Friday Speak Out!: Beware Scams Targeting Self-Published Authors

Friday, November 21, 2014
by Penny White (Pen)

They’re everywhere.

A self-published author promises additional exposure for your book if you purchase and review her/his book. It sounds like a fair and equal exchange.

Until you purchase the book and discover the true reason behind the offer.

The book you’ve just purchased is, in a word, horrible. Just a hint of a plot at best, underdeveloped characters, poor writing, little to no get the picture. The only way the author can get positive reviews is by making such an offer.

And you are expected to write a favorable review in order to get that extra exposure for your own work.

You can make something up. But do you really want to sacrifice your integrity?

Hundreds of people fall for this gambit. People rave about how wonderful the book is in droves. This leaves any writer with integrity scratching her/his head wondering how in the world these people could even like the book.

Chances are, they honestly don’t. But in order to get that extra exposure, they compromise ethics with the hope of receiving free promotion. It’s easy. All that’s required is purchasing the book and writing a glowing–albeit not completely honest–review.

This hurts more than it helps. Especially when it comes to building a platform or a brand. Do you really want to be associated with a terribly-written book? A book that has absolutely no redeeming value? It’s a given those reviews were written for the express purpose of getting that additional exposure and not necessarily an honest assessment of the book.

By engaging in such scams you not only compromise your integrity, you weaken your own platform. Are you willing to risk it falling out from under you?

It isn’t easy for self-published writers to gain the exposure and following hoped for. It takes hard work, often working on promotion and marketing when you’d rather be writing. It takes skills most of us don’t have. We end up learning and honing those skills as we go. Most of the time we learn by trial and error.

Earning that experience with those skills is a bonus in and of itself. In the long run, we appreciate what we endured to become a successful self-published author.

Is it worth it to engage in these scams? Certainly not. Not only do you compromise your own integrity, but the person running these scams is the one who truly wins. The author in question takes advantage of other authors while her/his book rises in undeserving notoriety. S/he is the one making the money with each sale and promise.

It casts a shadow over the self-publishing industry, already questionable by society at large. It makes it even more difficult for self-published authors–with actual writing skills–to gain the exposure they deserve.

* * *
Pen has self-published 20 titles in print and ebook formats. Her latest endeavor, Nero’s Fiddle, can be found here: Follow her on Twitter @penspen

Would you like to participate in Friday "Speak Out!"? Email your short posts (under 500 words) about women and writing to: marcia[at]wow-womenonwriting[dot]com for consideration. We look forward to hearing from you!



Margo Dill said...

Great post. Where there are desperate writers looking for sales, there will be people taking advantage of this. You are so right though--it's not worth writing a good review for a bad book.

Sioux Roslawski said...

Pen--First off, great name (for a writer especially).

Secondly, wonderful post. I know of some books that have been self-published, they have glowing reviews and yet the book stinks to high heaven. It's sad...

Sioux Roslawski said...
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