Author Etiquette & Book Publishing Scams



unfortunately there are many scammers in this world and the book publishing and writing communities are no exception learn how to avoid publishing scams as well as author advocate in this I read early video hey book nerds I'm Meg Latour science fiction and fantasy writer developmental book editor and former literary agent on this episode of I read it early let's talk about author etiquette and book publishing scams what are best practices if you're an author and what types of scams should you avoid most importantly where should you never publish your book but before we get in today's content hit that subscribe button and ring the bell if you haven't already here on I readily create videos about how to be a successful modern day author in this video we will go through thirteen best practices for aspiring and veteran authors what to do what or who to avoid and how you can put your best foot forward in today's modern publishing landscape especially if you have an online presence if you notice things look a little bit different in this video number one in my camera broke and we send it back to manufacturer they fixed it but it still has a little bit of quirks and things I'm trying to work out some holidays if it looks a little bit different and I broke my toe so I'm sitting under stool in front of the bookshelf so that's why the little bit of a broken broke an angle a little bit of a different angle let's start with the basics number one be a nice person online I'm always surprised I have to say this but just because you have a keyboard doesn't make you an untouchable wizard the writing community is small don't be saying unkind things about authors writers literary agents editors are really anyone online be kind if you disagree with something someone said speak calmly and kindly if you choose to voice your objection or maybe have a counter-argument don't attack someone else and always be professional in addition I feel like sarcasm doesn't come across very well online especially in tweets on Twitter just be straightforward and professional and it's okay if we don't agree we're all humans we all have different experiences and things that color our perception of what we find important or true to us this is not me saying you cannot speak your opinions but do so in a professional way if you're going to voice objection to anybody on the Internet when I worked as literary agent you would be surprised how many threats or downright awful things that people would say to me is especially true when I would reject a manuscript which is really unfortunate because if a literary agent since your rejection you don't need to reply to it just remark it in wherever you are keeping track of who you queried and what their response was you don't need to say you know thanks for your consideration that is not necessary but if you start replying you're tagging someone that automatically does look good for you and if it's like a query submission system the literary agents are gonna remember you for the next time you quarry them and it might be an auto reject just because you were unkind to them the first time so just don't do it don't do it it's not worth it being a nice person also includes not harassing or bullying other people online they use this example here if you make an advance towards someone maybe you find them very attractive anything they're single and you're single if they turn you down respect their boundaries in addition objectifying people is offensive don't do it just by not being a jerk you're already off to a good start number two is to research your book title and Series title to see if it's in use elsewhere this is especially true if you are a self-published or indie author don't use a book or series title if it's already taken Pulliam and simple you don't want to be a jerk and you don't want to compete for SEO rankings and that's search engine optimization you want to learn more about search engine optimization we did a video about that recently I'll leave that in the description below but essentially it's how you rank in places like Google or YouTube or Amazon each one usually has their own search engine optimization and best practices but usually want to compete with someone else for the exact same book title or series title to make sure your desired book title or series title isn't in use be sure to check all across the internet that includes places like Google Amazon Goodreads and so on number three research your author name or author pad name to see if it's in use elsewhere similar to book titles and series titles check out if someone else is using your author name this could be whether or not you want to under your own legal name or under a pen name for example if your name is Stephen King you might want to choose to maybe write under a pen name or write using your initials plus your last name really depends on if it's important for you to write under your legal name versus a pen name everyone has their own preferences and there's reasons to do each route whatever route you choose the path of least resistance here is just going to be pic and meme that really isn't in use or it may be initials for again for your name so for me my middle name starts with an R I could do M R Latour if I didn't want to use my first name for whatever reason going back to the whole SEO rankings you don't want to be competing with Stephen King to get your books a scene in Google again if you want to learn more about SEO I'll leave a link to our video about improving your website's SEO in the description below number four don't try to copyright or trademark commonly used words or phrases let me start off here we're saying that I am NOT a legal expert in fact these sorts of things often go way over my head however after scandals like cocky I think it's important for us as writers who want to protect our book Louise to be much more open about how to properly go about protecting our stories if you're not familiar the self-published romance author Felina Hopkins sent cease and desist letters to authors who publish books after hers with the word cocky in the title she has a series called khakhra brothers or cocky series but basically she wrote a bunch of series with cocky and cocky and the titles or in the series title in her cease and desist letters of Felina claimed that the trademark that she filed for the word cocky prevented other authors from using this word in any sort of titles of book title or series title according to some self-published authors that are consulted on this topic books annals cannot be copyrighted only trademarked trademarks are much harder to file they're more expensive and there just weren't time consuming to do according to a statement from the Authors Guild during the cocky gate scandal the Authors Guild won a court ruling that allows writers to continue selling books whose titles include the word cocky despite a trademark registration owned by a single romance author the author's guilt and the Romans writers of America rwa joined forces in this case to defend the principle that no one should be able to own exclusive rights to use a common word in book or book series titles the author's bill believes strongly that no one author should be able to prevent others from using a commonly used word or phrase in their book titles the law is clear that individual titles cannot be trademarked only series titles and that common words cannot be trademarked at all unless they develop an association in the minds of the public with a particular source in this case a single author I'll include links to that particular press release in the description below again I consulted some indie author friends of mine and they said that it's okay to really protect your rights and your creative works but don't go to the extreme know the rules and to be mindful of your community number 5 historically arcs have been free arcs also called advanced reader copies or advanced review copies are books that are printed before mass distribution so it's before a book is available to the public and are given to an influencer on some level to review again before the book publication to help spread the word and buzz about a particular title these books are given by the publisher or an indie author depending on how the book is published to places like booksellers or to librarians or book tubers or books to grammars or other influencers in the bookish community arcs are essentially a marketing tool to help spread the word about a given title before it's printed and available to the public it's not the final polished version of the book again it's just a free marketing tool I recently watched an episode of I think it's called bookmarked where a bunch of the big book tubers talk about what the heck are arcs and they go into how they get them and when they're sent and maybe if you're a starting booktuber and you want to get arcs how you can go about getting those I'll leave a link in the description below to that video so you guys can learn a little bit more about what arcs exactly are now for indie authors who have things like a patreon account I don't see why patrons who are basically paying an author some type of fee monthly to support them but they can't receive a cop Terry our core copy of the book prior to it being published but I do think that art should be available to non patrons so someone who isn't paying some monthly fee to the author to support them in my opinion it's in an author's benefit to be giving arcs to bookish influencers and people outside of say your patreon community to help spread the word about the book and therefore increase the audience you could be giving your book too it could be a booktuber reviewing your book in a video or maybe someone is giving it a shout-out and things like a book haul or a book store and picture because isn't that the point of publishing a book to get it into the hands of readers who would potentially enjoy it if done well sending arcs it's really just a marketing strategy you do want to keep in mind that sending arcs especially physical arcs does cost the publisher or nd author your money if you're sending a physical print book you have to print the book and then ship it hi goodness knows if it costs about a zillion dollars to ship anything these days the alternative to this is sending something like an e arc so a digital book but then that runs the risk of maybe the book being published online prior to publication so pirating the book essentially which can hurt the publishers income and the author's income and if you're an indie author which has hurt the author's income again as a marketing tool arcs so advanced review copies or advance reader copies are given to people with a platform they are usually not given to general readers just because they're excited about a book and want to read it early they're a marketing tool and the publisher or the author logistically wants to spread the word about their book and it's just you can't give it to every single reader who's just excited and wants to read your book early in the video that I mentioned of the book tubers who made the whole video about arcs there are ways for just general readers to get arcs and usually those are given out at like bookish conventions or writer conferences for me a lot of the arcs that I receive are through things like book con Book Expo because I have a platform I can sign up for places like net galley and get a lot of arcs from traditionally published authors that way and the authors usually listen a call and say hey who wants to be on our street team or who wants to read fans review copy anyways who is to say that the policy about advance review copies or advance reader copies isn't going to change in the future the nd author community is really growing a traditional publishers are often consolidating by for now as of 2019 and this is kind of the best practices for arcs they're free early unpolished copies of the book that really helps spread the word about a book prior to it being published number 6 we're going to shift gears a little bit here but this one is to never charge a bookish influencers for a copy of your book what do I mean by this if you want a bookish influencer to read your book and share it with their audience you never want to charge them money for a copy of your book bookish influencers could be people like book tubers books two grammars book bloggers and so on I don't think that this would necessarily apply to institutions you can certainly give a free book of yours to a library you wouldn't really want to charge a library for a copy of your book but what I'm referring to specifically now is online bookish influencers these are people who have a platform and a big following of people that read books and might be interested in reading your book it's an author's benefits you have a bookish influencer read and review and mention their book on the influencers platform that way hopefully more people find out about the book and read it but reading a book writing review or a video script and then sharing it on a platform so maybe that includes setting up a layout on Instagram or recording and editing a video on YouTube that takes a lot of time and effort from an influencer and essentially it is free marketing for you let me repeat you give an influencer a free copy of your book and they an exchange basically give you free marketing on their platform it's an exchange of goods and services it really is not paid and you shouldn't