where the writers are
Writers, beware!

I wonder if writers, as a group, are more vulnerable to scam artists than any others?  The sheer number of schemes to separate aspiring authors from their money is stunning.  From PublishAmerica (long-debunked, but still functional) to the Great American Poetry Contest to the phenomenon known as the "book doctor", writers get sucked in by clever crooks promising to show the way to literary success.

The latest one--and one that, oddly, a lot of published authors are receiving--comes from someone styling himself Dr. Michael Duckett.  He calls it "How to Become  a Successful Author", and he lists all the wonderful things he will teach you, for a mere $299 (marked down, of course, from $999).  You, too, according to this charlatan, can be a bestselling author.

Obviously, the first question is, if he knows how to become a bestselling author, why doesn't he do it himself?

But the next question, and a far more important one, is one all of us wrestle with every day.  There is no "secret" to becoming a bestseller.  There is no logic to it, either.  All of us can work as hard as possible to improve our work, and there are several fine books (Donald Maass's, Zuckerman's, et al) which teach solid techniques for producing more commercial work.  But, in the end, no one--and I mean no one--really knows why one book breaks out and another doesn't.  It's clearly not a matter of quality (I'm not naming names, because these things are subjective).  It's not a matter of promotion, though promo can't hurt, and a lack of it does hurt, a lot.  It's not a matter of subject.  Who knew a teenage vampire love affair would sell nearly countless copies of five books?

It is, as one (bestselling) YA author says, "a crap shoot".  Or in my own parlance, "show biz".  $299--or even $999--won't do it for you, despite what Dr. Duckett says.  If you get that email, put it in your spam folder.

And if you have other questions about scams, see this wonderful resource offered by the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America:  http://www.sfwa.org/Beware/ 

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Writer's and senior citizens are most vulnerable to scams

With the recent success of "The Shack" which was originally self–published, I’m afraid there will be a new wave of disappointment for writers.

I agree, it’s hit or miss. You can increase your chances of getting published and promoting your assets off to sell your work, but it’s all about who wants to buy it.