I recently became a USA Today bestselling, something I’m very proud of. But in the process, Wid Bastian, an alleged marketer, stole more than $20,000 from me and other authors I worked with.
That’s not okay.
(I have no concerns about what follows because the truth is the best defense. Here goes.)
The idea was…
cross market between 17 authors, our fan bases, our newsletter subscribers (some of these authors have 30,000 subscribers!), buy ads, AND – this is big – get a few big charities to work with us: we’d give 100% of the preorder money to the charities if they advertised our book to their donor list (that’s tens of thousands of people, gang).
So… we did.
The charities, contacted by authors in the group, advertised our books to their donor list.
The authors cross marketed.
We tweeted and posted and a bunch of other stuff, to build a critical mass to get our books the recognition necessary to sell enough copies to make the USA Today bestseller list.
We worked hard.
We helped others who had less experience.
The set manager/marketer, as far as we can tell, did very little. (That’s Wid Bastian, who we now know has several aliases like Widstoe Bastian, Widstoe Bastion, Bastian Widsoe, and others; his co-conspirators and others used to work for Genius Media and now work for Kairos Phoenix, but there could be dozens of shell companies, so you have to stay alert. According to MyLife, Wid Bastian has a consumer safety rating of “bad.” The site shows multiple red flag warnings indicating
Widstoe Bastian “DOES have arrest or criminal records” and
“DOES have lawsuits, liens or bankruptcies.”
This isn’t sour grapes. We EACH paid $750 for ads to promote our books. 17 x $750 = $12,500, which was to buy ads and pay expenses. We made a TON of royalties in a short period, adding up to over $20,000 combined.
But apparently, Wid Bastian had other ideas for him and his co-conspirators. It seems
they decided their expenses were magically going to equal JUST a little more than the total of ALL the fees the authors paid AND ALL THE ROYALTY MONIES EARNED.
THEY KEPT ALL THE MONEY.
They kept the fees. They kept the royalties. They kept the money the promised to charities.
All of it.
Well, gang, in my opinion, that’s just fraud.
(Seems the Florida Attorney General agrees with me, too, as does the AG in half a dozen other states.)
The contract says he can’t keep all the money.
But it gets better! Before he told us that lie, he kept telling us he needed to file a report or get with an accountant to make sure the numbers were right, DELAYING the payment deadline.
That’s a big old red flag.
Then, on the DAY OF deadline, he said his company got acquired that day and he was really busy. Like, he tripped of this acquisition in the dark – whoops! how did that acquisition get there? – and had no idea it was about to happen. Because that makes total sense. (I’ve done a few acquisition when I was at a Fortune 500 company working my way toward President’s Circle. Acquisitions just happen out of the blue! Uh huh.)
Here are some other fun facts.
Wid has engaged with dozens of other authors, writers and filmmakers, pulling the same scam.
We aren’t stupid.
Criminal complaints have been filed by more than half a dozen state Attorney Generals regarding the founder of this company, Wid Bastion and his aliases, formerly of Genius Media. The IRS has been contacted, as well as the FTC and FBI, as well as a criminal attorney who instructed us to file certain notices to Wid via email and certified mail…
My advice is: DO NOT do business with this company. Duh.
How Wid and his scammers operate:
In early 2019, Wid Bastion and his associates via Genius Media targeted authors, entering into contracts with more than 17 individual authors for book marketing services, and defrauded each of them, as well as defrauding at least two charities he encouraged them to use as network partners. Wid violated the terms of his agreements, paying none of the more than $20,000 in fees and royalties generated from these contracts.
Allegedly, Kairos Phoenix company took over “Genius Media” on the very day that the checks were due to the set participants. Wid Bastian gave numerous excuses for delaying the payments, in what appears to some to be a Ponzi scheme. His plan appears to be to create a company, bilk the customers out of their royalties and fees, and then fold the company and create a new one.
BEWARE. Widtsoe Bastian is 59 years old and was born on 04/06/1960. Widtsoe Bastian lives in Providence, UT; previous cities include Saint George UT, Las Vegas NV and Reno NV. Sometimes Widtsoe goes by various nicknames including Widtsoe T Bastiam, Widstoe T Bastian, Bastian Widtsoe, Wid Bastian and Widsoe Bastian. He currently claims to work as a Publisher, Editor and Writer at Genius Media, Inc., and now Kairos Phoenix company.
Wid Bastian’s scheme appears to involve sending UNSOLICITED letters to authors, writers, and filmmakers stating “My name is Wid Bastian and I own Genius Media, an eBook promotion company. I’m reaching out to you today because you are a well branded Indie author. Your (genre) books are fantastic! I wish that I had time to read all of them. I have peeked at a couple, read reviews of your work and scanned your author bio…” However, Wid Bastian has repeatedly been labeled on K-Boards as someone authors should stay away from.
His form letter appears to contain “positive” references from at least one author who is suing him for breach of contract and fraud.
There are a LOT of people who will rip you off in this business. You have to be careful. I wasn’t.
I achieved USA Today bestseller status because I networked and cross marketed with 16 other authors and two charities. We aren’t sure Wid bought ANY ads.
We actually aren’t sure what “marketers” Wid Bastian did – except keep all our fees and royalties.
The fees were supposed to be an investment to buy ads and pay the salaries for managing us, but they kept OUR ROYALTIES, which we were supposed to get – and there were a LOT of royalties!
He kept it ALL.
So, in my opinion, Wid Bastian is a piece of shit, and so are his cohorts. Avoid them, and tell your friends to avoid them.
He offers to give you something you want – USA Today, networking, interaction with other authors who sell tons of books, better exposure – but you can do that without him (as we did), and without losing a lot of money to a thief.
How to protect yourself:
Hey, Google any marketer you think about using. Ask friends. 99% of the time that will tell you what you need to know. K-Boards had a TON of warnings about Wid Bastian, by reputable authors who asked questions no one could answer.
Usually, the thief wins because they take advantage of people’s good natures and the embarrassment and shame that comes from being ripped off.
Ha! Not in this case! I have no shame. And I have author friends who I will protect from you.
Wid, you ripped me off. I’ll do my best to make sure you don’t rip off anyone else.
I’ll get satisfaction on my terms.
This post is just one small, itsy bitsy step.
Oh, and by the way, I was able to TELL the piece of shit Wid Bastian weeks ago on Facebook that I was on to him and that I knew he was a thief. (That felt good.) He replied, which means he read the comments I made calling him out. Each reply was basically a delay tactic – a request to be nice and give him more time, like this one, which came in an email after he’d had enough of Facebook (I cut some parts out to keep it to the relevant stuff):
I have fully explained to you what’s going on. Everything I’ve said in my posts is 100% true. You have no reason to believe otherwise. What you’re doing now is inappropriate and will help no one…
Why will you not give me a few days to get all of this done? I am not asking for weeks, just a few days… I’ve been in this business for years.
Please calm down and give me a few days. This will be handled.
Wid Bastian, Piece Of Shit
(I added that last part after his name)
A few days later, he stopped replying to all of us – and about 10 days after, that
we got an email saying his salary ate up all the fees and royalties.
Who could have seen that coming?
Oh, we did.
So, we’re going through the channels to stop this thievery, and you can help by reblogging, posting this on social media, etc., so whenever anyone does a search for Wid Bastian, this is what comes up. The courts and state Attorney Generals will do the rest, but sharing this info with your friends might keep them from wasting time and money with a thief.
BTW, I have not lost one bit of sleep over this. I gambled and lost, and I’ve sought legal representation to ensure Wid Bastian is stopped. So have at least 25 other victims of these assholes.