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.

November 28, 2008

Victoria Strauss --

Even if you're not a natural cynic, like me, a good rule to follow if you're a writer is "If it seems too good to be true, it probably is." Case in point:, a website that promises easy money for your writing.

"Why not stay home and get paid for typing on your computer?" the website asks. Freelance Home Writers are needed immediately to make blog posts for up to $15 per hour, write "simple articles" for up to $45 per hour, and write fiction or nonfiction stories for $450 per tale! It's "A Great Job even if you're not a 'natural born writer.'"

Let's say I'm Jane Everywriter, and I'm intrigued by the possibility of getting paid for my scribbling. Or maybe I'm Joe CouchPotato, and I'm excited by the prospect of making money by sitting on my butt. Hey, I wrote a few papers in high school. All I have to do Get Started Now is to provide with my first name and email address.

I'm whisked to the job description page, where I learn that "Thousands of smart people just like you are are [sic] already brining [sic] in an easy $1,000, $2,000...even as much as $5,000 every single week just by doing this easy writing in their spare time...and now it's your turn!" I'm so excited now I can hardly stand it. With bated breath and pounding pulse I read down the page...websites are starving for content...I can make as much as $10,000 a year writing as few as 3 articles a day...yes, yes...the jobs come to me...I don't have to have a resume or writing credits...Oh boy! Oh crap. I'm at the bottom of the page and I still haven't found out how to access this fantastic opportunity. So I click the "Complete Registration" button.

And I discover there's a catch.

This wonderful world of easy writing money can be mine...for a small fee. A $2.95 Special Risk Free Trial Membership Fee, to be exact (normally $69.95), which gives me access to the Freelance Home Writers system for 7 whole days. There's also a monthly membership fee of $47.00--hmmm, a bit more than I bargained for, but as the website reminds me, just a fraction of the boodle I can make with this wonderful system. And hey, if I'm not happy, I can cancel anytime. I'm going to do it. Yes I am. I'm going to take the plunge. Just have to heave myself off the couch and get my credit card. And a bag of chips.

Writers, don't fall for this. is the writers' version of the familiar work-at-home schemes that are the subject of warnings from the FTC and the BBB. These schemes tempt you with promises of easy money, but require you to spend money first in order to access their "systems" or receive their kits. Much of the time, the materials or leads you are given are substandard, or the company misrepresents the demand for whatever business you're supposed to be establishing, or it's not revealed that there are substantial additional costs. Consumers have lost thousands of dollars to these schemes. isn't the only website of its kind. There are others--some more subtle, some more crude. Cultivate your inner cynic, and never trust anyone who offers you an "easy" way to sell your writing.

(If you get as far into the site as I did, and try to leave, a little "STOP! DON'T GO YET! message box appears on your screen. If you click it, another little box implores you not to leave empty handed, and offers to send you a "make money success kit" for FREE! Yes, delivered to your door absolutely FREE [you pay only shipping and handling]. What a deal.)

November 25, 2008

Victoria Strauss -- A Day in the Life

I usually stay away from personal stuff in this blog. But I'm currently in Alabama with my 81-year-old mom, helping my 89-year-old aunt pack up the big old historic home in which they both were born for my aunt's impending move to a retirement community--and my mind is pretty far from Writer Beware right now. So here's a snapshot of a more or less typical day.

Get up around 8:30, having been disturbed only twice in the night by the raccoon doing the tarantella in the chimney (it climbs up through the open stone fireplace in the dirt basement, which is where all the cooking was done in 1830, when the house was built). Transition from the temperate zone of the house (my bedroom) to the tropical zone (the rest of it). Eat breakfast in the kitchen, which is around 90 degrees because my aunt gets cold--but we can't eat in the dining room, which is slightly cooler, because the table is completely covered by an ever-changing collection of porcelain and silver, as my aunt tries to make up her mind which fraction of her vast possessions to take to the retirement community, and there's no room to put down a plate.

Move to the sun room--which is not sunny due to the fact that the curtains, which shut out most of the light, have been draped with blankets, to shut out even more light--to do some catching up on email. It's 80 degrees in here--not as bad as the kitchen, but I can't go back to the temperate zone because this is the only place I can piggyback on someone else's non-security-enabled wireless and get access to the Internet. Tap, tap, tap away at my computer, while listening to my aunt and my mom arguing in the office. My mom wants my aunt to throw out useless papers, of which there are enough in this house to furnish a Presidential library. My aunt doesn't want to. My mom gets frustrated. My aunt gets angry. It's all complicated by the fact that my aunt is getting quite deaf. Fun, fun, fun.

Around noon, go out for a run. Lovely sunny weather--around 58 degrees. Alabamians all bundled up in winter gear (I've lost count of the number of people I've heard complain about how cold it is). Me, the Massachusetts-ite, in capri tights and a sleeveless top. Freedom. Ahhhh.

Lunch in the 90-degree kitchen. My mom misses NYC, where she lives. My aunt, a Southerner to the bone, is skeptical about all aspects of the nawth. Then they start reminiscing about their childhoods, which is fun and interesting. But it's too hot, so I go off to do some drawer-mining. There are about 100 drawers in this house, and they are all stuffed full of, well, stuff. I'm hunting for things to throw away and things we can sell (money is pretty tight), but also scouting for important papers, which have been turning up in some exceedingly odd places, such as the drawer of the vanity in my aunt's bathroom (my aunt, by the way, has all her marbles and then some, but she's the most disorganized person I've ever known). I've managed to find documents pertaining to the renovation of the house in the 1980's and its subsequent placement on the National Historic Register (both important for the realtor we're planning to hire) and I've hidden them in my room so they won't vanish.

Later, run some errands. Dinner in the 90-degree kitchen--I'm a vegetarian and my aunt and mom are not, so I cook for myself. My mom tired and frustrated. My aunt sweet and cheerful. I clean up. Then, back to the sun room, to WATCH TV FOR DEAF PEOPLE! REALLY LOUD!! REALLY, REALLY LOUD!!! But I need to answer email, and it's better than the 90-degree kitchen.

Then bedtime, with my friend the raccoon. And ghostly knocking in the middle of the night. And peculiar noises as if people were banging planks together in the basement. But at least it's cool.

November 22, 2008

Victoria Strauss -- Tidbits

Things that caught my eye over the past week or so:

Really bad sex

I don't pay much attention to literary awards, but I always enjoy this one: the annual Literary Review Bad Sex in Fiction Awards. This year's winner: Iain Hollingshead, for a passage from his novel Twentysomething. To spare my readers who don't like this sort of thing, I won't quote the passage--but it's a good example of the extremely thin line that divides a sizzling sex scene from a silly one.

Read the shortlisted passages here. And for more fun, previous years' winners are here.

Giving, taking, and giving again

Via the Los Angeles Times: Massachusetts author Stona Fitch has founded the Concord Free Press, a nonprofit publisher with an unusual business model: "We publish books and give them away for free—online and via a network of independent bookstores. In exchange, we ask readers to make a voluntary donation to a local charity or someone in need in their community. And we ask them to pass the book on, so that every time the book changes hands, it generates more contributions."

You can order a book from the website, or from a list of participating independent booksellers (mostly in New England), and donate to whomever you choose. The press, which is supported by grants and contributions, generated more than $12,000 in donations during its first month in business. Donation recipients include charities, nonprofits, churches, food banks, and local organizations of all kinds. One individual handed $20 to a homeless person. Another gave bus fare to someone who needed it.

Mr. Fitch, who has commercially published several books, is using his own novel, Give and Take, as the press's first offering. A neat twist on self-publishing, for sure.

Hope for books in tough economic times?

Amid daily bulletins about economic crisis, and uber-gloomy publishing and bookselling news (B&N third quarter losses, Random House slashing pensions, big layoffs at Doubleday, Rodale, and others), an annual holiday shopping survey by Minneapolis's University of St. Thomas suggests that books may benefit from reduced consumer spending--at least in Minnesota. According to the survey, "Shoppers said they'll be giving more books this holiday season, as well as clothing, gift certificates and gifts of cash."

Random House is hoping for the same thing. It's launching a Books=Gifts campaign, with banner ads and video trailers featuring well-known authors.

The dreaded query letter and synopsis

I don't know about you, but I hate writing synopses more than I hate going to the dentist. As for query letters, it's been a long time since I had to write one...and I'm really really grateful.

For those who are struggling with both tasks, here are a pair of truly useful resources, put together by author Joshua Palmatier: the Query Letter Project and the Plot Synopsis Project. At these links, you can read examples of query letters and plot synopses that actually sold books. The focus is on speculative fiction authors, but the basic principles are pretty much the same no matter what field or genre you write in.

Green printing

This isn't exactly writing-related, but it's pretty nifty even so: GreenPrint, software that saves you paper and ink by eliminating wasted and extra pages from your printouts--such as the legal verbiage that's attached to some emails, or banner ads that accompany articles. The software displays the pages of the document you want to print on a single screen, with the wasteful pages highlighted so you can remove them from the print job. You can also remove stuff you don't need, such as images, to save even more ink.

It's cool and it works. The ad-supported World version is free to home users.

November 18, 2008

Victoria Strauss -- FieldReport: Yet Another Update

Back in June, I blogged about the then brand-new website FieldReport, whose contest for true-life stories offered significant money prizes, but also involved significantly unfavorable terms in its submission agreement and contest rules.

FieldReport later modified its submission agreement and contest rules, getting rid of many of the terms I objected to and making things somewhat more fair and author-friendly. There were still some issues, though--as I noted in a followup post. A dialog with FR CEO Will Petty ensued in the comments section. Eventually, FR implemented still more changes to its submission agreement, getting rid of one of the conditions that I felt was most unfair--the requirement that authors pay a 25% commission to FR on any third-party sales of their FR articles, if those sales were made by them--and making it clear that FR's definition of "derivative work" did not include the re-use of FR articles or material in memoirs or autobiographies.

FR's current submission agreement and contest rules now represent what I think is a reasonable balance between authors' rights and FR's interests. That's not to say that FR contributors shouldn't carefully read the fine print--they need to be aware, for instance, that rights to contest entries are exclusively granted to FR for a term of between 18 months (if winnings are less than $5,000) to 14 years (if winnings are $100,000 or more), and that even once the term expires, FR's basic site license (which applies to all content submitted to the site, and gives FR the right to create and sell print and electronic publications containing the content) remains in force. But the problems that so disturbed me--the unclear language, the demand for copyright, the 25% commission, the iron grip on derivative works--are all gone.

While it does seem that the discussion on this blog played a part in spurring the changes, much credit must go to Mr. Petty and other FR staff for being willing to listen and to compromise.

FieldReport has been the subject of recent articles in the Telegraph, Time, and the San Francisco Chronicle--which reveal that it has encountered a great deal of suspicion because of the very large prizes it's offering. Could such a contest possibly be for real? Where was the money coming from? Most of all--what was in it for FR? If you were curious about this (I know I was), the SF Chronicle article provides some answers:

Petty explained a "three and a half point" business model for turning the prize money (which comes from investors) into profit. The first component is advertising, which he expects to generate a third of the company's revenue; second is a self-publishing service that FieldReport plans to offer next year, which would allow users to compile books from content on the site - their own or others' stories - and then buy copies of those anthologies directly from FieldReport. Enterprising members could also opt to sell these anthologies (splitting any proceeds with the writers included in their selection).

The third part of the company's business plan is a "perpetual trust" that Petty said will allow users - for a $20 fee - to archive "the stories of their lives as a kind of legacy." This digital storage service has been created independent of FieldReport, so that it will survive regardless of FieldReport's long-term success as a business. The data would be publicly accessible so that, Petty said, "your great-grandchildren could conceivably look up your account (or whatever parts of that account you chose to make available to them) after you die."

The half-point in Petty's business model is a plan to expand FieldReport's ranking system to other genres of writing, including novels.

...for which the rights issues would be rather different. I'll be interested to see what kind of terms are offered if FR does indeed expand in this direction.

FR has given away $90,000 of prize money already, and is counting down to the grand prize of $250,000, to be awarded on February 15, 2009.

November 14, 2008

Victoria Strauss -- Again, Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award

You may have noticed a new look to the blog. We've been tired of the old green template for some time--plus, it wasn't so easy on the eyes. So we've upgraded to a new, more visually pleasing design--which also brings with it improved functionality, and nifty extras like the Followers display.

Via Publishers Lunch: and Penguin Group will sponsor a second Breakthrough Novel Award in 2009. (Hewlett-Packard, a co-sponsor of the previous award, will not return.) Here's the announcement on the Penguin website.

Once again, the winner will be published by Penguin, with an advance of $25,000, as long as he or she is willing to sign a non-negotiable publishing contract within 7 days of receiving notification of his/her win. Finalists receive an expense-paid trip to Seattle for the awards ceremony, and semi-finalists receive a review from PW (all prizes are described here). As before, only Amazon customers will be allowed to post reviews of contestants' entries.

