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  Myths and Lies: Scam Spotting
by Lee Masterson

In the treacherous waters of the publishing industry it's hard for a small fish to make a ripple in such a deep pond - especially when so many sharks infest the depths!

These days so many new writers are lured into parting with their hard-earned cash by less-than-scrupulous, self-styled 'gurus' that it makes me wonder how these scam-artists sleep at night.

Any writer surfing the internet will find themselves bombarded with websites promising instant publication, massive riches quickly and easily or guaranteed riches beyond compare simply by paying stupid amounts of money for a 25 page report written by someone whose real income comes from selling 25-page-reports to pepole like YOU!

How do you know if the ebook or course you're considering is a real writing-related piece of information written by a real, professional writer or whether it's a fluff-report written by a bottom-feeding scavenger masquerading as a writer?

I can think of several reputable writers who have brilliant educational writing-related, educational information available for sale. The sales pages are simple and efficient - no hype and no scams in sight. And there's plenty of confirmation the authors really do know what they're talking about, freely available on their various websites.

So what's the difference between an educational ebook and a scam?

There are some simple road tests by which you should measure every product you're considering spending any money on at any time on the net.

The answers are always there in black and white - in the sales-pitch.

Here are some things to ask:

Question: What are the author's credentials?

Answer: Ask yourself questions about the author of the information you're thinking about buying.

Many scam-artists will bluff their way to a sale by playing to your sense of greed, throwing their own alleged big income figures around and making huge promises about your own success.

In all seriousness, if you haven't heard of this author through any other published source, chances are that author is simply making a quick buck from your desire and desperation to get published any which way you can.

There are no short-cuts to publication and there are no get-rich-quick guarantees, no matter what these sharks want you to believe.

Question: Has the author written and published anything via a reputable publisher?

Answer: Check the author's bio and publishing credits before spending a cent. If the author has book publishers (big or small) or magazine publishers listed, then you're going to know you're dealing with a working writer. If the author doesn't have a reliable bio reasily available, then chances are you're being fooled by someone with minimal information to offer and more than a casual interest in grabbing your cash for quick profit.

Self-publishing doesn't count - neither does publishing through a company owned by that author (I can think of a couple of guilty suspects here).

If you see only published pieces of work shorter than can be churned out in a week (i.e. less than 6,000 words), you should be asking yourself some questions about that author's motives towards your hip-pocket.

Question: Does the author give you a terrible tale of hardship, followed by the unmasking of a miracle secret that only he or she can give you after you part with your money?

Answer: This forms part of the 'hard-sell sales-pitch formula', designed to help part innocent writers with their money.

The idea of a person hitting 'rock-bottom' before discovering a miracle-secret/special-mindset/hidden-ingredient is simply a formula designed to feed on your sense of greed by unscrupulous sales people wanting you to part with your money.

Be very wary of this kind of formula sales-pitch. Very rarely is the author wanting to truly teach you - rather he/she is trying to gain some quick cash to get him/herself out of the financial ditch he's dug for himself using your cash to get there.

Question: But if that author can succed after hitting rock-bottom, being unemployed, going bankrupt or any other myriad of hard-luck stories, then shouldn't I be learning what he/she did to succeed too?

Answer: See above answer. If that author really did hit rock-bottom financially, how much of the information offered was created from a need to grab some quick cash from any sucker that comes along?

Hard-luck stories are a part of any formula 'hard-sell' sales page. Don't fall for them. The statistics show that people like this make more money from scamming desperate people wanting to emulate this sudden rise to riches than from any other source.

Question: But what if the sales-pitch tells me I need no talent, no creativity, a few days (or weeks) of my time, and only this ONE ebook/course in order to strike it really big with my book?

Answer: This kind of sales pitch always makes me ask the uquestion: "Is that how this guy got here today?" Did using no talent, no creativity and only ONE bit of information (plus a cleverly worded sales page) make him/her rich?

Give me a break. Next question.

Question: But this 'guru' is different. He/she is really concerned about my writing future.

Answer: If that was true, then why is that same 'guru' bombarding your innocent inbox with hard-sell sales-pitches to spend more of your money every second day? Why hasn't this 'guru' offered up educational information on his/her website designed to teach and guide, rather than offering up self-serving anecdotes designed to sell you more stuff.

If that person was truly interested in your writing career, then perhaps a newsletter that has information about YOU - the writer - and about progressing your career instead of about the 'guru' and his/her make-believe exploits - would be sent out occasionally.

Always question anyone that is prepared to talk more about themselves than about making sure you're learning to progress your writing career first and foremost!

Question: Is the author spending more time bragging about his/her pay-check or million-dollar empire than telling you about actual writing qualifications or publishing credits?

Answer: I've worked in investment and commercial finance for more than a decade and worked with some seriously major investors around the world. I've also learned in that time that people who really do have massive amounts of income and serious amounts of money are usually very reserved about telling the general public the real amounts involved. (Sure - they might tell friends and family - but strangers on the internet? HA!) Really rich people have no need to brag about their incomes.

Only those who are still hoping to make it (or those who are hoping to fool you into parting with your money) feel the need to brag. Be VERY wary of anyone selling anything after bragging about huge income amounts from a project they can't give you any details about.

Question: But what if the sales page showed me pictures of great mansions and expensive cars, along with images of huge checks received in the mail?

Answer: This one is perhaps the easiest part to verify. Can you find any information at all on the 'net that the author has ever legally made a dime from writing anything other than the book or course he/she is selling to you right now?

Pretty pictures of nice houses/cars/boats are easy to download from the internet. Photo-shop can do amazing things to existing images of other checks for much lower amounts. Don't be fooled by them. Use your best judgment and do some very simple research.

Question: This author says I should buy this ebook/course immediately and that I'll get rich if I buy this ebook/course right now!

Answer: It's against the law to give financial advice without having appropriate licencing/accreditations in whatever country you're giving that advice. The penalties and fines can be quite harsh for those who don't play by the rules in this field.

Be very careful about who you trust when being told you will make loads of money on the 'net.

Perhaps the best piece of advice I can think of giving you when you're feeling tempted to part with your hard-earned money is: "If it looks too good to be true, it probably is."

Copyright Lee Masterson. All Rights Reserved.


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