Dancin’ with the Flim-Flam Man

Written By: Jackie Weger - Nov• 15•15

Dancin’ with the Flim-Flam Man…

marketing-strategy-planNo, that is not the title of a book.  It is the name of a 1967 movie. A flim-flam  is a swindle or con artist trick.  It is designed to cheat people out of $$$. Those kinds of swindles are landing in my mailbox with regularity. I opened an email today from a man I suspect is a catfisher. An ebook catfisher is an indie author who hires workers to write his ehow non-fiction books on food or alcohol addiction, or ehow to learn a language in five days or less. The author will tout he has upwards of 50-100 books in print and ALL ARE BEST SELLERS. See this in the Washington Post: How an Industry of ‘Amazon entrepreneurs’ pulled off the Internet’s craftiest catfishing scheme.

Rabbits and eggs-02

Rabbits for Sale! Hatching soon. Preorder today.

These folks bait indie authors with a few articles cribbed from reliable sites and industry gurus…and next tell you they are earning above $5000 dollars every single month on three or four books… And by golly, if you will fork over $299 to attend a virtual conference or buy the video, they will name the books, name the aliases they use on the books and show you how to earn big bucks as an indie author.  Before you fork over $$$, ask this: Why the heck do I have to PAY money to learn the title of a best selling book? And the author’s alias?  Just so you, know, Amazon skins those catfish schemes. An author is allowed up to three aliases. That is it. Most of the schemes are about hiring a non- native English speaking ghostwriter for pennies on the dollar.

Happens in fiction, too. I accidentally bought one when downloading my first ebooks on my new Kindle. The author’s bio said between books he was climbing Mt. Everest, the highest mountains on the North American Continent in Alaska, diving for treasure in the Caribbean and hiking through a desert in Africa. The book was dreadful, full of  typos and grammar non-existent. The story arc also had a character running 100 miles through a jungle in a short amount of time. Oops. I’ve lived in jungles. One can hack one’s way through with a machete, but you ain’t gonna run. I said so, and wondered how a writer could go from one end of the earth to the other in a single lifetime and still find time to write. B.O.L.O. Catfish book.

The drivel that arrives in my mailbox promises $$$ and Glory. Got one today that says if I pay $59 the promoter will put my book in front of 400,000 global readers within a year. Hey! I’m old. I might be dead in a year. I want my books in promotion in front of those readers NOW.  The promoter is a 2015 startup. How the heck did the promoter acquire 400,000 subscribers in less than a year? Who are they? What countries? Do they read English? Do they own eReaders? Moreover, the promoter won’t say who he/she is. I keep asking. No name. He is also trying to snag me by offering to review Finding Home. No thank you. The book already has above 300 reviews. I’m good.

Here is another: For $1499 the promoter guarantees 700 downloads of a 99¢ book. I emailed the guy. Told him there’s no return on investment. And the author would be more than $700 in the red, if that slot was purchased.  He also sells promo for FREE units. Guarantees thousands of downloads…authors who have bought the free slot say the promo does not generate reviews…and the books don’t snag a nice slot in paid after the promo. The books drop to sucking mud in China once back to paid. Something is skewed.

It is always Author Choice to buy into these schemes. Not telling you not to. I look at it this way. If a guy knocks on my front door and promises me Glory if I hand over $300 cash, right then and there–I’m gonna ask the fool nicely to stand out by my rural mailbox so I can practice shooting my snake gun. I’ve said this before: If these folks are so dang successful, why do they need my $$$ and yours?

Almost Perfect: Three Volume Collection

Sold 471+ units in a recent 99¢ KCD

Indie authorship is not easy. It is work and time consuming. It is often frustrating. It is an adventure. We must invest in our books. That’s a given. Editors, Cover artists, Formatters, Beta readers.  It takes three times as many sales/borrows to recoup a single wasted dollar. Not to mention the angst one suffers knowing we ate Stupid for Breakfast and don’t dare admit it. My best suggestion for an indie author: Think for yourself. You had enough common sense to write a book and publish it, didn’t you? Don’t discard your good sense once you type THE END.

