Smugglers Stash

Smugglers’ Stash & News

Hello everyone! A Happy Thanksgiving to all our American readers – hopefully you had a wonderful weekend with friends and family, and ate a lot of delicious food.

On to business!

Giveaway Winners:

We have a few giveaway winners to announce! The winner of our Earthsea Cycle giveaway is:

Emily Blaeser (entry #94)

The winner of our Debris Dreams giveaway is:

jlee (entry #35)

Congratulations to the winners! You know the drill – send an email to us (contact AT thebooksmugglers DOT com) with your snail mail address, and we’ll get your winnings out to you as soon as possible.

A Public Service Announcement:

This is a tough part of the stash to write, but we feel obligated to go public and write up this very unpleasant experience – not for us, but because we need to prevent others from falling prey to a very unprofessional designer.

Back in June of this year, we contacted web designer Anna Marie Moore about working on an updated design for our site. We love her work, and were thrilled when she said she was available and excited to work with us on a redesigned header, logo, and business cards. Immediately after receiving her official asking price ($260), we paid in full via paypal on June 13. Anna’s exact words regarding the timeline for the project were:

If it sounds good, then I’d just ask that you make the payment (since the total of the project is under $400, I ask that it’s paid in full), and then I can get started this weekend, and I don’t estimate it’ll take longer than two weeks to get everything done as long as feedback is done within reasonable times πŸ™‚

This sounded like a great deal to us, and we were thrilled that she could turn around the design in two weeks – our initial ask was to have the new design implemented by the end of summer.

But then the weeks started to pass. On July 23, we checked in with Anna to see how everything was going as we hadn’t had any communication from her since July 3, and still hadn’t seen any design work. No response. We waited a week to send her another email on July 30, at which point she responded saying that she was exhausted and had been sick, and hadn’t had time to do anything for our design. We of course understood and assured Anna that it was fine, we were happy to give her more time.

Weeks passed again with no communication from Anna. On August 13, we emailed Anna again to check in with her and see if she had any work she could share with us (we still had not seen anything drafted or designed by her). No response.

On August 27, we noticed that Anna’s website had a banner saying that she was not working on any designs and not accepting any new projects. This, naturally, alarmed us, so we sent Anna a message saying that we saw that she was no longer accepting design projects, and asked for a full refund.

Immediately, that same day, we received a response from Anna assuring us that she was working on our project, but things were moving slowly because she had so many other ongoing projects. She wrote:

Please let me know if you’d like me to keep you in the list, or refund the $260. I can’t tell you when I can refund the money exactly as the rent is due with our next check, but I can keep you updated on it. Please let me know what you’d rather do.

We decided to give Anna the benefit of the doubt, and wrote her back with a new firm deadline of October 8 for the new design (this correspondence all took place on August 27 – giving Anna ample time to complete the work, or provide a refund).

More weeks passed with no contact from Anna. We emailed her on October 1 to make sure that the design would be done by the 8th, but received no response.

On October 18, after hearing nothing from Anna since August 27, we decided enough was enough and wrote Anna an official ultimatum demanding our design or a full refund immediately. We also stated that if we did not hear from her by October 22, we would escalate the situation with PayPal and file an official dispute.

We received no response.

On October 24, we wrote Anna again demanding the immediate refund of our money upon receipt of the email. We officially filed a dispute with PayPal (for the record, because our dispute took place 45 days after purchase/transaction, there is nothing that PayPal can do to refund our money – but we reported her for PayPal’s own records, just in case) and also stated that we would escalate the situation further:

As we have not heard from you, we assume that you are unable to complete our design and are requesting a full refund of the paid $260.00 immediately upon receipt of this email.

We have reported this to PayPal and will escalate the situation and promptly pursue legal and/or public remedies as necessary if we do not receive acknowledgement or a full refund by 10/31/2012. These actions include publicly posting about this transaction on The Book Smugglers, facebook, twitter, and any other third party platforms to express our dissatisfaction with service and to warn any future potential customers. We have made every attempt to contact you through all possible means (via email, direct messages on twitter and facebook) and await your response.

On October 30, we received an email from Anna. She told us that things were piling up and she apologized for her lack of responsiveness. She also told us that she could not refund our money immediately because of rent expenses and asked for an extension of November 16 to refund the money.

