled as such. (It's easy as they use word docs for these. That's your first clue and any reputable company of any type would never send a word doc contract. They would send a pdf.

1. I submitted a complete manuscript that had been reviewed by a professional editor/author before hand. (Middle-grade adventure novel)

2. I received a prompt, positive response proclaiming they had a strong Children's book division.
(I checked it out. They have some books listed. They are listed on Amazon and Barnes and Noble sites. No awards or sales figures available. All the testimonials are from writers 'thrilled to see their book in print' without any reference to what it cost them to see it.

3. I received a 'review report' identifying what work needed to be done on the manuascipt to make is 'publishable'. They offered to get me a quote from an editor to fix it. I did leave some grammatical errors in the manuscript which they correctly identified. They also wanted me to do, or pay for complete, accurate formatting of the manuscript to work with their software.

4. When I told them I had my own editor, which I do, they said they would need to see the credentials of the editor or they would not publish my manuscript. (OOOOHH! I'm so scared!!). I sent them a link to my editors website. I also sent them a copy of the Florida DA complaint and asked for an explanantion.

5. They said my editor's credentials were fine but they would need to do another 'edit review' of his corrections. They said the Florida DA complaint was just some writers they refused to publish and they were sure they would win the case. (It is actually by writers who were 'published' at the cost of hundreds to thousands of dollars.)

6. I sent an "almost correct" manuscript back to them. They did another 'Edit review' and sent me a report grading the manuscript. It was a positive report identifying a couple of legitimate things to change. They then said they would be sending me a contract and stressed they were a 'traditional publisher' and were not asking me for ANY MONEY.

7. I received the contract proposal. (Contained in a following post) It technically does not ask for any money. It asks for my guarantee to sell 300 books, or buy them myself at a cost of $10.00 each. That is a financial commitment of $3,000.00 !!! Plus their royalty scale is poor. Plus they want %50 of movie rights, etc. (But then %50 of nothing is nothing) I said no thank you and have not heard from them again.

Summing it up.
1. This is a subsidy publisher/vanity publisher, not a traditional publisher.
2. They do not have enough marketing to sell 1 book on their own.
3. They make %100 of their money off writers, nothing from selling books.
4. They pray on naive, new writers dieing to see their book in print and not knowing the odds against selling anything on their own.
 

Red Dragon

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I know this is sort of an old subject in this forum, but the whole thing is new to me. I wrote this earlier, but thought I'd give you an update...

"...I am new here, drawn towards the posts regarding Strategic Book Publishing like a moth to a flame…

I am, at this precise moment in time, in the process of rejecting their publishing contract, which they forwarded to me in the last few days. Once this whole process (experience?) at last comes to its agonizing conclusion, I shall relate to everyone my experiences at the hands of this organization."

For those of you not amongst the anointed, SBP have offered me their standard “traditional” publishing contract, in which I, the author guarantee that they, the publisher, will sell 300 books in a 12 month period, or I pay them the difference!

The last e-mail I received from them this afternoon said,

"I’m sorry but if you have such doubts that your book can successfully sell at least 300 copies in the first year, that speaks volumes to us and makes us that much more hesitant to publish an author who is less ambitious than we hope for."

My response was,

"Let me put you straight here. It is not ambition that is lacking here, it is trust; and it is not you who are hesitant, but I. Yesterday I did a Google search on Strategic Book Publishing. These following sites "spoke volumes" to me:

http://www.absolutewrite.com/forums/showthread.php?t=101448

http://www.writers.net/forum/read/10/185995/185951Vf

http://myfloridalegal.com/lit_ec.nsf/investigations/31273A2F06893B9B852573760050A9EA

http://anotherealm.com/prededitors/pebs.htm

http://www.sfwa.org/Beware/twentyworst.html

In particular, the Florida Legal Department site said,

Allegation or issue being investigated:
(1) Charging aspiring writers various fees totaling hundreds of dollars for professional services that were either not rendered at all or were not rendered in good faith; (2) Charging for unnecessary services; and (3) Creating unreasonable consumer expectations concerning their prospects for publication by failling to criticize submitted drafts, in order to encourage the consumer and collect more fees.

AG unit handling case:
Economic Crimes Division in West Palm Beach, Florida

And you want me to sign up to guarantee the sale of 300 books from my own pocket?

I think not."

Incidentally, if you want an image to sum how I see these people: do you remember the film The Devil’s Advocate, with Keanu Reeves? His wife (Charlize Theron) is talking with some of the other wives, and they all seem oh, so friendly. However, as one takes her top off, she looks down at Charlize, and in that unguarded moment, she has the face of a demon… Well, that’s my image of SBP.

Happy to say, I got away without signing anything. Heavy of heart of course, because for a moment there, I really thought I'd cracked it. Ah, well, back to Agents' rejection slips...
 

M.R.J. Le Blanc

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If they were a competent publisher, they'd be shooting for more than 300 books.

Just keep at it. I'm sure you'll find a good agent and/or publisher.
 

Fran

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Possible new information

I know the last post was a while ago. I've received an email from WLA saying that Strategic Book Publishing has bought them over. I have a copy of this email if anyone wants to see it. I was beginning to suspect they were a scam (they wouldn't reveal any names of any authors or books they represent) so thanks to you all.
 

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I was told by them that they would like to see my poetry manuscript. I know that it is almost impossible to sell my work. So I had looked here first to see the review. Smart on my part. i will not go with them for sure. Thank god I did not ssend the manuscript. Thank you.
 

Fran

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I got an email yesterday saying they'd publish my work if I paid them $675. I don't have $675 (I don't have any amount of dollars, living in the UK :)) I sent them a 'no' and they just emailed me again, just in case I didn't get the first one. Thanks! I knew enough to know I shouldn't pay to be published, but this thread's been a great help.
 

James D. Macdonald

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They're advertising via Google Adsense.

Observe:

*
Publish Children's Books
Traditional Publisher Seeks Children's Books. Apply Online.
www.StRaTeGiCbOoKpUbLiShInG.com

First of all, among publishers only vanity presses and scammers advertise via Adsense.

Second, note how they've tried to obfuscate their URL to get around blocks and filters. What kind of legitimate company needs to do that?
 

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As a would be victim of these rats, I am distressed at the amount of freedom Robert Fletcher and Sherry Fine, and Joanna, and all the other scumbags have in this industry. I'm appalled at the lack of oversight by he FBI, Police, someone in authority. They remind me of the "Big Con"..where each con game is bigger than the last. And yet, justice is slow or nonexistent with these cowards. I'm beginning to believe that this business of "Writing" is a folly. Not for the straight and narrow. Not for the just and honest.
Agents are Queried and they never respond. Mountains of manuscripts are used for toilet paper instead of returned or even acknowledged by the Publishers or Agents they are sent to. And for what? So some hayseed ( Like Myself) can join this elete group of intelectuals that call themselves "Writers". I pity the real writers..the gal or guy that really produces something. Something worthy and unique. I pity them like myself who have to be exposed to the likes of Publish America, SBP, Eloquent Books, Desert Rose, and all the rest of the trash this industry has spawned.
I can think of some bad vocations. Lawyers..Real Estate Agents..Used Car salesmen..door to door vaccumm salesmen. I think I need to add the publishing business to it. Yeah..Its just another disheartened , unpublished wannabe that can't work by the rules. Sigh....They say that your work sells itself. That good writing will be rewarded . I wonder about that.
 

victoriastrauss

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Strategic, PublishAmerica, and companies like them are not part of the publishing industry, any more than the Irish Travelers are part of the house painting industry. The continued existence (and proliferation) of these companies says a lot about the hopes, dreams, and frustration of writers--but it doesn't say anything at all about the real business of writing and publishing books.

- Victoria
 

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Victoria..It would be great if people like me didn't have to go thru the false euphoria, hope, then dissappointment of finding out that they have been scammed by conmen poising as publishers, but thats not the case. In the wild, there are good Bears and bad bears. Some Killers and some pets. But you have to treat them ALL like killers are you will be sorry some day.
To try and separate good publishers from the likes of Fletcher and his conmen is not only wrong, its silly. The publishing industry is not immune to "Fast Buck Artists". I'm in the Engineering Business. We have our idiots, and misfits like all industries. But there is oversight. There are LAWS. It seems that you and Anna Crispin are all that stands between guys like me and the conmen of this publishing industry. And that is what disturbs me. There will be many more like me who don't stumble onto your websites or Beware Lists before being ensnared by the likes of the Titsworths, Fletchers, or Murphys. It is the disheartening effect these conartists have on the outlook of writers that does the most damage.
I have 3 more unfinished novels in various stages of completion. I could care less if I write another word. And that is sad because the 100 or so people..Doctors, lawyers, indian chiefs, that have read my books have been so supportive. To this end I condem the system of Query and hope. Query and wait! Query and get conned. I lost my respect for this industry because nearly EVERYONE I have dealt with in it are bad people. All the mouthwash in my bathroom won't dispell the bad taste.
 

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Unfortunately, new writers generally don't know not to trust any publishers or agents they see in ads and those are generally the first businesses they see listed anywhere. All I can say is it's up to all writers to get the word around that new writers should generally avoid any publishing businesses they see in ads. So don't give up on writing, but do spend a little time learning more about how the industry operates before submitting your work anywhere.
 

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I am distressed at the amount of freedom Robert Fletcher and Sherry Fine, and Joanna, and all the other scumbags have in this industry.

First of all, there's no reason to believe that "Sherry Fine" even exists.

Next, they have no power at all in this industry: They aren't even a part of the publishing industry. They're fakes. Frauds. Conmen. Scammers. Liars.

If you've had any sort of contact with them, don't just wish that legitimate law enforcement would take an interest in them. Get in touch with the Florida Attorney General. There's an active investigation into Strategic Book Publishing (and all the other names they operate under, and all the fake names they use to conceal themselves). Be part of the solution.

http://myfloridalegal.com/lit_ec.nsf/investigations/31273A2F06893B9B852573760050A9EA

Send them all your information. They're waiting to hear from you.
 

victoriastrauss

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To this end I condem the system of Query and hope. Query and wait! Query and get conned. I lost my respect for this industry because nearly EVERYONE I have dealt with in it are bad people. All the mouthwash in my bathroom won't dispell the bad taste.

It's incredibly easy to avoid the conmen (and women). Query only agents with verifiable track records of commercial book sales (which you should be able to find on their websites. No track record, no query). Approach only publishers whose books you've found on the shelves of bookstores and libraries. If writers would just stick to those two simple rules, most of the conmen (and women) would go out of business.

The reason the conmen (and women) survive is not just because writers are inexperienced, or don't know their names from reading them on a blog somewhere. It's because so many writers assume that all agents and publishers are essentially equal. This makes no sense at all. In the real world, would you hire someone who had no skills that qualified them to do the job you wanted them to do, and could offer you no references? Probably you wouldn't. So why should agents or publishers be any different?

- Victoria
 

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