There’s An Indie Publishing Gold Rush, And Guess Who’s Making A Killing?

There's A Gold Rush In Indie Publishing, And Guess Who's Making A Killing

Pulling The Plug On My Pride

One of the basic tenets of my early childhood education – mostly in the schoolyard rather than the classroom, if truth be told – was that “self-praise is no praise”. These words were particularly powerful where I came from, but it’s really a general Irish thing. Boasting is second only in social torts to not buying your round in the pub. Both are punishable by flogging, ostracization, and eventual death. Fact.

But the internet is a perilous place. It’s full of braggarts, self-aggrandisement, and general preening and strutting. It becomes infectious. One minute you’re sneering at someone’s humblebrag, the next you find yourself telling the world how SURPRISED you were that some YouTube star liked the photo you put up of the dinner you said took you 25 minutes to prepare, when in reality you spent three hours on it.

I Should Have Known Better

So there I was last Sunday week, merrily congratulating myself, telling myself I’d just had a GENIUS idea for a blog post. “Jaysus, I’m brilliant,” says I to myself. “What a great analogy I’ve just come up with,” I continued smugly. “Amn’t I great at this whole internet thing?”

There’s An Indie Publishing Gold Rush, And Guess Who’s Making A Killing?

Bow down before my superior analogising, you ungrateful wretch

I wrote about how indie or self-publishing currently feels like the gold rushes of the 1800s, when the smart people realised that the real money was not to be made in gold, but in selling stuff to the people prospecting for gold. I made the point that the cost of things in the hard-to-reach towns which clustered around gold rushes was astronomical; that back in the 1800s, food, clothing and tools were sold in these remote towns for prices which would be judged expensive even today. A single nail could go for $5. A pair of boots could be $100. With prices like these, it was much easier to get rich off the backs of desperate prospectors, than gold.

Then I said that the only people getting rich in publishing these days are the people selling services to authors. Some are legitimate; some are scams. Some services are theoretically legitimate, but run by people who know they can’t possibly deliver what they’re promising.

Books, I said, were no longer the primary product, because the primary product in the book industry has become services to people who want to sell books. The biggest target market in publishing is now writers, not readers.

Please stop falling for scams, I pleaded with indie authors. Please stop supporting the black market by believing people who promise to make you a best-selling author by getting your book in front of thousands of 100% targeted readers who will 100% love your book. Because by the time you hear of any such scheme, even if it worked more than once, its time is over, and it’s already too late.

There’s An Indie Publishing Gold Rush, And Guess Who’s Making A Killing?

The piano about to fall on my head

Pride Comes Before A Fall

Anyhoo, something happened between Sunday and Monday night, when I was re-reading the post before publication on Tuesday morning. Something felt wrong. ‘Jaysus, but that’s awful preachy,’ I thought. I showed it to my other half, and he considered it for a moment. “Jaysus, but it’s a bit preachy, isn’t it?” he said finally.

So I shelved it. ‘I’ll come back to it later,’ I thought, ‘and make it less preachy, and more funny. I’ll loft out a frankly bizarre post about a cat in a box instead, and hold this one over ’til next week.’

And then I opened the big orange doors to the Internet on Tuesday afternoon and saw that none other than Kristen Lamb, she of indie author and book-blogging royalty fame, having approximately 31,402,836 more followers, readers and persons who have heard of her existence than me, had blogged THE EXACT SAME THING ABOUT AN INDIE PUBLISHING GOLD RUSH THAT VERY MORNING. And furthermore, she knew much more about it than I did.

I should have known better. But I had been too busy feeling undeservedly proud of myself. I had obviously learned nothing in that schoolyard, whilst getting beaten with wooden spoons and very small mittens.

That’s Vaguely Amusing, Tara, But Your Back Story Is Irrelevant

I would never knowingly rehash something I’d read on someone else’s blog, unless I had a completely different take on it, or at least something of some small value to offer in addition to it. I’ve been poached a few times myself, and it isn’t nice. Besides, Kristen’s post covered this subject so well and so thoroughly that I felt obliged to trash my own post, whilst singing wild Irish laments to its demise.

There’s An Indie Publishing Gold Rush, And Guess Who’s Making A Killing?

Me, accepting my lack of originality

However, it has since occurred to me that sometimes a subject needs signposting twice, purely because it is just so damned important.

My inspiration for the piece in the first place stemmed from another blog post exposing an arrangement which bundles books together in box sets of 20 titles for 99c, using a legal but highly dubious scheme involving Amazon gift credits in order to move sufficient units to hit the e.g. USA Today bestseller list, and thus allow each author in the box set to call themselves a “USA Today bestselling author”. It’s referenced here too on The Passive Voice – comments are worth a read.

It also pointed out how authors who draw attention to failings or scams are getting trashed on social media, their books downvoted and one-starred, often by other defrauded clients who are afraid that the pyramid scheme they’re in will topple before they get anything out of it. The level of vitriol in some of these Facebook groups and comment threads, when someone dares to expose such things, is horrifying.