When I’m checking how effective a promoter, I put the books it is promoting in Kindle Nation Daily Book tracker. It is FREE. You can check a book’s sales rank for months in the past up to: Updated hourly–and at what price. Here are the stats for a title I had in a recent promotion:

Start of Promotion: Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #355,631 Paid in Kindle Store.

Three days into Promotion: Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #576 Paid in Kindle Store.

I had promo slots with: fkbt. DBT. It’sWriteNow. KBR. Choosy Bookworm. booktastik. So all of those sites performed nicely for the book. In addition I see 97 books moved in crossover sales and above 18,789 KENP pages read [borrows] during  three of the 6 day  promo.

JackieWeger-BioHeadShot (1)

@JackieWeger, eNovel Authors At Work

I’m Jackie Weger. I’m an indie author. I am not a best-selling author day-in and day-out. But when I take time to plan a campaign, large or small, my books sell. Amazon sometimes tags one of my books as #1 Best Selling in its category. That is nice. I enjoy it while it lasts, and move on. Thank you stopping by. Comments and questions always welcome.


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  1. Thanks,Jackie. Scams are everywhere. Please think before you spend $.

  2. Amy says:

    Too many people get excited about these promises instead of working on their writing, getting things EDITED and really learning about marketing. There’s no easy way for anything, writing isn’t any different.
    Unless you wrote 50 shades. 🙂

  3. David Wind says:

    This stuff goes on every day, and every day more people fall for promises of the easy wa. Nice article.

  4. Once again, the adage prevails: If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is…

  5. Mary Smith says:

    Good post, Jackie. I had one the other offering to put one of my books in front of 400,000 people (possibly the same one you mention) but they picked an out of print book. Now I have someone every day tell me Google wants to give me thousands of dollars. I’m not sure what that one is about as I delete, unread.
    For new idie authors out there it must be so difficult to know which offers are genuine. I work on the principle that if it is unsoliciteed it’s probably a scam.

  6. Had a lunch meeting with my Mexico Writers group yesterday and we were talking about this very subject. I told them you were On it.

  7. Telling it like it is, Jackie. Just wish I had a nickel for every one of those scam offers I get!

  8. Dale Furse says:

    Skepticism is a good thing when dealing with to-good-to-be-true schemes. Thanks Jackie. 🙂

  9. Excellent article, Jackie, and this is you in your best form! I find you write the best pieces when using humor and definitely when mentioning your infamous snake gun. I laughed out loud. Indeed, many tricksters out there. Authors will do well to check out an author who claims he’s the best thing since sliced bread before parting with their money, including their followers on Twitter, their site’s Alexa rank, and the ranks of their books on Amazon. I do all that and have found myself chuckling many times. Saved me some money too 🙂

  10. Traci Hall says:

    Great article, Jackie. Writing and marketing, the whole package, is a job and before I spend any more $$$ I want to know where it’s going and what the purpose is. I am learning to ask direct questions!

  11. I’ve seen the $1500 for 700 guaranteed downloads you mention. My understanding is that someone has a small army of workers with multiple Amazon accounts, downloading free ebooks all day long. I doubt that is anyone’s ideal readership, though, so the long-term benefits are bound to be zero.

  12. TJ Shortt says:

    Great post, Jackie!

  13. Rosie Dean says:

    That’s it, Jackie. You need a snake gun for the snake oil salesmen!

  14. […] and events, or I have books offered FREE or discounted.  I always alert subscribers to fabulous eNovel Authors at Work Rafflecopters, Giveaways and new […]

  15. The day after I got the notice from the Library of Congress that my copyright was registered, I started getting offers to publish it for me. Since the process takes time, I had already published it myself in ebook, and was working on the POD.

    The predators are everywhere – your address becomes public record when the copyright is registered.

    • Jackie Weger says:

      Alicia: Thank you for stopping by and commenting. Yes, there are predators…who promise glory and cannot deliver. The only person who has your book’s best interest at heart is YOU.

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