Expanded Alert at Writer Beware: American Book Publishing / Alexis Press / All Classic Books / Atlantic National Books

Posted by Victoria Strauss for Writer Beware

Last October, I started getting inquiries about a publisher called All Classic Books. I hadn't heard anything about it, though its rather odd website (a sort of online journal format, with content mill-style essays) along with the lack of concrete information about its staff and its apparent lack of publishing history (according to Amazon, just four books published, all of which appear to be public domain titles) did give me serious pause.

So I wasn't entirely surprised, a couple of weeks ago, to receive my first documented complaint about All Classic Books, from an author who reported a variety of problems through the production process.

What really caught my interest, though, was the heavy pressure placed on the author to spend thousands of dollars to buy hundreds of printed galleys to send out to reviewers. 500 was the "ideal" number suggested--though if the author really couldn't afford that many, 300 was OK too. Helpfully, All Classic's "Book Promotion Basics" brochure provides a pack of lies in support of this suggestion:
It's common practice at traditional publishing companies today that all but their top 1% or “A” list celebrity authors cover their own galley expenses. It's becoming more rare to find these exceptions, usually now made by a previously negotiated contract with literary agents or in book auctions or bidding wars for the celebrity author. Most authors today understand that sending their galleys are an expected and standard industry business expense and practice. All Classic Books is similar to many of the top New York Publishers in this regard. While we cover all other book publishing, distribution and marketing and promotion expenses, our authors do cover their galley expenses.
All of this rang a bell for me, because it's also the M.O. of a publisher Writer Beware has been getting complaints about since 2001: American Book Publishing (here's its other website), the subject of an Alert at the Writer Beware website and one of the dodgy publishers on Writer Beware's Thumbs Down Publisher List.

Could there be a connection, I wondered? ABP charges a "setup" fee ($880, as of my most recent documentation), and All Classic Books doesn't. It even pays a tiny advance. But while plenty of vanity publishers require or urge their authors to buy large quantities of their own books, ABP is the only one I've ever run across that pressures authors to self-purchase galleys for the purpose (well, the supposed purpose) of obtaining reviews.

So I started to research. And what I found was much more than I expected--not just a connection between ABP and All Classic Books, but between ABP and a whole network of satellite publishers, bogus organizations, shill websites, and imaginary publishing professionals. For those of you who are curious, I've included a section below with screenshots and other evidence that led to my conclusions. For those who want the quick version, here it is (the Alert at the Writer Beware website has been expanded to reflect this information).

ABP's satellite operations and websites include:
There are also some bogus news sites that pimp ABP, including American Book Publishing News Today and Book Publishing News and Views.

ABP’s founder, Cheryl Nunn or C. Lee Nunn, is fond of triple-barreled aliases. Names she may be using include:
  • Nathan Fitzgearl, Kathleen Brooks Montgomery, Abigail Woodward Wright (ABP)
  • Elizabeth M. Bennett (Alexis Press)
  • Susannah E. Solomon (Atlantic National Books)
  • Rebecca Reese Winslow, Kelly Kenworthy, Sherry Quinn (All Classic Books)
  • Kory Kessal (Media Book Group)
  • James Jackson Jones ("egalleys", whatever that means)
  • Madison Armstrong ("book publishing industry executive," author of a book that doesn't seem to exist)

 -------------------------------------

So, evidence of all these connections. 

There's some suggestive stuff at the websites linked in above: same Wordpress theme, some similar design features (check out the red advertising strip across the top of the satellite publishers' websites and ABP's blog, each offering a free, yes FREE, download of some kind), and a similar focus (most of the websites make a particular--not to mention hypocritical, given the source--point of railing against vanity publishing). 

That's not conclusive, of course. But here's what is. Having created separate identities for her various endeavors, Cheryl Nunn seems to have decided to streamline her workload a little by giving every one of them, including ABP, the exact same Twitterfeeds and Facebook timelines. Twitter screenshots are below (I've included them because the feeds may vanish or go dead once this post goes live); if you're really obsessive and want to see the Facebook timelines, they're easily Googled.

There's also this complaint by "Katie Montgomery" (one of the names used by Cheryl Nunn--see above) who--oh dear, what is the world coming to--claims she got ripped off by a graphic design bid site called DiginDigin.com when she attempted to get logos for Alexis Press and All Classic Books. Thank goodness that "Abp222" seems to have had more luck at 99designs.com with logos for Alexis Press, All Classic Books, and Atlantic National Books. (Do check out the logo campaign page for Atlantic National Books, where, in a serious fit of wishful thinking, Cheryl describes her competitors as "Amazon's Creative [sic] Space, Simon & Schuster, Random House etc.")

American Book Publishing
Alexis Press
All Classic Books
Atlantic National Books
Media Book Group
Publisher Services Group
Publisher Standards Board
Madison Armstrong, "Book Publishing Industry Executive"
James Jackson Jones, "egalleys"
Kory Kessal, "CEO for Media Book Group"
Poor "Katie Montgomery"! Someone ripped her off!
Thank goodness, Abp222, second time's a charm!
    Edited 9/26/13 to add: Dodgy publishers don't like sunshine. As of this writing, Cheryl Nunn has deleted her contests at 99designs.com, and Publisher Standards Board is gone. Alexis Press, Atlantic National Books, Publisher Services Group, and Media Book Group now claim they are "currently for sale."