charge them money to get a copy of your book again because there's a lot of work to put all that content together should also mention that sponsored videos can cost anywhere from hundreds of thousands of dollars depending on the platform or sponsored content will call it sponsored content because it could be outside of YouTube and have YouTube on the brain all the time so consider it a mark investment when you send free copies of your books too bookish influencers however just because you sending bookish influencer a free copy of your book it doesn't mean that they're going to review it more to come on that in a hot second number seven paid book reviews just just don't do it don't don't do it what we've use are or should be free as we kind of outlined in the previous points in exchange for a free copy of your book the bookish influencer gives it a shout out and reviews it on their platform but when you think about it our pain book reviews actually book reviews in my mind it feels like you're being paid to have an opinion they're my you kind of lose the authenticity of a review in other words it cheapens are the review for both the influencer and the author but there are paid alternatives you can have a book mentioned in a book haul or you could sponsor a YouTube video or sponsor a post on Instagram think you can sponsor book costs not a hundred percent sure guys were not book tubers but I do think that there is a chance that you can sponsor booktube videos you can say hey this video is sponsored by maybe this publishing company one of their latest titles is insert title here here's the book is about okay let's proceed with the video something like that if you guys are wondering if it video is sponsored usually most author to ban booktube creators will start the video off by saying this video is sponsored by and then say who is sponsored by and it usually is also included in the video's description number eight how do you get your book reviewed by a bookish influencers personalized emails want a bookish influencer to talk about your book on their platform don't just send them a copy of your book without talking to them first instead write a personalized email to them mentioning why they might like your book based on your research of their platform that means you will want to check out their platform what does the influencer enjoy reading how should meant to this early but anytime I say influencer I'm afraid to any kind of bookish person that has a presence online so a books to grammar a booktuber an author to where a book blogger a book reviewer on and so on for me it's just easier to say influencer than to repeat all the possible types of influencing bookish influencing so again you'll want to check out their platform what do they typically review or mention in their other a bookish content such as book hauls if they typically review about science fiction and fantasy don't be sending them your memoir do your homework before contacting them sometimes it's as easy as going to a bookish influencers website they might have submission guidelines or how they want arcs or books to be sent to them in addition do not send influencers direct messages on social media emails are far more professional as I mentioned before do not charge an influencer money to read your book do not mass email influencers that is a quickest way for me to delete an email again send personalized individual emails do not send your books to every single influencer that you find on the internet really only send them to book reviewers instagramers influencers and so on who would actually enjoy your type of book number nine is someone claiming to be an expert and offering a product or service based on their expertise check their credentials do you want to learn more about the writing or book publishing industry is there someone who's written a book or created a course or some other type of product or service that you're considering purchasing sweet totally cool but check out their credentials if they're claiming to be an expert then what is their experience have they worked in the field have they taken courses what life experience do they have have they written any books maybe on a particular topic always always do your research before purchasing anything to avoid scams you also may want to check out free resources first such as YouTube or just straight-up googling something number 10 just because someone has an online presence does not make them an expert this tip goes hand-in-hand with number 9 just because someone has a YouTube channel about writing doesn't make them all-knowing about the book publishing industry have they published before have they worked in the industry such as at a publishing house or a literary Age see do they have other credentials for example I received many questions on this channel about nonfiction I'm guessing maybe people think that I know about nonfiction because I worked at a literary agency but I don't so I won't give advice about nonfiction because I'm not an expert in that subject and if some makes writing craft videos it doesn't make them an expert on that subject have they published before is this their first book are they an editor freelance editor or literary agents do they have experience in the book publishing industry in some capacity have they stated explicitly that there are writer and they're just sharing pieces of their journey as they're learning with you or are they claiming to be an expert without any credentials at all on the flip side I will say that some people are just better at teaching than doing writing and teaching about writing are two completely different skill sets a lot of people will say if you can't do teach and I think that's a really harmful thought process I think much before writing and teaching are two completely different skill sets some people have both skill sets and some people don't but I also feel that you don't want to be taking advice necessarily from people that don't have some type of credentials so this is a weird topic that it's like can you give writing advice if you're still learning it is writing advice Universal can anyone give writing advice that's a tough question but I don't think anyone really has an answer to but if you're considering purchasing a product or service you probably want to make sure they have credentials in addition there are fantastic editors who might teach about editing a book but they haven't written a book themselves because maybe they like being an editor and they're good at being an editor and they don't want to write a book but there are people who can't write and decide to teach on writing as a way to make a profit so just be aware of these types of scams number eleven paid programs does not automatically make