Digital Age Marketing Scams:


A bountiful harvest of apples may still conceal a worm.

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The information age is changing just about everything. Few barriers now lie between content creators and the end user. But the marketplace is full of choices, and making money from creative endeavors can be challenging. Less challenging (and less scrupulous) is profiting from the endeavors of others with ebook marketing scams. Enter whom you might see in your inbox as “” or “McNew Publishing.”

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Letting people know about your new creation is the challenge. Quality work can go unseen. However ebook marketing may be one of the few areas in which money is being made. Authors, striving for sales, confident in their work, contract promotion services. I’ve hired many contractors over my writing career for a variety of services. Almost all were professional, and the interactions good.

I contracted for a one-time $12 promotion for the first book in the Tethered Worlds series, Unwelcome Star. It was seemingly a modest introductory offer for placement on their website and perhaps inclusion on their mailing list. Ebook marketing companies are popping up, and this one seemed new and hungry for business.

As Dire Straits would say, "That ain't workin'... Money for nothin..."
As Dire Straits would say, “That ain’t workin’… Money for nothin…”

Their services bore little if any fruit. About three weeks later I noticed hundreds of dollars of charges on the credit card I used to pay them. Unauthorized charges stemming from Of course I immediately contacted them, trying to pierce their internet insulation.

Eventually I got an email from a representative named “Shivangi Mahesh ACCOUNTING SUPERVISOR” who suggested going to some online form page. No acknowledgement or even discussion of the fraudulent charges occurred, which obviously was not satisfactory. Repeated pleas for communication from Mr. Mahesh went unanswered, eventually forcing me to cancel the credit card.

If the story ended there, the lesson learned would be enough, but there’s one final chapter. I surmise Mr. Mahesh or someone from Publishing was not pleased with my complaints about their unauthorized charges. Though the bank re-issuing my credit card is charged with keeping my information confidential, Mastercard inexplicably exposed me to serious fraud by sharing the new card with the very organizations whose charges I was contesting.

Business arrangements for you are 'opportunities' for others.
Business arrangements for you are ‘opportunities’ for others.

The eBookPro cartel racked up over $7000 in charges before I canceled the second card. One charge alone was for $3200. All this from a simple, one-time $12 trial. What tips can be taken away from this incident?

  1. Take your time. Sign up for a potential marketing firm’s mailing list and see it for yourself.
  2. Monitor the social media of new firms to ascertain more about their legitimacy and results.
  3. Seek out online forums and writing groups for more information on potential service providers. This may be difficult for new companies in this fast-paced publishing environment, but it’s worth trying.
  4. Analyze your credit card statements. Scam artists may start with a small charge to test the waters.

Your marketing dollars are an investment in yourself, they should command scrutiny. When that’s not enough, be ready for the necessary hassle to get your money back, like I did. It was no fun, but the commerce in which we engage in the free marketplace almost always reconciles fairly, and this truly was an exception. There are reputable companies out there, run by good people who will show your self-investment the respect it deserves. Find them.

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The Tethered Worlds universe still uses currency. But some planets wouldn’t take too kindly to fraud. But worlds are as diverse as those who settle them. Some bring forth heroes of noble character, and some spawn those who would seek to control others. Read the Tethered Worlds books and join Jordahk’s family in fighting for what’s right.

Does Novel Length Still Matter in a Digital World?


No One Looks at Kindles Sideways

I recently read an interesting post by Joe Wikert where he talked about book length and sales in a digital world. As an author, it got me thinking about the nature of novel writing and how we deliver content to our readers.

One of Joe’s points was that every written work does not need to be a couple hundred pages long. On the surface, and perhaps in general, this makes sense. The physical bookshelf, while quaint, is becoming less of a commercial factor every day as more and more content is purchased online and/or consumed digitally. But “books” means a lot of things. Certainly, nonfiction books of every sort should not be a page longer than they need to be. Bloating a book so it takes up more shelf space has to be a thing of the past. And, in my opinion, the price should be adjusted accordingly.


Novels, on the other hand, need to be a certain length to be considered novels. While there may be no official word count for full-length, it is hard to consider anything below 50,000 words more than a novella. I would not want to see consumers charged full novel price for a novella. Disappointment in such a purchase can undermine the whole business model. However, with so many self published books out there of various lengths, some offered for $.99 or even free, it is not possible to strictly associate price and length.

People have no length expectations for a self-help guide beyond a length long enough to give them the help they desire. However novels are an experience. While movies have averaged shorter over the decades, they are still a certain length to satisfy the purchase price. There would be no commercial success for a theater release movie of thirty minutes, likely even if price reduced. A patron making an effort to go to a theater and buy a ticket wants to enjoy the fullness of their fantasy respite. As entertaining as thirty minutes can be made to be, it probably wouldn’t justify an evening out at the movies. (That’s what TV is for.)

Joe and I agree that selling books by the chapter is a dubious option. It may work for songs, which historically have been written and enjoyed individually. Albums are a relatively recent invention after all (outside of opera), and the success of iTunes shows that their basis was not necessary.