Look: sometimes it’s hard to see a con. Sometimes it just isn’t. But in general, as Kristen also said, if something is too good to be true, it generally is. How is paying $1,000 to some person you’ve never met or heard of before in your life going to make you a success?

When it comes to book marketing services, YOU, not your book, are both the product, and the target. Next time you’re about to hand over ‘just €50, just £10’ for something, remember: 100 of you makes that guy €5,000, or £1,000. It all adds up. It’s why he’s doing it.

Only your book is going to sell your book for you. So you may not sell thousands of them. But at least you won’t have spent as much to sell the same quantity, eh?

*Dangerous side note: looks like I might reach 200,000 hits on the blog today. If this makes me proud, I’m fecked.

  113 comments for “There’s An Indie Publishing Gold Rush, And Guess Who’s Making A Killing?

  1. A.S. Akkalon
    May 9, 2017 at 7:27 am

    Just like plots, there are no new blog post ideas. 🙂 Now, where did you say this cat in the box was?

    Liked by 3 people

    • May 9, 2017 at 9:28 am

      Oh, he’s dead, A.S. Sorry. Or maybe he escaped to another dimension. I can never be sure. You’re so right about there being no new blog post ideas, though.

      Liked by 3 people

  2. May 9, 2017 at 7:55 am

    Is it wrong that I’m now inspired to give up on writing my own book in favour of setting up my own ‘get rich quick’ scheme by exploiting the ambition of others? Nope, no need to answer that. It definitely is wrong. I still may pursue the idea though…

    Liked by 6 people

    • May 9, 2017 at 9:33 am

      Yes, it is wrong, James, but that doesn’t mean it’s not worth doing. I mean, just look at politics.

      Liked by 2 people

  3. May 9, 2017 at 7:59 am

    Reblogged this on Anita Dawes & Jaye Marie.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Liberty On the Lighter Side - (LOLS)
    May 9, 2017 at 8:45 am

    Oh Tara, you have touched a raw nerve, in fact, I thought you may have been writing directly to me (not only proud but paranoid evidently).Thank you for the scam warning, always pays to be discerning. I haven’t signed up to any of them yet but I have been feeling a touch smug recently (South Africans are much better than the irish at pride – just need to watch rugby to know that). Just one thought – this author’s platform that one should allegedly build on social media, pre publication – that’s a tricky one to create without a degree of elevation. We need direction on how to perform humble self promotion. I think possibly the answer lies in allowing one’s work somehow to stand taller than oneself.

    Liked by 3 people

    • May 9, 2017 at 9:19 am

      Grat to see another South Africna on the web 🙂 I’d friend you but I don’t know who you are!

      Liked by 1 person

      • Liberty On the Lighter Side - (LOLS)
        May 9, 2017 at 9:38 am

        Hi Lucinda! You may find me under my gravatar or wordpress site, I’m just heading over to your now 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

    • May 9, 2017 at 9:36 am

      It’s always a tightrope walk in this blogging lark, I find. Constantly trying to self-promote without self-promoting. I find the authors I admire most are the ones who do this best. Humour is often the only effective weapon and even that can misfire woefully. The best lesson I’ve learned is to more quickly get over what I regret!

      Liked by 3 people

      • May 9, 2017 at 10:01 am

        I so ageee. i am a behind the scenes sort of person and not loud and pushy, at least I hope I’m not – but, those who are, use the aggressive marketing, horn-blowing approach are making the sales. I’m not sure I’ll ever be able to morph into one of those. 😦

        Liked by 3 people

  5. Liberty On the Lighter Side - (LOLS)
    May 9, 2017 at 8:47 am

    ps, congrats on your blog hits, I believe you can allow yourself to feel proud of your hard work.

    Liked by 2 people

  6. Carl Rackman
    May 9, 2017 at 8:59 am

    Reblogged this on Carl Rackman and commented:
    This is gold. And who cares if someone said it better, I read it here first. Great work calling out more naked emperors, Tara.

    Liked by 1 person

    • May 9, 2017 at 9:37 am

      Thanks Carl. If only the emperor wasn’t so ugly in this instance we could ignore him much more easily.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Carl Rackman
    May 9, 2017 at 9:00 am

    Great work. Another naked emperor who should be running for cover.

    Doesn’t matter if anyone else said it better first, I read it here 👍

    Liked by 1 person

  8. May 9, 2017 at 9:04 am

    As I was reading I was thinking you had posted that post as I’d read Kristens and forgot it was hers.
    There are no original posts we just arrange the words differently in fact I’m sure I’ve read of another blogger hitting 200000 hits!

    Liked by 2 people

    • A.S. Akkalon
      May 9, 2017 at 9:11 am

      Haha. I’d read Kristen’s and forgotten it was hers too!

