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10

Dec 2010

The Mail I Get – How to Make Money From Dumb Authors

Posted by / in Scams, The Mail I Get / 15 comments

I have been inundated lately with invitations to submit my books to the London Book Festival, the Paris Book Festival, the San Francisco Book Festival,  the New England Book Festival, the Hollywood Book Festival, the New York Book Festival, the Beach Book Festival, the Nashville Book Festival  and several others.

They sound prestigious, don't they?

What these "Festivals" all have in common is that they have the same entry requirements and the same entry fees.

That's because they are actually all contests run by Bruce Haring's  JM Northern Media and are, as the Miss Snark Literary Agent Blog aptly put it, "a crock of shit." Here are the details, for example, for the the 2011 Paris Book Festival:

The 2011 Paris Book Festival will consider entries in general non-fiction, fiction, biography/autobiography, children's books, cookbooks, compilations/anthologies; e-books; genre-based, how-to, photography/art, spiritual, music, teenage/young adult, unpublished stories and the wild card (anything goes!) categories published on or after Jan. 1, 2006.  
 
Entries can be in French, English, Spanish, German or Portuguese and can be published, self-published or issued by an independent publishing house.  
 
Our grand prize for the 2011 Paris Book Festival is $1500 cash and a flight to Paris for our gala awards ceremony on May 14, 2011 OR a flight to San Francisco, CA and a similar cash grant for our San Francisco Book Festival awards on the same date.

[…]Applications must be accompanied by a non-refundable entry fee via check, money order, credit card payment or PayPal online payment of $50 in U.S. dollars for each submission. Multiple submissions are permitted but each entry must be accompanied by a separate form and entry fee. Entry fee checks should be made payable to JM Northern Media LLC.

So let's examine those very discriminating rules. They will consider any book, published or unpublished, in almost any conceivable genre, written in one of five languages in the last five years. And you can enter the same book in as many categories as you want, as long as you keep writing checks for $50 to JM Northern each time.

That tough, rigorous criteria should tell you something about how prestigious and highly selective these "awards" and  "festivals" actually are. 

But if that isn't enough, look at what the winner of the Paris Book Festival will get… $1500 bucks and a trip to Paris OR  "a similar cash grant" and a trip to San Francisco. You'll also notice that they don't tell you where exactly this "festival" is being held. 

So I guess if you win the Paris Book Festival prize for your unpublished, 2007 collection of viking transgender time-travel poetry written in Portuguese….your prize could be $107.68 (which is similar to $1500 in that it's money) and a ticket to San Francisco (which is like Paris, in that it's a city) for the Festival which, for all you know, is being held at a Denny's in Daly City. Order the Grand Slam, it's tasty.

It amazes me that anyone falls for this, especially since winning an award at one of these "festivals" carries no prestige whatsoever, either in the publishing world or the entertainment industry. Or, as Miss Snark put it way back in 2006:

This is like being elected prom queen in a high school with six girls.

These kinds of "awards" are the latest crock of shit way to separate you from your money. They only need a couple suckers to make this thing profitable.

But JM Northern has been running these contests for years.…which I suppose means that there's still lots of money to be made from stupid authors, hungry for even meaningless recognition. 

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15 comments
  • cjglover@knology.net

    December 11, 2010, am31 4:34 AM
    01

    I only enter RWA approved contests. And I only enter the contests where the final judge is an editor or an agent I am targeting. Great post!