We agreed to this and gave Anna until November 16 to refund our money. However, November 16 came and went with NO RESPONSE or refund deposit. On November 19 we wrote our final email to Anna saying that we had not received our money and that we would take next steps.

Which brings us to today, November 25, 2012. We would not have posted about this ridiculous situation publicly, except that Anna has a banner on her site saying that she is currently accepting design projects.

We know that we’ll never get our money back, and we’ve made peace with that. This post is not about getting our money back – this is a public service announcement.

We want to make sure that NO ONE else goes through what we went through.

If you are considering purchasing design services from Anna Marie Moore, we implore you to look elsewhere.

(And if anyone knows of any professional and responsive web designers, please let us know!)

This Week on The Book Smugglers:

With that unpleasantness out of the way, lets move on with our lives to the good stuff! On Monday, Ana kicks off the week with a middle grade review bonanza! Ana reviews The Willoughbys by Lois Lowry, Saffy’s Angel by Hilary McKay, and Two Weeks With the Queen by Morris Gleitzman.

On Tuesday, Thea takes over with a review of YA dystopia Renegade by J.A. Souders.

Wednesday, we kick it old school: Ana reviews a book by one of her favorite authors, Uncharted Territory by Connie Willis. And, later in the day, Thea reviews Dragon Slippers by Jessica Day George.

On Thursday, Thea reviews YA Historical/speculative fiction-steampunkish novel The Friday Society by Adrienne Kress (at long last!).

And on Friday, we close out the week as a stop on the official blog tour for Falling Kingdoms by Morgan Rhodes – we have a guest post from the author, plus Thea reviews the book later in the day. And over at Kirkus, Ana reviews the highly acclaimed second SFF novel from Nick Harkaway, Angelmaker.

But that’s not all! On Saturday, December 1, we kick off our favorite end of the year holiday festivities – SMUGGLIVUS! We’ll have an official breakdown of our guests and introduction to the event on Friday, so stick around.

Until then, here’s a little teaser image for you:

Smugglivus. It is coming.

~ Your Friendly Neighborhood Book Smugglers

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  • Kailana
    November 25, 2012 at 9:41 am

    Oh, yuck, what a horrific experience! I called in a favour for all of my blog redesigns… I hope you find a suitable alternative soon!

  • Lenore Appelhans
    November 25, 2012 at 9:57 am

    WOW. No words. I’m so sorry that happened to you two.

  • Ann Aguirre
    November 25, 2012 at 9:59 am

    Actually you -can- get your money back. I had a dispute in which Paypal claimed inability to refund. So I contacted my bank, explained what happened, and asked them to reverse the charges. They did so, and I got my $1000 back. So contact your bank or credit card provider, explain that you received nothing for your money, and they should take care of it. That will leave PayPal to collect from the web designer, and they have more resources to do this than you do.

    Sorry this happened.

  • Elie
    November 25, 2012 at 10:00 am

    Horrible situation. I hope the word spreads and there are not any more victims. I don’t understand why she didn’t just DO the design. After all those months, she had to have been able to squeeze it in. Most work can be done from bed.

    Anyways, great stash this week! Love the cover for Falling Kingdoms.

  • Michelle
    November 25, 2012 at 10:02 am

    Oh yikes! That does sound horrific. I am so sorry that you had to experience that. I know my web redesign was incredibly drawn-out and frustrating too. In fact, I did cancel a contract with one for a full refund because it was taking longer than the initial estimate. I hope this blog designer learns a lesson on better planning (and not relying on down payments to pay the rent) and that you find a new blog designer soon!

  • Wendy Darling
    November 25, 2012 at 10:21 am

    My goodness–I’m so sorry that you were taken by an unprofessional designer! Thank you so much for your PSA, hopefully it will help bloggers who are considering using this person’s services.

  • jaime
    November 25, 2012 at 10:21 am

    ugh! what a horrible experience! I’m sorry to hear that has happened to you!

    Might I suggest a friend? She’s incredibly talented and does wonderful work in a timely fashion!!

