Indie Authors – Beware the Rip-Offs

Most indie authors are aware of the pitfalls of self publishing, especially those that offer “packages” to authors in return for exorbitant fees with little return.  There are many companies that are to be avoided, and shall remain nameless for two reasons: 1 – I live in the UK and mentioning names could be considered libellous, and 2 – it reduces their overall exposure if you just don’t mention them.

There are also more insidious and I’d say deceitful practices out there that indie authors and self publishers should be aware of.

Firstly you should realise that if you are an indie author, or self publisher then you are a business, and as such your decision making should be business led.  If you need help with a certain aspect of your work; cover design, proofreading/editing, marketing then you should be contracting that work out to a professional.  What you shouldn’t be doing is operating on vanity.  Many of the shysters out there operate on your vanity, your ego.  Business and ego are bad bed fellows.

I wrote this post after clicking on a link in my twitter feed about “being discovered in 2013”.  I clicked the link because I’d like to be discovered in 2013.  Maybe this was my way in…. I found myself on a professional looking website that extolled the virtues of their work in being a bastion for the indie reader.  Enter now, the blurb said to get your work in to the pool to be a “discovery of 2013”.  Each entry would be read by one of their panel of judges and by the look of it be given a 4 or 5 star review…. (hmmmm).  Okay, thought I.  Let’s see what they’re after.

It was all very straightforward, enter the title of your book, genre (but if you wanted to add extra genres it was an extra $50 (double hmmmm)).  Then just scroll down a bit and it asks about payment details.  Just so we’re clear, I hadn’t filled any of the form in, I was still in the looking phase.  When I saw ‘payment details’ I was intrigued.  Payment?  To enter a competition to be discovered?  Then I saw it.  Each entry was $150.  Sooo the site wanted to be paid $150 for each discovery it made… triple hmmmm.

Strip away the “awards” on this one and you’re paying at least $150 for someone to review your book.  No siree Bob!  To me, the moment you pay for an award you devalue your product and your integrity.  How can anyone take your work seriously if you’ve paid for a 5 star review of it?

What appeared to be a legitimate discovery opportunity became potentially sullying experience.  If only I could charge that site for the time I spent working out the catch.

Another sharp practise to look out for are online directories.  There are sites out there that position themselves as independent author, or writer, networks.  Their blurb is that their goal to help indie authors and self publishers to gain visibility.  Then they want you pay a fee to be added to THEIR database.  Not a central entity, their website database.  Who are the majority visitors to those sites?  Other indie authors.  Readers, or your target audience, visit the store of their e-reader (where you’ll be listed as an author, along with your bibliography), not those sites.  So save your money and put it in to your writing, or use it to fund some marketing – it’ll be money much wiser spent.

Use online communities such as GoodReads to grow your exposure and interact with real readers.  And I can’t stress this one more:  Use Social Media properly.  facebook, twitter, whatever are for communicating, not a one way pipe for your marketing.  Build up a proper network of readers and other authors who complement your brand.  Stay away from the slush pile.  It smells.

What are your thoughts on the subject?  Tell me your experiences, good or bad of online author services.

Visit me on Facebook: David Nicol – Author
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