  • Barbara Ellen Everett Heintz

    July 9, 2012, pm31 6:44 PM
    02

    Dear Sir, Madam, and Authority on All Matters. I am well aware that there are so many people out there willing to take our money, and I have read through many of your posts today about some of them, and your T-Shirt sadly says a great deal; You want us to know you and to believe that you are upstanding and have researched every word of what you are writing; But the truth is that I have published a book through Amazon and Create Space, and to get it done properly; It is costly, and the after you publish service is excruciatingly painful; You and the million plus other books which can be rented for one dollar. The only people who are making any money with the best and most honest of the DIY published books are those who have slept with the stars, already have credibility as writers, or those who are already loved and part of the known writers who have already proved themselves over time. What you wrote about Amazon and Create Space is at best, filled with inaccuracies.
    We are now at a crossroads with stop signs going in all directions, and the heartless may be that the largest and most honorable are where they are now for killing the book industry, closing the book stores we loved to sit in on winter days and to browse with children then grand children. It is a much sadder world what we have lost than what we have gained as self publishers, and all such outfits that publish for a fee within a few years will be obsolete when everyone’s favorite new home options is the computer room which also contains everything we need to print a book at home. It looks smart; you and the grand kids will love it; “Look Grammie;” Dad and I made you a book today out of all that we have been saving.
    The Ebook publishing is not in its infancy; No it is already wondering when home and skill hone it all just like, only better than home recordings, for we have generations of computer savvy individuals who will just love that, “A Season For All Things,” can be a couple of weeks work or less; then we have instant books.
    You acted as a critic of JM productions, and once again, there are simply inaccuracies, plus you endeavor to be so humorous and have the gall to call people stupid who seek these competitions. I am not going to say that they are spotless and not making money, nor am I about to defend them for giving only $1500 to one prize winner, but they state clearly what you are going to receive from them, where the festival celebrations will be, and I have gone so far as to double check some of the hotels where there recognition ceremonies have been, and the hotels were able to give me the dates and times they were there. If you are going to write about them, then you must do something other than quote what you have heard or form your own conclusions.
    We stupid people who give them our money and make entries select where we want to be a candidate, and their data clearly states they have the right to disqualify material which is not seen as worthy of consideration, so; No they do not take everything.
    They have an office, a phone number, an address, and low and behold it is in Los Angeles, California, and yes they have a festival in Hollywood, and they never promise you that your verging on a contract if you win, that you are going to be the next, “Under The Tuscan Sun; No, they state they know people in the industry, and you might have a shot at meeting some of them, because, low and behold – The Hollywood one takes place right at The Grauman Theater area.
    I am not happy about no day events, and I will voice this to them, directly to the director himself, because that is part of the fun of any book festival. The word festival and fair cannot continue to be used if no festival and fair is involved, for I know that comes under false advertising, but they are adding shows, because the demand is there! What kind of business fails to meet the demands of the people who are feeling comfortable with having their gift and prize to be one night of recognition.
    That is far more than most of us figured we would ever receive in our short career of being authors or short film makers, What a strange thing to do on your part to criticize as well that they are now including other countries and language. We who have won awards with them would tell you that we feel very blessed. Amazon, with its billions of dollars gives one main prize every yeard which includes a contract for that person or persons with, “Penguin,” who you also had negative comments for.
    I see the fee to JM Productions as being well spent to open the door to getting your name out there in a world where your chances without a production company are so abysmal that you, again, see the world of books as being something which will once be legend. That book case where people throw their paper backs is going to have some new space in tomorrow’s houses, and especially with the backlog of books already in print; I see a day and a time when people would just decide that they may as well burn the books for all they are worth.
    There was a very grim history each time books are just worth the Holocaust fire, for those who decide what is read change the world. I see Bruce and his company as being among those who actually are on to something, that some of us are worth a second look, and are they making money; Absolutely. What do you receive as compensation for your job, or are you among the lucky few who will never need a salary?
    You can find something overwhelmingly negative about any product you want on the internet, and JM Productions has its critics, but I have not found them to be ghastly dishonest; whereas, some few things which I know something about — You are writing as truth, and it is loaded with false information, so for we stupid people who have lived a lot of life and have made choices; How could we be saved from such choices by you, for you are writing things which are just not acceptable if we are looking for truth.
    You are young, and there may be a place for you in critiquing our choces, but you need to start over. Do your research well, and it is so inappropriate that you would call us words that add up to being just plain dumb, for we are not.
    I will not say a word about your writing style or your future as a writer, for I know it would just be hurtful to you, but you are no authority, and if folks are using you for a clearing house of information; then you use the, “S,” word a whole lot, and it is a sad choce, for a lot of what you have written as fact here might be found out in someone else’s horse barn.
    I wish you well; but right now, I cannot give you with grave sincerity. You might, someday, wind up being nearer a banner of integrity, but for now, I am sorry that I worry about where you are getting your facts.
    Barbara Everett Heintz