    Good Luck on getting a new design~


  • Heidi
    November 25, 2012 at 10:26 am

    Ugh, I’m really sorry to hear that this happened to you ladies and that it got to this point. I’m glad you did choose to make a PSA though as I know I myself and others have really liked her designs in the past. I can understand if a person is struggling, but when unprofessionalism gets to that point they really shouldn’t be trying to go forward with new clients.

    On a lighter note, whomever designed this year’s Smugglivus banner did a great job! How very steampunk.

  • Tara @ Hobbitsies
    November 25, 2012 at 10:29 am

    Same thing happened to me with Anna around the same time. I haven’t taken it up with Paypal yet, but those are definitely my next steps. I’ve emailed her periodically over the past few months about the refund she said she’d send (please note I also had to settle with a partial in order to get her to agree to it at all) and no response. Thank you ladies for bringing this up to everyone.

  • Sarah
    November 25, 2012 at 10:33 am

    Ugh. That’s so disappointing since her stuff is really cute. I understand your frustration since I had a nearly identical experience with The Pixelista right down to the rent comment (I suggest you avoid her services as well, though in fairness to her I should say I eventually got a full refund from her months later).

    On a positive note, Designer Blogs was amazing to work with. They were immediately responsive to questions and ideas and they have many creative designers. I highly recommend them. Good luck!

  • Michelle
    November 25, 2012 at 10:55 am

    I haven’t been around much but saw this and wanted to mention that same thing happened with me. I sent money, got no services and no refund.

  • A.S. King
    November 25, 2012 at 10:56 am

    You totally rock for the PSA, ladies.
    I had a web designer screw me out of $500 years ago and it stings. Mine was local and I paid her in person. She was in financial trouble and asked me for the final payment up early. Dumb me gave it to her. Never got a website. When I asked for it, she gave me the link to Blogger and pretended that the interface was something she’d set up for me.

    I’m sorry to hear this happened to you and I’m glad you’re warning others.

  • Emy Shin
    November 25, 2012 at 11:10 am

    I’m so sorry this happened to you and to others who’ve written it. That’s such a rotten thing for her to do. I’m glad you’re spreading the words!

  • Sarah @ YA Love
    November 25, 2012 at 11:10 am

    What a horrible experience! If you’re still looking for a good design site, I used Designer Blogs and loved working with them. They were very prompt, helpful, etc. And I like my design, too πŸ™‚

  • Laura K Curtis
    November 25, 2012 at 11:11 am

    Oh, that completely sucks. I’ve had that happen with contractors on my house, and I know someone who had it happen to her on her site (and, worse, the designer registered the site in his own name without asking her and then wouldn’t turn it over to her) but it’s never happened to me.

    I do have a great web designer currently working on my site. Very responsive and easy to work with, but not speedy by a long shot. Here’s his website:

    Feel free to email me if you want me to send you a peek at what he’s doing for me, what I asked for, how it came to be, etc, so you can get an idea of how it worked since it doesn’t yet exist.

  • Iffath
    November 25, 2012 at 11:14 am

    So sad to hear what’s happened with Anna. I adore her designs and I’m really sorry this happened to you *and* others. Le sigh.

    As you asked for designer recs, I’ve been in love with some of Jo Klima’s work over at The Darling Tree ( There’s a portfolio there and you can check out her blog, August Empress ( which I have to say has never failed to inspire me. And I’ve tweeted Jo before and she is just lovely!

  • Jessica
    November 25, 2012 at 11:21 am

    What an annoying thing, and it’s set you back months on a redesign! I have been very happy with Webcrafters. Here is a link to my business cards (and, obviously, blog)

    Good luck!!

  • KT Grant
    November 25, 2012 at 11:21 am

    For someone in business for themselves like Anna who has the audacity not to refund your money and tell a sob story over needing to pay rent and spending your money without presenting a product is beyond unprofessional. Six months of excuses?

    This PSA has been tweeted and retweeted a few times already. Word of mouth will help bring this situation to light.

  • angel
    November 25, 2012 at 11:21 am

    That story stinks about the web designer. It’s really hard to find someone you trust. I’m offering my 2 cents on my designer because she’s amazing.

    Good luck!

  • Penny
    November 25, 2012 at 11:43 am

    This is so disheartening to hear. I hired Anna on August 23rd to create a new blog layout for me. She said she was willing to give me a discounted rate, so I paid her $200.