There are some procedural changes, presumably as a result of issues encountered during last year's contest. Up to 10,000 entries will be allowed (double last year's 5,000), with 2,000 of these selected by "expert reviewers from Amazon" based on their pitch statements (a 300-word summary of the book--kind of like a query letter on steroids). 500 will be chosen as quarter-finalists by "Amazon Editors and Amazon Vine Reviewers" based on a review of 3,000-5,000 word excerpts (last year, the contest went directly to semi-finals, with 1,000 semi-finalists chosen). The quarter-finalists' excerpts will be displayed on Amazon for review and comment, and reviewed by PW (half the number of reviews PW provided last year).

Penguin editors will then winnow the quarter-finalists down to 100 semi-finalists, of which 3 will be selected as finalists (last year, there were 10 finalists). Finalists will receive detailed reviews of their manuscripts from an expert panel of authors, editors, and agents. Popular vote will determine the winner. (For full info, see the contest FAQ, and also the official contest rules).

I blogged twice about the Award last October. My reservations about people's choice-style awards for literature remain unchanged, with the additional proviso that entrants can expect to be spammed by Amazon with come-ons for its CreateSpace self-publishing service (to enter, you must first register with CreateSpace). That said, this is a solid competition with a worthwhile prize--and possible fringe benefits, as Penguin offered contracts not just to last year's winner, but to four of the finalists. Also, unlike many contests, the Breakthrough Novel Award doesn't tie your manuscript up in exclusive submission for a huge amount of time.

In fact, those possible fringe benefits may be the main reason to enter the contest. Last year's winner, Bill Loehfelm, was announced in early April, and his book was rushed to market, coming out just four months later, in August. A rush to publication isn't such a great thing; as frustrated as writers sometimes get with the year or more that elapses between contract signing and publication, there are good reasons for that long lead time. For the four finalists, whose books are due in 2009 and 2010, Penguin allowed a more normal timeline, making possible not just a more leisurely editing process, but also the important pre-book marketing that plays such a vital role in books' success. In my opinion, they got the better deal.

November 11, 2008

Victoria Strauss -- Some Good Reading

A midweek post to draw attention to some interesting blog posts I've read recently.

Impressed with the courtesy and promptness of that brand-new agent with no publishing industry experience? Don't be. Stacia Kane/December Quinn on how it's not about being nice.

Trying to convince yourself that fee-charging publisher isn't really a vanity press because it pays royalties, and only reputable publishers pay royalties? Thinking it's selective because it doesn't accept absolutely everything that's submitted to it? Think again. Marian Perera at Flights of Fantasy reveals five misconceptions about vanity presses.

Did the publisher that just asked you for several thousand dollars to publish your book assure you that paying to publish is a sign of your faith your own work? Or that paying to publish is the way many first-time authors get started? Be skeptical. Marian Perera again, on the many ways fee-charging publishers justify their upfront fees.

Frustrated with the agent search? Considering going it alone? Before you decide, read Editorial Ass on why you should never submit unagented to publishing companies. (Just one caveat: She's talking about the Big Guys here, as well as the larger independents. For smaller independents, it may be perfectly feasible to approach directly.)

Curious about how bookstores decide which books to order? From Jane Smith's How Publishing Really Works blog, a short explanation of the book-stocking policies of UK chain bookseller Waterstone's, from former Waterstone's staffer Sally Zigmond.

Thinking about parlaying your blog to writing fame and fortune? Via Galleycat: only two percent of bloggers earn a living from their blogs. More from Technorati's State of the Blogosphere 2008 report, and how Writer Beware Blogs! compares:

- Median annual revenue among bloggers surveyed was $200 (revenue for the Writer Beware blog: $0).
- As tiny as bloggers' median annual revenue is, men STILL make more than women (grrr).
- The majority of bloggers have advertising of some sort on their blogs (to avoid any possible conflict of interest issues, the WB blog does not host ads or accept ad revenue).
- More than 133 million blogs have been established since 2002 (yikes).
- Only 5% of these (or 7.4 million) were updated in the past 120 days (the WB blog updates at least weekly, and often twice a week).
- 59% of bloggers have been blogging for more than two years (the WB blog started in September 2005, so it's just over three years for us).
- Half of all active blogs attract more than 1,000 monthly visitors (average monthly visits for the WB blog: 15,800--which sounds more impressive than it is, because only about a quarter of those visitors stick around to read).
- 57% of US bloggers are male; in Europe and Asia they're 73% (being a natural contrarian, I love it when I don't fit the stats).
- More women than men have personal blogs; more men than women have professional blogs (yay, bucking the stats again: neither Ann nor I have personal blogs; our only blogging is professional).
- One in four bloggers spends ten or more hours blogging per week (I probably average five or six hours, including research).

