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Thursday, May 28, 2009

Writer Beware

As I usually do in the mornings before I head off to work, I sat down in front of my computer with my coffee and checked my e-mail. As I've been focusing more on my day job and less on my novel and comic book endeavors, my Gmail account has been pretty quiet.

But today, I received the following letter:

Dear Percival Constantine,

A pleasant day!

I’m --------- a Marketing Specialist of Bookwhirl.com.

I came across with your book entitled, Fallen. We are interested to promote it and we’d like to help you reach out up to 5,000,000 individuals and let them know about you and your book.

Here at BookWhirl.com, we can help you achieve and attain the goal that you want the most for your book.

If your schedule permits, I would like to have an audience with you over the phone to discuss our different Marketing Services. Otherwise, you can always visit us online during your free time at www.BookWhirl.com. If you have any questions, know that you are always welcome to reply to this e-mail or give me a call at ---------- extension ----.

I hope to hear from you soon and have a nice day!

Sincerely yours,

--------------


I'm not an idiot. Not in any sense of the word. And I can smell a scam when I see one. This is definitely a scam. There are a few telltale signs right off the bat that this is not a legitimate marketing agency.

The first is the horrible command of the English language. If you're going to try and market a book, you should at least know the basics of grammar.

The second is that they contacted me and inquired only about my first novel, FALLEN. They didn't ask me about CHASING THE DRAGON and I know why -- they found my old website, which hasn't been updated in over a year. They did no other research on my name, they didn't bother to find out any additional information about me. Also, although FALLEN was published through Lulu.com, CHASING THE DRAGON was published through CreateSpace. So if they weren't trolling about my website, they were trolling Lulu's website looking for suckers.

The third is that they contacted me and any marketing agency that contacts a self-published writer out of the blue is one to be curious about.

A look at their website shows that their "affordable" prices range from $250 all the way to over $2000. Now, I have a very good full-time job in which I make a very healthy salary, more than enough to support myself. But despite this, I don't have hundreds or thousands of dollars to just blow away on a service like this. This is not an affordable service, not if you're middle class and certainly not if you're a struggling, first-time writer.

Their website also shows that they're a subsidiary of Yen Chen Support Corp, which I looked up. It's an Asian-based outsourcing company. Judging from the poorly worded e-mail as well as the comments I've read from other authors in which they were contacted by BookWhirl representatives who have very heavy accents and very broken English shows that these so-called "marketing specialists" are nothing more than telemarketers with a fancy title.

Publishing is a difficult business, especially if you're going the self-publishing route. You'll be lucky if you get anyone to buy your book, let alone turn a healthy profit. But you should still avoid "marketing" companies that rely on telemarketing and spam e-mail campaigns. If these are the tactics they use to advertise to you, what makes you think the tactics they use to advertise your book will be any different?

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