    In the beginning, she kept saying she’d have a rough preview ready for me soon, and I never got anything, or heard anything. So I emailed her politely a couple of times, and still got “soon.” Then I followed up with another email after receiving no preview, and she never replied.

    So then I sent her an email on November 16th asking again, what the status on my order was. She actually replied that she’d have something for me that weekend to look at, and of course I got nothing.

    It’s now November 25th, and we made the deal on August 23rd. I’ve still got nothing, and I’m about to write her an email asking for a full refund after hearing about everyone else’s problems with her. I’m sure I won’t get it, but she needs to be called out on her bullshit.

    Also, for someone who’s broke, and sobbing about money problems, she sure does spend her money on a lot of frivolous crap. Always tweeting and instagraming stuff about going to movies, going to concerts, and taking trips.

    I’ve learned my lesson.
    Thank you so much for pointing this out!

  • Sandy James
    November 25, 2012 at 11:56 am

    Such a terrible experience!! I was THRILLED with Rae Monet working on my website! She’s professional, prompt, and so easy to work with!

  • Beth
    November 25, 2012 at 12:26 pm

    Signal boosted on FB and Twitter.

    I’m so sorry you guys were treated so badly by this person. Let’s hope that the news travels fast and she decides to do the right thing for all her clients.

  • Amy
    November 25, 2012 at 12:27 pm

    How terrible! I’m sorry this happened. I used Tessa Elwood for my website. She’s done a bunch of 2012/2013 author websites. She was fast and did an awesome job. Highly recommended. πŸ™‚

  • Amy
    November 25, 2012 at 12:29 pm

    The link for Tessa’s website didn’t post correctly in my last comment. It’s:

  • Melanie
    November 25, 2012 at 12:29 pm

    As a web designer,I can tell you what you can learn from this:

    1. Payment when service is rendered. Don’t pay in advance. Anyone who asks for down payments is not professional.

    2. You get what you pay for. That was a really cheap price for a genuinely custom designed logo, header, and business card. If you’re paying that little, it means one of two things. Either they are not experienced enough to charge more, or they do not intend to spend time on your project (and you will likely get some slightly modified stock art, not something custom-made). You might be able to find new designers building their portfolios who will work for less, but be careful since they are in Anna’s boat – stressed, unprofessional, flaky, inexperienced.

    I’m not saying you deserved what happened. No one does! But at least next time you will know to look out for those two particular red flags. Good luck!

  • alicejane011
    November 25, 2012 at 12:46 pm

    Thanks so much for your PSA! Her designs were cute, but it’s a pity that she couldn’t be professional about it. I hope you can find a suitable replacement!

  • Laura @ Bitch.Book.Bake.
    November 25, 2012 at 1:04 pm

    Oh my! I had a similar experience with Anna two years ago. At the time, I thought I was the only one and just assumed that I had caught her during an off moment. Her reputation had always been good (that I was aware of) and I just sort of figured that I was the only one. But now this…and these comments!

  • anonforthisone
    November 25, 2012 at 1:11 pm

    Under the headings of “it could be worse”, my organization hired an (unnamed for reasons that will become clear) web designer last year to do a complete overhaul.

    After months of frustration, shoddy work, and delays, we were finally forced to fire said designer and request a refund.

    Recently, our new (and very professional) webdesigner approached us, hands shaking, to let us know that a “time bomb” had been found in the software for the site, which was due to post a large cache of child pornography on our site.

    The police have been informed, and are investigating. Thank the good Lord that this was found before our organization was ruined irreparably.

    The moral of this story is, I guess, be VERY careful who you lend your keys…

  • Ashleigh
    November 25, 2012 at 1:41 pm

    Other blogger friends have mine have told me their own nightmare stories about Anna and it probably won’t be the last time I hear such things. I love my blog’s design as it is (sure, it’s easy to tell I made it myself, but I love it because cats), but if I ever go for a redesign, I’m not going anywhere near her. On the bright side, Smugglivus is on the horizon and I see you’re getting plenty of suggestions for other, more professional web designers you can use! I’ve looked at stuff from IceyDesigns and it all looks great. I haven’t heard any horror stories about them!

