The Mail I Get – Scammers Edition

Even in this age of easy self-publishing, the scammers are still out there… and there are still plenty of suckers. I recently ran into an author who not only “published” his book through Authorhouse, he also paid them extra to buy positive reviews for him in the worthless “self-published books” versions of Publishers Weekly and Kirkus. Not only that, he was seriously considering a sleazy marketeer’s $25,000 campaign to “get his book on bestseller lists” by paying people to buy copies and leave positive reviews on digital platforms. He firmly believed that this is how Stephen King, John Grisham, Janet Evanovich and others get their books reviewed and on the bestseller lists. I, of course, told him was wrong and that he’d been swindled. Afterwards, he emailed me this plea:

Okay, so I’m ready with open ears to figure out how to get my book marketed, put on best seller lists, then get it made into a movie. I asked you last week if I could send you a copy to take a look at, cause it’s pretty damn dynamic. I know you have your own writings to take care of, but If there’s anything at all you can do to help me, I would be more than happy cut a nice juicy percent of gross profits…of everything. Please, please, please guide me in the right direction and if possible, drive the damn car for me.

The first thing you need to know is that Authorhouse is a notorious scam that operates under several names (Author Solutions, iUniverse, xlibris, etc.). They prey on the desperation of aspiring authors and squeeze them for every last penny they can get. Don’t pay them another dime for anything. You’ve been swindled out of enough money by these crooks as it is. Here’s just one of many posts out there about the Author Solutions/Authorhouse scam.┬áThe good news is that people have finally gotten wise to their con and the company is in a downward spiral.

But before they crash and burn, you should demand that Authorhouse revert the rights to the book back to you, along with the PDF and Kindle files that you’ve paid for, and pull the book from sale. Your book is ranked at 2 million on Amazon, which frankly means you aren’t selling any books anyway, so you aren’t risking anything by yanking it. Nobody knows the book exists.

I’m sorry, but I don’t have the time to help you untangle yourself from Authorhouse or to walk you through self-publishing your book. But before you consider self-publishing again, or marketing your book to real publishers, you should really go back and rewrite the manuscript. I read the Amazon sample and, I mean no offense, but it needs substantial editing by a professional. It’s bloated with endless, dull exposition…and isn’t ready to sell to anybody. Rewriting the book under the guidance of an experienced freelance editor, or a knowledgeable creative writing instructor (perhaps through UCLA Extension), is really the best use of your resources now rather than investing time, effort, and money self-publishing a book that is unlikely to find an audience in its present form.

5 thoughts on “The Mail I Get – Scammers Edition”

  1. I feel your pain. It usually happens when I meet someone who has also been taken for the same ride. The writers’ mindset is that of *course* a movie deal is next, all they have to do is publish and producers will be calling and demanding a deal on the property.

    Wish it was that easy! If so, then I’d have my own private island by now with a herd of cheerful cabana boys to rub my feet and feed me gourmet chocolates.

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  2. That person also needs an adjustment in the way they think and approach the marketing or their novel. If they truly believe that paying people is the way to get their manuscript out there, he/she will always have problems.

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  3. Years ago when I wrote my first book and thought it would surely win the Pulitzer I fell victim to a “PR” person who promised me the moon. “Your book is exceptional.” she said after I sent it to her. “You read it?” I asked. “Well, no, not really,” she replied. “But I can tell it’s great.” That relationship didn’t last long, and unfortunately I lost out on the Pulitzer as well.

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  4. This article is written from a worst-case scenario perspective. The article’s title is also misleading as it leads the reader to believe that Xlibris is the source of the scam. The problem is that the subject of the article, the so-called author, is your typical millennial/young person who believes that dreams manifest due to technology.

    I find it strange that the writer of this piece is just as naive as the subject of his article. Xlibris is a business that caters mostly to suckers who think their book is the next bestseller (but is mediocre at best). Taking an egotistical and naive sucker’s money is just business, not personal. The same ‘scam’ happens with agencies promoting music. The agency has no problem taking money from a fool who thinks he’s the next rapping sensation!

    Civilians do not understand how things really operate in the world of corporate business, and that John Grisham’s publishers are not above paying for reviews, likes, and the such. I am also an entertainer. Last year, a very unpleasant truth was confirmed.

    I paid $5k for a promotional campaign with the Starlight public relations firm. That $5k ensured five interviews and a write up in Source Magazine. But guess what? If I had paid $45k, I would have received ten high-quality interviews AND I would appear on THE FRONT PAGE OF THE SOURCE. Publicist pay newspaper and magazine editors to write stories that generate interest in their clients.

    If you are not prepared to grease palms and grant favors, your book will sit on the shelf and gather dust! If you’re going to write an article, at least know, exactly, what you are talking about! Once you understand that everything is about generating and maintaining power and money, you will see how silly this article about ‘being recognized for your talent’ really is. Money and power! Remember that, and you’ll achieve whatever it is you are trying to achieve!!!

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    • You’re absolutely wrong. I’m a #1 NY Times bestselling author and I’ve never paid for a review in my life. I’ve don’t know a single successful author who has done so. I also come from a family of journalists…and have been one myself. Publicists do NOT pay newspapers and magazine editors to write stories about their clients. I know that’s what you want to believe, but you are looking for a scapegoat to justify your own bad decisions. It’s easier to believe the system is rigged, and only people with money can succeed in publishing, than face the fact that maybe your writing just isn’t good enough yet. Keep working at it!

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