Monday, September 11, 2023

Shark Infested Waters

As writers we have two goals: write good books and tell people about them, so they can read what we write. In the olden days, getting the word out to the reading public often meant giving talks at libraries or bookstores, maybe making radio or TV appearances and snail-mailing publicity materials. 

As you well know, today, so much of getting the word out is done online, and while it’s efficient and potentially reaches a wider audience, this way of promoting books is fraught with a lot of dangers. The biggest ones are identity theft, and for us, book promotion scams. 

  • To reduce the danger of having your identity stolen, keep an eye on your accounts:

  • Check your credit card charges monthly. If there’s a charge for some tiny amount, alert the credit card company immediately. This is someone testing out your card. Unreported, the next charge from them could be a doozie. One month I found three charges from the same firm. The first charge was $1.00. The second was $5.00. The third was $350.00. Fortunately, the purchases were so obviously not part of my spending pattern, Visa had already flagged them. 

  • Get your free credit report annually from each of the three major credit reporting bureaus: Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion. This is the link to order a free credit report. ( Sorry, but I’m not up on how this is done outside the U.S.)

  • Make it a rule to never open an email or answer a phone call if you don’t recognize the name, the email address, or the phone number. Preview the email, but never click on any of the links. If you think it’s phishing, report it to whatever company is appropriate: PayPal has recently been getting a lot of forwards from me. I forward the entire message to, then I delete the message. For phone calls, if the caller is legitimate, they’ll leave a voice message, and you can get back to them.

When it comes to people offering to promote your book take some precautions before you hand over those dollars. 

  • Ask if others have had experience with the company-#IWSG, #WriterBeware are two good sources on Facebook.

  • Do a search of their online presence and pay close attention to the language on their website or in their emails. There are often telltale signs that these people aren’t professionals who are interested in books at all. 

  • Double check the name. I recently was contacted by a firm with Booksy in their name; however, they weren’t associated with the legitimate Freebooksy or BargainBooksy. 

  • There are a lot of websites that do scam detection, so you can enter the name of the company and see how they rate the one you’re considering. 

  • Or avoid all of this and rely on the network of writers you know and trust.

Writers wear a lot of hats, and protecting ourselves and our work from being taken advantage of is a very import and very big hat! 


Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Scam detection - good idea!
Yes, there have been a lot of author scams going on lately.

L. Diane Wolfe said...

I never answer the phone if I don't know the number. If it's important and legit, they'll leave a message.

Elizabeth Seckman said...

Excellent advice. I used to feel rude not answering, but now every unknown number goes to voicemail.

Susan Gourley/Kelley said...

It's so disgusting the amount of people trying to scam hard-working people out of their money. It's soul-crushing.
My bank is excellent at spotting fraudulent charges.

cleemckenzie said...

Fortunately, the credit card companies and banks are alert. It's just not in most of our minds to take advantage of other people, so we have to remember that there are people out there ready to steal and cheat. What sad excuses for people they are.

Find Meaning in Adversity said...

Absolutely and some great advice. While I would love to have my books in print and also give lectures to large audiences, I have focused all of my energy into online writing and promoting online. I am grateful for the tips you mentioned here into protecting my identity and preventing fraudulent book promotions.

Joaquin from Find Meaning in Adversity

Natalie Aguirre said...

Great tips on how to avoid your identity being stolen. I used to give my clients advice like that when I was an attorney. And there are a lot of publishing and author promotion scams out there.

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi Lee - wise words ... thank you - cheers Hilary