    I hope you enjoy The Friday Society, Thea! I posted my review of it last week and I had a few issues with it, but it was otherwise a great read. I’ve bookmarked a few scenes that I can flip back to.

  • Megan no h
    November 25, 2012 at 2:11 pm

    Wowowow, ridiculous! I think the part that enrages me the most, even more than the straight theft of your money, is trying to guilt you all in the process. Like, apparently her rent is STRANGERS and clients problems instead of her own. Ridiculous. Sorry this happened to you ladies!

  • Jazmin
    November 25, 2012 at 2:34 pm

    Oh my god, this is horrible! I’m so sorry you had to go through this ordeal, and another reason as to never pay all the cash upfront for anything. So sorry y’all had to deal with that, but in other news I’m SO EXCITED for your upcoming reviews.

  • Ana @ things mean a lot
    November 25, 2012 at 2:43 pm

    What a nightmarish experience! I’m so sorry you had to deal with that :\

    On a brighter note, I can’t wait for Monday’s reviews :mrgreen:

  • Midnyte Reader
    November 25, 2012 at 2:49 pm

    This totally f’in sucks and I admire you guys for bringing this to the public’s attention.

    Here are 2 designers: Parajunkee Designs.

    Blogging Bella Designs-This is the designer I have used time and time again.

  • Serenity
    November 25, 2012 at 2:51 pm

    YAY Smugglivus!!

  • Parajunkee
    November 25, 2012 at 3:12 pm

    I am so sorry to read about this experience. And then to see it repeated over and over again by people that have commented. Obviously this woman is running some kind of scam, or has taken on a lot more then she can chew. Such a shame, because I have admired the designs she has done.

  • Grace Fonseca
    November 25, 2012 at 3:28 pm

    This is terrible. This person obviously is running a scam and not providing the services she promise people. Sorry you had to go through this.

  • N. K. Jemisin
    November 25, 2012 at 3:32 pm

    Two recommendations on web designers: the one who did my site is Tony Geer. No idea about his availability, but his professionalism is spot-on. Also, Matt Kressel, in my writing group, has done some good work for various SFF sites.

    Sorry you had to pass through the Unprofessional Zone. πŸ™

  • Jodie
    November 25, 2012 at 3:51 pm

    Wow this is awful. So sorry you got done over like this. I can also rec you a professional UK company if you like (eighty3Creative), we used them for all our work redesign and I can visit them easily. I was very happy with them and they can pretty much turn their hand to anything, because they have a programmer on staff too.

  • draconismoi
    November 25, 2012 at 3:57 pm

    Actually you can get your money back. You just need to file a complaint against her in small claims court. You could also ask for additional damages (such as expenses incurred as a result of her fraud and the need to sue her).

  • Chrystal @ Snowdrop Dreams of Books
    November 25, 2012 at 4:19 pm

    Oh that is so sad to hear. I have admired her design work before, but will definitely steer clear now. I am so sorry that you had to deal with this kind of situation. πŸ™

  • Kendra
    November 25, 2012 at 4:24 pm

    You guys read Renegade? I thought it was pretty cringe-worthy. Looking forward to reading your review.

  • Cassi Haggard
    November 25, 2012 at 4:29 pm

    Thank you so much for posting this for everyone! Thus far I have done my own design (got a little bit of a graphic background in college & my first job, but still nowhere near being a true professional) but I think it’s important to keep the community informed about potential scams.

  • Annika
    November 25, 2012 at 5:00 pm

    I cannot say enough good things about Vicki at Swank Web Style.

  • Irish
    November 25, 2012 at 5:37 pm

    what a horrible story. I used Blogging Bella Designs for my new blog look. She is a lot cheaper than Anna’s quoted price plus she’s fast and very communicative. I had trouble keeping up with all her emails! She also had my new blog loaded in very quick order once the design was done. I’m very pleased with Staci’s work and highly recommend her.

  • Amanda @ Letters Inside Out
    November 25, 2012 at 5:39 pm

    This is so disheartening! I had actually considered having her do a re-design of mine.