      Liked by 1 person

    • May 9, 2017 at 9:41 am

      Congrats to you too Tric if that was you 😉 And yes, I’m just waiting for the deluge of comments from people shouting ‘BUT I THOUGHT OF THAT FIRST’


      • May 9, 2017 at 10:53 am

        Off to check how many thousand hits I’m short!

        Liked by 1 person

        • May 9, 2017 at 1:58 pm

          Surely not, Tric. I had you in the viral stratosphere. Although now you’re a syndicated columnist you may have split your audience 😉


  9. May 9, 2017 at 9:17 am

    I, too, have employed the Gold Rush analogy. People made money on servicing the gold miners (who rarely struck it rich) and not on the mining itself. However, there’s a difference between that situation and indie authors which is overlooked. The miners, let’s call them authors, were able to sell all the gold they could take out of the earth. There was growing demand for gold. In the case of indie authors, there are too many books chasing too few readers. That’s why e-book prices are so low, even free. When supply and demand becomes more balanced, book prices will rise, hopefully fewer unskilled authors chasing fame and fortune will publish and the world will be a better place.

    Liked by 7 people

    • May 9, 2017 at 9:49 am

      It’s a good analogy, Larry, I would never have ‘claimed’ it first! The price of gold did fall dramatically too, though – for example, in the Klondike, at one point gold was worth less than the nails or the boots. It seems like the future of publishing is scarily opaque. We could say that there was a rush to publish from everyone who had a book in a drawer somewhere, and that it’s time for it to die down, but there’s no evidence to say that’s true. It’s not always about skill, either. Plenty of unskilled authors have become huge successes. And while any number at all of unknown authors are trying to sell books, there will always be cheap and free e-books.

      Liked by 1 person

  10. May 9, 2017 at 9:25 am

    Goodness, I’d rfead Kirsten Lamb’s blog just before I was about to blog about the very same thing – only I was thinking of the diamond miners in Kimberley and going to compare those few writers who made it to the top to Cecil john Rhodes and what became Anglo American. Some of these offers can sound so tempting – is any one of them worth the money? The point you make about the trolls and the backlash re criticism is worrying though. Whatever happened to ‘live and let live’? And, I understand there are only 7 basic storylines to choose from. Congrarts on so many hits, that’s amazing!

    Liked by 2 people

    • May 9, 2017 at 9:57 am

      Is any one of them worth the money? It’s a tough question, Lucinda. The general rule, as I see it, is that by the time you’ve heard of something, it’s already too late. For example, you hear of bestselling authors telling people at conferences that a mailing list is essential – but they are famous, have 100,000 people on their list, and have been using it to sell books for 3 years already. There are still plenty of services which will offer to sell you a mailing list.

      As for scams, I suppose it depends on your take on it. The box set scam, for instance, only makes me now doubt every self-published book which calls itself a USA Today bestseller, which is of course spectacularly unfair to any legitimate (rather than one-twentieth) bestseller. I used to take bestseller lists as a proxy for recommendation. Not any more.

      I think it depends on what you want. Perhaps using marketing scams before it’s too late – i.e. before too many people have heard about them – will get you what you want. But that wouldn’t be what I wanted.

      Liked by 2 people

  11. May 9, 2017 at 10:36 am

    As part of the Post Hubris Uncertainty Club or PHUC for humouric impact I can now unboast my biggest sales are to my mother whose estate has been buying my book post morten in order to make me a best seller before I wrote it in that way ensuring I can Sue myself for plagiarism on publication and live comfortably on my own proceeds. Mum’s scams like her soups could feed continents…

    Liked by 3 people

    • May 9, 2017 at 10:51 am

      That’s genius, Geoff – but do you really think you should have revealed your secrets here? Before you know it, everyone will be suing themselves for plagiarism, and your scheme will be so common as to become obsolete. How are you going to sell 2,000 books a week then?

      Liked by 1 person

      • May 9, 2017 at 3:21 pm

        How indeed. Good point Tara. I think I may have to have a seance and ask mum for some advice…

        Liked by 1 person

        • May 9, 2017 at 3:56 pm

          For pity’s sake, be sure to put the whole thing on YouTube while you’re at it and earn shedloads of cash.

          Liked by 1 person

  12. May 9, 2017 at 10:55 am

    Happy 200k

    Liked by 1 person

    • May 9, 2017 at 11:47 am

      Thanks Mel. It’s the nearest to 200k I’ll ever get with writing, and that’s for sure.

      Liked by 1 person

  13. May 9, 2017 at 10:59 am

    Ah FINALLY, Tara….seriously, finally…you’ve given me all the justification I need to continue to query agents and reject the metric ton of magical promises that drop into my inbox daily. Oh, wait, I gotta pay them, too? And….they could sit on my manuscript for a decade with no sale to the New York MegaPublisher That Had 50 Shades? Shit. I’m fucked.
    Well stated as always Tara, Kristen, et al.

