At the beginning of March, 2014, a new site called Authoroffer.com began soliciting business from indie authors and small press publishers. The service was constructed similar to sites like Bookbub and others that promote free and discounted ebooks to readers. The site claimed to have over half a million subscribers, and was soliciting business from authors interested in advertising in their newsletter. Immediately, however, alarms began to sound.
A quick search revealed that the site was only established in mid-December of 2013, and they were claiming to already have over half a million subscribers. Anyone with even the most rudimentary knowledge of internet marketing knows this is an impossible feat for a brand new company with no name recognition.
In fact, the company appeared to have no name at all. Google searches of the company turned up no history before December. Even the mailing address provided on the site offered no help, as it is an office building with a high number of virtual office spaces. