Networking Scams

Watch out for networking scams! As an author you want to promote your book through a variety of venues, including book signings, personal sales, an online presence or through networking.

These are good pursuits. The more you get yourself out there the better your chances of broadening your exposure. However, you also are subject to scams.

Recently, I received a letter saying, someone nominated me to become a member of a women’s professional networking organization. On the postcard, they listed their Web site for me to visit. I did that. It looked legit.

Since I am a member of the local chamber of commerce and they referred me to a reporter for an interview a month ago, I believed they could have passed on my name on this. I filled out the card, omitting my e-mail address. The card required my address, telephone number and perhaps my Web site but no other personal information. Thus I sent it in without worrying about relaying private information. If it did, I would not have completed it.

A couple of weeks rolled by and I never thought more about it until last week when I received a call from them. They asked me about the other professional organizations I belonged to and more about my business. I gave them the information and my e-mail address since they said the membership was selective on whom they would grant membership. I promoted myself, saying I was a member of such and such and my book, Seasons of the Soul, received Best of Year from www.Christianstoryteller.com and my short story, “The Silver Lining” (which is free to read on Smashwords) came in 10th on the 79th Writer’s Digest Writing Competition in the mainstream/literary short story category.

The caller stated they would love to focus me in their newsletter. I was thrilled at the extra exposure but then the woman hit with their membership dues – a stunning more than $600 for one type or $400 and something for their networking membership. “We need to place this on your credit card,” knowing earlier I selected the networking one.

Stunned, I composed myself. “That’s too much.”

“Well,” she continued, We have a $289 membership which would allow you such and such.

I replied, “I would have to ask my husband and would rather send a check. Could you send me the information?” I knew I would never submit the check.

“No, we need to confirm this through credit card. We have another membership for $189 which …”

“Again,” I reiterated, “I would have to ask my husband.”

Exasperated, she offered me their free newsletter. “Let me connect you with processing.”

I heard the click and stayed on the line. When after several seconds no one connected with me, I hung up the phone.

What a scam. Thank God I had the good sense to not give them my credit card number but how many others were vulnerable to this technique? I do not want to give the women’s organization’s name but it is located in Garden City, New York. Watch for them or other groups portraying themselves as one thing but really a front to reach into your pocket.

Social Media: Friend or Foe?

Recently, someone sent me an article called Why You Should Consider turning Your Back on Social Media. The article is geared towards small businesses, but what are independent authors if not the smallest business unit there is?

The gist is that in some cases the time spent updating Twitter/Facebook, including commenting, making connections, and creating content can sometimes take more time than they’re worth in terms of sales.

When I first published Shades of Gray over a year ago, I jumped on the Facebook (and to a lesser extent Twitter) bandwagons. I spent hours setting up pages on facebook, making “friends”, commenting on their stuff and trying to come up with clever advertising techniques.  I generated a few questions, like “Wow, I want to get published too! How do I do it?” and several “congratulations” or “Your book sounds interesting”, but if it resulted in any sales I’d be surprised.

MySpace, on the other hand, did generate sales because of the blog. Though as far as I know I could count the “random” sales on my digits. Mainly, I was able to sell to people I  already interacted with on more personal levels, such as reading their blogs or because we were in poetry groups together.

Oddly, Flickr (a photography site) has generated several random sales. In fact, my newest Amazon review came from a new Flickr contact.

So, I wondered how it was with other authors. Have you found a great success with social networks? If so, were the sales generated worth the time it took to set up the pages, get the contacts, keep the contacts by being friendly (eg commenting on their statuses/photos/tweets/messages and such), etc. ?

 

One Author’s Rise from Unknown to 1K in 8 Weeks

I ran across this last night and thought I’d share the links. Susan Bischoff is writing an interesting series of posts on her rise from unknown author to a 1K Kindle author in 8 weeks and how she did it. The posts start here with Kindle Rank: Unknown to top 1K in 8 Weeks, and continue through her thoughts on Increasing Your Kindle Rank: Goodreads, Giveaways, and Reviews; Increasing Your Kindle Rank: Blogging and Social Media, Increasing Your Kindle Rank: Friends and Cross-Promotion, and Increasing Your Kindle Rank: Pricing.

Not sure if there will be more, but I found some of her approaches to promotion to be interesting.

Yes, Authors DO Feel….

As writers we tend not to discuss our feelings, but rather to analyze them like a third-party and then hand them off to a character to feel for us; or at least a good portion of us do. To that end, we tend to be in denial,  at least publicly, about many of the emotional ups and downs of publishing, including those terrible book release jitters.

Whether it’s your first book or your third, when you put a book out it’s the same as taking a little piece of yourself and holding it out to the world for approval because, no matter what you write, some part of yourself is embedded in the words.  And what if “the world” doesn’t like it? What if they reject it, or sneer at it, or call it “trite”, “cheesy” or even “terrible”?

Though we smile and say, “oh, it doesn’t matter. I don’t care if no one likes this; I’m writing for me.” We do care.  Just like everyone else, we want to be accepted and loved, and that extends to our words because our words are part of us, and a rejection of those words is a rejection of ourselves, and who wants that?

Even worse, what if we have fans who liked the other book(s) but hate this one and suddenly turn their back and forsake us forever?  What if we lose what fan base we’ve established? What if? What if? What if?

The what-if’s make it the worst. When there are too many possibilities, the imagination can shift into over drive and make up all sorts of terrible scenarios.  After all, that overactive imagination is what prompted us to write that book in the first place, so why shouldn’t it be running full tilt now?  How do you stop it?

I don’t know about you, but I can’t “stop” it, only distract it. I can try to “logic it away” by pointing out that the world won’t end, that it’s unlikely my five fans will hate it so much that they’ll walk away, and if they do, then I can surely go find five more somewhere else. And, just because they don’t like the book doesn’t really mean they don’t like me. Off the top of my head, I can’t think of an author whose every single book I’ve love, love, loved.

But logic can only go so far, and in the end the best way to work through it is to just work through it. Talk about it, write about it, blog about it. Break the “rules” and admit that you’re not an unruffle-able being with a stone heart and skin so thick that every sling and arrow bounces off it. Sure, we might think we’re supposed to be, we might be following the examples of industry leaders who sail on with their perfect persona’s in place, but I’d be willing to bet that even the calmest and coolest of the cool has lain awake at night, staring at the ceiling and wondering “what if?”

After all, as a writer words, and feelings, are our craft, so why are we all trying to hide from them?