Is This The Greatest Book Promotion Offer Of All Time? (Part #1)
A Literal Literary Loser Asks Some Questions - And Gets Some Bonkers Answers
Late last year, I wrote a post about questions you should never ask in publishing. Most of them involved unsolicited offers to promote my books. Usually, I ask a single question - about references - and said scammers go away.
But then, last week, I received what seemed to be the usual SPAM. I asked my usual question. And got so much more than I expected. Please find below Part #1 of our Instagram Direct Message exchange, slightly edited, along with my comments italicized in parentheses.
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Buckle up, it’s one heck of a ride!
srbofficial1: Hey. We're providing a bunch of services main being guaranteed sales for books, posting reviews on various platforms and publishing articles and blogs on top global magazines. Interested to know more?
iamalinaadams: I'd like to speak to some of your customers to get a sense of what you provide and how it can guarantee sales.
srb: We work with commission based agencies across the globe having a chain network of hundred thousands of readers. They broadcast your book and its description in their networking chain and thus we provide a guaranteed seller/buyer for your books. That's how we work both offline and online. Moreover our reviews are from best selling authors so they increase the click to buy ratio. The blogs and articles in top global magazines increase the sales as they've a readers database of more than 20 million across the globe. We’re verified on all distributor sites like amazon, B&N etc. as a marketer. The books that are submitted through us are added in the algorithms to the new readers that visit those sites. So it’s like an AI base algorithm in which a certain book is added in suggestion of every reader who searches for books on those sites. Over and above the reviews are under those books (which we will be posting ) are from best selling authors and they can induce those readers to buy the book. That’s how we provide guaranteed sales.
aa: Great, can I contact any of your customers who can confirm this? And do you guarantee a specific number of sales, or just sales in general?
srb: Our recent project with @martha_teichner. He (sic) got more than 3500 sales through us in three weeks and still counting.
aa: And what was the cost for it?
-: BASIC PACKAGE:-
📍3 VERIFIED PROFILE
POSTS (1 MILLION )
📍1 AMAZON BOOK CLUB
📍45 REVIEWS ON AMAZON
📍45 GOODREADS REVIEW
📍20 FACEBOOK GROUP
SHARE ( 30 K READERS)
750 MINIMUM BOOK SALES
-: MEDIA PACKAGE :-
📍2 DIGITAL BLOGS IN
📍LIVE CONVERSATION ON
INSTAGRAM LIVE WITH
📍BLOGS IN BOOKBUB &
📍7 POSTS & STORIES ON
1800 MINIMUM BOOK SALES
-: PREMIUM PACKAGE :-
📍1 ARTICLE IN THE NY
📍1 ARTICLE IN GUARDIAN
📍DIGITAL BLOGS IN
BOOKBUZZ & BUZZBOOK
📍7 VERIFIED POSTS
📍20 FACEBOOK GROUP
📍LIVE BOOK CONVERSATION
WITH BEST SELLING AUTHOR
MINIMUM 2800 BOOK SALES
srb: We’ll provide you the sales mentioned against each package for your book/books.
aa: What happens if you don't hit the minimum number? And is that across all platforms? How will i know how many books are sold? How could you possibly get an article in the NY Times? do you mean an ad in the ny times? can you send me a link to one of your ny times articles?
srb: We do have a money back policy according to which you will be refunded if you don’t get the sales and other services are offered by us. We will be creating a promotional link and add the links to your book in that link. Our readers will be buying the book through that promotional link. You’ll also be able to access the link and track the sales coming through us. We’re a group of freelancing authors and editors working for various magazines and newspapers. Some of us are working in those newspapers and magazines and that’s how we ensure the articles and reviews in there.
aa: Can I see those articles and reviews?
stb: Sure! Let’s share links to some of the articles and reviews published through us.
Here are some of them.
aa: I'd like to look at your author agreement. Could you please send it?
srb: We’ve demo agreement. Shall we send that?
srb: Usually we send an agreement after an author chooses the packages and only sign it digitally after that.
aa: I'd like to see the wording on the $499 package.
srb: Sure but we recommend to go with our three packages combo as it covers almost all the available platforms wherever a book can be advertised and that drive sales as well enlarge the readers base. Actually it's your first project with us and we want to make sure you get the best of the results working with us.
aa: So it's actually $1024 for a minimum of 2800 sales?
srb: It’s $1024 for 4350 sales. Sorry 5350
aa: So you can guarantee 5350 books sold and placement in the NY Times regardless of book topic or anything else about it?
srb: Yes we can do that .
aa: Alright, I would like to see your agreement.
srb: We have emailed you the agreement.
aa: Thanks, have sent to my agent and my literary lawyer. Will let you know what they say!
srb: Sure. Don’t worry! We've also told you that we've till date served thousands across the globe and never have we ever received a single complaint from our clients.
aa: Would love to speak to some of them. Reached out to Martha but would appreciate a few more.
(Martha wrote: Hey! Glad you reached out. Yeah! I've worked with them for two of my projects. They delivered what they offered. I got 3K sales and the reviews were brilliant. I do recommend their marketing. Some of my fellow authors are also working with them. I was a bit nervous initially but I had an inner feel or gut that this would work and it worked. I invested and got the returns. Somewhere somtime we've to bear the risk. They published articles for me in The NY Times. They have some great connections and offered me the services. Who doesn't want to get their book featured in those publications?