    I was curious after reading this and googled to see if anyone else had complaints aside from in your comments..and noticed she’s listed at BBB. They should be able to assist in hopefully resolving the situation. πŸ™‚

  • danielle.
    November 25, 2012 at 6:04 pm

    Ugg, so sorry you had to go through this; what a nightmare! As for recommendations, I can’t say enough awesome things about Parajunkee Designs πŸ™‚ Hope you find a resolution soon.

  • Linda W
    November 25, 2012 at 6:21 pm

    Wow. That’s really awful. I’m sorry this happened. Glad someone mentioned the BBB.
    Congrats to the winners of the giveaways!

  • Dizneeee
    November 25, 2012 at 6:58 pm

    Ugh! Sorry this happened to y’all…and more people, too! That’s just lousy. LOUSY!!!

    I saw someone mention Lori, but I’d like to mention Hafsah at IceyDesigns. She designed mine for me a few months ago and I’m still in love with it! She actually just redesigned her own over the weekend, too. πŸ™‚

    Her website with her portfolio is here —

    Good luck on your design and whoever is lucky to get your business!

  • alli
    November 25, 2012 at 7:05 pm

    That’s horrible! I used Hafsah from Icey Designs ( and she was amazing & super fast. She actually finished mine BEFORE she told me she would.
    I’m so glad you spoke out about this. These things should be PSAs

  • Jennifer @ The Bawdy Book Blog
    November 25, 2012 at 8:00 pm

    Wow, I also admired the blogs she designed. This is a real shame, she definitely makes the list of people I’ll never do business with. Sorry you had to go through this.

    Parajunkee is a great designer, I definitely recommend her.

  • Jennifer Jensen
    November 25, 2012 at 8:18 pm

    I can’t tell if you are on WordPress or Blogger, but I would recommend talking to Lea Christine. I had contacted several other designers with no response, and Lea got back to me almost instantly. Unfortunately I couldn’t hire her since she doesn’t do full blog makeovers on WordPress.

    I have a graphic designer friend (local) that I have known for years, and we had met months ago to sit down and figure out everything for my blog. I’m still waiting for the design, and have only seen a little bit of the work she has done on it. I didn’t pay anything up front, and after reading your PSA, I will not. Especially since I’d hoped that my own would be finished by now.

    Anna Moore was actually one of my top choices, but I never contacted her because her prices seemed too high.

    As others have said, I think you can still get your money back. You have the emails, too; I cannot believe she spent your money before completing the project. That is horrifying!

  • Kate & Zena
    November 25, 2012 at 8:19 pm

    Okay, that’s just not nice, but I do agree with Melanie.

    Never pay until services are rendered, or only pay a portion of the amount agreed upon for services like this. It doesn’t make what happened to you any less unfair, but that’s something to remember next time!

  • Bookish Brunette
    November 25, 2012 at 8:34 pm

    OMG! I paid Anna to code my site back in June/July and after a few preliminary emails – I never heard back. When I demanded a refund, she said she had been “sick” and all her money was going to doctor bills and such.

    Gah. I don’t like scam artists.

  • Cassi Haggard
    November 25, 2012 at 8:41 pm

    You should ALL report her to the BBB. She already has one complaint filed with them.

    Here is the link to her on the BBB

  • MaryAnn
    November 25, 2012 at 9:53 pm

    Im sorry to hear this! We had our site re-designed with Anna and didn’t have any problems with her in the beginning. After everything got set up and was up and running she had a list of things that still needed to be finished on the blog. After repeated attempts in getting her to complete the work, it never happened and we just left it. I didn’t want to keep sending emails as it was going nowhere. We are extremely happy with the re-design but wish that she could have completed it in its entirety. As I know absolutely nothing about the coding done, we are just making do with how it is. I am so sorry that you had to go through this!

  • Jennifer Jensen
    November 25, 2012 at 10:22 pm

    It looks like her site is now down. Not sure if she pulled it, or if something else happened.

  • Pam
    November 26, 2012 at 1:32 am

    Jeffrey West is super great. He’s in design school and his prices are very fair. He’s done quite a few of my author’s for the publishers.

