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Copyright 2023 © by Jim Potter
As an indie author, I take financial risks on purpose. But I’m always trying to avoid scams.
A half-century ago, when my grandmother walked out to the mailbox, she regularly returned with what she called “want-me” letters. They were letters from organizations wanting her money.
Grandma would read the hard luck stories and respond by sending them a dollar or whatever she could afford. No wonder her mailbox was always full of junk mail.
Nowadays, we constantly receive phone calls and text from scammers, even though, to my knowledge, we haven’t given them a dime.
It’s easy for people to understand the risks of burglars, so locks and alarm systems are installed on the premises. People are aware of the need for computer security, but there’s no letup of unscrupulous actors prowling the internet in search of easy money. It makes me sick.
There’s an adage about cons that states, “If it’s sounds too good to be true, it probably is.” Yet, sometimes, we get desperate. When we’re in that vulnerable, emotional state, willing something to be true, we overlook clues that are called “red flags.”
I have a friend who has self-published her books. Early on, she was scammed over the phone by a person who promised to publish her literary work. As we talked, I learned that the company rep had cold-called my friend. She hadn’t called the company. That was a red flag.
It’s a shame but having a dream stolen away can make a person less trusting and more cynical.
My friend called me again when she was considering having her books reprinted. This time, she was investigating. After we talked, we agreed that we didn’t see any red flags at POD Print, a local printing business. Today, it continues to have an excellent reputation of high quality, fair pricing, and good communication.
Click here to visit POD Print https://podprint.com/
Some things are hard to predict. I lost money when I made a legitimate down payment for my first book printing at Central Plains Book Manufacturing. I was cautious and decided I didn’t want to do business in some distant location, so I chose an establishment that I could visit, inspect, and meet people face-to-face. I thought I was safe.
Everything was on schedule until it wasn’t. First, my phone messages were ignored. Then, I learned the business was out of business. Overnight, it had gone bankrupt. The experience taught me that even when I’m careful, I can still lose money.
First time authors are often susceptible to advertisements about publishing package deals that may sound good but are highly overpriced with empty promises. Be careful. The people you speak to who you don’t know and you will never know, may not be looking out for your interests; they’re often only looking out for their own.
As with most scams, even legitimate businesses use pressure tactics to make sales. They want consumers to act immediately, before taking time to research a financial decision or to speak to a circle of trusted advisers—if any are available.
Unfortunately, many legitimate businesses today are using a business model that makes it nearly impossible to talk to an employee. I’m old-fashioned enough that if I can’t speak to an employee, I look for an alternative.
I like it when editors offer free edits for the first chapter of a book and when they have set prices. That way I can judge their literary talent and make a better-informed economic decision.
It takes time and it takes patience but making a dream come true requires work. My grandmother called it “elbow grease.”
At our house, we’re learning that what we thought was an innocent choice is beginning to look like a risky decision. A few years ago, we purchased Amazon Alexa. “She” is “a virtual assistant technology.”
The most common question we ask Alexa is weather-related. But lately, now that we’ve been programmed by “her,” this piece of AI (artificial intelligence) is becoming relentless in “her” marketing as she tries to sell us stuff.
Originally, we didn’t recognize that Alexa was comparable to a Greek wooden horse left at our doorstep. We welcomed “her” into our home like a trophy but gradually discovered that hidden inside “her” belly was a program giving Amazon a powerful advantage over us.
We’re trying to decide, Is Alexa looking out for us or for “her” programmers? Is “she” conducting legitimate business or is “she” running a scam that began with a Greek gift in war, and led to the city of Troy’s downfall?
Until next time, happy writing,
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