Self-Publishing Warnings

The New Landscape

12 December 2014

From author Russell Blake:

I just looked at the Amazon top 100. #1 is a trad pub title at $2.99. #2 is a trad pub title at .99. #3 is an Amazon imprint pre-order at $4.99. #4 is Baldacci’s latest at $10.99, #5 is Michael Connolly’s latest at $3.99, #6 is Gone Girl at $2.99, and on and on and on.

For those indie authors who have seen a marked downturn in sales since KU came in, I believe that’s only part of the story. The other is that since Amazon got lower prices from trad publishers, the price of trad pubbed books is through the floor.

Which means that the tried and true gambit most indies have been using, which is selling based on price, at .99 or $2.99 or $3.99 or $4.99, likely won’t work particularly well anymore. Because when you can buy Gone Girl for $2.99 and Connolly’s latest at $3.99, why would most readers buy your book at or around the same price?

. . . .

Readers are now being presented with a host of worthy, readable, high-quality offerings at or below the same prices indies offered their books at, eliminating the bargain perception/edge that indies learned to rely on as a differentiator.

That will translate into crap sales for many, and the effective end to many careers that relied on their work being attractive because it was cheap. In a world where everything is cheap, selling based on price doesn’t work.

Bluntly, if you as an author want to sell books in this environment, you have to do it the old fashioned way: you have to write books your audience will gladly pay for, even if a dollar or two more than the latest Michael Connolly, or Gillian Flynn’s blockbuster. That means you need to up your game, that suddenly story and craft will matter more, and that simply being cheap, with a homemade cover and lackadaisical or no editing, won’t cut it.

That’s awesome news for readers. It’s disastrous news for many indie authors.

. . . .

Now for the good news. As my prior blog discussed, more authors than ever before are earning good money as indies. So it can be done. But those authors are very, very good at delivering a reading experience their following will pay for, and they value their readers above all – they don’t put out slop, they don’t think in terms of “good enough,” and they’re every bit as demanding of their work as the harshest acquisitions editor.

Link to the rest at Russell Blake

Here’s a link to Russell Blake’s books

For those unfamiliar with him, most of Russell’s books are self-published and he writes 7-10,000 words per day.

Russell points out in a part of his post that PG didn’t excerpt that, under the deep-discount clauses present in almost all tradpub contracts, the royalties authors receive from heavily-discounted tradpub books are much, much lower than the already-low ebook royalties tradpub pays for list price ebooks.

Thus, ranking high on Amazon’s bestseller lists at $2.99 doesn’t mean nearly as much money to a tradpubbed author as it does to an indie author.

How I Gave Away Over 2,000 Books on Kindle in 3 Days Without Any Prep Work

10 December 2014

From author D.J. Gelner:

As many of you know, I co-edited an anthology of sci-fi and fantasy short stories this year with my good friend and fellow author J.M. Ney-Grimm.

The result is Quantum Zoo, a book near and dear to our hearts, and the hearts of the ten other writers who contributed excellent stories to the collection.

. . . .

You see, part of the impetus for releasing Quantum Zoo was that we wanted to get it in the hands of as many people as possible using a variety of promotional methods to see what works to promote fiction these days, and what doesn’t.

To those ends, we put the book in Kindle Select for its initial 90-day term, and figured we’d get around to setting up a free promo at some point.

Of course, life got in the way, and before I knew it, we found ourselves scrambling in September with only three potential promo days left!

J.M. and I worked tirelessly to brainstorm some ways to give more books away–after all, we didn’t want to do QZ or our fellow authors a disservice by watching a piddly 30 or 40 people download it for absolutely free!

So we came up with a gameplan that was part foresight, part improv, and a good amount of luck.

And we gave away over 2,000 books on KDP Select over the course of those three days!

. . . .

1) Get a Killer Cover

The days of “not judging a book by its cover” are long gone. For a lot of readers, a professional-looking cover is the first indication of quality in a publishing world filled with increasing amounts of people who don’t take the business terribly seriously.

. . . .

2) Choose THE RIGHT Keywords

Amazon only allows KDP authors to use 7 keywords (in addition to the keywords in the title) to promote your book in their vast search engine.

At first, it can be a daunting task–which 7 words do you choose as a new author? I remember using plot-related keywords with JWATT at first, things like “dinosaur hunt,” “Isaac Newton,” etc.

Over time, that sense of enormity has shrunken down to something more akin to “frustration.” For the longest time, it seemed like no matter which keywords I chose, there was little or no effect on sales.

