Monday, June 27, 2011

When Selling Ebooks...

A member of a group I belong to complained this week about purchasing an inexpensive e-book (can we say 99 cents?) that turned out to be information copied and pasted from Wikipedia. On a blog recently, the poster warned of scams and embedded links in e-books that lead you to places you don't want to go.

In this Reuters piece by Alistair Barr,  entitled Spam clogging Amazon's Kindle self-publishing, we learn that spammers can even buy a DVD set called Autopilot Kindle Cash that teaches how to publish up to 20 new Kindle books a day without writing a word. They just throw random pieces purchased for pennies (if at all) into e-book form and throw it up for sale. Other groups teach how to take best-selling e-books and putting new covers on them to resell under another name.

In a world where anyone can publish, we'd be naive to think that some innovative yet crooked souls aren't taking advantage of the opportunity. So what can we do about it when purchasing e-books? I mean, besides shopping with an intelligent and informed eye?

= Be careful of unknown authors. Okay, that sounds ugly considering we're all unknown before we become known, and few of us are household names. However, readers can Google authors, read the websites, study the blogs and learn more about who wrote the book under consideration. (Remember all that talk about platform, y'all? Here's where it matters if you're an author, especially a new author.)

= Be careful of the cheap ebook. If you add together an unknown author, no platform and a publisher you never heard of, tread slowly. Yes, I know it could be a new author, but the odds are higher that the book is a scam than if you know the author, the author has a platform, or you recognize a publisher that's released a hundred book titles.

= A heavy hyperlink book. These tend to house those nasty links that lead to viruses, porn, or sales scam sites.

= Self-published e-books. Yes, I'll say it again, new authors have to start somewhere. But self-pubbed books have a higher percentage of tricks and poorly written material, even the copy and past stuff from Wikipedia referenced above. Suggest you Google the author and study the platform. 

Bottom line...

Readers? Look for a platform before buying ebooks.
Authors? Develop a platform before posting ebooks.

You can't sell an unknown product from an unknown person without some kind of assurance that the experience will be positive. . . and not a scam.


Sarah Tokeley said...

I remember reading that post and - naively - being quite shocked by it. I think your advice about googling the author is excellent. It doesn't have to be anything major. I'm not on Twitter or Facebook but I do have a blog. I think even one of those three would be enough to reassure me.

Carol J. Alexander said...

This makes me downright, hopping MAD! I spent almost a year writing a 33 page ebooklet (interviewing and all) because I wanted it to be top quality (how-to with worksheets) and busted tail to get it out in time for its season (graduation) and just yesterday (not the season for this topic anymore) sold my first copy. I take comfort in the fact that every year is a graduation season and starting every January I can market the booklet again, but I worked really hard on it and to think that others just steal and sell. I get blog posts stolen all the time, too. I think it's all an uphill battle. Sorry for rambling. Thanks for the warnings Hope. As always, this is a great post.

Jessica McCann said...

Great suggestions, Hope, and an important topic as the publishing business continues to change overnight.

Hope Clark said...

It's a definite wake-up call. I don't read unknown writers unless I look at their online presence or know someone who loved the work. I don't think I'm too far off the average reader in that regard. New ebook writers need so be more savvy to make this self-pubbing ebook business really work. There's nothing accidental about this industry. It's all talent and sweat.

Krissy Brady, Writer said...

Thank you Hope! I'm quite new to the world of e-books, and you've given me a lot to think about and keep my eye out for. Much appreciated! :)