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Five Common Writer Scams — Explained

23 August 2012

From Duolit:

 Most authors want to make a profit on their books. Unfortunately, some people don’t care about booksand simply want to make a profit from the authors. Here are five of the most common scams. We’rerecreating their pitches,exposing the truth behind the con, and offering questions to help you avoid these fraudsters out in the wild.

. . . .

The Marketing Guru

This publicist must be a social media superstar! He promises Twitter followers, mentions on a dozen blogs, a well-publicized interview, press releases, and genuine Amazon reviews. It’s really expensive, but with coverage like this, you should make back your money in no time.

What  They’re Not Telling You:

Bear with us. There are a few parts to this one:

Short of actual sales, many marketing results can be faked or inflated. Any publicist can claim to increase your Twitter followers by a thousand. It will cost about $14. But it’s not actual, meaningful engagement. And those dozen blogs? They might be paid for their positive (or scripted) reviews. Check the Klout scores of any publicist before paying. Klout isn’t a perfect measure of engagement, but you’ll seeif those thousands of followers are more than empty profiles.

Besides faking data, some marketers will charge for free services. Now, if you’re technologically challenged, there’s nothing wrong with paying a few dollars for someone to set up your accounts for you, if you know you can get it for free. But setting up a Twitter hashtag, posting a press release to free databases, these things shouldn’t be hidden behind fancy doublespeak. Don’t be afraid to ask about specifics.

Lastly, who is the target audience? It doesn’t make sense to promote your book to hundreds of other selfpub hopefuls. They’re in the same boat. They might buy a copy of your book, but they’re far from the ideal audience. And you can’t make any money selling to sock puppets, empty accounts, or other broke authors.

Link to the rest at Duolit


6 Comments to “Five Common Writer Scams — Explained”

  1. The challenge for writers is the same for all business people: we want to do our business (writing) not marketing. It’s very tempting to hand it off to a specialist.

    I’ve found someone who helps me with my marketing, but won’t do it for me. She is a writer too, so she understand I need to have time to write, but she doesn’t let me wiggle out of doing it.

    If you are interested, her site is http://raynfall.com/

    I use her for the ala carte services.

    • I’ll have to take a look at Raynfall. It looks like it’s relatively affordable, which would be a great help to new Independents who have yet to break out.

      Thanks for the recommendation.

  2. When you are new, you are very tempted to jump in hoping for great results. I confess, I tried some advertising and it did not pay off. I tried the banner on Kindle boards, lousy results, but I was too new to realize that mostly authors hang around Kindle boards. Never do it again. I tried Kirkus book review. In my opinion, it was worthless. (I realize, Darcy Chang gave it thumbs up, but not me) If I try something in the advertising arena it is only for small bucks, up to $5 and as a test trial only.
    I started many endeavors in the past, and I paid my dues. Indie publishing is new to me, so there is a certain learning curve. Every time, I have to remind myself of this rule of thumb:
    Invest Your Time Before You Invest Your Money
    That’s why I read Passive Voice blogs.

  3. I had sort of figured this one out myself, but it was nice to see it in the full article: editing should NOT be a one-size-fits-all service, with a cost per page or per word.

    All editing jobs are not even remotely the same, even when you take into account the difference between story editing, copy editing, and line editing (and proofreading).

    I will admit there is a need for an editor, but that the author should learn to do most of it, and that rates for editors should take into account the quality (for want of a better word) of the manuscript/writer.

    Good to know that’s what has been bugging me about most of the services I’ve seen advertised: non-specificity.

    I will feel comfortable asking for estimates and references, and plan to spend appropriately for test edits to see if I can work with a particular editor.

    The page/word method just doesn’t sound right – all manuscripts of 100,000 words don’t need the same work, nor should they cost the same to edit.

    Without some kind of control, ahead of time, on editing, I can see this as a well that could take a lot of money to fill.

    • Editing is definitely not one-size-fits-all. While it’s nice to be able to give one a basic gauge with which one can estimate costs, it can have a considerably negative side effect–namely that the work in question needs more attention than average.

      That’s why when I offered editing services, once upon a time, I always provided a sample edit of 10% or 2,000 words (depending on story length and type of edit requested). I used that sample to help me gauge roughly how much to charge the client and what sort of edit they needed (when they weren’t sure). By doing so, the client gets to see the quality of the edit and I could give an accurate quote.

      I’d always skim through the whole thing to make sure that the portion I was sampling was representative of the whole so that I wouldn’t fall into the pitfall of charging for substantially fewer hours than required. I never charged for more hours than I actually spent editing.

      I eventually folded the business, though. Most independent authors don’t like hearing that their 800-page magnificent tome will cost $2,000 to edit. Now I just do basic proofing for a couple of my friends in exchange for kind.

  4. This is a great article! People need to be warned! I like how she quickly and clearly covers a bunch of scams.

    Very cool. 🙂

    p.s. Although I wish she had mentioned Big Name Publishers’ Vanity Publishing Divisions.

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