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.