    Liked by 1 person

    • May 9, 2017 at 11:47 am

      Ah, we’re all fucked, Liz. But at least we’re in it together, eh?!


  14. May 9, 2017 at 11:52 am

    Great post, Tara and very relevant for anyone self-publishing and unsure about seemingly ‘great value’ offers of help. Congrats on the 200,000 hits. You can give yourself a pat on the back – nobody will say you’re boasting if you do it in a way that look’s like you’re scratching an itch. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • May 9, 2017 at 2:03 pm

      Now THERE’S a writing tip designed expressly for Irish writers, Jean. ‘Pat yourself on the back whilst disguising it as the scratching of an itch. Now get back to the desk and write. In no time the internet will tell you you’re crap again so the time to inject optimism into your masterpiece is limited.’

      Liked by 2 people

  15. May 9, 2017 at 12:14 pm

    Reblogged this on Jan Hawke INKorporated and commented:
    This week Tara’s gaze is fixed on all the fecking about going on in the dark underbelly of writing ‘promo’ scams that go on in the indie publishing market… Read or be fleeced folks!

    Liked by 1 person

  16. May 9, 2017 at 12:41 pm

    Make that 200,0001 (A Spaced Odyssey)

    Congrats *genuflects*

    Liked by 1 person

    • May 9, 2017 at 2:05 pm

      At last. Veneration is mine.

      Can’t believe I had to wait this long, mind.


  17. May 9, 2017 at 12:43 pm

    In looking for an alternative analogy I started with comparing internet writing services to dating. However conflating dating, the internet, and payment put me in the spousal danger area so I abandoned the effort. That said, I’ve been burned by the internet – a scam book contest, but also had great luck with it. The editor for my first book – someone with big house editing experience in YA fantasy and a passing knowledge of Welsh – delivered a wonderful critique and evaluation (for a tenth the price of a full edit). She also provided follow-up phone support during my self-edit.

    Liked by 1 person

    • May 9, 2017 at 2:07 pm

      I’m sorry you got burned, Armen, but I’m glad you got something so good and kind from other quarters. The internet has been largely good to me, but I like to think I’ve been good to it, too 😛

      Liked by 1 person

      • May 9, 2017 at 2:43 pm

        Don’t be sorry for me. I should have known better. PayPal even refunded my entry fee. So I learned a valuable lesson for little more than some embarrassment – a currency with which life has amply blessed me. As for your contributions to the internet I agree with your assessment.

        Liked by 1 person

        • May 9, 2017 at 3:59 pm

          Many people have written about how their failures eventually led to their success. I might do a post on how embarrassment can work the same way for other people, Armen 😉

          Liked by 1 person

  18. Elizabeth Drake
    May 9, 2017 at 1:11 pm

    Fabulous post. And yes, I read Kristen’s, too.

    A lot to be said for buyer beware.

    I also have to admit, that when I first started dipping my toe into writing again, I was amazed at how many people wanted to sell me stuff without ever taking any risk in the book itself. Sure, they’ll sell you editing services for $3,000, but no guarantees it’ll make the book better or able to be sold.

    Liked by 2 people

    • May 9, 2017 at 2:11 pm

      Proper word of mouth is so important in editing in particular, Elizabeth. I know of at least 3 editors in Ireland alone I’d be delighted to pay money to, but if none of them had any availability, what would I do then? Believe the promises of a stranger? It’s easier to dismiss bogus services you never thought you’d need in the first place, than even dodgy-sounding essential services, without which the publication of your book could be delayed by almost a year. The trusted recommendation of a friend is invaluable.

      Liked by 1 person

  19. May 9, 2017 at 1:27 pm

    Reblogged this on When Angels Fly.

    Liked by 1 person

  20. May 9, 2017 at 2:24 pm

    It was truly eye-opening to see how many ways there are to spend money as a writer compared to what you stand to make on a single book. But for some reason, I keep trying. One of these days it might just ‘pan’ out. 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

    • May 9, 2017 at 2:43 pm

      She shoots, she scores!! Lovely pun-nage there, Allie. I hope it pans out for you (and all of the other lovely people here) too 😀

      Liked by 1 person

  21. May 9, 2017 at 3:33 pm

    I avidly read many blogs and books on how to become a better writer, and my writing probably did improve, though whether down to my reading or not is hard to say. I now tend towards reading books that I enjoy and asking myself why I enjoy them. Is is characters, plot, quirkiness, use of language? Probably all in varying degrees. It’s much more enjoyable than battering your brains with ‘How to…’ books.

