“Buyer Beware” is a saying that has new meaning to me now, let me tell you a story…
Hello! I’m sure you’ve heard a version of events that makes it look like I’m stealing. I’m not.
Let’s go over what I got, and what I paid for, and why exactly I disputed the charge with the credit card company.
On April 2nd I bought the ‘Book Launch Boost service’ from creativwriter.com for 250$. What was supposed to be included?
50 verified reviews
Multi-step Author Platform review
5 Marketing mockups
I was pretty excited about this purchase. I was launching my latest book and wanted to get it out there.
Before purchased I had been in twitter DM contact with Erin Kirchner, aka BookmarketingDiva and had asked a few questions. One of the main was how did this not violate Amazon TOS as Amazon can be highly touchy about this.
I was told this:
You would change the price to $.99 for 2 weeks for our purchasers. If you’re unable to change price then we allocate $50 towards verified and make the rest unverified.
We don’t violate TOS because we are hiring readers that purchase your book directly and are not affiliated with you.
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They get a gift certificate from us only after a review has been completed and posted.
There’s s big difference in buying reviews which Amazon depicts as “review farms” – same individuals owning all the accounts – and what we do.
Compensation would mean that we actually make money which we don’t. It’s an in and out transaction.
Let’s keep that in mind shall we?
So I purchased… And then was told it would be three weeks due to ‘high demand’ before they got started… Ok, not super happy but ok. A few days later I got an email from a firstname.lastname@example.org asking for the book title. I had been pretty sure I had given it, but gave it again. It was a nice normal conversation.
I’ll be honest, I was impatient. I emailed them a week later asking if the wait was still three weeks. I was trying to get a firm launch date as I was having the audiobook made and wanted to try and coordinate the release of the audiobook with the upcoming reviews, which if you’re a writer makes sense.
I got back a response, a bit curt saying yes, but they wouldn’t’ actually give me a firm start date, just ‘at the earliest the 25th’ which was a bit after three weeks truthfully, but I jotted down that date.
The 25th of April came and went, and still nothing.
I wrote another email (still polite, just asking for information. I’ve paid them at this point, right? I’m a client, I’d think an actual professional would know that…but I digress.) Asking when it would start. I had expected the 25th, and honestly had overlooked the ‘at the earliest’ part of that email when I had jotted down the date. I got a even more curt email in response stating it was all an estimate, and they’d let me know when they started.
So then… The 29th came around, and I got an email saying they started! Yay!
Something weird happened.
I got this spike of ‘sales’ on the following Sunday… 26 sales, but I got no credit for them. Really strange. Amazon has been known however to lag on things, so I waited… And watched. Looked for reviews… waited and watched. Days pass. No reviews, and no money. I did email Erin asking how the sales had been done, as it wasn’t acting like a normal sale, and she did write back, but it was a non-reply as in she didn’t answer the question. Mostly she just told me that book rankings on Amazon don’t matter. So I wrote Amazon an email asking about the sales.
Lo and behold I got a response back, they were gift purchases. Wait, what?
If you remember the conversation above you will note that I was told that only after the reviewers purchase and POST a review are they reimbursed, and that’s clearly not what’s going on. So I emailed them again, the Leah/Erin team, and was told nothing. Nothing as in they didn’t respond.
At this point I get curious… I start looking into Leah Hart and Erin Kirchner.
1) Leah claims to be an author with lots of books for sale
2) Erin claims, nothing.
So I go looking, and see that Leah Hart while she claims to have a great many books for sale, in fact has a handful, several very poorly reviewed, and hardly any overall. And in fact at least based on her website, all these books she’s launched.. I can’t find evidence of them really existing anymore (if they ever did.)
The picture she uses for media, is the back of a head, that’s not her. It’s a prom hair picture from 2015. As in ‘Look at these great options of awesome hair at prom!’ click bait picture. Google image search is a great thing. So I do a bit of digging on the websites themselves, websites registered to a law office in LA? The phone numbers are all disconnected (and in Arizona.) Curiouser and curiouser.
So at this point I just ask where Leah’s books are as I was interested in one (I actually was.) I got no response again. See a pattern?
A few more days pass, and I write them again, asking where the mockups and platform review were.
The one day (with no other communication) I get an email with a drop box! My mockups! I was happy to get something, and thought “Maybe I’m just being paranoid, it should be fine.”
I really liked the mockups, and mentioned so to another author. Lo and Behold, I discovered they were totally free templates. Hmmm. Then Leah posts a periscope with her doing my mockups, and it took her all of 11 minutes. Note, her laptop is a very old MacBook, missing keys, this is important.
So the mockups cost her 11 minutes of time, and nothing for the templates. Not exactly overly professional, but ok. Not worth 250$. To date this is the ONLY thing I’ve ever gotten from them.
Then she (Leah) posts a supposed screen capture from createspace showing her with a monthly royalty of 72 grand. Yes, 72 grand. Remember what I said about the laptop.. and on top of it, it’s a bad photochop.
(all rights to this image are via @leahhart
Doesn’t add up does it?
So I talk to a few other ‘clients’ of theirs, and find out people before me have been asking the same questions, and still, not gotten answers. Those who have gotten their platform reviews aren’t for the most part happy with them (seems to be a bunch of questions asked in variations with the same answers over and over.. basically Hire Creativwriter to do this for you.)
The mockups were done with free templates and took 11 minutes.
And people have been waiting much longer than I for reviews, and still haven’t gotten them.
What takes the cake (as I’m seeing, and expected.) is that if you want off this, if you question, you get publicly attacked. Which also is so very professional of them.
I don’t believe Leah is a real person truthfully.. I believe she is an alias, a pen name. I lean towards the idea that Erin isn’t real either. There’s also a Kendall Sparks name, that’s an alias. I am pretty much sure the real person is Stacey Keene. No I don’t have hard proof, just suspicions, with some circumstantial evidence. I’m working on fleshing this out.
I have sent them an email offering to pay 50$ however. 25 for the mock-ups, and 25 for the fake gift purchases.. I’ll update when they respond.. if they do 🙂