One good way of becoming a reputable author is to give and get criticism with diplomacy. Both are hard and take time to learn and to understand.
Writing a book is difficult, especially writing your first book and especially self-publishing your first book. When you self-publish a book, you are not buffered by trade publishers to make you part of an authentic clan of special and respected authors that have envious admiration and immediate value in the eyes of others, perhaps even unattainable by others.
There are some 200 million blogs out there with a few new ones started every second. Something for every angle. At irregular intervals I will write randomly from my angle of self-publishing.
This is my first blogpost to share a helpful warning with others.
SELL YOUR WORDS, my 15th book, as a beginner’s guide to write, self-publish, and market nonfiction books, is now available. This new book depicts my self-publishing journey of more than thirty years with useful tips and personal experience to share with other indie authors. My journey started accidentally as revenge and brought me a success beyond a million dollars.
Something fraudulent happened to me within the past few days so I decided this moment is as good as any to start blogging and report that incident. In the midst of doing research for my new book I listened to several webinars. Most webinars are good but it's important to beware of some that are not reputable. I was in rush, didn’t listen to my intuition, and didn’t do any research about this smooth-talking guy who had sent me emails for a while. I hesitated but gave my Visa number since it was just for a 99-cent report about smart book marketing, but within a few days had three much larger amounts charged to my Visa, yet small enough that most customers did not complain (in the range of $19.99 - $39.99). The only thing I received by regular mail was a plasticized sheet of paper (with this print on it: Warning. Novelist at work. Bystanders may be written into the story.) plus a small piece of paper with a URL of his “free webinar” to make 5 figures a month (the webinar was total nonsense). Not all company names are displayed in your Visa statement.
I realized the charges were fraudulent after I googled the company and the man behind it. I called Visa to immediately cancel my credit card and block any new charges from this source. It is annoying and time-consuming to call, cancel, and give the new credit card number to several good companies for automatic monthly charges. Most of my calls were not returned, an email from them said “Cash Flow, the case is now closed”, one call was forwarded to an office girl who said she would charge my Visa US$19.93 monthly, then she abruptly closed the phone to my ear and sent an email to confirm that my subscription to “premium writers association” has been cancelled and terminates (I had never applied or consented).
It amazes me to what fraudulent extent some go when they could use that energy to market something worthwhile and have positive results.
To prevent a fraud, listen to your intuition, google the person/company (some use several names and addresses), be aware of every charge to your credit card, report fraudulent credit card use immediately, maintain excellent credit rating so your credit company will help you right away, and cancel your card and get a new one to block further fraudulent use. Some customers don't check the details on their monthly credit card statement. You must do that. To remember what you have ordered, take notes and keep a list or, if you can't recall some charges, call the credit card company within a month. One time, I was repeatedly promised a refund by a well-known pizza chain for non-delivery. After their third failed guarantee of a refund in the following monthly cycle, I contacted Visa. I got a refund immediately as a good customer beyond a normal 89-day cycle for complaints, and Visa went after the pizza chain. It pays to check our statements, it pays to complain.
There are many important issues facing self-publishing authors, such as five-star reviews, and how honest they are. Some friends and families give new books great reviews to boost the sales. Bogus reviews from strangers are sold online, but Amazon promises taking legal action against manipulators of the review system. Fake review is a boomerang that will hurt you. Write a book that gets honest comments from honest customers. It's that simple.
The busier you get, the more you accomplish, so get busy.
Whatever software you use, learn it well: it can teach you more than you'd imagine.
Be influenced by the best books you read, write the best book you can and let it influence others.
Editing is important, easy, and enjoyable like weeding your garden: the more weeds you plug out, the more clearly the remaining errors will be visible, so once over is not enough.
Be different: It will bring nods in the media room and give you coverage.
One teacher paid his students to find errors in a writing sample, a penny for the first round, then a nickel, a dime, a quarter, and a buck for the final round. This is a good idea for you, a good idea for your readers.
Make your readers think by asking important questions, such as this about self-publishing services: How do they make their money, selling books or selling services?
Ideas are your invisible goldmines—catch yours before they are forgotten. They come and go so fast while you do something else or are half asleep. Write them down.
You write like you drive: If you look at the ditch, your car will steer you into the ditch—and if you focus on failure, that’s where your book will steer you. Simply think of clear road ahead, think of success and great markets.
Have courage and confidence, do your research, and don’t be intimidated by thinking some big guys or important companies know better.
And one more, the best for last: Read my 170-page book “Sell Your Words” for hundreds of invaluable tips to guide you to write, self-publish, and market nonfiction books. Write to me with comments and questions.