    As for the rest of the publishing circus, I admit I’m dire at self promotion. My excuse is that I don’t aim to be known or revered as a successful author (many of their books are rubbish anyway) I merely want to stretch myself and see if I can write book that pleases me. Although if it pleases me then it might also please others, so…

    Liked by 2 people

    • May 9, 2017 at 3:57 pm

      The careers that endure always have the actual content to back it up, Dorothy – at least that’s what I believe. Anyone can be a bestseller on Amazon or elsewhere for 15 minutes but they’re never going to earn money by following the scams. It’s what they put out next which either makes or breaks a career.


  22. May 9, 2017 at 4:47 pm

    Great points, Tara. The gold rush analogy is spot on. Fortunately or unfortunately, depending, I’ve just never been savvy enough or wealthy enough to take advantage of the hucksters and big-time promoters. I just do it the old fashioned way – by my bootstraps and the seat of my pants. Ha ha.

    On the first point you made about self-promotion… Oh, you just wait, my dear, until you are published and have to market your book. It’s so horribly uncomfortable to talk about your book and your promotions and your reviews, blah blah blah, and yet it’s how the word gets out there, at least initially. And your online buds are your best source of initial reviews. We can be gracious and appreciative and humble but still gotta do it. If you can figure out a better way, you will be rolling in gold from marketing that secret to success! I’ll be paying attention. Bwa ha ha ha ha.

    Liked by 1 person

    • May 9, 2017 at 5:26 pm

      You know, Diana, it’s something I hope I’ll have to bear at some point! I’m furiously hoping that having a book out there (and paddling furiously in the shallows while I’m at it – no quick-scam schemes for me) will more than compensate for acting like a complete and utter arse about it. And making a fortune afterwards in my bestselling self-help book, “Humble? My Arse”, obviously.

      Liked by 1 person

      • May 9, 2017 at 5:33 pm

        We are all in the same boat or 99.99% of us are (that statistic is totally fabricated, by the way). So we give each other a pass when it comes to promotion. The best – ultimate best – is when we carry the banner for each other. 😀

        Liked by 1 person

        • May 9, 2017 at 6:57 pm

          Truth in its purest form, Diana. Although you have a jump start on me there, being a nicer person in general 😉

          Liked by 3 people

  23. annerallen
    May 9, 2017 at 7:02 pm

    Preach it, Tara! No matter how often Kristen and I keep telling people this stuff, there are still thousands of newbie writer-lambs arriving at the slaughterhouse. Thanks for spreading the word. It is very, very hard to make it as an indie author these days, but it’s very easy to scam indie authors. So guess what route people are taking? Thanks!

    Liked by 1 person

    • May 9, 2017 at 7:39 pm

      Amen, Anne: no matter how many different scams you outline on your blog, no matter how many warnings you issue, no matter how many people flock to you for advice, there is still always a new scam, a new scheme, a new brand of snake oil… and it baffles me. Every time I see one of these things being offered, my first thought is always ‘Oooh. Sounds scammy to me’. Why are so many people desperate to believe in this stuff, no matter what actual experts such as yourself and Kristen say?

      Liked by 1 person

  24. May 9, 2017 at 7:54 pm

    Aw man, I was just thinking I should write a post about the gold rush of the 1800s and how it so nicely parallels the state of indie publishing today. If only there was a service out there that could scour blog posts similar to yours and automate the process of finding your ideal readers and then also anticipate what the best key words and phrases that will make your work more searchable and ultimately more successful than all of theirs. Wait a minute. I think I have a new business plan. You in? 😉

    Liked by 1 person

    • May 9, 2017 at 10:43 pm

      If you’ve got the software, I’ve got the ruthlessness, Sarah. I’m in. In fact, I’m so lacking in ruth, I’ve already stolen everything and am suing you for patent infringement. I do hope you won’t let this ruin our relationship.

      Liked by 1 person

  25. solsdottir
    May 9, 2017 at 8:19 pm

    Congratulations, Tara! That’s great that you hit 200,000. May it be 500,000 before too long. I enjoyed this post because I bumped into a sketchy pay-for-reblgogs scheme recently, and the person doing it was someone whose work I used to admire. Very disappointing, as the Tangerine-in-Chief would say.

    Liked by 1 person

    • May 9, 2017 at 10:46 pm

      It is disappointing. Unlike the name Tangerine-in-Chief, which is ridiculously satisfying 😉

      Liked by 1 person

  26. May 9, 2017 at 8:35 pm

    Congrats on hitting the 200K mark!

    I’ve spent a bit of money (not loads) on a few things, but am very careful and do my research before hitting the old PayPal button. I’d much prefer someone else to talk about my books than me, but I guess I’ll have to do it for now *sigh* because there is no magic bullet. It’s just luck and a few smart decisions, really, plus writing something good enough to generate word-of-mouth sales. Your gold rush analogy, as others have commented, is spot on.

    Liked by 1 person

    • May 9, 2017 at 10:53 pm

      It’s a ridiculously tough business, Helen. To the extent that you wonder why anyone does it at all. But every small win is a win nonetheless, and we’ll all be better off if the scammers are put out of business.

