Indie Authors, Don’t Get Scammed

scammers are looking for authorsMost of my posts at Indies Unlimited are tutorials, how-tos on multiple aspects of publishing I hope to help both beginning and more experienced authors learn the tricky ropes of indie publishing.

This one is going to be different, because I’m seeing an increase in scam companies preying on uninformed and inexperienced authors. I’m an author, but I’m also a small (very small) publisher. My publishing company is a member of the Independent Book Publishers Association (IBPA). After a year or two of membership, I was invited to apply for a position on their Membership Benefits Jury. This means every quarter I’m one of several who review and vet entities who want to be listed as an IBPA benefit. For example, members of IBPA get a discount with Bowker, the U.S. site for buying ISBNs. IBPA offers many such incentives, and companies are eager to partner up.

I’ve made it through two rounds of vetting now, and with the last one I emailed my contact and said, “How blunt can I be? Because I have some serious concerns.” Continue reading “Indie Authors, Don’t Get Scammed”

How to Avoid Book Marketing Scams

Sabrina ZbasnikGuest Post
by S.E. Zbasnik

“No man is an island” wrote John Donne before getting ripped off by Simon & Garfunkle. Never is that more true than when an author is trying to get his or her book to market. It is impossible to do it all on your own from the cover, editing, proofing, formatting, and marketing. These things take not only time but also a skill set not everyone is proficient in, making them a breeding ground for scammers.

While a plethora of predatory publishers and editors exist within the pre-publishing stages, there are also a slew of scammers when it comes to marketing. What’s an author to do? You need to get the word out to drum up attention that hopefully leads to sales, and these shiny websites are offering their services to help – often for staggering fees. Requesting thousands of dollars has to mean they’re guaranteed to get results, right? Continue reading “How to Avoid Book Marketing Scams”

Et tu, Catfish? Writing with Integrity

catfish books are rampant on amazon.com fish-216132_640Recently I’ve learned about a new (to me) term: catfishing. It means someone pretending to be what they are not. In terms of selling books on the Internet, this basically boils down to someone posing as an expert in a given field, then writing short, pithy eBooks using information easily and freely accessible on the Internet (think Wikipedia) and then passing it off as a definitive guide on Amazon.

The Washington Post recently ran a very thorough article on the phenomenon. The upshot is that (1) this is nothing new; there have always been people gaming every system ever devised and (2) most of these catfishers operate at least nominally within Amazon’s guidelines with the exception of paid reviews, the thing that Amazon is really cracking down on lately. Continue reading “Et tu, Catfish? Writing with Integrity”

FOULED!: Poetry Contest Scams

#PublishingFoul Logo Indies UnlimitedIt’s not just sketchy publishers and not-so-qualified editors who prey on unsuspecting indie authors. People who run writing contests can be less than legit, too.

Even poets can be targets. Maybe especially poets. Even traditionally-published poetry is a hard sell to most people who aren’t taking a college-level English class, so there isn’t a whole lot of it out there. Poets can self-publish, of course, just like any other indie author, and they have done so for years, by contracting with press owners to print chapbooks of their work. But they run up against the same problems fiction and non-fiction writers do, in terms of getting that work noticed. The traditional avenues of wider exposure for poets – other than handing out their chapbooks to random strangers on street corners – have pretty much been limited to submitting their work to contests and/or anthologies. Continue reading “FOULED!: Poetry Contest Scams”