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Which Companies are Committing Crimes by Impersonating Legitimate Publishers?

Which Companies are Committing Crimes by Impersonating Legitimate Publishers?

Q –

Angela,

I am sorry that I keep hitting you with this garbage, but you are the only resource I have that I trust. Authors Tranquility Press wants me to pay $7,500.00 to Harper’s Magazine for an ad for my book. According to Aime St. Johnson, the Editor-in-Chief of Harper’s is Jenna Sommers. According to Harper’s website, the Editor-in-Chief is Tracy Grant.

Any comments?

-A.L.


The author shared a copy of an email from a woman allegedly named Aime St. Johnson who was using a europe.com email address. She cc’d Rachel Hayes (rachel.hayes@authorstranquilitypress.com) on the email. We found Rachel on LinkedIn. She is in the Philippines. Author’s Tranquility Press claims they are in Atlanta, Georgia.

I removed Rachel’s photo from this screenshot for copyright reasons:

The pdf file forwarded to the author by Aime St Johnson was addressed to:

Aime St Johnson
Position: Literary Agent
Representing: Authors Tranquility Press

Notice the missing apostrophe in the company’s name. I seriously doubt that Aime St Johnson (if that’s even a real person) is a legitimate literary agent. The pdf file had Harper Collins logo on it.

The sender of the email tried to get the author to purchase a $7,500 (!!!) ad in Harper’s Magazine. She wrote, “This is an opportunity to have your book featured in the prestigious Harper’s Magazine prior to its acquisition by Harper’s Group.

She further claimed that Harper’s Group was unable to provide funding upfront because they’re about to get acquired. She then said they would reimburse the author once the contract is finalized.

That is TOTAL B.S.!

The pdf implies that the ad for Harper’s Magazine needs to be purchased before an official contract to publish the book will be offered. They will then (4-6 months later) offer the author an advance of $45,000. Except…we all know that was never going to happen. They were just trying to bait the author into paying $7,500. And, I seriously doubt an ad would have ever appeared even after he paid the “literary agent” $7,500.

The pdf file is electronically signed by Jenna Sommers, Editor in Chief. However, nobody with that name appears on the masthead of Harper’s Magazine. That name also does not appear anywhere on the Harper Collins “team” page.

And, Harper’s Magazine isn’t even owned by Harper Collins!

In 1962, Harper & Brothers merged with Row, Peterson & Company, becoming Harper & Row (now HarperCollins). In 1965, the magazine was separately incorporated, and became a division of the Minneapolis Star and Tribune Company, owned by the Cowles Media Company.

-Source: Wikipedia

Here’s my response to the author:

Look at this:
https://www.harpercollins.com/pages/fraudalert

“We have received reports that individuals impersonating HarperCollins staff or claiming to be literary agents are targeting authors with false book acquisition offers. These individuals request that the author pay them or provide sensitive financial information in exchange for literary services or to facilitate a publishing agreement. Their emails sometimes include letters purporting to bear HarperCollins’ logos, imprint names, and staff signatures.”

MacMillan Publishers specifically lists Author’s Tranquility Press on their fraud alert page!

Please be aware that Macmillan does not work with or have any relationship with the following:

  • Author’s Tranquility Press
  • Brilliant Books Literary
  • Literary Press Agency
  • PageTurner Press & Media
  • Spark Literary
  • Stellar Publishing
  • Tyler Literary
  • Tyler Literature
  • Word Talk Press
  • Writers Press LLC
  • Writers Press Publishing House

This list is not exhaustive.

And, read complaints about Author’s Tranquility Press on BBB.org:

And, read reviews of Author’s Tranquility Press on BBB.org.

There are other complaints posted about them online as well.

On their own website, this box pops up:

Public Advisory

Please be advised that Author’s Tranquility Press is NOT affiliated, associated, authorized, endorsed by, or in any way officially connected with any other marketing, advertising, and publishing firms or any of its subsidiaries. Please note: Our official email addresses all ends with @authorstranquilitypress.com, and our main line is (866) 411-8655.

So, are they trying to say that other scammers are impersonating them? I don’t think so. Why? Because the email sent to the author above was copied to an authorstranquilitypress.com email address. Furthermore, if you click on the complaints above, they deal with many issues at the company, not just those discussed in this article.

While we know it’s tempting to believe emails and actual pdf files with logos, typed dollar signs, and lots of zeroes, in today’s online scammer climate, in all likelihood, all of those offers are fake.

If you have been the victim of this type of crime, or if you are contacted by this company, or another one pretending to be a legitimate publisher, immediately report them to their state’s attorney general. Most of those sites have online complaint forms. Unfortunately, many of these firms are located overseas. The only recourse against them is to spread the word far and wide online so other authors won’t fall victim to these crimes.



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