    Stop laughing, people!

    Thanks to Sydney Oliver for the tip.

    10 comments to Expanded Alert at Writer Beware: American Book Publishing / Alexis Press / All Classic Books / Atlantic National Books

    • Victoria Strauss

      John,

      How did you encounter American Book Publishing? To all appearances, the company is out of business, but it sounds as if it’s started up a new activity. I would love to see any correspondence you had with them. Please contact me via email: beware [at] sfwa.org. Thanks.

    • john schrock

      two months ago I foolishly paid American Book Publishing $699 to have them forward a completed book to publishing agents.
      immediately after receiving my payment, my “representative” sent an email advising “he” was leaving for another firm.
      a disappointing and frustrating ripoff. I had hoped I was smarter than that.

    • Matt Robinson

      I spent about two and a half years working as a freelance editor for ABP. I was about a year out of college and just starting out in the field, and so was grateful for any opportunity I could find. I was required to pay a fee when I took the job (although I don’t think it was as high as $880; this was five or six years ago, so I don’t remember all the specifics). All correspondence was via e-mail; I never met anyone from the company (if, indeed, there was anyone other than Cheryl Nunn) face to face, nor the author I was working with. I did receive a small initial payment for the one book I edited, but have gotten nothing beyond that, even though I was told I would earn a small portion of any net income from book sales. So, I’m not entirely surprised by these findings; but at the moment, I’m putting together a profile for a freelance job site, and now I’m not even sure if I can use my time with ABP as part of my work experience.

      P.S. Victor Seals, if you are out there somewhere and reading this, I am sorry if you have also had problems with this publisher. (The same goes for the authors who have commented here and anyone else who was taken by these companies.) I was young and just as oblivious to the truth as you were.

    • Victoria Strauss

      Hi, Susan,

      I replied to you via email. Let me know if you don’t receive the email, or if you have any questions.

    • Victoria, I like your response to Blanka, because her story is very close to my own. My book, however, is now being published on Amazon and I encourage anyone in this boat to check it out because I found it quite by accident. I had received nothing from All Classic. The problem for me is that the price is too high for an unknown author, and while my contract says that I should receive payments twice a year – in January and July – from All Classic, I doubt that will ever happen. I am just going to have to be patient. If I receive no payments what then? I already owe almost $500 to an attorney who I contacted when I first saw the book on Amazon, and they said I could contact All Classic to see if they would take a lesser payment. Well, there is no way to contact them. Not by phone, by mail or email. At any rate, thanks so much for the support and opportunity to vent. I feel bad for everyone and I don’t even know any winners in this scenario.

    • Victoria Strauss

      Blanka–

      Obligatory disclaimer: this isn’t legal advice (I’m not a lawyer).

      My personal feeling, based on tracking Cheryl Nunn and her publishing operations for many years, is that she doesn’t have the resources to enforce any kind of legal action if you were to take your book and publish it yourself. Apart from intimidation efforts (i.e., you might get some nasty or threatening emails), I doubt there’s anything she could or would do.

      However, there’s some evidence that, even though All Classic is supposedly out of business, she is publishing the books of authors who didn’t pay her off. If she were to publish your book, there’s the potential for your version and her version to be in competition with each other. You could change the title, of course–but that’s potentially confusing for readers, who might buy both books assuming they’re different and be angry when they discovered otherwise.

      Also, Amazon is much more active these days in policing unauthorized content on its self-publishing platform, so if you self-published either before or after Nunn put out a version of your book, you might run into trouble with Amazon.

      Probably the wisest thing would be to set your book aside for now (believe me, I know how painful that is). Hopefully you have a new project to be going forward with. And if a year or so goes by and Nunn still hasn’t published ON HOME SOIL, you can re-consider.

    • I am experiencing the same problems as Sue above, although my book actually has been completed. I know Nigeria isn’t popular online, but I can’t deny who I am or where I am from – a Nigerian living in Nigeria my entire life.

      I was going to start working to raise the $1200 for the ‘galleys’ they spoke of when suddenly I was served in November with a notice that ABP was being sold and I could buy back my rights for $695. I had only 2 weeks to do this, and in a nation where per capita income is less than $1 a day, there was no way I could meet that deadline. I didn’t, and since then I haven’t heard from them.

      I am tempted, since I practically have copies of everything – the edited and copyedited works, as well as the cover pages – to simply publish “On Home Soil” locally by myself or online as an ebook with Amazon, or something. Sincerely, what I need is advice on if I can or should go on with this since they have already wasted nearly three years of my writing career.

    • Sue Q. Fulton

      I have been ripped off by this company. I rec’d one editing out of the three promised, and when I informed my editor, Ann, that I had only two more chapters for adding citations, I rec’d a notice from Katie Montgomery that said they were going out of business, and I had to buy the rights to book back.

    • Victoria Strauss

      Eve–I’ve contacted you via email.

    • Eve Meyer

      I had a book done through American Book Publishing back in 2001 and I’ve been trying to find Cheryl Nunn to bring charges against her. Any chance there is a viable address and contact information for her. Thanks for any help you can give.

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