Kayla Hicks - Author Kayla Hicks - Author

What Authors Should Know About Pesky Salespeople and Scams

7 min read

By checking the person’s online presence, trying to engage in conversations with them, looking for misspellings, and never clicking their links, authors can weed out the good from the bad.

As authors embark on their journey to growing a social media presence, they begin to attract attention from paid services in the publishing world.

By this, I am referring to people who send you a direct message trying to sell you a service such as:

  • Editing

  • SEO optimization

  • Publishing

  • Cover creation

  • Running advertisements

  • Translation

  • Film adaptation

However, many of the people who reach out to offer their services aren’t nearly as seasoned and qualified as you might think.

After 10 years in the publishing and writing world, I have received hundreds of messages from people like these.

The majority of these scam messages or sales pitches that I receive seem to come from Facebook and WhatsApp. And they tend to begin their conversations in a few ways:

  • Hi! I’ve just been captivated by your book and I would love to know more about what made you want to become a writer. Can I have a link for your book?

  • Your book is amazing! However, I noticed your SEO is underperforming. I have loads of experience with this and would love to offer my services.

  • Hello great author! My name is (person name) and I have helped clients with their advertising needs. Have you ever run an advertisement? It’s more difficult than you think. But with my services, your book will reach new heights!

Some of these give immediate red flags, as you may have figured out already.

For example, how do you know my book is so great if you are asking for a link to it? Did you read it? Did you only think my cover was great?

Thankfully, there are some things you can do to make sure that these people are not going to scam you and let you know if they are real or not.

Check their online presence

If we circle back to Facebook for instance, and this person has sent you a direct message, click on their profile picture and go check out their profile.

Facebook does a wonderful job of showing a timeline right there on the profile. You can view when their profile was made, who they are friends with, and if they listed any services they offer.

Be sure to check their online presence by seeing:

  • When their profile was created (if it was a day ago and not much information is there, good chance it’s a scam)

  • Do they have a link to a website for their services?

  • Who are they friends with under this profile (if they follow more people than are friends with them, there is a good chance they are trying to cover as much ground as possible before they are discovered as a fraud.)

  • Search their name and the services they offer on Google. If they say they are affiliated with a company, look on the company’s website to see if they come up.

  • Search their name on other social media platforms (because there could be a chance they have a larger following on one of those and more testimonies of their services)

Engage in conversation and question

Believe it or not, after receiving a few of these types of offers, I was becoming annoyed.

Mainly because these people seemed genuinely interested in my work only to prove to be a scam, only interested in receiving money, or telling me what I was doing wrong. So I changed my tactics, and it worked to weed out who was real and who was fake.

For example, I am a multi-genre author with 14 books and I received a message that read, ‘I love your book! What got you into writing?’

So, I played ball and responded, ‘Oh, really?! Thanks so much! Which one did you love?’

To which they responded, ‘Didn’t you write The Backup Superhero?’ However, this hadn’t really proven them yet.

So, I asked, ‘What did you like about the book? I’m curious.’

It took them quite some time to answer, and when they did, it ended up being that they searched my SEO for the book and their services could lift my book to new heights.

Now, each conversation will be different. And some have truly led me on for a while, which was disappointing. One was actually another author who was pushing me very hard to hire her marketing team to market my books.

Odd Misspellings

It is very common to see silly spelling mistakes or odd sentence structure when dealing with a scammer.

If you are seeing messages like this, proceed with caution. They could be sending mass messages like this with a link to see who clicks, or they could be using an AI program to send messages.

Now granted, we all misspell something from time to time, but when you notice it continuously occurring throughout the conversation, it’s likely a scam.

Never Click Their Links

It’s sad to say, but there is always someone out there trying to steal information from you.

If one of these people sends you a link, don’t click it. Instead, search their name and their services on Google and see what comes up. This is going to be way safer than clicking anything that will give them access to something precious on your profile or device.

If their intentions are true, they should pop up with no problem on Google.

What should you do if you discover they are a scam or a pesky salesperson?

Thankfully, if you manage to discover they are a scam, you can report them to the social media platform and block them. More than likely, numerous other people have as well.

If you discover they are just a pesky salesperson, you can:

  • Politely tell them you aren’t participating in paid services or marketing at this time and exit the conversation

  • Block them

  • Move them to spam

On some social media platforms, you can also set up an automated message that is sent out. Here is mine:

We all want our books to do well, but that is why so many of these salespeople or scams do well.

Be sure to:

  • Check their online presence and see if they are qualified and have testimonials, or just if they are real.

  • Try starting a conversation with them and see if they actually are the real deal. Once you ask them a few questions, you can better gauge the situation.

  • Pay attention to odd misspellings in messages

  • Don’t click links that are sent in direct messages. Always see if they show up in a Google Search.