Saturday, March 28, 2009

Writer beware: marketing deals? Be very, very cautious

I'm wondering how many other writers reading this blog (and there are about a dozen that I know of ... hi, guys!) received this rather outrageous piece of unsolicited advertising ... you want to call it spam, go ahead and call it spam ... and since they spammed me, I'll consider myself at liberty to paste the whole thing in here, verbatim -- and then talk about it below:

You've published a book. What's next?

The hard part about writing a book should be writing the book. You're not a digital marketing guru - you're an author.

So let AuthorWeb take care of the digital stuff. Here are some of the things we can do for you:
  • Upload your manuscript to Google for Google Book Search
  • Upload your manuscript to Amazon for sale on the Kindle
  • Upload your manuscript to "Smashwords" for all other ebook distribution
  • Make sure you are listed with Bowker's Books in Print program so your book is listed on all e-commerce sites
  • Work with Barnes &'s Small Press division for web (and possible store) distribution
  • Work with your POD service (Lightning Source, Lulu, Xlibris, etc.) to make sure you are getting the value you've paid forList you on author sites such as Filedby

Other services may include:
Enrolling you in AuthorsGlobe and other services, so you can get virtual speaking engagements
Setting up Facebook/MySpace/Twitter accounts so you can jump on that social networking thingSetting up a blog so you can tell the world what you're doing

How do we do this? We've been in this business for 22 years. We've watched it evolve from a print-and-paper world to a digital world - so fast that many authors are left hanging with no support. How do you navigate all the rules and forms? Why is an ISBN essential for selling your book? Once you've got your book listed on Amazon, how do you get the word out so people can buy it?

What we do

Basic Services - $1000 Upload files to Google for Google Book SearchNegotiating author's agreement with GoogleUpload files to Amazon for Kindle ebook sales Get listed (or enhance existing listing) on Amazon/B& for print salesNegotiate the best distribution deal possible for both Amazon and B&NWork with your POD service for any further (independent) distribution - getting all those forms filled outEnhance your listing with Books in PrintEnhance your listing on FiledbyAuthor and other websites

Viral Marketing Services - $1500 Creation of Facebook, MySpace, and Twitter pages
Creation of blogSocial networking tutorial, so you can maintain these pages yourself

We have helped authors for 22 years.

Contact us today to learn more about how AuthorWeb can help you.

Exclusive: I've negotiated a special deal with to offer all of you a $10 discount on a premium AvantGuild membership. Members get access to a wealth of professional resources and information, including their "Pitching an Agent" series, health insurance options for freelancers, and discounts on courses and instructional videos. Just make sure to click on this link in order to claim your discounted membership.


Now, I don't appreciate spam any more than the next person does, and the only reason these people are not getting a very annoyed email from me is that they dropped two names that are new to me. Author's Globe and MediaBistro have not yet crossed my path -- and that path has cut swathes all over the Internet. I'd have stumbled over them all on my lonesome sooner or later.

I'll trade: no stinging email from Mel in exchange for two dropped names by them.

The rest of this stuff? I've already done it. YOU've already done it. EVERY author who has the talent and courage to call him/herself a professional has already done it.

The only writers who haven't done this stuff are amateurs, whose books are (sorry guys; it's nothing personal -- it's just unavoidably truth) not yet up to snuff. Amateurs who have several years and another 250,000 words of writing, self-correcting and learning to go before they can work their way into the entry-level of the professional arena. (Notice that the above spiel begins, "You've published a book." A book. One. It had better be the 3rd or 5th or 10th book you've writtenbefore you tried publishing one, because 99.7% of first books are tripe -- this much is fact.)

Almost without exception, first outing writers are not ready to sell copies. They'll get stinking reviews, lose a lot of money, get a lousy reputation as artists, and very likely have the "heart" knocked out of them. They might never write again, even though the latent ability is very probably there inside them.

The only people making money out of this kind of deal are the shrewd manipulators at the controls.

For gods' sake, all genuine writers (even the upper ranks of the wannabe authors) already have blogs, and websites, and Amazon listings, and ISBNs, and a thorough knowledge of Bowker, and Lulu, and ... so on.

You and I -- having been there, done that -- would rate the above list of chores to be worth about $250, max. And some of the items on that list are professional suicide.

I just went through a wringer to get my books OUT of the Google Book Search program, and these jokers are advocating it! They actually recommend a system that would upload 20% of an Agatha Christie novel -- including the END. Get this straight: You want to beat your brains out writing something like Death on the Nile, and then have Google "tell the ending" to everyone who searches on your name or title ... for free?!

Other forms of slow suicide are FaceBook and similar. Chatchatchatchatchatchat... Amateur and wannabe writers, take note and beware: Very soon, you'll be spending the time you ought to be investing in learning your craft, and WRITING, in chatting. You won't be writing; at best you'll be blogging, and at worst you'll be babbling. Writing and studying time goes down the chute, and -- it happens routinely -- you can wind up with carpal tunnel syndrome, with nothing to show for it.

Every pro or semi-pro writer reading this has already filled the above list, and a lot more besides. Personally? I've got that list quadrupled in terms of initiatives I've undertaken. I also have 26 titles on my backlist ... and I still occasionally get "dead days," or days without sales.

Here's a fact you might not like: the average professional writer earns about US$3000 from writing, per annum. Some of us earn a hell of a lot more, and I'm privileged to be among them ... but it didn't happen overnight, or even swiftly. I've been in this game for 25 years.

If you're an aspiring writer, you cannot afford to shell out $2,500 for services you could perform yourself. A day arrives very soon in your career (long before you find a publisher or take the plunge and POD it yourself) when you must commit to what you're doing. LEARN. You'll have to be your own must ruthless editor, your own most ingenious publicist, your own dynamo of a marketing analyst, and your own demon accountant.

The first thing an accountant will tell you is to "plug the leaks: Look after the pennies and the dollars will look after themselves." Writing is your business. If you were a chef, you'd expect to work long, hard hours for nothing in the early days while building up your restaurant. If you didn't want to do this, you'd go work for someone else.

Writing is no different. You'll work for years to gather and hone your skills; then you'll work for months or years writing not one but several books. This is how you become good enough to charge money for your work, have people pay you, call it money well spent, and buy your next book.

My heart aches for aspiring writers who get drawn into deals like the one outlined in the above spam. I wish there were some regulatory body to stop these people, but alas, there isn't. It's down to folks like me -- us -- to speak up.

Uh ... pass it on.


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