  • Lee Goldberg

    July 18, 2012, pm31 3:57 PM
    03

    Barbara,
    You are deluding yourself. You are exactly the kind of sucker this company thrives on. Every author — myself included — was an unpublished author to start with. I didn’t buy my way in, or get there entering bogus “festivals” like these, and neither did John Patterson, Stephen King, Sue Grafton, Janet Evanovich or 99.9% of the now-bestselling authors out there.
    Nobody… let me underscore that… NOBODY…pays any attention to these sham festivals and their awards. They have no credibility or marketplace currency at all. All you are doing is lining the pockets of people who prey on the gullibility, desperation, and hunger-for-attention of aspiring authors.
    If you are so desperate for positive affirmation that you are willing to send money to bogus festivals, I suggest a better use of your money would be to send your book and $50 to the American Cancer Society. You won’t get an award, but you will get a tax deduction..and at least your money won’t be completely wasted.
    Lee

  • madame Chinchilla

    December 24, 2014, pm31 8:45 PM
    04

    Thank you for your information. I had a strange feeling in my gut about this. Now…I am going to withdraw my application and submition into entering….I hope they did not get anything from my paypal without my permission….thanks!
    Madame Chinchilla

  • Trina K. Taylor

    May 13, 2015, am31 11:07 AM
    05

    I entered a book in the San Francisco Book Festival. I did research the festival and the company, however I didn’t seem to use the correct words in the search, so Nothing negative came up.

    I received an honorable mention. That was fun for a minute.

    I decided to do another search with the results noting all of the scams these companies use. Yes, I got taken.

    My book is titled, “Clan Tuffie”. It is about a young woman that is sexually assaulted and the man she falls in love with. He has three quirky personalities that disrupt people lives and hers and it creates some chaos. And some fun.

    “Clan Tuffie” is available on Amazon and Createspace.

    As a footnote: Someone asked for advice on how to write a book and publish it. I thought about it and then decided to let them have the same experience that I have had in trying to figure out how to complete this task. Let them find out for themselves.

  • Laurie

    March 30, 2016, pm31 10:52 PM
    06

    How is this a scam? A scam is when you pay for something and get ripped off, and the company doesn’t deliver what it promises.

    I have entered one for their competitions. I have won the Grand Prize, the return ticket to the award ceremony, and the appearance fee $1500. It cost me $75 to enter, but the plane ticket cost nearly $1000 (half way around the world, paid by JM Northern, tickets sent to me). So my return on my $75 fee is $2500 – $75 = $2425.

    Now, for the silly comment about only ‘stupid authors’ enter, here’s a fact: many of the prizes have been won by author published by big publishers or reputable established publishers. Here’s an example:

    2014 Grand Prize Winner New England Book Festival — Bloomsbery Publishing USA (big publisher);

    2013 Grand Prize Winner New England Book Festival — Random House (big publisher);

    2014 Grand Prize Winner San Francisco Book Festival — Simon & Schuster (big publisher);

    2011 Grand Prize Winner San Francisco Book Festival — Verso (big independent publisher, books distributed by W. W. Norton & Company (U.S.);

    2010 Grand Prize Winner San Francisco Book Festival — Little Brown & Company (big publisher);

    2015 Grand Prize Winner New York Book Festival — Syracuse University Press (reputable academic publisher since 1943);

    2014 Grand Prize Winner New York Book Festival — Brandeis University Press (reputable academic publisher part of University Press of New England established in 1970);

    2013 Grand Prize Winner New York Book Festival — Atlantic Monthly Press (a division of Little Brown since 1917);

    2012 Grand Prize Winner New York Book Festival — University of Nebraska Press (academic publisher established in 1941);

    2013 Grand Prize Winner Southern California Book Festival — HarperOne, a division of Harper Collins (big publisher)

    And I could go on and on, but I have other things to do, so you can do your own research by looking at the websites and the past winners.