  • Mary-Sweet Bookshelf
    November 26, 2012 at 3:17 am

    Whoa. This is serious. Especially since she has done it to so many others in the comments. Not that I’m not sympathetic to her “rent” situation but she can’t use YOUR money to pay for it when she hasn’t provided you with what you ordered. Over and over. I don’t know why she thinks she CAN keep your money?! I’m shocked!! What a scam. Her site has been taken down so I assume she is out of business which is a good thing. If she can’t hack it because she’s been sick etc then she should have taken it down long ago. Or she was just collecting more money from poor wee souls.

  • Jen
    November 26, 2012 at 3:58 am

    Really sorry to hear you had such an awful experience with this person, and as a fellow designer I feel disappointed to be amongst someone of this unprofessional calibre. Unfortunately while we might know the principles and skills of design, many institutions fail to teach designers the business side of things. I know I’ve learnt things the hard way …

    I agree with the other commenters – you should only pay a portion of the agreed fee before commencement. Usually 50%, or less. Better yet, a sound contract will help protect both partiesβ€”but that’s not often practical in real circumstances.

    What really baffles me is why would she deliberately jeopardise losing your business? I mean, a responsible designer would treat every new client/project like it’s their baby, but you have got such a huge audience; this is a major portfolio/profile boost, I would have thought!

    I just hope your message gets across the right avenues, because this kind of behaviour is unacceptable at any professional level. We spend so much time trying to educate clients on the value of design, and it’s so frustrating when one of our own botches it up so royally.

  • Chachic
    November 26, 2012 at 6:54 am

    Sorry to hear that you’ve had trouble with that blog designer, you guys were really patient with her and I’m surprised that she wasn’t even afraid of losing you as a client. In any case, I think your current design still looks great. And that Smugglivus poster looks awesome! Looking forward to the lineup for this year. :mrgreen:

  • Anya @ On Starships and Dragonwings
    November 26, 2012 at 7:13 am

    Wow, I’m so sorry to hear about that situation… I got my design through and loved them. They’re main page is acting a little funny, but if you click through to any of the posts, you’ll see the actual site. I had a fast turn around time of only a couple weeks, and Laura was very responsive to all of my requests. You can see the final design at my website On Starships and Dragonwings, but I know that Laura can do a lot less cutesy of designs too if that is what you are looking for ;-).

  • Andria Buchanan
    November 26, 2012 at 7:36 am

    I can’t think of anyone to recommend — my hubby does my site work– but I’m sorry you got screwed.

    On a happier note, can’t wait to see the reviews you’ve got planned for this week. The books look great.

  • Marla
    November 26, 2012 at 7:53 am

    I’ve only seen the finished products, but I’ve been following Lissa ( ) on Twitter for her manga reviews, and she’s done several designs for others I follow. She’s got a good sense of style!

  • Jess @ Gone with the Words
    November 26, 2012 at 8:11 am

    I can’t believe this..I was actually in the middle of a design job with her. I contacted her at the end of Oct., she said she could have it done by the end of this month, she asked for a down payment of half the cost, which I paid, and she even sent me a preliminary look a week or so later. But I haven’t heard anything since then. I emailed her on the 19th, and again last night after seeing this, but still no word. And now her site is gone. I just put in a dispute with Paypal.

    I also wanted to recommend Paper Wings Design Studio. Cialina is really amazing. πŸ™‚

  • Beware of Web Design Scammers | penny
    November 26, 2012 at 10:33 am

    […] it has been brought to my attention, via The Book Smugglers, that I have been cheated and taken for a fool, along with several other bloggers who have hired […]

  • Amanda W
    November 26, 2012 at 1:03 pm

    Port City Digital is a very professional and responsive design company. Their clients tend to be traditional businesses, but if you’re shopping around it’s worth taking a look!

  • Luke
    November 26, 2012 at 1:26 pm

    I am a Graphic Designer with 15+ year experience, I also design websites as well.


  • Eliza
    November 26, 2012 at 2:05 pm

    How horrible! I’m so sorry that happened to you. You should definitely file a complaint with the BBB. Even if you don’t get your money back, hopefully it will let everyone else know she’s a scam artist! It’s pretty simple to do; there’s a step-by-step form online:

    In other news, I can’t wait for your review of The Friday Society!

  • Ana
    November 26, 2012 at 2:29 pm

    Thanks, everybody! For your support, for the awesome recommendations and for sharing your own horror stories. When we posted this we were not expecting to hear such similar stories about her but in a way we can’t really say we are surprised.

