I've thrown away my share of money for book marketing, and most of the time I've felt like a fool afterward. So for any self-published writers who stumble across this website and this blog, I'm sharing a bit of what I learned not to do. There are several book marketers and promoters out there who are really neither. For a fee, they may do nothing at all, but if their websites are glitzy enough, they may entice you to part with a few hundred dollars. I mean, if you have it to spare at the moment, why not pluck down $400 to make $4,000? $40,000? That sounds too good to be true, and it is, as are most things that sound too good to be true. Or, as I wrote in a long-ago blog post, the so-called promoter may send out copious Tweets, but to others he conned into joining up with his glitzy website. In other words, a Tweet promoting a book of mine would go out to thousands of other hopeful writers. Writers can't make a living selling their books to other writers; they can only do so selling to readers...No shit, huh? Well, I'm guilty of wasting hard-earned money on such a charlatan.
There are many red flag warnings that I don't know (and hopefully won't learn of first-hand), but I'll share with you those I've learned either the hard way or from someone else's misery.
1. Do a Google search of the name, email address, website, or whatever works. But be sure to include the word SCAM in the search line. You'll find plenty of sad stories to steer you clear of those to avoid.
2. If the "promoter" is also a writer, search his/her work on Amazon. Bad rankings? Then they have no business helping you when they can't help themselves.
3. If they contact you from your website via your "contact me" page telling you how they would love to promote your book, though your book hasn't been purchased in weeks or months, delete that email. Why would they love to promote a book they've never read a word of?
4. If you can discover before you lay down your cash that the "promoter" will not be doing anything, but that they will show you what to do, save your money, do the research, and do it yourself.
Just last week I got an email from a lady who'd just love to review me. I went to her site that was indeed very sparkly. There was lots of hype, and some (I'm sure fake) testimonies in support. A fee was mentioned, but not the amount. I did a Google search as I said above with the word SCAM at the end, and I found that for the low price of $75 my work would be reviewed and placed somewhere within that sparkly website, but nowhere else. Not on Amazon or Goodreads, where authors need reviews. But I have an excellent counter-offer for her: for $2.99 she can buy the Kindle version of the book, and place a review on Amazon. I'm not holding my breath.
I don't know what the magic formula is. I'll just keep writing, keep promoting myself on Amazon, Facebook, and Google Ads without breaking the bank, and keep coming here to talk to you and hoping there's a you to talk to here. And if there is, maybe I can save somebody from losing money.