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Ripping Off Indie Authors: Let Us Count the Ways

20 July 2013

From Indie Reader:

Three years ago, when no one took self-publishing seriously, indie authors only had to worry about being ripped off by a vanity press, and that’s only if they were silly enough to sign with one.

. . . .

Then BAM! Authors began selling hundreds of thousands of books, The New York Times started including bestselling indie titles next to those by James Patterson, and hucksters started coming out of the woodwork like cockroaches, realizing there was money to be made off self-pubbed authors, especially those with ebooks in tow.

And so greed set in.  Let us count the ways.

. . . .

2. The so-called website “expert” who gets hired by an author to build and run their site. So far, so good. Until the writer transfers their service to said “expert”, only to find out that the person they hired is taking a night class in WordPress and charges hundreds of dollars to fix something that she never could.

Realizing this, the “expert” gives the author 48 hours to move their entire site somewhere else. Oh, and no refunds.

3. The person who hangs out in author groups looking for those not smart enough to grab the domain name of their dreams…you know, the one they’ve been using to brand themselves and their books. When the author does decide to start their website, low and behold, someone bought their domain name and guess what? The author now has to pay that person before he can use the domain name that matches his branding.

Link to the rest at Indie Reader and thanks to Mira for the tip.

Advertising-Promotion-Marketing, Self-Publishing

19 Comments to “Ripping Off Indie Authors: Let Us Count the Ways”

  1. #3 is simply a savvy business person recognizing an opportunity and profiting from it.
    Domains aren’t free and there’s always the risk that no one else will want to buy it from you once you own it.
    All that being said, the amount of the mark-up could quickly turn this business into sleaze and an attempt at exploitation.

    • Completely disagree. If that happened to me, I would tell the “savvy business person” to go fuck himself, simply as a matter of principle. He’s inserting himself as a middleman without adding anything of value.

      • That would be your choice, and I do think I can be easily swayed to your way of seeing things due to the innate sleaziness of some people.
        Nevertheless, the opportunity is there for profit, and thus, profit will be made.
        Depending on what the domain is, it may be cheaper to pay this self-made “middleman” than it is to lose out on the profit that a certain domain could make you.

    • It’s called “squatting” and ICANN has a complaint section for that very purpose. People used to buy domains like “Michaeljackson.com” and then offer them to his people for thousands of dollars. You can’t do that anymore.

      Any author who could prove that someone bought a domain specifically to extort money from him/her could probably win a case against the squatter.

      That being said, I bought The Catmage Chronicles domains before I published my book. But I have over a dozen years as a web manager, blogger, BBSer, and all around web-savvy person and I know how these things works.

      • I just checked a few big Indie names and someone wants $799.00 for the domain HMWARD.com
        I take back everything I said.

        • See how the market changes in a year when the new gTLDs come in. But there’s going to be a big bunfight over the “.book” one (and “.author” too)

          • .book and .author aren’t going to make any inroads over .com. People have utterly fixated on .com.

            Perhaps for book trailers, but it’s going to be tough. So many books have the same titles. And so many authors have the same last names.

            Yeah, it’s going to be fun.

  2. The ones that tell you to pay for a list of book buyers, or the ones who sell a marketing package that costs $2,400 to tell you how to do free social media marketing.

    Just a few I’ve seen in the last 48 hours.

  3. “Three years ago, when no one took self-publishing seriously”

    I did. 🙂

  4. Since she provides no links, I’m suspicious about whether some of these people really exist. It seems like too much effort to hang out in author forums and steal domain names that might not have resale value. Especially these days when alternatives can easily be found.

    The “all about Eve” hanger-on who will ride your coattails when you’re rich and famous? Let me get there first and call me. I’ll tell you if that happens.

    The only ones I’ve seen are the promotion/marketing experts who recycle the same advice, and whose credentials are limited to the marketing books they’ve written. In other words, they have no experience marketing books that aren’t self-help / marketing books.

    They’re on a par with agents who lecture on how to write best-selling books. Their advice sounds good, but a look at their client list makes you wonder just how effective they are.

    The highlight of chutzpah I’ve seen was a book years back called something like “the shortest route to publication,” in which the writer, based on one failed novel, gave advice on writing fiction.

  5. Fortunately, we own a web host company, so I know it’s a great idea to register a domain name BEFORE mentioning it to anyone, and do so for my series/other pen names as quickly as possible.

    Then again, I charge a few hundred dollars to install, customize, and teach a client how to use WordPress (plus, I’m on call for any problems that develop or any future questions, no charge). But I have been using it for over 6 years, so am something of a *gagcough* “expert”.:)

    The rest of those things are the reason I only pay people I have some history with, and know that I can trust.

    They forgot cover designers who charge $100-$500 to put together a couple of stock images–and no, I’m talking about those who make amazing covers using stock images or who draw/paint/otherwise create one of a kind covers. 🙂

  6. The writer of this article really has an astonishingly low opinion of indie writers. What a appallingly patronising rant.

  7. Terrific article. The “rats” are just starting to crawl out of the woodwork to look for writers to exploit.

    This is going to continue, and it’s going to get worse.

    The more information like this can get out there, the better.

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