Shining a bright light into the dark corners of the shadow-world of literary scams, schemes, and pitfalls. Also providing advice for writers, industry news, and commentary. Writer Beware is sponsored by the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America, Inc.

January 3, 2018

Book Promotions International, or, How Not to Get Your Book Into a Library

Posted by Victoria Strauss for Writer Beware

Hot on the heels of the infamous Christmas writing contest spam comes another spam solicitation aimed at separating writers from their money.

The link leads directly to PayPal.

So if you're not already ROTFLing at the sheer chutzpah of this, um, offer, why would it be a terrible use of money?

First and most obvious, because once you sent your payment, you'd have no way of confirming that a) this person had actually bought your book, or b) actually donated it.

And second, because this is not how books get into libraries. Some libraries don't accept donations at all (my local library among them; when I was doing book reviews, they declined my offer to donate brand-new direct-from-the-publisher hardcovers). Even if they do, there's no guarantee they will actually shelve the donations, especially if the books aren't professionally packaged. Where donated books will probably wind up is in the annual Friends of the Library book sale.

So is this a scam? As cartoonish a ripoff as it seems, it's hard to say--the line between scammery and simple cluelessness can be difficult to discern. G.E. Johnson does seem to be a real person; her activities as a book promoter appear to consist of posting book cover images on Facebook and Pinterest, and offering vaguely-described "marketing":

As with the library spam, the link goes directly to PayPal. Ms. Johnson's webpages don't include testimonials, but I did find this, from a discussion thread on Goodreads--I'm guessing it was unsolicited...

UPDATE: Did you think that Ms. Johnson's attempt to sell authors a completely unverifiable promise of a book purchase was just a one-time, ill-advised spamstravaganza? You would be wrong.

Here's the diamond:

Rock salt, anyone?


Pat Dilloway said...

A pity anyone fell for this.

Sue Bursztynski said... had to pay them to buy your book, assuming they did? And then donate it? Weird! Why not just donate it yourself, if public libraries did accept donations?

School libraries might, depending on what the books are, by the way. With tiny budgets, brand new review copies of *suitable* books, eg YA or children’s, would be gleefully accepted by teacher librarians; I remember the year a friend who had been reading for a science fiction award gave me all the books he was finished with. Our students were all in the senior years of high school, so could enjoy them.

gilgamesh said...

I sometimes think that there are more persons out there "helping" writers to sell their books then there are authors.
At any rate, they seem t make more money than the authors.
The author of this blog should think of writing a best-seller--simply list all those making money by frauds

Sue Bursztynski said...

I guess it’s easier to “sell”books than actually write them. As a reviewer I get so many inquiries from marketers, and they’re not specifically addressed to me. So you put together a stock inquiry and send it to hundreds of bloggers at the same time, and on your web site you advertise your scale of fees - so much to pester fifty blogs, so much for five hundred - no harder to send one than the other, is it? For sure SOMEONE out of 500 inquiries would answer. So much to organise a blog tour, presumably with those blogs you know will do it, and there would be a list after a while.

“There’s a sucker born every minute” must be the motto of some of the marketers, such as the one mentioned in this post.

AmyShojai said...

A diamond? a DIAMOND? BLING...Oh my, hold me back. *snert* Thanks for shining a light on this. Sadly, some will take up this offer. And doubly sad, I wouldn't be surprised if there aren't some extra-bad-actors teaching would-be promoters how to make a buck doing such things.

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