    And thank you for letting us know about the BBB. We filed a complaint today.

  • Lilian
    November 26, 2012 at 2:34 pm

    Oh my goodness, she is giving the graphic design industry a bad reputation. How payment is usually done is half upfront, and the other half at the completion of the project. (this is to assure the designer isn’t being “tricked” into doing work, only to have the client back out later) And a contract always helps.

    After reading her story, it sounds like trying to get rent from a stubborn tenant.

    As a graphic design major, I wish I had someone to recommend, but the graphic designers I know do websites, but not wordpress. Good luck!

  • Gwen Bryant
    November 26, 2012 at 2:58 pm

    I just had my site designed by Ayana Walker of Inner In2ition, LLC ( A friend referred her to me and I instantly fell in love with her work. She is very reasonable and replies to my emails almost instantly. I was very pleased. Hope this helps! Sorry to hear about your experience with Anna. It’s people like her that give great web designers like Ayana a really bad rep.

  • eliza
    November 26, 2012 at 5:46 pm

    oh no! i’m so sorry to hear about your experiences, that’s awful! two potential web designers for you: siteclick, and anna dorfman are both responsible, professional web designers. good luck, ladies!

  • Piglet
    November 27, 2012 at 10:48 am

    Another recommendation for the pot — Katherine Sinnott,

  • Kelly
    November 27, 2012 at 11:14 am

    That is just awful. I would be devastated if something similar had happened to me!

    If you’re still looking for recommendations, I’d check out Katelyn Brooke Designs ( She was quick to respond to my inquiry, and any further design changes I asked for. She only requested partial payment, until we had agreed on a final design together, and only asked for the remaining balance to be paid upon installation. In all, it was only about a two week process and I’ve had nothing but compliments on her amazing and colorful design!

  • Paige
    November 27, 2012 at 4:37 pm

    Dave at The Albatross Landing does great work. While he mostly works with small businesses, I’d still highly recommend him for your site.

  • Britta
    November 27, 2012 at 4:39 pm

    This is terrible! I could definitely recommend Hafsah at Icey Designs ( She does ask for a full payment before starting your design, but I can assure you that nothing like this will happen with her. She is an active blogger in addition to an active designer. She recently did my new design ( and I love it to pieces. She is super quick and professional.

  • Krista
    November 27, 2012 at 4:39 pm

    Initially, I didn’t really like that you named names in your post, but then I read all the way to the bottom and saw that she’s try to do it again πŸ™ You are very justified in writing this post.

  • Lisa the Nerd
    November 27, 2012 at 6:08 pm

    Thank you for sharing this information about the designer. I am so so so sorry for your loss of money.

  • Lena
    November 28, 2012 at 9:39 am

    I am so sorry you guys have to go through this. I, for one, will never hire Anna to design my blog and thank you guys for alerting others to her poor business practices/ethics. What a thief and shame on her!

    As far as blog designers go, Lori from Imagination Designs is amazing. I really love my blog design, and she’s such a doll to work with. Very attentive and punctual. πŸ™‚

  • PSA Update: on Anna Marie Moore Designs | The Book Smugglers
    November 29, 2012 at 7:11 am

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  • kimbacaffeinate
    November 29, 2012 at 12:26 pm

    So sorry this happen to you, applaud your professionalism and thank you for spreading the word and educating others.

  • Lizzy
    November 29, 2012 at 2:43 pm

    I’m so sorry this happened to you! Thank you so much for sharing your story. I’ll forward this on my blog/twitter so hopefully no one makes the mistake of working with her.

    I had Livia at Butterfly-o-Meters do my website design (wordpress and blogger). She was so pleasant to work with and we had over 100 emails back and forth over the course of a month, tweaking designs and making it look just the way I wanted. She requires half payment up front and the rest upon installation.

  • Smugglivus 2012: The Airing of Grievances | The Book Smugglers
    January 3, 2013 at 8:32 am

    […] How about when we were swindled by a designer out of our money (she took off with the money with no design to show) then when we posted a PSA about, it came to […]

  • Erin
    February 21, 2015 at 4:03 pm

    OMG. Thank you for posting this. I almost just hired her. After seeing this, I won’t be hiring her.

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