    So next time you ‘slag off’ a company which is not running a scam, it might help to do some research. Why didn’t you call the company and speak to a person? Send an email? Ask questions? You might have written an informative article then instead of slandering a company and providing misleading information.

    And Lee Goldberg who commented here and said than ‘Stephen King’ (and other authors) never entered these types of competitions, then how exactly did he win the 2015 Amsterdam Book Festival for best anthology along with established authors for the book ‘Qualia Nous’? Yes, you should have done your research first.

  • Laurie

    March 31, 2016, am31 12:19 AM
    09

    Firstly, I have never said what it would do for my ‘literary career’, so don’t put words in my mouth. I’m debating your ill-informed and badly-researched blog.

    You are nasty person, aren’t you? Even with the evidence in front of you, all the big publishers and authors who participated, you cannot resist insulting people. Given that your books are self-published garbage and your run a similar literary competition than this people, you are nothing more than a hypocrite.

    Get a life, honestly.

    • Lee Goldberg

      March 31, 2016, pm31 12:23 PM
      10

      Sigh. It’s so tiring dealing with ignorant trolls.

      If you’d taken 15 seconds to actually LOOK at my website, of which this blog is a part, you’d see that I’m the New York Times bestselling author of over 40 novels, the most recent of which, THE PURSUIT, will be published by Random House in June. You’d be aware that I’ve been published by Penguin/Putnam, St. Martin’s Press, Pinnacle Books, Wiley & Sons, Random House, etc. You’d also see that 10 of my 12 “self-published” novels are actually *reprints of previously published books* by St. Martins Press, etc, that fell out of print. But clearly, research is not your strong suit, nor is an informed opinion. Then again, if it was, you would know how little attention is paid to JM Northern’s multitude of literary award schemes and you wouldn’t be so angry and bitter now.

      As for the Scribes, unlike the obvious scam you fell for, it’s operated by a professional writers association, there is NO FEE CHARGED FOR SUBMISSION and all the entrants are all professional authors published by major publishers. The Scribe Award is also respected, particularly among editors who hire tie-in writers. The Scribe awards are not a business that preys on naive writers achingly desperate for validation, regardless of where it comes from. The fact that you can’t tell the difference between the dozens of JM Northern city-labeled “awards” and genuine professional awards, like the Los Angeles Times Book Prize, etc. speaks volumes.

      Lee

  • Laurie

    March 31, 2016, am31 2:19 AM
    11

    Oh, that’s right, if I want to advance my literary a career, I should enter the Scribe Awards run by you and your friend Max Allan Collins. But since I am not you, your friend, or one of your siblings, I probably won’t win anyway. Yes, because your competition is totally fair and impartial. I know it’s a complete coincidence that you awarded yourself Best Original Novel in 2008 at the Scribe Awards, even though you run the awards. In addition, you have nominated yourself for Best Original Novel in 2006, and awarded your friend and co-runner of this competition Max Allan Collins a 2008 win for Best Adapted Novel, a 2008 Best Original Novel nomination, a 2009 Best Adapted Novel nomination, a 2009 Best Original Novel nomination, a 2010 Best Adaptation (General and Speculative), a 2011 Best Original Novel nomination (with Max Spillane), a 2012 win for Best Audio (with Max Spillane), a 2012 Best Original Novel (General Fiction), a 2015 Best Short Story, 2015 Best Original Novel nomination. And I’m probably missing some. But if that’s not enough, why not also award your young brother Tod Goldberg some Scribe Awards with a 2008 Best Original Novel Nomination, a 2011 Best Original Fiction nomination, and a 2012 Best Original Novel Nomination (but your friend Max won that one instead of your brother!). And I have no doubt that many of those other winners here are some other friends and siblings of yours. Where there’s smoke, there’s a fire. But hell, I might be paranoid, and it’s probably a total coincidence. Who knows, even though there is no list of judges on the official Scribe Awards web page. It’s probably you and your buddy Max.

    Now, how does this not make you a hypocrite?

