I’m slowly coming to recognise certain facts about making efforts to become a published author. There are many perils out there, lurking everywhere. What’s worse is that, apart from the very fact that they exist, many come disguised as worthwhile! There’s no shortage of those who will offer you the world, or more, if you will just pay them this very small amount, just so they can do what they do, and they promise to do all those jobs you hate doing, so that you will be free to concentrate on your writing. Sadly, there are many of these that won’t get even close to your expectations, and a surprising number have the audacity to actually ask more than legitimate services. You will likely encounter their advertising in various places that are less than selective in what they are willing to allow on their sites. There’ll be even more of them scattered across the social networks – both the general networks and those aimed at the world of authors and readers. The moment you put yourself out there, posting on a social network or maybe starting a blog, you will use certain trigger words. You can’t help do anything else! Unfortunately, the bad guys, or ’black hats’ in internet parlance, have software which constantly scans for the use of those words. When they find them, they ooze out of the virtual equivalent of woodwork and begin to make your life difficult. Emails start coming in, especially if you haven’t been cautious enough to never post yours publicly. Adverts pop up in places they shouldn’t. Spam assails you from all directions! Life can quickly become a living hell if you make a wrong move now. You’ll never be free of them, but if you actually respond to any of them, the situation will spiral out of control.
What’s truly sad is that some of the black hats can sound so genuine, so honest. The best (in the sense of success) will have you utterly convinced of their honesty, their heartfelt desire to help you, to lift all the burdens from you. It’s a pity that they aren’t all like the worst (least successful), who are so transparent, so obviously false, that nobody could possibly be drawn in by them. These latter usually use such atrocious English, and utterly incomprehensible spam, that they are actually laughable, if you set aside what they’re trying to do. The golden rule is: never click a link if you don’t know where it comes from! If you do, you may unleash an endless inundation of more spam, or you may find yourself the victim of identity theft! If you have never heard of a site, don‘t click that link! I don’t care if it is an ad on Facebook! Trot on over to Google and do a search on it, check the “whois” entry, if there is one. And don’t just take the first page of the Google search results – go deeper.
Much of this may sound pretty general, and you’re right – it is. The important thing to remember is that a lot of the Spam and fakery will actually be targeted! It will often talk about things that have become very important to you. Just because it’s dressed up to look like something you should pursue doesn’t make it legitimate.
Having spoken about the activities of the black hats, I should put in a word about the honest folk who may land you in trouble. They may start an online business meant to provide a very genuine service. Unfortunately, you only have to look at the statistics for failed businesses! A genuine intent to do what you set out to do doesn’t mean that you will be successful. That applies to everybody. Be cautious. Don’t put all your eggs in one basket! Don’t make commitments that may bind you to a failed business, or brand you as unreliable yourself because you supported somebody else who then failed. It’s sad, but you really can’t afford to take risks.
Ultimately, you have taken on the job of author. You need to spend your time in writing – not defending yourself from the worst that the internet has to offer. Be true to yourself.