In promoting Quantum Zoo, J.M. and I had a bit of an epiphany, probably spurred on in one of our brains by David Gaughran’s excellent book, Let’s Get Visible:

Make the keywords Amazon subcategories, or at least related to those subcategories.

You see, Amazon puts fiction books into a vast web of categories and subcategories. I want to say that about a year ago, they vastly increased the size of this web, with a whole bunch of new subcategories. For a while, it seemed like there was no rhyme or reason to where a given book ended up–Jesus Was a Time Traveler (JWATT) was in Time Travel, Technothrillers, and a few others for a while. Rogue ended up in “hard sci fi.”

I think it was Gaughran who advocated making these new desired subcategories keywords themselves, to ensure that your book got in the subcategories you wanted. Essentially, you get the 7 keywords, plus the 2 categories you can select in KDP, plus whatever Amazon’s algos glean from your title.

The reasoning? This is the key part of the strategy! The more categories and subcategories the book is in, the better the chance it has to appear in a given top 100 list for that category or subcategory. The more top 100 lists the book appears in, the more visible it is to people who browse those top 100 lists for their next reads.

We actually followed this strategy with Quantum Zoo–since we have a lot of different takes on sci-fi and fantasy, we have a lot of potential genres we could be in. So we listed a bunch of them out: “first contact,” “technothrillers,” etc. in addition to picking the obvious “sci-fi anthologies” as one of our Amazon genre selections.

And this is also where the “luck” portion of the strategy came in. While we recognized the utility of being in as many different genres as possible for keyword searching purposes, we didn’t understand just how important being on those top 100 lists for both paid and free purposes was until we saw the results of our promo.

The strategy definitely helped us come out guns blazing–we noticed that the higher we got on those genre top 100 lists, the more books we sold, to a point, at least.

But it’s exponentially more important to be on the top 100 lists when giving away your book for free! That’s because as a “crap filter,” even the free book hoarders will scour the top 100 lists, using them as a form of “social proof” for which books are decent, and thus “worthy” (of a free download, no less!). The more lists you’re on, the more you can put the algos to work for you, and the better the chance you have of getting downloads.

The more downloads you get, the more potential reviews you get on both Amazon and Goodreads, and the more word of mouth you might start to generate.

About a month after publication, though, when reading up on the topic a bit more, I came across the following helpful page:

Amazon Categories with Keyword Requirements

In a rare look “inside the algorithms,” Amazon essentially has given us the tools to craft titles and use keywords to drill down into some previously esoteric sub-subcategories. I’ve since tried using some of these terms in my books, and while it can take a few weeks for Amazon to index them with your book, it works.

Now that you know just how important those keywords can be, have fun looking through the list for some ideas on what words you can use to get your next book in as many different categories as possible.

Link to the rest at D.J. Gelner and thanks to Jessica for the tip.

Here’s a link to Quantum Zoo

Update from a Slightly Less Terrified Author

29 November 2014

From author Heather Hill:

For those that have been following my progress, I have news. About a month ago I left my agent – a most amicable parting – and decided to go it alone again. I won’t go into my reasons here, but will just say that there were other avenues for me to explore and as she was in the progress of moving to another company, I decided not to go too.

. . . .

Publication of The New Mrs D was agent-assisted under Amazon KDP’s White Glove Program. For those who don’t know what this is, it is a self publication platform only available to agented authors. Your book is promoted on three Amazon pages in rotation with other White Glove Program books for a period of thirty days. In return, Amazon KDP requires a 6-month or a 12-month period of exclusivity. Some authors see a spike in sales during that 30-day period, while others see little, if any, difference.  In order to benefit from this 30 days of promotion, you must sign 15% of your royalties away to your agent. I decided to give it a go.

The New Mrs D hit the UK humour best-sellers list within a day of becoming available for pre-sale. And not long afterwards, it was chosen for a Kindle Daily Deal promotion on the Australian Amazon site. For one day only it appeared on the Kindle Daily Deal home page and subsequently sold 857 copies in that day, rocketing it to no1 bestseller over all.

. . . .

This afforded me a steady income, good enough to fund more advertising, giveaways and keep me writing. So when my agent and I parted ways, I asked what would happen to my eBook rights, currently held by her previous agency, if I took them back. The answer was ‘nothing, it’s fine. They have agreed to transfer the rights to you and you won’t lose any of your reviews or sales rankings.’ ‘Happy days,’ said I. ‘Let’s do it.’
For two whole weeks I continued to plug my book, putting links in everything I wrote and even began planning a few free days on KDP. I contacted over 40 free ebook websites telling them of the dates of my promotion. Then, I tried to see my sales reports, which were originally held by the agency so I could only see them if I asked for them. Assuming they were now moved to me, I had a peek and found: NOTHING. Not one sale. Despite my novel appearing to still sitting comfortably in the Amazon Australia Humour Top 100.

