I checked my email the day after publishing my latest e-book on Amazon and sharing it through Twitter. I see five new messages through my official business email, I assumed they were readers of my blog.
At first, I yay’d!
Then, upon closer inspection, I noticed phrases like:
“read your synopsis and… I want to promote your work…”
“hey, I have like 100k followers and your book…”
“looks like you wrote a book and need to get it reviewed…”
So, my heart started to sink and I realized I might be the biggest loser on Earth. Because, I was totally getting spam, and I took it to heart. Talk about a total bummer.
Apparently, bloggers, influencers, and/or imposters are pretending to be an avid reader of your particular fiction and they want to help you get reviews…, for a cost.
In my mind, I thought, “hey, it’s a free e-book, what’s the big deal, why not sign up for a copy of my book and call it a day?”
Therefore, I performed an experiment…
I chose one of the email addresses from the list of spammers and plugged it into my MailChimp subscribe form. I sent them a free e-book instead of replying to their message via my business inbox. I’m not a professional hacker or IT wiz. I don’t know how to enter the mainframe.
The scam-booker took my e-book, and unsubscribed.
That’s like going to a grocery store, running to the counter with the free samples of hot food, gobbling it in front of the store clerk, placing the empty cup back on the counter, and sprinting like heck to make sure they didn’t see you eat a FREE Sample!
Apparently, I’m not the only one who was ‘scammed’ this happens to new indie authors enough times for there to be forums about it, i.e. Goodreads.
Many of the seasoned ones know better than to click these, and usually, your email system can tell you’re just receiving spam.
Here’s a recap of the warning signs:
- Random accolades from a total random.
- They didn’t subscribe to your newsletter/blog but want your e-book (and they won’t take no for an answer).
- They don’t use the title of your book or tell you what it is about.
- They may use an autoreply system that tells you to send the book to the inbox (and nobody gets hurt).
- They may unsubscribe once you subscribe them to your mailing list.
- Sounds too good to be true like most scams.
Usually, these scam-bookers are looking to do one of 3 things:
- Gain followers (without following you back in return).
- Pirate your free e-book (it’s free, what the heck!).
- Or they want you to purchase reviews for Amazon, but that doesn’t mean they will be quality or allowed on Amazon.
What can you do to protect yourself?
- Realize that no matter how awesome your book is no one is going to promote it for free unless they genuinely love your work, words, or you.
- Set-up a litmus test, make them send you some info about writers they’ve worked with in the past.
- Don’t be overly excited when you get fan mail. It might be a fan, but it’s probably just spam.
You’re a writer. Your work matters. Even if a couple of scammers make you feel icky inside. You took the risk to share your work and sometimes snails come out of the grove and starts munching on your lettuce. Just get some salt and keep it moving.
If you know a writer share this warning with them. I think it’s a helpful blog post that should be shared among the writing community.
Thanks for reading!