Guest Blog by V.M. Sawh
As Indie Authors working out in the dangerous black ops field of self-publishing, you will, from time to time encounter certain third-parties which will pose as liaisons between you- the author-operative, and your intended target- the book-buying public.
These third-parties will attempt to coerce you into parting with your top-secret information, your “stories”, in exchange for promotions, positive reviews, and higher exposure/legitimacy on an international stage. They will seek to exploit your lack of knowledge by presenting themselves as credible sources and experts in the area of making authors into superstars.
All it takes is CASH.
Now, we know that CASH is what greases the wheels in the advertising world and that all successful authors have it. However, know that if you have to cough up the CASH to pay for editorial services from the same place that offers to publish your work - you’re being shafted.
Case #1 - IUniverse Vanity Press
This type of spy will have comprehensive and detailed lists of services they offer including manuscript evaluation, editorial services, multiple formats, design services, production, marketing, and bookselling services. They will promise you the world to get their hands on your work. Of course, they will charge hundreds and thousands of dollars to not only prepare your work, but also have it reviewed and placed in the hands of Hollywood directors. The latter alone costs $860 USD and goes into the network of the film company THRULINE ENTERTAINMENT. Authorhouse has a similar program which will cost you $16,299.00. If you have this CASH stored in a Swiss bank, be sure to leave the account number with us for safe-keeping;)
Be warned, once you provide IUniverse with your contact information, they will go to Page 1 of the Cobra Commander’s Dating Playbook and harass you via phone, email, and text until you say yes. Yes to what? Yes to ANYTHING. You may be forced to go off-the-grid for a few years to avoid them.
Counter Strategies: Avoid, Abort, and use “No Speaka Any English.”
Case #2 - Orangeberry Virtual Book Tours
This virtual book tour operator is just one example of these scam operations where the list of sites they say they’re going to take you to are actually just dummy shell sites that they’ve put up to cheat you out of your CASH. They have been apprehended and are currently under interrogation. Initially they promise to take your work on a virtual tour lasting anywhere from a few days to an entire month, with up to 50 sites visited. Now many other book tours will promise the same thing, so you need to pay attention to the counter strategies.
Counter Strategies: Investigate each and every single site on their blog tour before you sign up. Make contact with the moderators and make sure the blogs are both active and interactive. If it seems like a palette-swapped collection, then it probably is.
Case #3 - Fiverr’s $5 For 5* Reviews
So tempted will you grow for any kind of validation from the outside community, that even you, yes you - the paragon of integrity - will be tempted to dip into the Fiverr waters for Guaranteed Goodie.
What is this, you ask? This is where you go from being Secret Agent Author, to Double-Agent of Deception. You slide over to Fiverr’s website, type in ‘book reviews’ and kiss your scruples goodbye. Do this and the S.I.A. will disavow all knowledge of your existence. You will be placed on the list with such big names as John Locke and Melissa Foster, who have all purchased Guaranteed Good reviews.
Of course, you bring up Kirkus… yes, that agency has pulled off the swindle so long they’ve gone straight. Now you pay for the honor of being told your writing is… sub-par. A Kirkus Review is like the Nuclear Weapon of the Author world. No one knows you have it until you announce it to the world, then everyone wonders how much you paid for it and fears when you’ll drop it in casual conversation. The answers there are… $425 standard, $575 express and whenever you like.
By comparison, that Fiverr is a bargain, at least they’ll lie to you.
Counter Strategies: This is where you must resist, resist the urge, the desperation to give in. Surely you have $5 in your pocket! If you do and you feel the need to give it to a college student to lie to you about your writing, then we ask that you reach in, dig out those dollar bills, and give it to some nuns.
Note from Ann:
The above is not to discourage you. But at SIA, we want you to know that the self-publishing world is a dangerous one -- one that will take advantage of you without thinking twice. But you can avoid all of this by dipping into the resources that Support for Indie Authors offers.
Why do we do this? Because we saw a need and we filled it. Simple as that. I cannot speak for the rest of my Moderators (who are amazing, aren't they? Send them a thank you note next time you think about it), but for me, this is my passion. I want to help and protect indie authors.
And that's why we're not going to pull any punches. It's like rebuking your child for almost running out into the street. Even though it upsets them, it's necessary to protect them. (For those of you asking: Did Ann just compare herself to a parent and us to her children? Yes. Yes I did.)
But there is good news! Along with information about the bad sites and companies that want to take advantage of you, we have a plethora of GOOD AND LEGITIMATE resources that will help you on your journey. Just check out Riley's post here.
Live long and pro. . .wait. Wrong closing line. Um, how about this: