One of the biggest things I feel for early on in my career as an author involves the appearance of help.
What happens is someone from a company calls you. I was just sitting in my room editing Caught when someone calls.
“Hello, I’m is this M.L.S. Weech?”
I ignored the suspicious accent and rough pronunciation of my name. You see, someone called my author identity. I was finally noticed!
“This is,” I said, feeling my heartbeat race.
I can’t remember what company he claimed to be in, and I don’t want to dime out the other company that fooled me the same way (though that looked far more legitimate than this first company).
Things they say:
“Our research team has tagged your book as one that’s very appealing to our market.”
“I’ve read your book, and I really think there’s a lot going for it.”
“Our reader surveys have identified your book as one that rated very high.”
Other things they say:
“We’re prepared to present your book at ‘insert fake book conference.'”
“We’d like to market your book.”
So, on my infinite list of things I wish I’d known or even just thought of:
- What self respecting marketing company has to solicit books to market? Seriously, their job is to put brands in front of eyes. Their entire profit margin is based on selling things. People go to them to market a product. They don’t just randomly call people.
- Anyone who calls asking for your money, isn’t interested in helping you make money.
- Even if they’re offering to pay X for Y. They’ll eventually get around to asking you for money.
This leads me to last night. I’d already had a fairly unpleasant day. So imagine my mood (those who know me know I’m not one to suffer much in the way of wasting my valuable time) when someone calls.
First warning: They used my real name and not my pen name. I have nothing against my real name. It’s a bit hard to pronounce, which is the reason for the pen name, but I like it. The thing is, this caller didn’t even speak about the author credited for my book.
Second Warning: “I can tell you’re reading out loud.” When this woman called and told me how readers rated it 90-something percent whatever, she started off by saying, “I’m calling about your book….The….Journals of….Bob…Drifter.” (Clearly she’d done a tone of research on my book. I mean, she worked so hard, she forgot the name of the book she was researching.)
I tried to be nice:
I’m smarter now than I was a few years back. So I usually have a nice conversation. I’m polite. I get a kick out of these people who want to tell me how great my book could sell, but they can’t even name the main character (the hint is on the cover folks). But, as I mentioned, I was already in a fighting mood. So, the most nice I could have been was to be frank:
“I’m sorry ma’am, but if you’re calling to offer me services that will cost me any money, I’m not interested. I’d been scammed before, so unless you’re offering me services at absolutely no cost to me, I’m not interested.”
Anyone who knows me knows that was probably the moment this individual should have hung up. She didn’t.
Don’t worry, Sis, I still wasn’t that bad:
I can get flat out mean on the phone (one of my sisters gets pretty upset at me when I lose my temper on people who waste my time on the phone). It’s a failing of mine, but this time, because I already knew I was ready to spit rage and discontent in the face of any who dare appear before me, I reminded myself that no one actually deserved said anger. She went on to carefully avoid using the phrase “no cost to you.”
She said things like, “We’re prepared to do this marketing for you for this amount of time.” Then she went into her pitch like a bull in my freshly mopped China shop.
I was still pretty direct:
Before she could finish her rather elaborate plan that didn’t include my target audience, my demographic or my local market, I said, “I need to stop you there. The question I asked was, are you doing this at absolutely no expense to me.”
She said, “Like I said, we’re preparing to offer you…”
I said, “Ma’am, I asked you if you’re going to do this at no cost to me. Please answer yes or no.”
This apparently hurt her feelings. She told me she can’t work with me. I’m apparently a negative person.
Honestly, I was, but she was trying to steal my money, so I don’t, exactly, feel guilty about it.
The thing is, my first year I lost $24,000 (that’s not a typo). So be direct. I found a blog I think really gives you a good way to vet people, but I stand by my original statement:
No one, ever, is going to call you and say, “I want to help you sell your book.”
Well..okay, an Agent may call you, but he’ll know your name and the name of your book, and you’ll have sent him a query. Same with a publisher. But no one, ever, is going to call you out of the blue, and suddenly want to sell your book. Spend that money on a marketer you’ve researched, conventions you can attend, or publishing a new book.
Don’t fall for the traps. We in the indie author community support you. Bounce these opportunities off us. Search any company that calls you. Chase your dream, but don’t let others take advantage of that dream.
Thanks for reading,