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Saturday, July 14, 2012

Scam Alert: Is my idea a scam, simply tacky, or a possible homerun?


After publishing the first of this series (which you can read HERE), a follower on Twitter emailed me a detailed comment urging me to rethink.

I appreciate such comments because it gives me a chance to make sure I've thought of everything that might be hinky with an idea of mine. My desire is to be on the up and up, and in doing so, I try to do everything in public for everyone to observe. So ...

I present the comment first, then my detailed response.

Indies buying books from other indies... *sigh* I've seen that one so many times before, and I wish people would realise that 1. it doesn't work, 2. it's tacky.

OK, so, why?

Various reasons.

If a book is half-decent, and the author continues to work for it, it will--eventually--stand on its own two feet. The power of Amazon is such that all remotely successful authors will gravitate to that site. It's free, why sign up anywhere else for a fee?

The additional 26%? Most self-published books are cheap. At 70% royalty, you're going to have to sell how many copies through the proposed site in order to re-coup any registration costs? Most beginning self-publishing authors don't sell big-time, not even on Amazon. It's not worth a registration fee.

Where would a proposed site be marketed? In order to justify charging a fee for membership, any site would have to have serious marketing pull prior to setting up a fee-based model. I mean something of the calibre of POI or ENT or the Kindle Fire Department.

A registration fee for not much benefit is starting to smell very much like a vanity-publishing setup. In that way, you'll attract the writers you don't want (who are desperate and whose books don't sell on Amazon) and repel the ones you do want (whose books do sell well, but who are savvy and for whom a fee-paying structure is not acceptable).

On various self-publishing forums, mutual buying schemes are banned from discussion topics. Really, a book should stand on its own two feet. I welcome any initiative to list, advertise self-published books, but:

1. You want to have some serious marketing-fu before you start charging fees.

2. When you have the audience, writers will gladly pay for advertising (no further strings attached)

3. Requiring authors to purchase from the site is just... tacky, I have no other words for it.


Patty Jansen
Check out her blog HERE.



My Response


Let me start by saying that I received this comment before the second part of this series and third part were published, which I believe address some of these issues. Make sure you check them out.

If a book is half-decent, and the author continues to work for it, it will--eventually--stand on its own two feet.

Agreed.

The power of Amazon is such that all remotely successful authors will gravitate to that site. It's free, why sign up anywhere else for a fee?

First of all, I'm not asking anyone to leave Amazon. Second, the fee is for advertising. More on that later.

The additional 26%? Most self-published books are cheap. At 70% royalty, you're going to have to sell how many copies through the proposed site in order to re-coup any registration costs? Most beginning self-publishing authors don't sell big-time, not even on Amazon. It's not worth a registration fee.

First, I may not accept 99¢ books (unless they are short stories) since I don't believe that pricing your book that low is a good idea. In fact, I may not want any books below $2.99. This isn't mentioned in the qualification post, but it may become a 4th qualification. Time and research will tell.

How many books will you have to sell in order to recoup your cost?

TWO

Why do I say that? First of all, the entry fee comes in two parts. A majority of it will go to other authors you buy from (as described HERE). Thus the remaining fee comes to a whopping $5, which is definitely low enough to justify the advertising opportunity you will get. Besides, either I won't charge it until I have a decent level of traffic, or I will give the first responders so much that no one will say I'm scamming anyone.

Where would a proposed site be marketed? In order to justify charging a fee for membership, any site would have to have serious marketing pull prior to setting up a fee-based model. I mean something of the calibre of POI or ENT or the Kindle Fire Department.

This site gets more than 100 visitors a day (thanks mostly to Triberr) and as many as 300 on a good day. My Alexa ranking is under 300K while many other advertising sites are much higher. This will eventually be true of the new site. And if not, books listed at the new site will receive the support of this site, squashing any claim that authors won't get their money's worth.

One particular site which I won't name charges around $50 I think for one promo post and an ad banner (or something to that effect). The site's traffic is not as good as this one, and people LOVE it.

A registration fee for not much benefit is starting to smell very much like a vanity-publishing setup. In that way, you'll attract the writers you don't want (who are desperate and whose books don't sell on Amazon) and repel the ones you do want (whose books do sell well, but who are savvy and for whom a fee-paying structure is not acceptable).

Five dollars ... that's it. It will go up over time but only because the plan is successful. In any case, we're talking about pennies to everyone else's dollars or even hundreds of dollars. Never will I do the route of vanity publishing.

Those that don't sell well on Amazon probably have bad reviews and won't qualify for my service. Those that sell well may very well love me because of the exposure I know I can offer them. How do I know this?

Because I've received more than $300 in donations for my work on this site. I will continue that work ethic with the new site.

On various self-publishing forums, mutual buying schemes are banned from discussion topics. Really, a book should stand on its own two feet. I welcome any initiative to list, advertise self-published books, but:

1. You want to have some serious marketing-fu before you start charging fees.

2. When you have the audience, writers will gladly pay for advertising (no further strings attached)

3. Requiring authors to purchase from the site is just... tacky, I have no other words for it.

I agree with almost all of that. I don't consider my idea a mutual buying scheme — at least not of the type referenced. The idea "I'll buy your book if you buy mine" is not what this is about. There will be enough books in the program that the transactions shouldn't be on a one-to-one basis.

If you put your book on here with hundreds of others (which I will have in time), there is no scheme since the ones bought will be the ones people want to buy.

After all, writers buy books. In fact, writers need to read, and why not read fellow Indie authors? That's the power of this idea.

Tacky? I don't see where, but time will tell. What do the rest of you think?

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