Writer’s Tip of the Week: Beware of Marketing Scams Bearing False Promises – Part Two

In my last post, I talked about my experience with a very persistent caller from a book marketing firm and his sales pitch to me.  Many red flags popped up, but I was curious to see what documentation he would send. We continue now with what happened once I received his email a few hours after the phone call.

The Email

Later that evening, I finally got the email.  It was a note thanking me for the call and two attachments.

The first attachment was about the company and contained pictures of bookstores around New York.  They were nice-looking mom-and-pop independent bookstores.  And they did actually exist (I Googled the addresses under each).  I was also provided with glowing Yelp reviews for one of the bookstores.  

The document included the company’s mission statement and main goal, which were pretty generic.  It also included information about New York’s bookstores, the city’s population, and other basic information.

The second document was far more interesting, and why it’s always good to read the fine print.

This was the Marketing Agreement.  As I said before, if I committed, I would have to buy and then send the company copies of my book to sell in bookstores all around New York.  If you are a self-published author, you know that when someone buys a copy of your book, several people get a cut before you get your percentage (it’s the same with mainstream books as well). 

Then this paragraph appeared in the agreement: “All books sold and its royalties shall be (100%) given to the author after printing cost.  If the book is not published with our affiliate printer and an interested book vendor would order bulk copies of the book author shall do all the necessary legwork including order processing, delivery, shipping etc.  Taxes that come after it shall be taken care by the author and his/her legal tax expert.

Wow.  So, not only do I have to give you $800 to start, but I also have to get the books printed and shipped at my own expense (if I don’t use their printer, which I’m guessing is also at my expense).  So, if they want 100 books, and my book sells for $20, I have to pay $2000, plus taxes, shipping & handling.  Now I’m out $2800+, and I haven’t gotten a book in a store yet. 

Oh, then to recoup some of the costs, the book has to sell, and then I have to pay taxes on the sales!

But, wait.  I’m not done spending my own money yet!

Remember that $800 that was an initial fee to get things rolling?  Well, it’s actually rolling toward another $800 because: “SERVICE AMOUNT = $800 per bookstore

That’s right!  So, if I want my book to be in bookstores all around New York, I have to pay $800 each time it goes into a new bookstore.  There are 13 bookstores they use, so that would be $10,400 to put the book in all those stores.

And don’t forget I would also be paying to print and ship all the copies of the book requested.

Ka-ching.  Ka-ching.  Ka-ching.

My Response

While I know self-publishing is a personal investment that often has little return, I’m also aware of seeing a scam when it tries to pick my pocket.  

I emailed the guy back and said: 

“After giving your company’s offer some thought and reading through the attachments, I have decided that this is not a sound personal financial investment.  I read the contract and noticed that the $800 figure quoted on the phone is now $800 per bookstore, an amount I cannot afford to invest.

I’m still a little unnerved by how your company obtained my phone number, which makes me wary of your company’s proposition.

I appreciate your reaching out to me and your tenacity regarding this opportunity.  I wish you and your company all the best in your future book acquisitions.”

He wrote back, trying to explain away the $800 per bookstore.  He then tried to call me another few times until I blocked the number. 

The End.

Final Thoughts

We all want our work to be presented to the masses, consumed, and enjoyed.  That’s all well and good, but in doing so, you shouldn’t have to max out credit cards or go into bankruptcy to get your work out there.

With no risk on their part and your money to burn, who’s to say that the books end up anywhere?  Sell any copies?  How can you be sure that Netflix is not only interested in your book but willing to shell out $125,000 for the rights?  

The whole situation is fishy.  And when your gut tells you something’s wrong, go with your gut.

So, remember, if you ever get a call from some company offering you all kinds of great things for your book, but you have to send them lots of money and copies of your book…hang up!

Have any of you had similar experiences?  Leave a comment and let me know!

My Publicity Experience – Part Two

After my initial call with Smith Publicity and deciding on what program to use (I opted for their three-week media blitz), I was emailed an in-depth questionnaire about myself and my novel.  The information I provided would aide them in crafting an official press release for the novel to send out to potential reviewers and interviewers.

It was a lot of questions, and after a week I submitted the completed questionnaire and the work began.  And that work began with a quick call on the first day of week one with my publicity team to go over any question I may have before we got into it. 

And the adventure began.

By the end of the afternoon my book was posted on NetGalley.  NetGalley is a site where book reviewers, educators, librarians, and booksellers can request eBook versions of you novel and review it.  They then post their reviews on Amazon, Goodreads, NetGalley, etc.  By the end of the week, over 30 people had requested and been sent an eBook to review. This was a good start!

As the first week progressed, my team and I went back and forth revising and fine-tuning the press release that would be sent out to people over the next two weeks.  By Thursday it was done and ready to go, and my team sent out an initial flurry of email queries for the book.

On my end, I printed out 30+ copies of the press release to include with the review copies I had on hand in preparation for sending them out ASAP.  The wheels were now set in motion and it would be only a matter of days before I would be making multiple trips to FedEx and the Post Office.

More on Week Two tomorrow!