Dr. Leon Koziol
Author, Advocate and Litigator
Note: An e-mail from one of my followers today sought input on a book idea. Inasmuch as I have authored and published a number of books over the years, both fiction and nonfiction, I was quick to reply so that he could be spared all the predator publishers anxious to prey upon unsuspecting victims. By the time their scams are discovered, it’s too late, and the valuable time and money put into these projects are never recovered. You should share this message with other would-be authors. It’s a short one exposing yet another scam industry.
Your book idea is an honorable one, but I’m going to take some time aside on a light day to walk you through the project you are proposing with the goal of encouraging you to take up a cause against the publishing industry. Fate?
This will be a fascinating read to say the least based on nearly 20 years of experience. And you are welcome to share it with any like-minded soul who needs real guidance. You can become a lion at the outset instead of the one harmlessly caged in these vital reform movements.
A book project is a massive undertaking with con-job publishers that take your advance and drop you like a rock. I successfully sued my first one in 2006 for such “minor” errors as upside down pages buried in books sold to third parties. If I did not know one victim personally, I never would have discovered the bad batch.
In addition to my monetary recovery, the AP news feed at the time of first filing eventually put that publisher out of business. The article which started the social media outrage was quite catchy, titled “The next chapter of this book will play out in court.” Ironically if the defense firm did not move that case from state to federal court, the creative reporter would not have discovered it in the docket, a huge tactical blunder.
Amazon was a co-defendant as its parent company believe it or not, and the way the two worked together can show how unsuspecting authors might easily be scammed. It also proves again how many giants I have slayed with merely a stone to benefit “the little guy” before the retributions began for my judicial whistleblowing activity in 2008.
As an aside, you should check out a 2004 story in the Las Vegas Sun which featured my David-Goliath slaying of a “billion dollar” casino compact against high powered law firms such as Cravath, Swaine and Moore in Manhattan. The publisher’s law firm retained to defend my later case in federal court was similarly high profile.
Despite all this, I did not fare much better with my next three publishers, a small local and two global “vanity” firms. They proved to be no different than the courts I was writing about (although Voyage to Armageddon was a 2014 novel focused on nuclear terrorism).
You have to do your best scanning the scammers until you settle on one with a long enough existence. Short term sites can simply reorganize under a different state and corporate title after robbing you blind and being slapped on the wrist. It’s yet another epic con-industry that I got sucked into like so many others that simply wanted to publish a book.
This experience can be compared to unsuspecting parents who simply want to separate in divorce or family court but without the lawyers, innocent children and millions involved, You might think of my publishing ordeal as another destiny for public accountability. However, I won’t fall into the latest rabbit hole without money or people support. Sound familiar?
And so, this particular scam industry persists like those who sell “storage” in the tech scam industry, no real warehouse costs or “products” to manufacture using satellites we taxpayers made possible. It can turn greedy profiteers without a conscience into billionaires overnight.
To be sure, I learn now that it’s Barnes and Noble producing my latest book, Whistleblower in Paris, at an up-charge to the cut taken by my publisher to leave me with a few dollars at best on each purchase. I have yet to receive an accounting or payment on my first quarter sales since its release in July.
You are surely cognizant that a lot of hard work goes into each manuscript by a good faith author regardless of relevant quality or marketability. But that is precisely what these inept predators prey upon. In my case I could not trust any editing and did it all myself leaving less work for publisher “Author House.”
Adding insult to injury, I’m doing all the marketing to enrich these giants. Still, it gets better (more hideous). After your book is given great reviews (a five-star rating in my case by Amazon) with no indication anyone has even read your manuscript or published product, suddenly you are inundated with calls and electronic offers of book promotion.
These minions assure you that your book is a “page-turner” but when you ask the caller if he or she has read anything, you’re referred to a supervisor who allegedly did, only to receive no return call from that unidentified person. And yes, you guessed it, such promotion comes at more cost. It’s an endless “a la carte” menu with no exit from the restaurant you wandered into.
We’re talking about so-called “packages” that range between a thousand to thirty thousand dollars (and more if you’re sufficiently gullible and financially positioned). The “consultants” and marketing “experts” for both the publisher and later con-marketers are largely out-sourced with dialects that leave you gasping for logic. They struggle to speak English, change constantly, and never even read the material which they are incompetent to digest anyway.
Despite the pathetically obvious in a society that welcomes criminals at our borders, these “publishers” still have the audacity to hire such foreigners for pennies from “branch locations” (their homes) in Singapore, Philippines, etc. I have personally verified all this with sophisticated complaints and yet they continue contacting me anyway.
I have concluded that the publishers and post-release marketing “firms” are all connected. They obtain your book release from one another or troll for them on-line in a routine spiced with cue card introductions (some by robot). They come across like shameless pigs that snort about for left-overs (easy money).
They contact you not to buy your book but to con you for more “up front” thousands to simply place an ad in the back section of LA Times (making you think they’re targeting Hollywood film producers) or a 3 am upstart talk show. Yes, this is a “highly sophisticated” service that you could do yourself with better results in a matter of minutes as I have done with local press and a better targeted market.
If I haven’t entertained you enough already (my belated Christmas gift) and you’re still sincere about getting any book out, you have to navigate this mine field because the real publishers will not pay you the time of day unless you’re famous or represented by a connected agent (at a hefty cost even if they take you).
The real “traditional” publishers, i.e. Harper-Collins, Penguin, will pay you a portion of royalties with no up-front requirement because, unlike the opinions of cheap, pre-paid foreigners, your manuscript is actually worth something. But even here it could take years to run the gauntlet on quality, editing and defamation risk. Just ask the two Cuomos.
I’d call this another epidemic, but it does not harm innocent children. So now you want to start a book project, co-producing it no less with all of the additional complications which that brings? And this is only a briefing after, as stated, nearly 20 years of tribulations. It’s only gotten worse with today’s technology and overwhelmed oversight agencies.
It’s also why I charge a fee for all this, an agent with a conscience. I’m only one person but maybe I could spare others the pain and disappointment. FYI: of course there is the very rare success story among the millions conned. I hope to be one of those success stories but only because I have the requisite drive, skill, experience and highly marketable story.
I put the time into this response because I value your own genuine commitment to me and a vital cause for families abused by the divorce industry. Your modest contributions continue to reap benefits many times over.
PS: I want to thank the followers who expressed sympathy and future hope regarding the lack of contact from my precious daughters over the holidays. As we know, this is a product of severe parental alienation caused by deranged “custodial parents” and the biased judges who facilitate it for profit and revenue. My ongoing ordeal summarized here at http://www.leonkoziol.com, further supports the drive to expose this epidemic in my latest book, Whistleblower in Paris.