      Liked by 1 person

      • May 10, 2017 at 8:19 pm

        Absolutely! The thing with the Gold Rush was, it ended, and most of those scam merchants went out of business. Let’s hope the analogy holds here as well.

        Liked by 1 person

        • May 10, 2017 at 10:10 pm

          I wish, Helen. If people would just stop seeing ‘social media’ as some sort of magic potion that only the wizards understand, it’d be a start.

          Liked by 1 person

  27. May 9, 2017 at 8:36 pm

    Reblogged this on Don Massenzio's Blog and commented:
    Check out this great post from Tara Sparling’s blog on the Indie Publishing Gold Rush

    Liked by 1 person

  28. May 9, 2017 at 8:37 pm

    $5 for a nail? Good luck to ’em. There are times I wish my inbox was full of spam. It would be nice to talk to someone once in a while.

    Before I became a professional international bestselling author I was a renowned music producer and noticed the same Klondyke-like vulture culture surrounding amateur songwriters and other unsigned artists. The big scam there seemed to be getting people’s songs in front of major artists, as if Taylor Swift was really going to listen to an acoustic song written by an unknown eighty year old from Warrington.

    And you should have posted your original blog; would have given Kristen Lamb the dilemma then, wouldn’t it.

    Liked by 1 person

    • May 9, 2017 at 11:00 pm

      Was that YOU who promised me the meeting and subsequent duet with Beyoncé and Kevin Bacon, Chris?? Took my £50 and that’s the last I heard of it?? You rotter. But I’m glad you’ve stopped your nefarious business dealings now and are concentrating on promoting my author brand. Fair play to you.

      And yes, that ‘should’ve posted my original blog’ is on the ‘should’ve’ shelf along with various plots involving vampires, erotica and unreliable drunk narrators, and a few business ideas which could get me killed.

      Liked by 1 person

  29. May 9, 2017 at 10:04 pm

    Hi Tara, I like the lightheartedness with which you handled this very serious matter. It is indeed true that some people are offering services, and making promises which they cannot keep. A word is enough for the wise.

    Not too long ago, someone was offering a program for almost $600.00 which they swore will make writers better writers. The person behind this lured me in by first offering a series of free courses on writing. Nothing is ever free. As I followed these courses, I wondered what the catch will be. In the end, the catch was for me to pay this exorbitant price for a course which will make me a better writer. I simply skipped through. A few day later, another email came, wanting to know why I did not buy. Again, my answer was, your price was too high for the product. I wouldn’t call it a scam, but the price was a scam! These days, I am keeping an eagle eye on things like this.

    Liked by 1 person

    • May 9, 2017 at 11:03 pm

      I’ve done paid writing courses myself, jinlobify, and have been immeasurably better off as a result. However, I had the good fortune to be able to attend them in person at a reputable school, and I know not everyone has that luxury. Having said that, I’m suspicious of pretty much everything online. There’s just too great a proportion of it which is dodgy.


  30. May 9, 2017 at 10:10 pm

    If you give me a tenner, I’ll tell you the secret of eternal happiness. Oh, and the key to your safe (money won’t buy you happiness) and the BIC and IBAN too. And that husband of your’s bank details too. Don’t forget the cash you keep in the chamber pot under the bed as well.

    When you have done all this, you can write about how you were scammed and go on the Joe Duffy show to promote your book “How I Was Scammed By A Failed Food Blogger”. I will meanwhile write a parallel book told from my side. It will be called “Confessions Of A Repentant, Reformed Desperado”. Mind you, if there is enough cash in the chamber pot, I will get out of any thoughts on publishing and take up relaxing by the pool with a large cigar. (That is a cigar, isn’t it?)

    Liked by 1 person

    • May 9, 2017 at 11:06 pm

      First of all, Conor, EWWWWWWW. Let’s say for the sake of our stomachs that yes, it is in fact a cigar. Second of all, I resent the inference that I would happily admit being scammed by anyone. In fact, if anyone’s going to be doing the scamming, it’s me. So how about I promise to get your avant garde recipe book into the hands of 30,000 readers within the first week of publication, you give me 5 grand, we split the food you cook, and call it quits?


  31. Carmen Amato
    May 10, 2017 at 2:21 am

    There must be something going around, or else the thing about Great Minds is happening . . . I wrote a post today summing up what I’ve learned in 5 years as an indie author and included this: “Over the past 5 years, I have been swayed by the siren call of Generic Marketing. Sucked in by great copy promising to get my book in front of Important Book People, land more reviews, be the Book of the Day, or feature my book in a list touted by a Publishing Insider Publication. None of it paid off.
    At least all were legit. Sadly, there are an incredible number of scams out there preying on indie authors.
    Finally, I got it. I should be laser-focused on the specific audience for the genre of my books.”

    Liked by 1 person

    • May 10, 2017 at 10:41 am

      Glad we’re on the same page, Carmen! I wonder, however, whether those marketing services you engaged worked for anyone?