November 7, 2008

Victoria Strauss -- Zimbo Books Fiction Competition

Have you recently received an email from Zimbo Books about a new, big-money literary contest? If so, you aren't alone. This company appears to be engaging in a sizeable spam campaign. I've gotten a number of questions, and there's discussion in many writers' forums. Zimbo even spammed me--at my Writer Beware email address, no less.

According to the email announcement,

Zimbo Books is pleased to announce the Zimbo Books Fiction Competition 2008 commemorating the launch of Zimbo Books. This exciting competition as described in the competition rules has 2 major benefits:

* A prize pool of USD $100,000 with a first prize of USD $80,000.

* The next four runners up get USD $5,000 each.

* One year's subscription for all Authors to sell their books online via Zimbo Books (value USD $45).

The official contest rules reveal that the competition is for unpublished book-length manuscripts of between 50,000 and 300,000 (!) words. Entries must be accompanied by a synopsis of no more than 750 words. Zimbo takes no rights to submitted manuscripts--though by entering, you grant it the right to list and sell your book on the Zimbo website (more about that below). The entry deadline is April 21, 2009, so there's plenty of time to enter. And get this--if you refer another writer to the contest, you can get a referral fee of $15.

Wouldn't it be nice to win $80,000? Or $5,000? Or even net a few $15 referral fees? I could use some extra cash, and I'm sure you could too. But wait. It's not that simple. There are some factors to consider first.

- The entry fee is a whopping $85. Contest fees don't automatically tag a contest as disreputable, but for a book contest (as opposed to a screenplay contest, where entrance fees tend to be high) $85 is way too much. (For instance, the Atlantic Writing Competition, sponsored by the Writers Federation of Nova Scotia, charges $25. The San Diego Book Awards Association charges $15. There are many others.)

Zimbo reserves the right to reject entries "that it deems, in its sole discretion, to be inappropraite [sic], for any reason whatsoever", in which case your fee will not be refunded. Zimbo also reserves the right to cancel the competition "in the event an insufficient number of entries are received"--in which case, you get a refund of $40 (the difference between the entry fee and Zimbo's regular $45 "publishing" service). There are no details on what would constitute "an insufficient number."

- By its own admission, Zimbo is not a publisher. "Zimbo just allows you to sell your books. We are not publishers." (While it's nice of them to clarify, alert writers may already have inferred this from the number of typos and other errors on the Zimbo website). A literary contest conducted by an organization unrelated to publishing or book selling is not likely to provide a step up in your writing career, even if you win.

So what is Zimbo, if it's not a publisher? An ecommerce website "where products and members interact." If this reminds you a bit of eBay, that may not be an accident: Zimbo's parent company, Technocash Pty Ltd., is "a licensed financial institution providing payment solutions" that "presently provides Australian collection services for hundreds of non-Australian eBay sellers." In addition to selling other products, you can sell your book by paying Zimbo $45, for which it will turn your ms. into a pdf file and list it for sale.

- Speaking of which, just by entering the contest, you agree to let Zimbo list and sell your manuscript from its site for one year. Here's Zimbo's explanation of why this is peachy super-keen:

How does Zimbo Books compare to having a book published?

Zimbo Books is much better. For a start you don’t need a publisher to start selling If you are one of the very few lucky authors to get your book published, the time taken to get the book to market is often more than a year. No waiting with Zimbo Books. Plus you get much more money with Zimbo Books for each sale. Many authors get a royalty of 10% paid by the publishers. But it is 10% of the wholesale price not the retail price. For example, if the book has a retail price of $30, it could have a wholesale price of $15 and the 10% royalty is $1.50 – compared to Zimbo with a net sale amount of $7.

Oy. If this inaccuracy-laden rationale doesn't turn you off, consider whether you really want an uncorrected pdf file of your book out there on the Internet. Consider whether you want to possibly put your first publication rights in jeopardy by agreeing to what will almost certainly be perceived by agents and editors as cut-rate self-publishing. Consider that, if you do manage to place your book with an agent or publisher before the year is up, they will probably want you off the Zimbo site--but there's no provision that I could find to allow you to cancel your Zimbo listing before the year is up. Oh, and the listing is automatically renewable. So unless you do cancel, it won't expire.

