Tuesday, July 30, 2013

There be monsters here…

The title of today’s post comes from the edge of an old sea map I once saw. When you got past known places and boats didn’t come back, it would sometimes be blamed on monsters folks believed inhabited those waters.

Monsters still exist, of course, and always have, but they be us: people who are willing to do anything to make a buck or get ahead. There are plenty of these types inhabiting the waters of the book publishing world, too. The problem is it’s sometimes difficult to recognize them before they swallow…your hard-earned money.

Vicki Delany sent me something a week or so back and it’s just jaw-droppingly such a scam that I had to read it more than once to believe that they were actually selling what they were. Xlibris appears to be headquartered in the UK and is in the business of helping writers self-publish. In the past, that would have gotten more antennae twitching than it does today. Back then, the words “self-publish” and “vanity press” received a lot more scorn than they do these days. Here’s the link: http://www.xlibrispublishing.co.uk/services-marketing-WOTS-2013-Book-Signing.aspx

I hope you noticed the price for this wonderful service they’re offering. Since most of Type M’s readers are in the US, the cost would be around $4500 – for a book signing! That sound you heard was probably your jaw hitting the floor.

The cost is just so completely out of line when one realizes exactly what they’re offering. Since I live in Toronto, I know Word on the Street pretty darn well, having signed there nearly every year for the past twenty.

So, let’s break down what is actually being offered:

A one-hour signing: The Author Solutions booth is where the self-publishers operate. You’ll be there signing, but there will be lots of other wares on display because the name of the game is selling – and it ain’t your book. You’re window dressing to get people to stop in the first place. It will be one of well over 200 booths at the event.

75 softcover copies of your book: Big deal! I’ll bet that might put them out $150-200, and my guess is, you won’t even hand out all those books during your hour.

Promotional materials: 75 bookmarks and 75 flyers? Huh??? I pay about $45 to get 1000 bookmarks printed. This is such a rip-off. What if 150 people stop by? You will have given away all your books and have nothing left to help you promote yourself if you’ve already handed out a flyer and a bookmark with each book.

Display space: So they’ll display your book – with the cover out! Wow. There will probably also be at least 100 other books displayed the same way since they’re trying to sell other wannabe writers on their services. Your book will really get noticed in that crowd. And it’s for the entirety of the event (it’s not a conference). That means your book will be displayed for maybe 8 hours. Boy, there’s an offer that’s worth $4500 by itself!

Featured spot in the Gallery Catalog: All I have to say here is, “Big Deal.” Every other booth will be doing the same thing.

Publicity before the event: So they’ll write and distribute a press release. And so will every other person and publisher presenting at Word on the Street. Trust me, the Toronto media will not pick up yours and run with it. Even the well-established major publishers in this town have a lot of difficulty getting the press to pay attention – and that’s with big-name authors being promoted. And that’s just on a normal week. During WotS, it’s far worse.

Bottom line is that this is a scam of horrific proportions. I certainly hope some poor soul doesn’t plunk their money down with visions of becoming a hot property in Canada because of it. This sharks only want your money. They will deliver what they promise, I’m sure, but that’s only to cover their own butts so you can’t sue. What they’re actually offering is to line their own pockets.

Word on the Street does attract a lot of people (if the weather is good), but they’re all there to enjoy a nice day, maybe meet a famous author, buy the odd book and see if they can score some freebies. I doubt if they’ll go looking for your book in stores or online afterwards. So for your money, I can 100% guarantee you will be horribly disappointed.

And did I mention that travel and accommodation costs are to be born by the author? At least they could offer a nice breakfast or something on them.

4 comments:

Toe Hallock said...

Hey Rick: What? No bagel and cream cheese? No donut and coffee? $4500 should at least give one part interest in one of the many local Starbucks franchises. Yours truly, Toe.

Rick Blechta said...

I've further checked out this company. They're actually from the States with foreign offices (including one in Canada). As I suspected (based on complaints found on various sites on the Internet), this company apparently "sort of" does what they promise.

I was just so completely gobsmacked by the audacity of their appearance offer for Word on the Street. Yeah, they can give you what they promise, and you're still going to be ripped off.

There should be a special ring in hell for publishing scammers or anyone who preys on people's hopes for their own gain.

Vicki Delany said...

On the other hand, if anyone is stupid enough to fall for this, should we care? greedy enough might be a better word. They want something for nothing : no research, no editing,no work, just fame and $$$.? Oh, and bragging on a series of twitter auto feeds.

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