Authors: Beware of Scammers

beware of scammers

At least once a week I learn of some new scam aimed directly at authors and it just hurts my heart. Never has it been so challenging to know who you can trust when it comes to marketing and publicizing your book.

I feel for you.

I, too, am challenged by this frequently because sometimes those targets happen to be my clients, and I am very protective of them. Authors have a target on their backs, particularly the ones who are new to the game and it’s their “first rodeo,” as they say.

Just this week I had a call from a client telling me she had been approached by a big media firm out of New York and they really wanted to have her on one of their shows.

I’m really not suspicious by nature, but my baloney detector was almost immediately activated as I listened to her tell me her story and how excited she was.

Finally, I broke the spell by asking how much money they wanted.


That’s a lot, but I’ve heard worse.

I told her to run far away, and I asked for the number of this company and name of the rep who called, and called him back myself. After all, I WANT to know what is going on out there so I’m very curious. I asked lots of questions; many I already knew the answers to.

Bottom Line: They won’t be calling her again.

So what can you do to protect yourself from scammers like this?

Pray. If you believe in this kind of help. I figure it can’t hurt, right?

Have someone in your corner. You need to have someone you can ask about these kind of “opportunities.” It needs to be someone you trust, and you don’t want to ask someone who has already agreed to pay the money to be on the show. They may be invested in not admitting it was a mistake (subconsciously, of course). Groups can be tricky too because you’ll get differing opinions but it’s better than nothing. If you have someone who is out there working with this stuff day in and day out, someone who has experience and who you run things by, well that’s the best scenario.

So No to the Dough. Money. Are they asking you for some? If they are, it’a a sales call. Just remember that. No upstanding media channel is going to ask you for money to be on the air, unless it’s a sales call, and usually when this is the case, they ask for money when you have pitched them. Again, that’s advertising.

Now, things continue to change, and I’m finding more and more podcasts are charging money to be interviewed, and many bloggers are also looking to be paid for running a guest blog post or a book review. I don’t like this, but they aren’t scammers. It’s  advertising (even though they may not call it that) and it’s perfectly legal. They’re simply trying to make a buck, and some have a large enough targeted audience that would make paying for it a good decision.

These things have to be considered carefully. For the most part, I am all for the third-party credibility that comes from having earned media say or write something fabulous about you and your book. That is the exchange. You’re giving them fresh, amazing content in exchange for exposure to their audience. It’s already a win/win.

Watch for the gray. There is some gray area here too. For example, there are “publicity firms” that charge you money to get you coverage, and then they go out and pay for the coverage themselves, but they don’t tell you that. Naturally, they have their own markup, so you’re paying a lot more than if you bought the advertising yourself. I suppose it’s legitimate, but It feels icky to me. I’ve also seen authors go into groups and share their successes with others, but they were paid for successes. It wasn’t as though a reviewer did a review simply based on the book itself. Everyone cheers, but, well, they’re being lied to, and it feels wrong

I understand wanting great reviews. There are times when paying for a review is actually a good decision, although I never would have said that a couple of years ago.

You’ve worked hard writing a book, it’s being birthed out into the world, and you want good reviews. They are very challenging to get, by the way, and almost impossible by self published authors and hybrid presses, so there are times when it will make sense.

But that is the tricky thing here. Knowing what to do to market and publicize your book is the big question. I try to answer these things in my Savvy Sunday News and on this blog. Remember, if you have questions on how to promote your book, let me know. It may become the topic of an upcoming segment. Oh, and if you think you were the target of a scammer, please let me know.

If you’re not part of the Savvy Sunday News, you can join us here.

To your success!


Scroll to Top