- So far, a full list of who will be judging the contest is not available. A contest's prestige rests in part on the qualifications of its judges--which you can't assess if you don't know who they are. A short bio of one judge has recently been posted, but while this gentleman is admirably accomplished in his own field, it's unclear how he is qualified judge a literary contest.

- Contest entrants must agree to parent company Technocash's privacy policy, which allows Technocash to disclose personal information to third parties., "Sometimes we provide personal information about customers to organisations outside of Technocash. Generally this will only occur when the organisation or other entity helps us with our business. For example: outsourced service providers including mailing houses or telemarketing agencies; authorised representatives of Technocash; other financial institutions; credit reporting agencies; and our accountants, auditors or lawyers." Since the contest entry form requires contestants to provide not just their email addresses, but their phone numbers and street addresses, I suspect that entrants should be prepared for an increase in spam, junk phone calls, and/or junk snail mail.

Bottom line, in my opinion: Zimbo's competition is not a real literary contest, but a moneymaking venture (the $85 entry fee) in support of another moneymaking venture (I'm guessing that the contest is intended both to bulk up Zimbo's inventory of electronic books, and to promote its $45 "publishing" service). Even if that weren't the case, the enforced publication provision should be enough to make careful writers think twice.

Oh, and that fat prize money? It's listed in US dollars, but according to the fine print, "As Zimbo Books is based in Australia all credit/debit card transaction [sic] are processed in the AUD equivalent."

November 4, 2008

Victoria Strauss -- Ding Dong, BookWise is Dead

Via Lee Goldberg--multi-level marketing scheme Bookwise, which I blogged about in 2006, is no more. BookWise applied the Amway principle to bookselling, encouraging its Associates not just to sell the books they bought from the company, but to sign up other Associates and receive a percentage of their income.

An announcement on the BookWise website says only that "BookWise & Company has merged with iLearningGlobal and is no longer in business." iLearningGlobal, according to its website (which doesn't mention BookWise or the merger), is a "mentoring community" that "has brought together the top trainers and speakers in all areas of self development, personal improvement, business training, life skills, tax and financial strategies, and much more."

If you're puzzled by exactly how iLearningGlobal, with its focus on audio, video, e-books, webcasts, and other aural and visual media, dovetails with BookWise, a MLM scheme focusing on printed books, don't fret--you just need to look a little deeper. Like BookWise, iLearningGlobal is an MLM scheme, founded by MLM guru Brian Tracy. Over August and September 2008, BookWise Associates have been transforming themselves into iLearningGlobal Marketers. For instance, this happy former BookWise Associate. And this one. And here's an example of the iLearningGlobal sales pitch from yet another one.

In my original post on BookWise, I got some flack from BookWise loyalists for saying this:

"Despite BookWise's noble mission statement (The Mission of BookWise & Company is to increase literacy, reading and access to great books through neighbor-to-neighbor book selling. We champion the spirit of the corner bookstore and embrace the values of the independent bookseller with a passion for great literature and the personal connection with friends who love to read), it's not hard to see that the main incentive for those who join the club won't be books, but the promise of cash. That's the lure of multilevel marketing schemes: not the product, but the scheme itself, and the opportunity to sell it to others."

Gee. Ya think?

Not all of BookWise is gone. In early 2008, it branched out into vanity publishing with WriteWise, an expensive ($6,995) publishing and "mentoring" program that paid fat commissions to BookWise Associates who got writers to sign up. WriteWise appears to have survived the merger.

Just for kicks, I took advantage of the free download offered on the WriteWise website: 5 Secrets Every Author Needs to Know. I mean, I've published a few books, right? But being an author is a lifetime learning experience, and I could always use a few pointers. There are indeed five secrets, each one of which includes the words "make millions" or "make money." (For instance, Secret #5: "Hire Someone to Write Your Information Product, so You Make Millions." Gosh, I wish I'd thought of that.) The article, authored by Richard G. Allen (a former BookWise board member) finishes with a pitch for WriteWise:

If YES is your final answer to these three simple questions, then you have pre-qualified yourself for accepting my offer and joining WriteWise--destined to be rewarded with:

- A bestselling book.
- Millions of dollars.
- Many friends and followers (those with whom you share your information).
- A life you love each and every day.
- A world made better because of you.

I am giving you the most effective way from just wanting to be an Information Millionaire to Being One!

Ugh. I've got to go take a shower now.
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