It is true that that there is a feature on Martha in the NY Times. But when I reached out to the author of the piece asking if SRB arranged it, they wrote back the following:
I’ve never even heard of (them) You’re absolutely right — coverage in the Times cannot be bought, and everything must be approved by an editor. Hope that helps and best of luck.)
aa: Also, what's your website?
srb: www.bookreviewer.club. Here is our website but we're currently accepting orders over here only.
(I visited their website. There, I learned that: WE ARE WORKING SINCE 2007 WITH TOP PUBLISHERS & NOW WE ARE SERVING BOTH TRADITIONALLY & SELF PUBLISHED AUTHORS. WE HAVE EXPERTISE IN MARKETING STATARGIES (sic) & BOOK PUBLICITY.)
srb: We’re a group of freelancing authors and editors working for various magazines and newspapers. We started this guaranteed sales service initially through offline bookstores and have launched here to reach and serve as many authors as we can so that they also get the benefits
aa: oh, great, what are your names so I can check out your bylines?
aa: She's an author you promote or she is one of the authors who promotes for you?
srb: We did a project with her recently. You asked for some references that’s why shared her account.
aa: One more question: Doesn't Amazon take down reviews that are paid for? www.aboutamazon.com/news/policy-news-views/amazon-continues-legal-actions-to-protect-customers-from-fake-reviews
srb: Our reviews are from best selling authors and top reviewers. They will first buy the book from their accounts, read it and then only post the reviews from their accounts. So our reviews are purchase verified reviews and are in accordance with amazon policies.
aa: How does that work for you financially? The fee you are asking doesn't cover buying that many books, so you cannot be reimbursing the reviewers, and if they are not being reimbursed and buying the books out of their own pockets, what's in it for them?
srb: We think you didn’t understand how we provide sales. We work with commission based agencies across the globe having a chain network of hundred thousands of readers. They circulate your book and it's description throughout their networking chains and that's how we provide guaranteed sales/buyers for your books. That's how we work both offline and online. Moreover our reviews are from best selling authors so they increase the click to buy ratio. The blogs and articles in top global magazines increase the sales as they've a readers database of more than 20 million across the globe.
aa: So you're saying that you don't pay people to write reviews, but that you simply send out the information to your vast network of readers who then buy the books and write the reviews without compensation? The best-selling authors who you promise will review my work buy the books and review them for no fee, just because they want to?
(In the meantime, I forwarded the author agreement they sent me to several publishing insiders. These were the responses I received:
Sounds like alchemy to me….
Feels pretty suspect to me!….
Aside from the fact that the form factor of this "contract" makes me extremely concerned, this is extremely unlikely.
The contract contains NO identifying information about the signatory, including company name, address, or contact information. I can actually edit the text of the contract, which is supposedly signed -- so I could plausibly change the "signed" contract to say they guarantee 50,000 sales, have you "counter-sign" it, and then you could send it back saying "well, you agreed to this - see, you signed the contract". (the contract text is also huge and weird, which is super unprofessional, but that's another story.)
This guy may be able to guarantee some posts by his ghost team -- which may or may not be there in six months, after the next round of junk is cleaned up on all these sites -- but he absolutely can't guarantee articles in the NYTimes, the Guardian, or Kirkus.
5,350 guaranteed sales: sure, he can probably manage to get some sales -- but he can't guarantee that they'll be lasting sales without returns; it doesn't say that it'll be the same format (e/hardcover/paperback) so the numbers will not all be in the same category, nor does this say how these sales will be made -- meaning he could make these as special sales at a high discount, so they wouldn't be full royalty or count towards NYT sales ... but he could say "they're sales!"
Money back policy - definition of "doesn't get the sales or other services" is weak.)
aa: Reading over the agreement you sent, can you tell me why there is no identifying information about the signatory, including company name, address, or contact information. How do I know who I am doing business with?
srb: Yes that’s right. We’re not a company. We’re a group of freelancing authors and editors working for various magazines and newspapers. So it’s signed by our main author.
aa: If you're not a company, than what is Joan Wilson CEO of?
srb: We’re working as an intermediary and the agreement is signed by our marketing team CEO. He (sic) is Chief Editorial Officer.
aa: That's Joan Wilson? He (sic) is the Chief Editorial Officer?
aa: Can I have more info on him then, please. I looked online and there is no mention whatsoever.
stb: Info on our authors and editors? We already told you above that we can’t share the names due to privacy issues and all. We’ve sent you everything that could be shared.
aa: OK, so just to confirm, you can't let me know the names of the people I will be sending money to, or the names of people you have worked for in the past? And you can't tell me anything about Joan Wilson besides the fact that they are CEO of a company with no address or contact information listed on their contracts?
Think the above exchange is bonkers? Wait - there’s more! Stay tuned for our next exciting installment! And, in the meantime, let me know what you think of this amazing book marketing opportunity I’ve been offered in the Comments!
Thanks for reading Alina’s Newsletter! Subscribe for free to receive new posts and support my work.
I love this! What a wild ride indeed! Love your newsletter Alina. You are a literary winner, so funny and honest about the crazy publishing industry. I can't wait for part 2! Crazier than fiction.
They offered me at $350 package via Instagram DM's today. I got to reel them around for awhile and then my husband found your article and we howled with laughter. You're a genius!