I contacted Amazon, who then pointed out that I now in fact had TWO ebooks on there. The original one, still with my old agency, and a newly published one which was the one I was looking at that had no sales. I wasn’t seeing sales reports because the original sales were still going to the agency. The one I had was only visible to me. I hadn’t noticed the new ASIN number.

I contacted my ex-agent agent, who came back to me the very next day to say it was all sorted out now and very sorry for the confusion. The rights were now mine. I still had my reviews and sales rankings. Brilliant! Except… I didn’t.

The agency unpublished the original eBook (without telling me or my agent) and it crashed out of the charts, leaving me with a newly published copy that couldn’t be seen or found by anyone. I’d gone from making a modest income, which in truth was like oxygen to us, to none – at the click of a button. I telephoned the agency, naturally, to be told, ‘we’re very sorry. It can’t be undone.’

Link to the rest at @Hill4Heather.com and thanks to Margaret for the tip.

Here’s a link to Heather Hill’s book

Don’t Pay to Self-Publish

24 November 2014

From Joe Konrath:

My name is Joe Konrath, and I write fiction.

I’ve sold over a million books by self-publishing.

You probably were searching for “how to self-publish” or something similar and my blog came up.

This post for all newbie writers considering self-publishing. While it would be extremely helpful to you to take a week and read my entire blog to get a full understanding of how the publishing industry works, here’s the most important thing you need to know:

DON’T PAY ANYONE TO PUBLISH YOU.

Now you can certainly pay people to help you publish. Freelancers such as editors, cover artists, book formatters, proofreaders, and so on.

But when you hire a freelancer to assist you, you keep your rights.

That’s very important.

When you write something, you own the copyright. That’s automatic, even if you don’t register with the copyright office.

Copyright means exactly that; you have the right to copy it, to distribute it, to give it away, to sell it. You own those rights.

But if you pay someone to publish you, you GIVE THEM YOUR RIGHTS.

NEVER GIVE ANYONE YOUR RIGHTS.

. . . .

The truth is, major presses PAY THE AUTHOR, not the other way around.

I have sold books to major publishers, and was paid hundreds of thousands of dollars, and then I had to hire lawyers to get those books back so I could self-publish them. Because I make 10x as much money self-publishing as I did by selling my rights to publishers.

. . . .

Q: I saw an ad for a publisher. Are they legit?

A: Real publishers NEVER advertise. Anywhere. Ever. Not in magazines, or on Facebook, or in Google Ads. NEVER. If they advertise, avoid them.

Q: I saw a publisher at a writing conference and they have publishing packages that they sell.

A: Run away from them. Quickly.

. . . .

Q: But if I pay this publisher, they promise to get me reviews and get my book into Ingram and…

A: DON’T PAY ANYONE TO PUBLISH YOU.

Q: Why not? What’s the big deal?

A: First, they’ll take your money. Probably hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars. Then they’ll keep your rights, so if your book does become successful, they control it, probably forever.

I know a lot of rich self-pubbed authors. Not one of them paid to be published.

Link to the rest at Joe Konrath

Here’s a link to Joe Konrath’s books

Author Solutions Steps Up Global Expansion, Penguin Random House Integration

21 November 2014

From David Gaughran:

Penguin Random House is speeding up the international expansion of its vanity press operations, while also seeking to integrate them more closely with the traditional side of the business – hoping to counteract flat growth for Author Solutions at a time when self-publishing is booming.

Author Solutions launches a new self-publishing service company for the Spanish market next Tuesday – MeGustaEscribir – which contains the usual mix of crappy publishing packages and ineffective, overpriced marketing services, as well as some extremely questionable practices such as reading fees (more on that below).

. . . .

How Author Solutions Squeezes Newbie Writers

Customers are captured through a variety of deceptive means – such as fake “independent” websites which purport to review all the self-publishing options available to writers (but only compare the various Author Solutions imprints); fake social media profiles pretending to be writers or “publishing consultants” (who only recommend Author Solutions companies); and, a “bounty” to various unscrupulous parties to deliver Author Solutions fresh blood.