it a scam one of the reasons online courses are doing so well particularly in 2019 which is what I'm recording this video is because they're convenient and they're personalized while people can learn just about anything online and for free how long would it take to do that research it might take months or years of powering the internet to find credible sources but having a course basically packaged all the necessary tools someone needs to learn a given topic and really kind of expedite the learning curve and learn something faster can be a big benefits to paying for a course in addition if it is something like that paid course a lot of times the instruction will provide feedback to the students in a given course for example if you're taking a course about YouTube the instructor might provide channel critiques and therefore you might get some really great constructive feedback right away that you might not have gotten otherwise just because the service has a fee does not make it a scam in addition just because I'm an is offering a paid service does that mean you have to do it personally I'm of the mindset that anyone can do side hustle so long as they have the credentials and know how to be an expert in whatever they're teaching on or sharing information about because you should be an expert if you're hosting in class giving a service or maybe publishing books on a topic number 12 writing events can be a ton of fun but what does the host promise you will get out of the event if there's a writing retreat being hosted for any writer to come and have a good time maybe make some writing friends that's totally cool but if there's a writing event being hosted by someone who really has no credentials and they're promising you while success for you and for your book then that might be a scam as always do your research before pulling out your wallet and carefully consider what the host of the event is promising you will get out of the event number 13 and probably the most important legit publishers and Andy presses never charge the author money to publish their book if you aren't aware of this authors are never expected to pay money to publish their book traditionally or with an indie press any press simply means an independently owned press or publisher one of the benefits of this option is a publisher invest in you so they take care of things like copy editing and developmental editing and proofreading cover design layout format all those sorts of things they pay those costs on your behalf the same goes for any process they will pay all of those expenses for you and return you as a writer one them rights to your story for self-publishing authors have to foot the bill all the above things that I said self-published authors have to pay for themselves however the royalty way is going to be significantly higher for self-published authors and royalty rate is the percent that you make on per book purchase that's going be significantly higher for self-published authors because they own all the rights bandy publishers on the other hand will polish your book for you kind of like a traditional publisher and they expect you to pay them essentially they often claim to be a price or publisher and say that they can do all these wonderful things for you in your book and they can't fulfill on any of their promises in short vanity presses expect the author to pay them to publish their book and they take the rights away so it's like little work side of both self-publishing I'm traditional publishing mash together step cautiously writer friends do not do not publish with the vanity press they're never gonna call themselves a vanity press but if a practice or publisher ever has a bill with their publishing packages their vanity press sure and simple I previously did a video about the different publishing options so I will leave that in the description below number 14 sponsored content is not the devil many consumers especially on YouTube get upset when they see sponsored content they think by the Creator having sponsored content that they're selling out or making lesser content because the content is sponsored while there are most certainly creators that do that and maybe their videos if they have a sponsor video for example it might feel like a 15 minute advertisement most people don't and there's a lot of creators who can have a sponsored content videos post whatever and do it ethically let me say that again sponsored content can be done ethically without jeopardizing the quality of the content first of all sponsored content should be openly labeled as sponsored content usually you will hear something like this video is sponsored by so on bad sponsored content is content that feels manipulative or dishonest in some way it also might feel like an infomercial and nobody likes to watch those good sponsored content is openly labeled a sponsored content will also that meets the heart of the yo or whatever content it is is still beneficial to the viewer in some capacity maybe the viewers are learning something new or they're being entertained for anything you see in the online frightening and bookish communities or even in person do your research and ask other writers of their experience when we don't reach out and ask questions and do our own due diligence and that's when scammers can take advantage of us or our stories so be careful do your research and of course don't be a jerk online thanks for tuning into this episode of I read early off your etiquette and book publishing scams you liked what you saw give this video a thumbs up it lets me know you liked the save of content and want more and if you're new here welcome uh please consider subscribing if you have questions about anything we cover today additional things that you're like hey is this a publishing scam or maybe additional author etiquette tips I'll leave those in the comments below be sure to connect with me on my other social media platforms I'm on Twitter and Instagram if you're on Facebook check out our private group called the book nerd community I also have a monthly newsletter book nerd buys which includes exclusive insiders and giveaways for subscribers when you subscribe to the newsletter and you'll receive free copies up how to format your manuscript for submission which is a word document templates and a growing checklist and last but not least if you guys want some free I write early merchandise we are hosting a giveaway and the winners will be announced on August 14th you one chance to win one of our eye on early shirts be sure check out our release video as well as our Instagram post hosting two separate giveaways and I will include links to both of those in the description below that's it for today as always keep writing [Applause] you

