Scams, Schemes, and Dead End Deals

scamOver the last two days, I’ve come into contact with a couple of what I consider dodgy publishing and self-publishing “offers” and news bits that I thought I’d share.

First, David Gaughran–author, industry watchdog, and self-publishing champion–recently blogged about an arm of Perseus Books, Argo Navis, that is “helping” traditionally published authors self-publish their next book(s) by providing services–sometimes poorly–that are easily replicable at a fraction of the cost using freelancers or just your own know-how.

If you have a trad publishing deal now or will in the future, you’ll want to read his article, as Argo is engaged/hired/endorsed by a host of well-known and respected agents, which makes it seem more legit than perhaps it should be. Read the post!

Second, Bowker–the distributor of ISBNs–is sliding sideways into the ebook business by offering to make iTunes and Android apps out of your books for the low, low fee of $200, $50 annual maintenance, and just 50% royalties. All you have to do is compete not only with every other ebook out there, but now all of the apps, as well. Your book vs. Angry Birds? Sure…

I’ll be blogging more on this–and what appears to be other tech companies trying to piggy-back or even outright steal the idea–soon.

Third, I was just invited to take part in a writer’s contest for the low, low entry price of $50. The judges are no one I’ve heard of, first place gets consideration by a no-name small press for publication, and sub-prizes include free copies of the ebook that the contest organizer wrote.

While it’s not technically a scam (I’m sure the winners actually get the “prizes” listed…), this is a tired old scheme whereby your $50 goes into the pockets of the organizers while the press you provide–by telling all of your contacts that you’ve won a contest!–serves to fuel the sales of the organizer’s book and broaden next year’s contestant pool.

While there are legitimate contests out there, be careful about which ones you write a check to. A good watch-dog article with tips and lists of legit contests is provided by Writer Beware at and by Preditors and Editors at

Stay vigilant!


Writer of crime fiction, psychological drama, and dark humor.

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Posted in Tip Tuesday, Tips for eAuthors
4 comments on “Scams, Schemes, and Dead End Deals
  1. Chazz says:

    Interesting. Gaughran’s argument pile-drives Argo into the ground and the links to comments to some agents made me glad I’d unfollowed those agents long ago.

    As for apps, there don’t seem to be a lot of stats available, but from what I’ve seen and heard, books as apps currently claim a microscopic number of enthusiasts. I’m not convinced that will ever be a big deal. (Contrast: audiobooks have a stronger appeal now and into the future.) Thanks for the post.

    • Matthew Iden says:

      Thanks for dropping by, Chazz. I agree on all points.

      The Bowker idea seems especially weird, but maybe somebody convinced the top brass over there that “apps are the wave of the future!” It’s interesting to note (I’ll blog about this) that they out-source it to an app developer, which then raises the question of what value Bowker is actually providing besides a sink-hole for your new book-as-app to fall into.

  2. Hey, I was feeling left out since I hadn’t seen anything about that contest, but then I found their six emails in my spam. 😉

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