      If a so-called ‘legitimate’ service works for only a tiny percentage (i.e. the first few) of the authors employing them, can they be called legitimate? If I take your money for a service which in all probability I know is not going to work for your book, even though I technically carry out the specific steps I’m contracted to do – am I a scammer, or am I legitimate?

      Whilst it’s important that we vaporise the brazen all-out scams altogether, I don’t think we should lose sight of broadly unethical behaviour either. Anyone who sells something to someone, knowing that they don’t need it and it will do them no good, is scamming people in my eyes. It’s no different, let’s say, from promising to cure cancer with vitamin injections.


  32. weebluebirdie
    May 10, 2017 at 8:43 am

    As usual, while nodding at your wise words I am struck by the tiny detail. The image of you being hit with wooden spoons and small mittens will be with me for some time:-) Did any cats pushing you over???

    Liked by 1 person

    • May 10, 2017 at 11:12 am

      I agree that being beaten with wooden spoon and small mittens is the stuff of nightmares, Birdie. So I won’t elaborate any further on what the cats did, as that I would imagine, given your birdiness, they are also not the stuff of happy memories. You’ll thank me later.

      Liked by 1 person

  33. May 10, 2017 at 8:58 am

    In relation to your paragraph about authors getting trashed on social media for exposing scams, have you encountered @Proofprofessor on Twitter? Horrifying man! The Alliance of Independent Authors’ Watchdog John Doppler posted a piece about him on Monday:

    Liked by 1 person

    • May 10, 2017 at 11:44 am

      I had not seen that, Averill – thanks for bringing it to our attention (everyone go and read Doppler’s piece immediately please). I agree, he is horrifying. Revenge ratings from a spurned service provider, eh? Well, hopefully that will come up in Google searches for him for the foreseeable and he’ll have cause to regret what he’s done – but nothing can cause regret like a lawsuit, so let’s hope for a few of them to land on his desk, too. He can apostrophise all he wants about that in court.


  34. May 10, 2017 at 5:29 pm

    I’m being repeatedly offered this event via Facebook advertising at the min – – “Publish and Grow Rich with Gerry Robert” – it’s a free seminar at Dublin Airport on May 11th 2017. In my usual ‘I’m a bit suspicious’ way I did a bit of googling and there’s a fair review of the seminar here: – Now, it’s not a con, it’s basically a free seminar with a big sales pitch at the end. But what I didn’t like was that there was a lot of people signing up on the click-through Facebook page (which I can’t now find despite much hunting) so I suggested in the Comments that people googled a review of the event before signing-up. I was deleted and blocked within 5 minutes. That I find slightly worrying.

    Liked by 1 person

    • May 10, 2017 at 9:39 pm

      I think that’s positively frightening, Bob. The event review sounded extremely fair to me. I know it’s not technically a con, but the fact that they’re blocking even mild scepticism on Facebook indicates to me that there’s a house of cards somewhere. At least four alarm bells went off in my head over that guy, anyway.

      What I find desperately sad is that so many people are willing in this day and age to buy into get rich quick schemes. There’s nothing like new technology – e.g. social media – to convince people that snake oil will explain everything.

      On a happier note, though, congratulations on The Gutter bookshop’s big win at the British Book Awards! Independent bookshop of the year, HERE in little old Dublin! I’m starstruck 😉


  35. May 10, 2017 at 6:54 pm

    This is why I 1) don’t buy these services (or because I’m tight?), and 2) I’ll probably never be a Best Seller on Amazon. Oh wait, I was once. For selling around twenty books on one day. Then I wasn’t. Um? Great post (even re-hashed) 🙂 X

    Liked by 1 person

    • May 10, 2017 at 9:53 pm

      Hey, if you were once, then you were, Shah. Don’t knock it! And if a lack of money for scam services contributes to the demise of said scam services, bring on the recession I say…


  36. May 10, 2017 at 9:07 pm

    Reblogged this on Frank Parker's author site and commented:
    A great post from Irish writer Tara Sparliing.. I hope nobody reading this blog thinks it’s easy to get rich from writing, or stoops so low as to try to make money off the backs of aspiring authors.

    Liked by 2 people

  37. May 10, 2017 at 10:32 pm

    Tara, another great post. Wisdom is universal, after all. I love the way you describe how you came to write this post. Gives us great insight into how a post gets made.
    Your post also brings to mind how we all give away so much “free” writing. There some predators who make money off of these contests and scams. get our stuff and then make more money off of it.
    When writers do make money off of blogs or books from blogs, or books, there’s not a whole lot of recognition for the work it takes to get there. Gold miners somehow manage to strike it rich– they never spend countless hours scratching at the earth or panning for gold. It’s all just luck.