21 thoughts on “Author Etiquette & Book Publishing Scams

  1. Once I finish my book, I'll need a literary agent. Are you open to representing writers? I haven't seen all of your videos, but I did read that you are a former literary agent on your about page, and currently an editor, so I'm wondering if you would be interested in being a literary agent for the right person and story. Not necessarily me, just in general.

  2. Do your research. Do your research. Do your research! Also, know what you want from a course. Some people write incredible stories but stink at marketing. If you are looking for story help, use them. Marketing help, use someone with success.

  3. Wait…I can’t be sarcastic when tweeting…lol I failed on this one.

    I’d say even check the credentials of professors. I’ve learned more from professional writers (Brandon Sanderson, Stephen King, Steven James) and great books (Save the Cat, Story Trumps Structure, On Writing) than all the schooling I’ve had (1 year professional writing, two years digital filmmaking and video production). I also learned a lot writing my own self pub (hit #12 on Amazon) and just watching a cool video series, like Iwriterly or listening to Writing Excuses.

  4. Useful as always. Love your new logo! Afraid it won’t help you to shake that “sweet and innocent” image. 🤓

  5. Great content. Thank you for having this conversation. You've handled some of the ”controversial” topics very tasteful and respectful which is such an excellent example of what you said early on in the video.

    I wanted to add to this conversation about FTC rules while asking & giving books for review. I don't see many people talking about it.

    A point that you mention about ARC being given only to influencers. I don't know if I agree 100%. For example, on Goodreads, one can receive ARCs even without being a typical influencer. In my opinion, it should be done in an 80:20 ratio. 20% of ARCs should be given to none influencers to get more organic reviews. (that’s just my opinion.)

    Looking forward to your next video. Your content is so helpful. 💖

  6. Keeping it professional, as always. Thank you for all the great advice and information here.
    Loving your content since more than a year ago. 💜

  7. Really good information! I literally just finished the first draft to a book I'm hoping to publish and your page has been a God send!

  8. If the literary agent takes the time to give a personalize rejection (they made a reccomendation, say) is a reply needed? Thanks!

  9. So… Penguin House is a vanity press. Glad I rejected them few years ago. In return, I had to hear their manager's passive aggressive comments, lol. It was my pure courtesy and mere restraint that keep me from just hanging the phone up on her.

  10. Thank you I learn from all of your videos. Sadly "Dont be a jerk" was needed, and you were direct yet polite 😃😁 about the importance of manners and common courtesies.

  11. No one needs writing courses, writing books, or anything else to learn to write. The best way to learn to write is to write. Then write a lot more every day. Also read as much as you can.

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