As an indie author, I’ve read no shortage of horror stories about folks online selling their publishing and promotional services. In particular, the literary industry sees a good number of offers to provide reviews for payment. Potential grounds for Amazon to remove such reviews and ban your account? Absolutely. Were you scammed?
No, you weren’t scammed. Simply because you made a financial investment that didn’t generate the increase in positive feedback you were seeking, that doesn’t automatically mean anyone deceived you. As long as a publisher, reviewer or even awards program can show you through hard numbers how they helped a client in the past, their business with you was honest.
So, why didn’t you achieve the same results? It could simply be that your product did not resonate as strongly with prospective consumers/viewers. That’s not to say that yours was of lower quality – sometimes, the right recipients for your stuff aren’t following the outlets of the service distributing (e.g. publishers) or marketing (paid promotion) your work.
All that said, one sure sign that a literary service really is out to scam would be the following: Fee to do something you could easily do yourself, such as upload to Amazon. Publishing services offering such are known as ‘vanity’.
Bottom line: Always do you research before signing on with a distribution or promotional service – both to safeguard your finances as well as make sure that group has a record of helping others in your position. However, if it doesn’t pan out the first time, skip the cries of “scam” posted all over Reddit and exert your energy elsewhere – such as daily social media marketing for your own product and pitching to agents until one decides to represent you to a publisher who can actually get you where you want to go. Hopefully for free.
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