As authors, we’re frequently asked to donate our time, give back to our readers, our community, our family, our friends, and can often end up with a sense of complete overload. Learning to say no becomes a challenge.
But what if this opportunity is the one to set my name ablaze in lights? It could happen. : )
I’d recently received an email with the title: Author Opportunity. My skeptical self said, first off, don’t open it. I didn’t recognize the name of the sender, but it sounded vaguely familiar. I did a quick google search and got an actress with the same name. After going back to review the email again I noticed there was no attachment or anything, so I opened the email. At the top however, was a link to fill out information if you didn’t want to fill in the document within the email.
I wondered about Spear Phishing. Or regular fishing. Had I been hooked?
In case you’re unfamiliar with the term, spear phishing, it’s all about identity theft. What these people want is to target corporate executives. Small business owners should be aware. Scam artists have begun to send customized emails to their targets, one person at a time, and the email can contain personal information like your name or some reference that makes it seem like they know you, and often it will link to a “spoofed” or fake website that requests personal information. These websites look authentic. Once the person clicks on the link provided the “spear” has found its target.
Never click through a link in a suspect email.
Secondly, they were asking for money. When I researched the sender’s website, not by clicking the link but doing a search, they were legitimate. However, they were a promotional company. The owner had recently given a workshop at a local writer’s meeting. It could have been authentic. It could have been a spoof.
I thought about contacting them by phone or email to ask if they had sent this request to me. It was for local speaking engagements, an opportunity to reach readers. As authors, we love those things and glom onto them like a chocolate bar. I read it again, very carefully. The document within the email was a survey. It asked if I would be willing to pay $50-$100 to participate in local promotional events. I’d also have the opportunity to sell books to a crowd of from 20-50 people. Sounds enticing, right?
Wait! Let’s do the math.
Assuming it was a legitimate email: half of the people buy a book, let’s say 20 people. I supply my own books, which I purchase at a discount but pay shipping and handling, and they end up costing almost $10 per book.I need to make the reader purchase palatable, so I set the price at $10, which I think makes me about 20 cents on the sale. Then I have to PAY to attend the event?
No way! They should be paying me to attend. I’m the speaker. And I’ve given up a day of my writing time to attend this “event.” I hate to be negative here, but this reminds me of the old saying: What’s in it for me?