by firstname.lastname@example.org (Victoria Strauss)
I’ve gotten a number of reports of solicitation by the individuals/outfits below. Both are services you might want to avoid.
AIMEE ANN / RED HEADED BOOK LOVER BLOG
Back in December, I posted a warning about this blogger on Writer Beware’s Facebook page. But she appears to be soliciting again, so I’m doing a wider warning here.
If you’ve ever pitched book bloggers in hopes of a review, you know how much competition there is. It can be hard even to get a response. So you might find it refreshing for a book blogger to approach you. Note, however, how Aimee doesn’t mention the title of the author’s book, or indeed any specifics at all. That’s because this isn’t a personal approach from someone who is genuinely interested in the author’s work, but a form letter that’s being blasted out, spamlike, to large numbers of people.
Why is Aimee spreading such a wide net? Because she is running a pay-to-play scheme. Authors who respond to her solicitation discover that they must pay $75 for a review. (One author told me that when they protested, Aimee told them that she just forgot to mention it.) The existence of the fee (though not the amount) is revealed in the Terms and Conditions section of Aimee’s blog–but how many authors are going to read the Terms and Conditions?
It’s debatable whether paid reviews are worth the money–even when provided by professional venues like Kirkus–let alone whether it’s worth paying a fee to some random amateur. And Aimee is definitely an amateur. Her rambling reviews are poorly written and mostly chronicle her personal reactions (with lots of exclamation points). Some are so generic that you wonder if Aimee actually read the book (shades of Harriet Klausner). Don’t be impressed by the hundreds of comments sported by some of Aimee’s reviews–she quadruples or quintuples the actual count by responding multiple times to each outside comment.
Aimee’s latest enterprise is Book Editing. What qualifies her to do this, you might ask? According to Aimee, “I have experience with working with numerous publishers both in England and America, as well as this I have a degree in Classical Studies and Psychology which I like to think gives me a certain literary flair!” Note, again, the lack of specifics. Aside from how hard these claims are to believe if you’ve actually read Aimee’s reviews, it’s easy to sound impressive when you don’t name any names.
Authors, don’t pay for book reviews. Even if the reviewer is competent.
BOOK WRITING INC.
In February, a local chapter of Sisters in Crime received this solicitation:
Apart from the spam solicitation (reputable firms don’t do this), the most obvious clue that Book Writing Inc. might not be the best investment is the mangled English that’s apparent everywhere on its website–on this page, for instance:
Or this one:
Looks like these “top ghostwriters” need to invest in their own services. Another warning sign: the Terms and Conditions, which make it clear that getting a refund for late or substandard work will be an uphill battle.
But wait, there’s more! A bit of digging reveals that Book Writing Inc. is just one head of a writer-fleecing hydra. Heads 2, 3, and 4: My Book in 28 Days, Ghostwriting LLC, and Ghost Writing. These sister sites–all of which are at least as English-challenged as Book Writing Inc.–look different, and promise somewhat different things, but they offer the same kinds of services, and–whoops!–their Terms and Conditions include identical, distinctively-written content. They’ve also made a few goofs in the proofing process. From My Book in 28 Days:
And from Ghostwriting LLC:
Although there’s some similarity here to the predatory Philippines-based Author Solutions spinoffs I wrote about in January, I don’t think that Book Writing Inc and its brethren are Author Solutions copycats.
Domain registration information leads to a number of other websites that are not writing- and publishing-related, but hawk unrelated services: logo design, website building, tax and accounting, video animation, and Wikipedia page creation. Altogether, there are at least 30 websites in this complex, linked not just by domain registration info, but by the English-language errors that are present on almost all of them, and by shared content and design. Whoever is running this scheme is casting a wide net, and not just for writers.
ALWAYS be wary of out-of-the-blue solicitations.