The fundamentals of storytelling, exposition, climax and denouement have centuries of tradition.
The fundamentals of storytelling; exposition, climax and denouement have centuries of tradition.

But Joe had high hopes for tailoring works to shorter length. An okay concept for information, but storytelling follows a less flexible path. If a person is into short stories, and that number may be increasing, short is fine. But the experience of getting to know a novel’s universe, and following along on an adventure of some length is as old as Shakespeare, and may be as old as some of the earliest hero’s journey epics. Every reader has an invisible ratio graph in their head of time invested versus literary payback. It has been culturally set by hundreds of years of tradition, and it’s not going to be upended because E-readers have become popular in the last five.


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Tethered Worlds: Unwelcome Star is a full length adventure, one that will give you hours of fantastical enjoyment and respite beyond the distant colony world of Adams Rush. Go with Jordahk and experiences his challenges, victories, and penchant for getting into jams that may just save his planet.

Yoda says, “Always in motion is the future.”


Stop Trying to Predict Tomorrow and Write Your Novel.

You’re sitting at your keyboard, staring at a blank document file. Time ticks by, and the keys remain unpressed. Writer’s block? No. Rather you are too focused on precisely determining the events of tomorrow, and every day something else happens that changes that outlook. The future cannot be pinned down, it is a free-wheeling mistress that cannot be tamed. Tomorrow, something completely unexpected may be invented that changes everything.

Undoubtedly you have seen “futuristic” movies from the past. Their retro-futures can be outrageously off. I am fond of an episode of The Flash TV series from the 1990s called, “Ghost in the Machine.” In it, a TV and technology obsessed 1955 villain freezes himself into the year 1990. Needless to say, when he saw TV progressed little farther than arcade machines, and everything else less advanced than expected, he was disappointed.

“I expected more… The monorails, undersea cities, the moon colony. Where’s my future!”

But I take heart in stepping back and realizing that my job is not to unerringly predict the future, but rather to write an interesting and fun novel that takes place in it. If you are a writer, do not be paralyzed, you must step out. A good story can transcend setting, and memorable characters will stand the test of time. Do your research and take your best shot at a period. Form it in a way that enhances YOUR characters and plot.

I have heard it said that fiction written about the past or the future is still about “today.” The human condition; pride and love, freedom and oppression, good and evil are timeless. Those real situations will communicate in any era to any era. Yoda was right. None of us knows what tomorrow holds. Fortunately, we do not have to.

Tethered Worlds: Unwelcome Star is a novel set in the future, but populated by real people who struggle with flaws, yet strive for nobility. In it, I hope you will find characters that resonate with your life.


Expect the unexpected.

An author who takes on the challenge of writing a novel must be prepared to perform the rigors such a task requires. And believe me, it does require them. Sure, many days scene gems might tumble out from one’s brain in a mystic way that defies description. But sometimes a particular scene, book universe technology, or series-arc consideration slows the pace. On those days, just hitting your word goal calls upon discipline and perseverance.

Editing and proceeding drafts call upon a different subset of skills, but still fall under the umbrella of what an author should expect. Marketing and websites are something many authors do not expect, but that is a subject for another post. However, what of the truly unexpected?

I recently experienced a computer problem which I will attribute to sunspots. I lost some precious workdays right in the homestretch of Tethered Worlds: Unwelcome Star. It is unwise to let your emotions fly, even after years of hard work. It is easy to rail against the world and its injustice. What we should do is get over ourselves, and as soon as possible. A clear head will almost certainly make better decisions on how to move forward, right from where you find yourself.

Things will break in this world, but we do not have to be broken by them. Get into the habit of correcting your course every day, so when sunspots strike, getting back into your orbit will the the first choice. Maybe even the natural one.

Tethered Worlds: Unwelcome Star has not been derailed. It is receiving its final polish and about to be formatted for publication. See it first for the Kindle on Amazon, but available in many other ways soon thereafter.

Space is Big!

A Big Adventure for a Big Universe

I am talking about Tethered Worlds: Unwelcome Star, the first in the Tethered Worlds mystic science fiction series. The final course is set to land the work on shelves in September. The print edition and the Barnes & Noble version soon to follow. Test readers are already giving Unwelcome Star a big thumbs up, and I am excited to release it to the public.

Writing a book is daunting in its own right, but bringing a manuscript to market includes tasks beyond the words and the editing passes. I am running those down even now, and soon the planets will align. We are getting the websites in order for author and book, along with other web presences like Facebook. I hope to bring you insight into the process here along with a chance to interact with the author.

The artwork for the cover should wrap up in August. At the Tethered Worlds site I will be sharing it and other artwork and content from the book universe.

Authors out there know of this home stretch. Others of you may aspire to be an author. Do not give up. The Tethered Worlds series has been years in the making. I am pleased with the result, but just as important I can say that the journey was an enjoyable one, though of course not without its challenges. I would encourage you to enjoy the journey in whatever task your hand is about today.

With the foundation nearly settled, and the book universe set, the next installment of  Tethered Worlds is on deck. The outline is written and the writing ready to begin as these final arrangements come together.