Friday, September 4, 2020

The Direction Of The Money Flow

     One of the things my first agent told me, when I set out to market my first novel, was to beware the scam artists. New writers, excited about their creation and full of hope for its prospects, are unusually vulnerable to scamsters. I, being a callow youth of only 44 – Ah! Those golden days before hypertension, prostatitis, and type 2 diabetes! – was uncertain what would constitute “bewaring” them. The first step would be recognizing a scam artist’s entreaty for what it is. So I asked around: How does one distinguish the scamsters from all others with reasonable reliability? She gave me a simple touchstone:

If he wants you to pay him up front, before you see any revenue, he’s a scam artist.

     “Money,” she said, “should flow to you before it flows from you. The scam artist will promise you the sun, the moon, and the stars if you’ll just purchase his promotional efforts at this really, really low rate – ‘because this book has such potential.’ I know you’re smart, Fran. But don’t imagine you have a more discriminating eye or ear than that. Decline politely and walk away quickly.”

     Words to live by, Gentle Reader. If you write – and these days, who doesn’t? – keep them close to your heart. It will reduce the likelihood that you’ll want to tear that organ out of your chest at some later date.

     Now, these days it’s very difficult for an indie writer to stand out from the crowd. It’s not enough to be good. It’s not enough to be original. It’s not enough to be devastatingly handsome, incomparably brilliant, incredibly witty and charming, and to have a huge...oh, never mind. So we’re all casting about, virtually all the time, for some way of getting attention for our books. And sometimes, the scamsters can seem really, really reasonable.

     So “follow the money.” Make sure it flows to you.

     All that having been said, I’ve occasionally succumbed to wishful thinking and speculated on a promotional technique. For example, I recently contracted for a review from Online Book Club, which appeared (prima facie) to be a legitimate organization. As I mentioned some weeks ago, their reviewer favored The Warm Lands with a positive review. I waited and watched to see whether there would be any impact on my sales...and there wasn’t. I resolved to chalk it up to experience and learn from it.

     But hark! What have I found in today’s email?


This is Scott from First, let me congratulate on the perfect 4/4 rating that your book earned from our professional review team. Our reviewers are very tough. Most books we review do not get a full 4/4 rating. So you have achieved something genuinely impressive. You should definitely be proud.

As a result, I have issued a special discount on the price of a Book of the Day promotion for your book due to the amazing rating. Book of the Day is an incredible proven way to drastically boost the sales of a book. You can see the full details, including the specially discounted price, all with the link below:

The Warm Lands -


Have a book not reviewed yet that you want to make Book of the Day? Submit it for review first at:

View the full advertising options for all of your books at:

If you have any questions at all or need help with anything, please reply to this email. We are happy to help!

Thank you,

     The first red flag was that my name appears nowhere in the email. The second was the sop to my vanity. So, having already spent a considerable sum on their review, it occurred to me immediately that it would be prudent to check the checkable factual assertion:

     Our reviewers are very tough. Most books we review do not get a full 4/4 rating.

     Izzat so? Well, let’s see about that, shall we?

     Now that Reviews page changes with the passage of time, so your assessment might not match mine. But when I pulled it up this morning, of the 571 reviews on that page, 324 displayed a 4 out of 4 rating. That’s 56.7%, which doesn’t affirm the scarcity of 4 out of 4 reviews; rather the reverse. Given that result, how much credence would you put in the claim that “Book of the Day is an incredible proven way to drastically boost the sales of a book” -- ?

     The discounted price of their “Book of the Day” promotion is $598. So I shall decline to be mulcted further.

     Online Book Club might not be a “pure” scam, but by the available evidence, its claims are hollow at best. Beware, Gentle Readers who write! Let my experience be a protective lesson to you.

     (Cross-posted at my fiction-promotion site.)

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