Obviously, Author Solutions needs to use such deceptive measures because authors who have used its services aren’t recommending it to their fellow writers. Instead, they are warning them away.

Once Author Solutions has a writer’s contact details, it moves fast – endlessly harassing them by phone and email until they cave and purchase an overpriced publishing package. When the publishing process is almost complete, an Author Solutions sales rep then contacts the writer to let them know some exciting news: they have won a fake award – invented by Author Solutions.

The catch is this. To receive the award, the writer must purchase one of Author Solutions wholly unsuitable, completely ineffective, and crazily priced marketing packages.

. . . .

Using high-pressure sales tactics, and careful targeting of the most inexperienced and vulnerable writers, Author Solutions squeezes an average of over $5,000 out of its customers, who then go on to average sales of just 150 copies (from Author Solutions’ own figures) – obviously coming nowhere close to recouping that staggering outlay, despite the accompanying overblown promises from Author Solutions sales reps.

. . . .

This new Spanish imprint from Author Solutions also continues the trend of very close integration with the local Penguin Random House operation – one aspect of the merger and subsequent reorganization that doesn’t receive any attention in the trade press.

. . . .

This strategy of closer integration was flagged long in advance. When Penguin Random House Chairman John Makinson appointed company man Andrew Philips as CEO of Author Solutions in May 2013, he said that “a new chief executive from within Penguin would connect the business more closely to Penguin’s curated publishing activities.”

This shows how central Penguin Random House views author scamming to its future. Partridge India shares offices with Penguin Random House India, and touts its connections to its parent company all the time. The other two international imprints launched since the Penguin purchase – Partridge Singapore and Partridge Africa – are also keen to highlight the Penguin Random House connection. And all three Partridge imprints disingenuously dangle the possibility of a traditional publishing contract in front of newbie authors to get them to sign with Author Solutions.

. . . .

MeGustaEscribir goes one step beyond, firmly embracing an unethical practice which had been consigned to the dustbin of publishing history: reading fees.

Heavily touted on the MeGustaEscribir site is the Recognition Program – where customers will be recommended for review by an editor from Penguin Random House Grupo Editorial.

. . . .

Here’s the really shocking part. Consideration by a Penguin Random House editor is contingent on writers undergoing an Editorial Evaluation Report by MeGustaEscribir. The only publishing packages which contain this Evaluation Report are priced at 2,899 Euro (approx $3,600) and 3,999 Euro (approx $4,970).

Link to the rest at Let’s Get Digital and thanks to Jim for the tip.

Here’s a link to David Gaughran’s books

How Readers can Avoid Buying Bad eBooks by Indie Authors

13 November 2014

From Good Ereader:

Digital Readers come in all shapes and forms. Some of them are brand new to the process of reading eBooks and just picked up their first Kindle. Others, are a more tech savvy bunch who have been reading on their smartphone, tablet or e-reader for years. We have all been looking for new books to read and stumble across numerous titles that are poorly edited, have abysmal cover art and overall are a wretched read. These certainly do not come from big publishing companies and instead are written by anyone who clicks submit on their Microsoft Word Document. As a reader, how do you avoid falling prey to indie writers and what can you do about it?

Amazon, Barnes and Noble and Kobo all have self-publishing programs where any writer can submit an eBook and have it instantly visible in their stores. There is no editorial curation or anyone vetting out books that have overt sexual themes, bestiality or are rift with spelling mistakes, or poor grammar. Unsuspecting customers are duped into purchasing them because they might have a similar name to a bestselling title, or come up in the “if you liked book X, try book Y and Z.)

Indie titles are stocked side by side alongside books that are submitted by traditional publishers. There is no way to actually vet out “books” written by indie authors and companies like Kobo say that they do not want to implement policies of segregation. Segregation is what we need, but many authors have been crying foul saying that if there is a dedicated indie author section in major online bookstores, no one would browse it. They are right.

. . . .

Indie authors traditionally rely on bargain level pricing in order to appeal to readers. The average indie title ranged from .99 to $3.99, whereas the average price of traditionally published material is $9.99 to $18.99. My advice, if you are looking for new books is try and browse from the most expensive books to the least. This might not work in all cases, but should avoid the hundreds of thousands of self-published titles on Amazon, Barnes and Noble or Kobo.

Link to the rest at Good Ereader and thanks to Richard for the tip.

Traditional Publishing vs. Self-Publishing: What’s The Best Route For Entrepreneurs

5 November 2014

From Forbes blogs:

Have you ever read a business book and thought, “I could write that,” or imagined publishing a business book that would catapult you to the front of your industry? You are in good company. Whether to help lift their business profile, get more speaking opportunities or become an industry trendsetter, many entrepreneurs wish to publish.

If you ever decide to take it a step further, you’ll likely compare self-publishing and traditional publishing as I did a few months ago. I checked in with fellow entrepreneur Dan Emery, of New York City Guitar School, who has self-published several guitar books. “I decided to use my own lesson plans instead of published lesson plans and somewhere around student one thousand, I decided to turn it into a book,” says Dan.

He was eager to design a curriculum that reflected the school’s uniquely friendly and positive approach to learning guitar that combines having fun with the science of deliberate practice. He quickly found out, however, that no publishers were interested in the book. That’s when he decided to publish it himself, which has turned into a successful endeavor for him.

When I first decided to write a book — about women entrepreneurs who are running multi-million dollar businesses — I wasn’t going to consider traditional publishing. But I went for a run with my old friend Paul Greenberg, who is an award-winning published author. He expressed outrage at my plan while we jogged along the Hudson. “You can’t to pay to write a book! You should get paid!” he admonished. I protested that I was not an actual author, like he was, and would never get a meeting at a publishing company, but he insisted I should at least try the traditional way before going the self-publishing route.

Paul put me in touch with his former editor, who was took a personal interest in my topic. She then offered to connect me with three of the top literary agents in New York. To my delight and surprise, all three said they wanted the book.

. . . .

Dan’s process was, of course, different from mine. His enthusiasm for his decision to self-publish is clearly apparent when he describes the process. “One of our students who is a Grammy award-winning album art designer designed the book; a teacher who also writes for Guitar Player magazine edited; another teacher who is an amazing photographer took the pictures; and students and teachers looked over everything and gave us comments. We printed on super high-quality paper and created not just a book but an art piece. We sold a couple thousand copies on our own through Amazon and then we signed a distribution deal with Carl Fischer Music, which enabled our book to be placed in music stores, as well. It’s now one of the best-selling beginners guitar books in America. The book has turned into a whole new business for us. We now have four books, and other schools and teachers are using our books in their classes.”

Dan’s determination to self-publish was also strengthened by his discovery that printing his own books could be very inexpensive per unit. Dan’s advice to those interested in self-publishing is to first ask the question, “What does a publisher provide?”

. . . .

But for me, it was the traditional route. Zoe set up a series of meetings for me with editors and ten days later, two of the publishers offered me a contract with an advance.

Link to the rest at Forbes blogs

The Proof is in the Proofreading

1 September 2014

From TPV regular JW Manus:

My biggest gripe with ebooks is a lack of proofreading.

. . . .

When I produce an ebook I have two hard and fast rules, Number One: squeaky clean text going into production. Number Two: the ebook must be proofread post-production. I charge people to proofread their ebooks for them, and a lot of clients take me up on it, but I’m more than happy for the writer to do it him/herself or hire a third party.

. . . .

Even though proofreading is essential, some would like to argue that they can skip it. They’ve already polished the manuscript to a high gloss, even had a professional editor have a crack at it, and, in some cases I’m sure, they are sick to death of that particular project and want to get on to something else. I get that. Been there. Even so, it’s part of being a publisher and it must be done.

Before I continue, let me explain what proofreading is NOT:

  • It’s not copy-editing
  • It’s not line-editing
  • It’s not editing at all

What proofreading IS:

  • Format checking
  • Typo searching
  • Error seeking

Link to the rest at JW Manus

You can try to be the next Hemingway — for $6,000

28 August 2014

From The Guardian:

The clock is ticking down: it’s only two months until National Novel Writing Month kicks off. Wannabe Stephen Kings and John Greens are sharpening their pencils, dusting off their ideas and booking vacation time for the month of November.

Literary agents already are bracing themselves for a deluge of mostly unpublishable manuscripts that they’ll start receiving weeks after that from authors dreaming of repeating the success of Sara Gruen, author of Water for Elephants.

But if agents and publishers turn up their noses at your deathless prose, these days you can bypass them entirely and publish independently. Indeed, Amazon reports that self-published books represent as much as a quarter of the top-selling list of titles on their Kindle e-book platform. Some authors are even opting to bypass the group of firms they refer to, somewhat disdainfully as “New York publishers”, in favor of going indie.

But if going solo gives you the chance to thumb your nose at the naysayers and hang on to more of your royalties, it comes with a big price tag. Instead of a publisher paying you thousands of dollars for the right to publish your Great American Novel – and footing the bill for printing and distributing it – you need to be prepared to fork over thousands of dollars to cover those costs yourself.