    Liked by 2 people

    • May 11, 2017 at 9:41 am

      Thanks, Petra! And regarding the competitions – some of them don’t even have to read the writing that’s sent into competitions. They make enough from the entry fees. And you’re so right about the end perception of success. No matter how many years it takes somebody to get there, they’re always seen as an overnight success.


  38. Terry Tyler
    May 11, 2017 at 8:58 pm

    Fear not, Tara, you didn’t nick the gold rush analogy off Kristen Lamb, loads of people are making it!!!

    Interesting to read this – only the other day, I saw in my inbox something from uber book marketing *Mr S* (don’t want to be targeted!). Mr S was offering me this amazing 30 day free trial for a new book marketing dream promo. I clicked the ‘yes, I do want to watch Bangcock Chick Boys’ button by mistake, or, okay, perhaps on purpose because I wanted to see what it was all about. Sounded great. I clicked to carry on, several times, until it got to actually signing up for this 30 day free trial. Mr S wanted not only my home address, but also my bank details, without which I wouldn’t get my 30 days. I queried this, and received emails back not from Mr S, but from Mr O and Mr J, explaining that if I wasn’t satisfied with the 30 day free trial I could cancel my subscription to Rip Off Book Marketing Services Inc. I said, but I don’t want to subscribe to anything. I just want my 30 days to see if it’s worth doing.

    Eventually I contacted one of the authors who had endorsed the service, who told me this:

    “The free trial is not worth having. It’s mostly an advert for the thing you actually pay for, which is quite expensive, and does work if you have no idea how to market your books, but it’s an outdated technique now … the mailing list doesn’t make as much money as it did when there weren’t thousands of writers (who have all been advised by Mr S, Mr D, et al) to offer free books”

    I then reported this back to Mr S, Mr O and Mr J, who are now much less willing to chat. Weird, that!!!

    Liked by 1 person

    • May 11, 2017 at 10:20 pm

      Terry, thank you so much for this helpful, brilliant rundown of your own experience. I suspect there are a thousand other such ‘services’ being touted out there as we speak. I hope your comment will stop at least one person from wasting their money on things which haven’t worked in years – if indeed they ever did!

      What really frustrates me is that the people selling this stuff KNOW it won’t work. That’s what makes them scams.


      • Terry Tyler
        May 12, 2017 at 6:41 am

        Tara, absolutely! They rely on the naivete and vanity of wannabe best sellers. The author told me more about what’s on offer, and it’s nothing you can’t do yourself – much of it is about joining a networking group. He told me that most of the writers write either erotic romance, gory horror or fantasy and many of them are ‘dross’, so you wouldn’t want to network with them anyway; there is little for, say, the writer of histfic or general contemporary fiction. And the email listing they offer for your free book – as my friend said, you’re better off with 50 genuine regular readers than 1000 who just want to download free books, and are never going to pay for one, anyway!

        Yes, I hope so, re someone reading this, too. Happily, I approached it with a cynical eye, as I think I was born with a scam detector, but too many aren’t. It’s why vanity publishers exist…!!

        I shall be tweeting this excellent article, of course 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

        • May 12, 2017 at 2:02 pm

          Thanks Terry – even if all this makes even one person think twice, it’ll be worth it!


  39. May 15, 2017 at 12:27 pm

    This is absolutely feckin’ brilliant! And needed saying. I have done two really good courses which have helped me to improve my book sales and hone my marketing but I have not become a best seller. I went into it thinking I would probably earn the cost of each course if I was lucky. I have. But I wouldn’t at the price either goes for today.

    Case in point, one course was about building an engaged mailing list. I have one. And they are lovely, but it costs me £50 a month and the folks who are on it aren’t buying £50 per month’s worth of books. They buy £30 and the new readers from promos spend the other £70 buying books 2,3, and 4 of my series after they’ve read the first one free. Even when the courses are really useful, there is no golden bullet, no one size fixes all. There are some courses that can help but mostly, it’s about keeping on writing books, putting them out there, with quality content, quality covers and quality editing. Maybe when I have a back catalogue that’s a little longer than five books there will be some point to the effort I put into my marketing. But I read somewhere that Hugh Howie once said that, basically, nothing much happened until he’d published over 20 books.

    So, until then I guess it’s write, publish, repeat.



    Liked by 1 person

    • May 15, 2017 at 1:03 pm

      That’s absolutely superb advice, MT. I honestly believe that no marketing campaign on earth is going to work for a single book. And anyone who dares to tell us different, is lying. You can’t build a brand if there’s nothing there to sell (unless you’re a Kardashian, obviously.)

      Right, I’m off to write 10 more books. See you in a little while 😉

      Liked by 1 person

  40. May 19, 2017 at 8:19 am

    Right after reading this no dodgey promises will be listened to. I shall be diserning…. Thanks for the alert!

    Liked by 1 person

    • May 19, 2017 at 10:55 am

      Most welcome Marje… if talking about it foiled even one scam I’d never stop…

      Liked by 1 person

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