Question: i don't know if you've personally experienced or received much communication regarding the following -- how hard it is to trade on the internet. it is a minefield of scams and rip offs. it proves unequivocally my constant cry to all that ignorance is expensive. my most recent experiences involve my efforts to obtain an honest, proven and reasonable proposal for a radio driven publicity campaign to promote a book and i am yet to retain anyone because by the time i've investigated all the sweet talk and trail of testimonials, i find all kinds of skeletons rattling in the closets and everyone gets all upset when i ask questions upfront or later. i don't reveal my investigation or scammer expose method or sources and people are surprised and angry when i pose challenges from my investigations that they can't defend or explain. congress has to move soon to properly regulate the internet because it is the wild west of today. by the way, i own a copy of your book 1001 ways to market your book and you don't address publicity/marketing of this nature or advise on the kind of issues i state herein. well, i don't suppose anyone can cover everything. thank you.
John's Answer: The Internet, as well as most areas of life, are full of scams, half-truths, promises unfulfilled, and many disappointments. There are a number of ways to avoid most of these pitfalls.
1. As you have been doing, you can check references. Verify anything anyone has told you by checking their references or by talking to other people who have done business with them in the past.
2. You can talk to an expert, such as myself. I'm generally able to save authors and publishers anywhere from $500 to $30,000 simply by telling them the things that will and won't work for their particular books. That's why I can charge $500 per hour for my consulting -- because I will save people at least that much by getting to avoid ideas, services, and plans that simply won't pan out for their books. I do this all the time. The saddest thing for me is to talk to someone AFTER they've spent the money foolishly.
3. You can join one of the discussion groups on the Internet where you can talk to other authors and publishers who can warn you about certain services to avoid. Yahoo groups hosts one such group.
4. You can talk to the members of local writers and publishers group. Every major city has at least one such group where you can mingle with real people and share resources and feedback.
In the new 6th edition of my 1001 Ways to Market Your Books I do address the perils and opportunities in doing PR and marketing via the Internet. The opportunities are incredible if you know what you are doing -- and what to avoid. The new edition will be off the press in early May.