Thursday, February 14, 2013

Attention Authors: Have You Received A Call Like This?

Like most writers, I long for that big break, that get-noticed moment when some teeny bit of magic happens and one of my books gets mentioned by a major media outlet or is seen being read by Anjelina Jolie in a movie. One of the challenges of being an indie author is marketing and most of us stink at it. So, consequently, we are highly susceptible to marketing opportunities that turn out to be opportunities to spend a whole lot of money we don't have for nothing-much in return.

On the author sites I frequent we talk about these – sites that offer reviews for a fee, marketing campaigns that cost big bucks and don't amount to much more than we could do for ourselves, etc. Today, I encountered a new one and, boy, oh boy, was it an experience. I was sitting at my desk working on a manuscript when the phone rang. The Caller ID read, “631-421-6074 Unknown Caller.” Now, normally I will not answer an Unknown Caller call but I wasn't thinking and I did. This lead to nearly twenty minutes of interesting conversation with a man who said his name was Anthony Holmes. He assured me he is a life-long professional in the entertainment industry and that my name had been given to him to pre-interview for a huge opportunity. I should have ended the call right then and there but, alas, hope springs eternal.

Mr. Holmes proceeded to tell me how I had been identified as one of a very few authors who produced work of exceptional quality and I was being presented with an unprecedented opportunity. He had me go to a web site – http://www.closeuptvnews.com – and said that I was one of three finalists to be featured throughout the month of March on their various interview programs with a man named Doug Llewelyn. Now, let me hasten to say I have no idea who Doug Llewelyn is and whether he knows Mr. Holt is using his name*. I have no idea what Close-Up Talk Radio is and whether or not they endorse Mr. Holmes sending people to their web site**. I'm just reporting the facts.

For the next twenty minutes Mr. Holmes told me of all the amazing things this opportunity would offer me. I would be flying all over the country to do book signings. I would be doing talk show appearances (he mentioned Oprah and Ricky Lake). He kept saying, “I want to make sure you are ready for this level of success.” By this time I was 99% certain this was a sales-job but I was kind of interested in his technique. Man, I'll tell you, this guy did NOT give up! He repeated his spiel several times. He had me look at videos on the Close-Up TV web site. He talked about all the money I was going to make. He promised me help with re-designing my web site (I like my web site) and how I would be coached for interviews. He started talking speaker fees - $20k, $30k and more. He mentioned they were located at 30 Rock and were a part of NBC. He yanked out every “hook” he thought might catch me.

He also kept asking, “Why aren't you more successful by now? Why aren't you a household name?” (Since today is Valentine's Day, I sort of think I am but I didn't mention that.) Finally, the truth is, I had to go to the bathroom so I said, “So, let's cut to the chase. What do you need from me?” He replied, “We pay $40,000 for air time and in order to prove that you are serious we ask that you contribute toward that. Just a small percentage of $5,000.” I said, “Not gonna happen, thanks for calling, bye.”

He sounded disappointed. 

So, what have we learned from this?  I don't know... sure there is a part of me that sort of wishes there would have been a big break at the end of that phone call but the truth is, I don't want to go on TV talk shows and fly all over the country promoting my books. I want to write. I know that the Cult of Celebrity is massive and a lot of publishers want “marketable” authors – I ain't one of those. I'm a reserved, moody, grouchy recluse who writes books that some people like. That's about as much as I ask.

So all I'm saying is, if you are an author and a call comes from “631-421-6074 Unknown Caller” and Anthony Holmes starts telling you how you're among the finalists for a spot on Doug Llewellyn's show on Close-Up Talk Radio, you are in for an entertaining conversation. Or you can just not answer the phone.

Thanks for reading.

UPDATE: Because I was not sure whether Close-Up Talk Radio knew of the calls this man was making, I emailed them through their web site and sent them a link to this blog. A few minutes later I received an email from Louis Ceparano <lou@closeuptvnews.com> saying: We have forwarded your blog to our legal department. You have now involved yourself in a legal matter you will be contacted shortly by our legal team

* Shortly after I posted the above Update I received a phone call from Mr. Holmes who was quite upset with me for posting this blog. He said he felt it made it look like he was not legitimate. I assured him my only purpose in doing this was to let my fellow authors know about the offer he was making and to make sure Close-Up TV knew that their name was being used.

** Mr. Holmes has informed me that the offer he made ($5000, or $1250 per episode) is a program that is posted on their web site. This appears to contradict his original information that my name was selected after research on authors and I was one of just three possible selections, only one of whom would be picked.

6 comments:

rnigma said...

Thanks for sharing that, Kathleen. Sounds like the same scammers that worked out of Florida and tried to get business owners to pony up thousands of bucks to be featured in some important-sounding TV show hosted by either Hugh Downs or Terry Bradshaw (which only aired in off-hours on cable outlets, if at all).
It's a modern variation of the old "puff sheet racket" wherein scammers contacted business people, telling them that they would be featured in the "magazine" the scammers were peddling; they just needed to place ads or buy several copies. Of course, only the victims would see the magazine as it was never distributed as widely as the scammers claimed it was.
By the way, Doug Llewellyn was the "reporter" on the original "People's Court."

Kathleen Valentine said...

Thanks. I wonder if Doug Llewellyn knows about this.

mtmcguire said...

That's a cracking post. I hope the experience wasn't too much of a letdown but well done for bringing down the legal flack, these people deserve everything they get. I loved the line about being a grumpy recluse too...

All the best,

MTM

mtmcguire said...

That's a cracking post. I hope the experience wasn't too much of a letdown but well done for bringing down the legal flack, these people deserve everything they get. I loved the line about being a grumpy recluse too...

All the best,

MTM

Peter Spenser said...

Thanks for the info. Love your description of yourself! Wish we could do lunch sometime. It would be a hoot!

JanetHorton said...

Bummer, I wished I had read your comments before I got there call. But, like you, I figured out that it was hype but in my case, I really wanted to know where the spiel would end.

The first hint for me was the "Close-Up TV News". I knew who Doug Llewelyn was and Anthony Holmes used his name and Close-Up TV News frequently. What he was not clear on and I do not recall him saying, was BlogTalkRadio. I cannot imagine how anyone could serious benefit from BlogTalkRadio except that maybe it looks good on a resume.

Anyway, I am waiting to see how they will carry out their promises over the next year. They said they would adopt me for a year and brand my name and put my books on the best seller's list; line up public speaking engagements and have the networks contacting me to schedule interviews.

We shall see. www.janethorton.net

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