. . . .

Editing: $4,000

Most other expenses are about transforming your work of art into something that looks and feels as if it has just been handled by the same team that publishes the likes of Donna Tartt or John Grisham. You’re a professional, and your work should reflect it.

The crucial expense – and the one you shouldn’t even think of ducking if you want to have your book read and appreciated – is editing. Not just proofreading, or even copy editing, but content editing, starting early in the process.

“It’s like building a house; you don’t want to go back and tear it down and start from scratch after you realize the foundations were badly designed,” says Lisa Renee Jones, who published her first novel in 2007 and who calculates self-publishing (in conjunction with working with mainstream publishers) has helped her earn as much in a month as she once did in a year from her writing.

Expect your editor to quote an hourly rate ($50 is a good figure to bear in mind) and give you an estimate of the number of pages he or she will tackle each hour.

. . . .

Reviews: $825

There are two ways that a self-published author can get their magnum opus into a reviewer’s hands. If you’ve already decided that you’re going to make a physical book available, using a service like CreateSpace or Lulu, you can simply order author’s copies (at a small percentage of the price a regular reader would pay, perhaps $5 for a $14 book) and mail them to the bloggers who have promised to review the novel.

It all gets a little more complicated if all you have to work with is an electronic file, however. An easy option is making your book available to interested reviewers and bloggers on NetGalley, which MacLennan warns will now set you back about $400.

The alternative can chew up a lot of time and energy, though, because you’ll have to make sure that your novel is available in whatever format the prospective reviewer prefers. Telling someone who reads on Kindle that you can’t deliver for that format will be the kiss of death – as will be delivering a garbled text, with sentence breaks, capitalization in strange and unusual spaces and other hallmarks of amateurishly-formatted e-books.

Options include paying for pre-publication reviews on sites like Kirkus, which can be as high as $425, or submitting your e-book for review by bloggers at NetGalley (another $400), in hopes that those reader reviews will spur sales.

Link to the rest at The Guardian and thanks to Barry for the tip.

Scam Alert: Editors Beware

20 August 2014

From WGB:

Iwas con­tacted by a not-so-articulate per­son who requested my ser­vices as an edi­tor for an arti­cle. I looked at his doc­u­ment and found a ten-page para­graph that needed plenty of help. I wrote a polite response explain­ing that this piece would be time-consuming and expen­sive to edit, but the author seemed intent on hav­ing me rewrite it. He read­ily agreed to my price, explained his 30-day dead­line and told me he’d send a check.

If this doesn’t sound sus­pi­cious to you, it should.

Pay atten­tion and stay safe.

In a relationship-based busi­ness like edit­ing or design, a new client is almost always a referral.

“I saw the work you did for Jim Smith. I was won­der­ing if you ….”

If you pub­lish a web­site or blog, intro­duc­tions invari­ably start with,

“I read the arti­cle you posted about ….”

This client vol­un­teered no point of reference.

. . . .

Real clients want to know what they’re get­ting for their money. They don’t want to spend it; they want to invest it. In this case, the client showed lit­tle inter­est in the piece being edited. He vol­un­teered no infor­ma­tion about the type of pub­li­ca­tion, audi­ence, or intended result of the piece. He agreed to a high price with­out ques­tions or negotiation.

I work with clients all over the world. The far­ther away they are, the more likely it is they’ll pay me elec­tron­i­cally. I get paid by check about 10% of the time; the rest is PayPal. If your check doesn’t clear, my bank charges me—the victim—a $35 fee. I accept checks from trusted sources only.

. . . .

The next day, my “new client” wrote to tell me the pay­ment was on its way, but that it had “acci­den­tally” been writ­ten for an amount much larger than the agreed price. Would I be so good as to deduct my fee and send back a check for the difference?

Here’s how the scam works:

The oper­a­tor sends a fake check—one that looks authen­tic. You deposit that check and it clears quickly. With cash in hand, what do you have to lose? You send the oper­a­tor his “refund” (less your gen­er­ous com­pen­sa­tion) and move on with your life. Weeks later, the bank detects the fraud and pulls the money out of your account. You’re offi­cially hosed.

I politely explained I’d be happy to return the check and wait for a new one to be cut for the cor­rect amount.

Link to the rest at WGB and thanks to Elka for the tip.

PG encountered this same technique when he was selling an item on eBay. It didn’t work on him either.

Next Page »