    • Lee Goldberg

      March 31, 2016, pm31 12:38 PM
      12

      Neither Max nor I judge the Scribe Awards. Like the Edgars, Shamus Awards, etc, the awards are overseen by an independent awards chair and each category is judged by a panel of writers, none of whom are entrants, so there no conflict of interest. Since 2007, I have not allowed my tie-in work to be submitted by my publishers or considered for the award. That’s a personal decision on my part. That said, there’s nothing wrong or unethical about either Max or Tod having their work submitted for consideration or earning prizes.

      Max Allan Collins is among the most respected and acclaimed writers in the field… his accolades include a lifetime achievement award from the Private Eye Writers of America and his novel ROAD TO PERDITION became an Oscar-winning movie. His Quarry novels are the basis of a new TV series premiering this year on Cinemax. He is also among the most respected “tie in writers” in the business. It’s no surprise that his publishers submit his books to the Scribes and that he often is nominated or awarded the prize. He’s clearly among the best of the best.

      My brother Tod is a Los Angeles Book Prize finalist (FYI, unlike the Los Angeles Book Prize from JM Northern, this is a REAL award, one of the most prestigious in American literature, but you know that, right?) and multiple Pushcart Prize finalist. His most recent novel, GANGSTERLAND, got coveted starred reviews from Publishers Weekly, Booklist, Kirkus, and a full-page rave review in the New York Times. The book has also been picked up by CBS as a pilot for a new series. It’s not surprising that someone as talented and respected as he obviously is would be nominated for a prize for his tie-in work on the BURN NOTICE books…or that his publisher would submit his titles for consideration.

      Again, I should note that THERE IS NO CHARGE for submission and NO CASH PRIZES awarded. The Scribes honor excellence in the field of tie-in writing…that’s all… it is not a business built on submission fees and the desperation of naive writers.

      You can find a complete list of past winners and nominees of the Scribes here: http://iamtw.org/the-scribe-awards/previous-scribe-award-winners/

      Lee

  • Laurie

    March 31, 2016, pm31 3:26 PM
    13

    Oh, you can dish-out, but you can’t take it? Nice to see that you give yourself enough space to defend yourself, but you gave none when accusing others of fraud. As far as your books are concerned, I don’t really care whether they are 50/50 self-published or not. Your fiction is simply trash fiction that no one will care about ten years from now. You can honor yourself with all Scribe Awards you want, it won’t make a difference.

    Yes, that’s right, Scribe Awards given by an independent panel, as if I am going to believe you. A panel made of your friends and co-writers, hence a scam. You can paint it any color you want, it’s still a scam. You’re a liar and have no integrity here as I have proven, and hence no place in judging others in terms of what they do and don’t do. A blog does not make you an authority or a moral compass. Haven’t you got something better to do with your life than insulting others? Why don’t you plant a tree, look after a pet, say something nice for a change. Who are you to judge someone by telling them they are stupid or naive when you know nothing about them, where they come from, and what they do in life? The problem, Lee, is you. You started insulting people in your blog instead of just reporting ‘what you have found’. If you had kept it polite, objective and direct, we wouldn’t be discussing this. So get that huge chip off your shoulder, get some perspective and be nice. You can have an opinion, and you can tell the world what you think, but you don’t have to be a total dick about it by name-calling others.

    Have a nice day. I’m done with you.

    • Lee Goldberg

      March 31, 2016, pm31 3:46 PM
      14

      You’ll be deeply missed.

      Lee

  • Sue

    October 18, 2016, am31 11:41 AM
    15

    Sadly I fell into the (Dumb Author) category, though labeling authors dumb is a little harsh! I wouldn’t say were DUMB as such, I’d say we are (Ill-Informed)

    Being uninformed, and excited about my first book. I went mad on entering competitions, until I finally started to do some serious research. JM NORTHERN MEDIA are nothing more than a scamming bunch of dickheads.

    The founder (Bruce) may have his email address clearly visible but he does not reply. Upon entering the Halloween Festival back in August I not once received a confirmation email when my book arrived to the supplied address, not once did I receive a confirmation email – blah, blah, so all the people that think they are entering something grand and wonderful, think again, they are just scammers taking your hard earned money. Money you won’t ever get back.

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