Hello, SE’ers! It’s Jan here to talk about an infuriating book marketing pitfall. I will share some tips to help make sure you don’t fall for useless book marketing promises that can drain your pocketbook.

Image courtesy Pete Linforth via Pixabay

New authors are desperate to get their work discovered. And that makes them vulnerable to promises that sound too good to be true. The old adage comes to mind, If it sounds too good to be true, it probably isn’t.

But it’s not just new authors who are vulnerable. Even though seasoned authors tend to be more cautious, we can all still fall prey to these sharks. They’ve gotten good at saying what we want to hear.

So what can we do to protect ourselves and our money?

  • First and maybe most importantly, if someone cold-contacts you, it should raise a big red flag. For example, let’s say you get a cold call email saying something along the lines of “our scouts have found your book, and because we believe it is highly marketable, we’d like to make it a bestseller…” or something of the sort. You get the picture. No one from a reputable company is going to contact you out of the blue with such an offer! Don’t fall for it!

Here’s the perfect example of a cold call email:

Screenshot from my computer
  • Do your research. If a site offers to put your book in front of thousands of readers, look at their social media. Explore other authors who leave testimonies. Take a look at their sales stats and if you want, contact them directly and ask about their experience.
  • If a site advertises they can make you a bestseller and the owner of the site has a book, go to Amazon and look at their rankings. If they can’t sell their book, how can they sell yours?
  • If you are going to spend money with a book marketer, set a budget that is within your means. Just because you think they might get you to the top of the pile doesn’t mean you need to break the bank.
  • Caution is the word I think is the most important when it comes to spending money with marketers.

I don’t want to leave a sour taste in your mouth. There are legitimate sites that do what they promise and don’t charge an arm and leg. Dave Chesson, the founder of Kindlepreneur, has a list of “The Best Book Promo Sites.” I would trust this list. Dave cannot afford to risk his reputation by putting out bad information.

I like that Dave lists the price ranges.

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I found a list on the Book Exhibit website that includes some companies and groups that are scams. If you’re curious, you can take a look here.

I’d love to hear from you. Have you ever fallen prey to one of these book marketing scams? Have you used any of the book promotion sites listed on Kindlepreneur? Let’s talk!

If you’ve missed any of my previous book marketing posts, here they are:










#MKTG Part 10 – More AMAZON ADS


#MKTG Part 12 – LinkedIn

#MKTG Part 13 – BOOKBub Ads

#MKTG Part 14 – Book Blog Tours

#MKTG Part 15 – Paid Book Blog Tours

#MKTG Part 16 – Rafflecopter

#MKTG Part 17 – TikTok

#MKTG Part 18 – Building an Email List

#MKTG Part 19 – Book Awards

92 thoughts on “MKTG #20 – SCAMS

  1. Pingback: MKTG #22 – Wrap-up | Story Empire

  2. Pingback: MKTG #21 – BookStores | Story Empire

  3. Pingback: This Week at Story Empire – Joan Hall

  4. I tend to be skeptical, especially when these contacts come out of the blue. I’ve had some of these phone calls out of the blue with generic compliments that make me feel like they have their standard scam lines.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. This is a fantastic post, Jan. I get loads of those “too good to be true” offers. They even call my phone! I ignore them. But this legit list you’ve shared is intriguing. It could prove to be helpful. Thanks for sharing.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yep. I’ve had them call me on my phone, too, Beem. Thankfully, I have a setting that allows my phone to ignore any unknown callers. That sure made my life happier when I found it! I’m glad you enjoyed the post. Thanks for commenting and thanks for reblogging!

      Liked by 1 person

  6. A very informative post Jan. I get quite a few of those that try to lure emails. I love Dave’s helpful posts. I had to shake my head at how much the ad prices have gone up in the past two years. Ouch. Thanks for this valuable info ❤

    Liked by 1 person

  7. I don’t think I’ve fallen prey to a book marketing scam yet, Jan, and fortunately, I haven’t used any on the “beware” list. I’ve used Dave’s reference as a resource for years. Unfortunately, in my experience, even when participating in legit paid promotions, I rarely make back my investment. It might feel like a scam even when it’s not. I like your advice to avoid anything that sounds too good to be true because you’re right – it probably is.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you, Diana. I have found a few promotions that have been worth my money, and I might have broken even, but honestly, it’s just hard to sell books anymore. The market is flooded. All we can hope to do is keep our circle of readers entertained with new works and keep the creativity flowing. My sister tells me we write books for ourselves and to an extent that is true. But in the process, we do hope someone will read and enjoy our stories. I appreciate your comment and adding to the conversation!

      Liked by 1 person

      • That’s great to hear that you’ve had some good luck with promotions, Jan. And I agree wth your other comments. Anyone getting into this business who is looking for quick success and a livable income is likely to be disappointed. Anyone who promises that is likely a scammer.

        Liked by 1 person

  8. Great informational resource, Jan! I’ve not fallen prey to a scam yet, but have been targeted with scam emails many times.
    On the “good” list I’ve used the Fussy Librarian many times with decent results, and my previous publisher did a few BookBub ads for me that gave spectacular results. I wish BB wasn’t so expensive!

    Liked by 1 person

    • I agree with you, Mae. I wish BookBub wasn’t so expensive, but if it were cheaper, it would probably not bring great results. Hardly any of the publishers will front the expense anymore, so you were lucky there. I’ve looked at the Fussy Librarian and looks like they mostly promote free or 99 cent books. I’m glad to know you’ve had okay results from them. Thank you so much for adding to the conversation today!

