Beware! Are You Getting Everything You Paid For?

Guest Post by Irene Watson

I keep harping on credibility because I believe being upfront is of utmost importance. Embellishing information  on a website eventually catches up, especially when it looks like the information is being “stretched.”  Unfortunately may authors take the word as truth and don’t question  the content.

Recently an author communicated with me about a video she had made by an online site.  She was happy with the video but was questioning the distribution and wanted to know my opinion.  Knowing how much time and effort it takes to make a presentable and professional video I checked the site for more information.  As I continued to browse the site I found this information:

* trailer will be submitted to Amazon and Barnes & Noble.  Well, in reality Amazon doesn’t allow book trailers in their review section. Their guidelines say that they are advertisements. (You can put the video on your author page, however, it’s doubtful that authors give the company access to their personal account.)  As well, B & N website doesn’t have provisions for videos on the book page so I’m not sure what happens there…probably nothing.

*  trailer will be distributed up to 100 high-traffic video channels.   I asked a colleague to ask for a list of these channels and the response was:   (I didn’t think I would get a response.)

The full list of sites to which we post our videos is proprietary, so we don’t release it in its entirety, but we’ll gladly provide you with some of the links at which you can view your trailer.

This is exactly the same line that the author got when I asked her to inquire.  So, that’s fine.  Trying another angle, we asked for examples where we could see some of the trailers posted and were given one:  YouTube.  Again, same thing as the author indicated.

 There are video sharing programs but they are super-expensive and it’s doubtful that this company pays for one considering the low cost of the initial trailer.  Besides, if they did subscribe, these  online programs pump out a list of links where the videos are posted that are emailed to the submitter so it would be very easy to copy/paste and send to the author confirming the 100 high-traffic video channels. Checking the distribution points that were mentioned on the site we found none of the videos, that were on YouTube, posted  by this company .

Note the word “some” in the response.  To me “some” indicates it’s not the 25 – 50 or 100 sites as promised but as little as one or two.  Why only some?

* press release announcing  the trailer distributed to 250,00 media outlets.  When asked for more information in this regard the response was:

Regarding your press release, we submit it to our syndicated PR service, from which it is further distributed to media outlets worldwide.

In reality there are many free online sites you can post a press release where “media” can pick it up. In order to actually distribute a press release companies charge a fee and from the looks of the price of the video there are no funds allotted to distribution.  Checking online I couldn’t find a press release for the author’s video.

Many authors have used this service and I suspect it’s because of the low price.  I have no qualms with that whatsoever.  Marketing budgets are tight and ROI may be low so I definitely encourage getting the best price.  But, what I don’t encourage is getting sucked into false numbers…or numbers/services that aren’t justified, proven, or disclosed.  Maybe it doesn’t matter as long as you have a low-budget trailer made and it feels good to get one for less than others charge. However, to me, it seems like distribution is extremely important  for SEO purposes because after all, isn’t that the reason for having a book trailer? Are you okay paying for something you don’t get?

I’d like to know what your comments are.  How do you verify credibility or do you follow up to be sure you are getting what you paid for?  

Irene Watson is the Managing Editor of Reader Views, where avid readers can find reviews  of recently published books as well as read interviews with authors. Her team also provides author publicity  and a variety of other services specific to writing and publishing books.

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Posted on January 23, 2011, in Publicity & Writing, Writing & Publishing. Bookmark the permalink. 5 Comments.

  1. I'm personally finding the action of "paying" for promotional websites that offer growth for me as an author and speaker getting very depressing. I joined so many website since 2006, promising how they reach hundreds of media websites, libraries and book stores, without any sign of a royalty pay from it. I'm starting to re-think this process. The question is, "Which website with promoting and marketing is actually going to help you, your books, and your talent with speaking engagements get known. Maybe I'm losing faith with these sites. I honestly believe the authors who benefit are: well known people in the public eye, author with a lot of income to push their product, someone who knows someone in the media, authors with enough money to attend numerous seminars or conferences, if you get known in the media from something you did, etc, etc. etc.Do I have a poor attitude? No, just reality. But I have enough hope left in me and knowledge that authors do have to help themselves grow. We have to be seen to get noticed, we have to jump on any opportunity to be on radio and TV shows (I've only been lucky to be on local cable appearances) and I have to knock on doors for speaking engagements. I heard from another author years ago, who said that it takes a good five years to reach that point if you advance in your hard work. Let's see, I'm going into my fifth year, so lets see what 2011 brings. For the average authors, money is tight and it's frustrating when you invest it into a website promising growth for you and you stay at a stand still. I have no idea how to get out of this action except, stop investing in them. If it sounds too good to be true, it isn't. I'm still searching marketing companies but fear I will be locked into one who will be going to the bank with my money while I keep looking into my pocketbook and seeing the bottom of it. It's like putting names in a hat and hoping you pull the right one out. I think all authors want is "honesty." I have my book on numerous websites that I pay for and not one book has sold from it. I may drop out of them. I truly think, that authors have to get known in the public eye with their talents. Steve Harrison, who has telephone seminars, had a guest speaker on who spoke on what makes an author grow and he talked about the difference with a poor and rich author. He stated, "A poor author depends only on book signing and getting their books on the bookshelfs (although, authors have to get them "off" the shelves). A rich author, looks at his talents to do more like offering workshops or giving speaking enagements." I went from author of three memoirs, to speaking engagments and teaching workshops on "Bring Your Manuscript to Publication." My name's in three colleges for night courses this year.I'm sorry for such a long answer but a lot goes behind promoting and marketing, and most of all, getting the correct information on what and who helps you sell books. If we had the anwers, we wouldn't be having this topic.

  2. There never seems to be a short supply of places for authors to sink their money. Like many, I have ventured down some dubious paths. Hindsight is ever so clear.I am pleased that you have brought this scam to our attention. It would be interesting to find out if this author could get her money back. They’d probably just ignore her request.I subscribe to SpeakerNet News. They allow members to post things like: “If anyone plans to deal with Company X, talk to me first.” This is a benign warning that has no legal ramifications.A good way to avoid problems is to deal with professional companies who have a proven track record – such as ReaderViews.One method I use to track distribution of my videos and articles is Google Alerts. They are very effective to discover just where these initiatives land.

  3. Betty Gelean (hopeful author)

    I only have two published short stories, one from a competition and one from a writing class that has been reproduced as a magazine article and a newspaper article, so I can't really qualify as an author, but I do have a couple of stories, one a children's picture book waiting for illustrations, and am working on two books, one based on my Grandmother's life in the Yukon as a child, and a full book of fiction, so I'm sort of midway.That said, I have been looking into information on getting these published and have found all kinds of different variations on a theme. Lots of promises, wide variations in price for publication, and am totally confused. Personally, I feel I can do a pretty good job of promotion myself, and especially if this is the case with some companies that's precisely what I will do.My biggest problem is that I can't afford any of the options I've heard so far. I'm retired and my husband & I are trying to get by on our basic pensions… it's not working. So I'm not sure what I will be doing. In the meantime, I have to have something all ready to go before I continue looking for a publisher. Regardless, I think your article is very important, and I entirely agree with you. You really need to ask questions and of course read between the lines and the small print! 😉

  4. I will check the Better Business Bureau for consumer complaints on a company.

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