Sunday, May 30, 2021

Author Coaches - How to Spot the Phonies

This week's topic at the SFF Seven is whatever is on our minds. Now that The Promised Queen has been out for nearly a week, I'm once again reminded of the many, many scavengers that begin circling the sparkling and hopeful fresh meat that is a new release. 

So, as a general warning, remember that there are a LOT of people out there looking to make money off of authors. From paid reviews to advertising to various "services," they are targeting authors by searching for new releases in particular, and attempting to capitalize on the mounds of money they hope you're making - or your desperation if you are not.

More specifically, my current MOST LOATHED scavenger critter out there right now is the Author Coach.

And yeah... I'm fully aware of that irony, as I do offer author coaching myself. I justify this in my own mind in that I'm simply asking to be paid for the kind of thing I was already doing for free. I love mentoring! But I also have to watch how I distribute my time. Writing books is my number one commitment. By charging for the advice I used to give for free, that puts a value on my time and reminds me where my priorities should remain.

Which segues nicely into what I see happening in some of these other "business" offerings.

These people offer to teach you how to write a novel - in whatever time frame sounds sexiest at the moment - and they tell you they can teach you how to make it into a bestseller, via amazing story tricks or marketing know-how, etc.

They have snazzy, clickable titles that promise ways to get your book in front of everyone, to write a breakout novel, to write a bestseller, to write your first novel, to make a viral book video, to get reader email addresses, and so forth. Yes, these are all things many of us would like to be able to do. That's the hook.

The question is: can they actually teach that?

BECAUSE - and this is the bit I always come around to - if they know so much about how to do the thing, why aren't they actually DOING it?

In the case of one famous agent who's built a considerable career selling books and workshops on writing a bestselling novel, I have always wanted to ask why, if he can teach this, aren't all of his clients bestsellers? I mean, wouldn't he want that? 

If an author is a bestselling rolling in royalties, why on earth would they be spending their time teaching anyone how to make viral Tik Tok videos? If a writer is making easy money writing books, why are they spending money on Instagram ads extolling their author coach services? Writers like Nora Roberts aren't spamming your IG feed with ads to teach you her secrets. Because she's making her money from actually writing.

In this era where anyone can add "Bestselling Author" to their credits either by a) lying, b) fudging the exact list, or c) buying their way onto a list, then it's become meaningless. And if being a Bestselling Author is their sole credential for teaching you anything, I'd take a hard second look at what they've actually done.

Frankly, the slicker the business site looks? The faster I'd run away. 

 I'm not saying there aren't good and helpful people out there - I like to think I'm one of them - but look very carefully at what these folks are promising vs. what they're actually doing.