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How I (almost) lost $500

Yes, I have fallen victim of a scam, and this post is a callout to my fellow authors to be wary of book marketing companies, even if their websites and credentials look professional.

Marketing for self-published authors is hard. But, without marketing, how can we get our books in front of our competition? With the popularity of self-publishing rising in recent years, many book marketing companies have surfaced. Although there are some good ones out there, many of them are scams. I caught a few companies that were blaring red flags. Those were the ones that guaranteed sales and bestselling standings. You can never really predict the market, so guaranteed results means they probably aren’t doing things organically. Fortunately, I have a set of questions I usually ask to author services companies to check if they are legit, and that spot check has been quite effective until recently.

It was not until a fellow author friend suggested a book marketing company that could help with Amazon ads. Agreeing to work with this company was probably the biggest mistake I made in the past few months.

Back in August, I signed up for a book marketing package that would help me run Amazon ads for my book. I never really understood the Amazon algorithm and with other life worries on my mind (like studying for my new job), I thought it would be a great idea to hire someone to help take the load off my plate. 

The first 90-days for any author are the most important for book sales and from what I learned from my first release, Amazon ads should be run within the first 2 weeks of release for it to be effective.

Introducing Literary Bookworm, a book marketing company that would help with online marketing, write professional editorial reviews, and grant you placements in major purchasing catalogues. The package did sound too good to be true, but at the time, it just seemed like good value. 

I checked out their website, asked a few questions, and eventually signed up. After two-weeks, I sent a request for a progress report. They confirmed that they were still working on the reviews and publications. I checked my book sales and my Amazon account, but there weren’t any ads running. So, I patiently waited another week. 

I followed up again a week later. They gave an excuse that there has been delays in certain departments, but will have everything ready in 2 days. That’s when I started to get suspicious, and started to suspect the worse. 

Fortunately, I had every conversation in writing, so there was evidence to support my claim when I filed the situation. However, when they stopped replying to my messages after a month of patiently waiting, I knew it was time to file a complaint on PayPal. 

Today, my case dispute was finally resolved, and PayPal fortunately ruled in my favour. Deep down, I knew I was lucky to come out of a scam situation without losing financially, but the stress was brutal. Needless to say, the time and opportunity I loss on book marketing too. 

What frustrated me the most about the whole situation was that my initial intention to save time actually cost me more time in the long run. Fortunately, this experience taught me something. Don’t rush into things, even if you think you’re running out of time. I admit that I should have checked the company more carefully, even if someone recommended it. Also, if I was more organized, perhaps I could have rearranged a few things to make time to learn Amazon ads myself. I know many authors get scammed from similar situations all the time, so lesson learned: don’t take shortcuts. 

So, for my next book release, I will learn how to do Amazon ads myself.

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