      Liked by 1 person

  9. I’ve used BookBub with really good results, but they’re hard to get into and really expensive. Can’t usually afford them. I’ve tried to use BookBub, Facebook, and Amazon ads with no results. I’ve used Written Word Media with good results but use The Fussy Librarian more, and I usually do all right with them. I tried Fiverr for $15 and it didn’t do much, and I’ve tried eReader News, but the results were iffy. Free books always do the best, so I use those once in a while to try to bring new readers to a series.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you for sharing your experience, Judi! I agree about the BookBub features. They are hard to get, but everyone says they pay off. I’ve had the same results as you with the ads. I haven’t heard of Written Word Media, but will check them out. Free books are much easier to promote and as you say, hopefully, will bring new readers. I appreciate you taking the time to share today!

      Liked by 1 person

  10. This is such an important topic, Jan! I’ve been offered all sorts of great deals but, like you, I follow through on the examples they give of authors they have on their books plus their own backgrounds. The results are always dismal and it bothers me that people are throwing good money away on a company that can’t deliver on their promises. There’s also an awful lot of authors with very poor feedback who are marketing themselves as editors who can “lift your work” to the status of a bestseller. Grrrrr.

    Liked by 1 person

    • It is frustrating, Trish. We all work so hard at producing our stories, and it’s disheartening to get ambushed trying to market them. I totally agree about so-called editors. My first one hardly knew the English language. It should have been a sign when he consistently misspelled my name. 🙂 But that’s all water under the bridge. Thanks for stopping by and leaving a comment today!

      Liked by 1 person

  11. Like you, I trust Dave to provide accurate information. I get emails a lot from “so-called” promoters. I promptly delete them. It’s sad that some authors fall for things like this, much like some have fallen for vanity publishers.

    Liked by 2 people

    • So true, Joan. And it’s easy to see why authors (especially new authors) might fall for these so-called promotions. I know I did. I was so excited to have my first book out, I was gullible and hopeful. I just knew the entire world was going to love it, so promises for promotion to thousands were enticing. And I agree about the vanity publishers as well. It’s sad to see authors throw money away to these sharks. Thanks for your comment.

      Liked by 2 people

  12. I can’t recall where I first heard this advice, but it has served me over the years. “No one will care as much about your marketing as you!” That was my incentive to capture notes (like your blog post and Dave Chesson’s downloads) on marketing in my writer’s database. No cost other than the time and effort to record and heed.

    Liked by 2 people

  13. Of the Kindlepreneur list, I’ve only used BookBub. Their crazy-expensive feature ad yielded excellent results (but those are so hard to get). Their anyone-can-run-an-ad option did nothing for me.

    I get cold-contacted all the time. I ignore those. Maybe some are legitimate people trying to establish a service, but I can’t afford to take the risk. Thanks for this information, Jan.

    Liked by 2 people

    • You are absolutely right, Staci, in that last comment. None of us can afford to take the risk. I agree about the BookBub feature. They are hard to get, but everyone praises the results. I’ve had the same results with running an ad. It did nothing for me and even it was rather expensive for my pocketbook. Thank you for stopping by and adding to the conversation!

      Liked by 1 person

  14. You have made a wonderful series on book marketing, which has many advices for other branches too, Jan. I hope you will also publish this as a book, in future. There are too much people trying to lure money out of your pocket. Thanks for this posting. I also will forward the warnings. Have a beautiful week! xx Michael

    Liked by 2 people

      • Thanks for the information, Jan. Without violins playing in the background …I’m now an nonagenarian writer trying to publish my tenth book, and just can’t afford to pay for my m/s to see light of day. Spoilt by early success (1984-5) & early in 2000, a few prizes and regular royalties, I shed a tear at today’s greed. I ‘`push’ when a sign says ‘pull’ so am, technically, inept but just love writing. Large sigh.

        Liked by 1 person

      • I feel your pain, Joy. It’s a totally different world these days and greed drives everything, even the creative arts. I appreciate you taking the time to visit and leave a comment. Hope you’re able to get your manuscript published. Best wishes!

        Liked by 1 person

  15. Does anyone get emails from Cheryl?

    Hi! I am looking for new books to read and review, I enjoy ALL books, and would love an opportunity to read and review yours! I’m a college student studying English literature.
    Cheryl Kelly Haydel

    My name is Cheryl and I really want to get back into reading some good books! I’m a sophomore college student. I read and review all kinds of books (NO genre-based restriction). If you have a book which needs a review, you can let me know.
    Cheryl Simmons

    I am a full-time student but this year I have a more flexible schedule so I will have time to read your story. Let me know if you are still offering review copies. I look forward to hearing from you that are interested.
    Cheryl J. Huffman

    I am a student of literature. I enjoy reading all genres. Right now I am on a break from college so I am accepting book review requests. Please contact me for details.
    Cheryl Wynkoop
    I am Cheryl, a student of English literature. I have been in love with books since I was a kid. I read books of all genres. If you are looking for a review on Amazon or Goodreads, please contact me.
    Cheryl Simmons

    Jeez, at least change your first name . . .

    Liked by 4 people

    • Exactly, Jill. Be careful. The phone calls are the most annoying. Thankfully, I have a setting on my phone to automatically reject unknown callers. It’s a crazy world out there. Thank you for stopping by and leaving a comment.

      Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks for leaving a comment, Harmony. I have yet to figure out the nuts and bolts of BookBub, but I know it’s a great platform. Without a doubt, marketing our work is the hardest thing we do. Have a great day!

      Liked by 1 person

  16. Pingback: MKTG #20 – SCAMS | Legends of Windemere

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