Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Sandpiper Publicity: the Albee Agency Returns

Posted by Victoria Strauss for Writer Beware

Readers of this blog may remember The Albee Agency, a so-called PR firm run by one Mike Albee, which posted fake testimonials from well-known authors and was outed by me and others. Read the whole story here.

Well, it wasn't too long after that shitstorm of negative publicity that Albee disappeared. However, like many con artists who pull up stakes when their deception becomes too widely known, he couldn't kick the habit. Selling high-priced services of dubious value to inexperienced writers who can ill afford them is just too easy and lucrative to resist!

So, sporting a shiny new website and a new business name, Mike Albee has reincarnated as Sandpiper Publicity.

How do I know this, you may ask? Well, Sandpiper's website is not identical to Albee's. But it shares many of the same red flags: a claim of years in business contradicted by the website domain's February 2013 creation date; claims of media contacts and success with no specifics; campaigns that rely on cheap (for Sandpiper) and/or spam PR methods (with fees, based on documentation I've received, in the $2,000 range); and zero verifiable information about staff.

That's not conclusive, of course. The Internet is littered with dishonest and amateur PR firms that charge a premium for services that are worthless or that authors could easily accomplish themselves.

But as sometimes happens when dodgy businesses engage in name-changings-of-convenience, Mike forgot to keep his deceptions straight--or assumed that no one would put two and two together. Here he is, connecting himself to Sandpiper Publicity:


Here he is again. And again. And yet again, spamming blog posts. Writers who've approached Sandpiper also report being contacted by a woman named Lura Dold--who previously worked for The Albee Agency. (Actually, Lura Dold is Lura Dold Albee, Mike's wife.)

A couple of other notes: Sandpiper says it's a member of the Book Publicists Marketing Association, an organization that doesn't appear to exist (though there is a Northern California Book Publicity & Marketing Association). Elsewhere, Sandpiper claims to be a member of the Publishers Marketing Association--an organization that does exist, but for some time has been called the Independent Book Publishers Association.

Adding these indications of unprofessionalism to the warning signs I listed above, there's plenty of reason to be wary of Sandpiper Publicity--even if it weren't run by a man with a history of deception.

Thanks to Dan Smith of Smith Publicity for the tip (Smith details his own run-in with Mike Albee, who apparently plagiarized much of Smith's website, here).

9 comments:

Nancy Beck said...

He outs himself.

Stupidity knows no bounds.

Deborah White said...

Thank you for looking out for newbie writers by posting this important warning!

Gdub said...

Thanks, good warning here. Looked at the FB page and it says they just got a Time Magazine article for one of their clients. Doesn't say who, of course. Or when.

Victoria Strauss said...

If they got a Time magazine article for one of their clients, I'm the Queen of England. And you know THAT's not true.

Petrea Burchard said...

I like to think I wouldn't be fooled this, though you never know. Even so, I always love your posts.

widdershins said...

May they continue to be stupid, and forget that EVERYTHING is public on the interwebz.

MD Anderson said...

I seriously was anxious to go with this company. Yes, I did get a quote for $2,000 monthly. The reason I searched more into the company was because the address requested to send the money to was a residentail address. I googled up a 3,565 square foot home with 3 beds and 2 bath. That made me nervous, then I came across your information. I'd rather my hopes be dashed away then the money I couldn't afford to lose.

Anonymous said...

I just received a proposal from Sandpiper at $3000 a month. Decided I should do some research and do not like what I am reading. Mike came across so well on the phone. And so genuine. I am stunned and very disappointed in my own ability to discern. Thank you for your vigilance.

Rutger Kuiper said...

You're not alone... It's about time these people are going down.

Thomas Wictor decided to do so:

http://www.thomaswictor.com/my-two-favorite-con-artists-2/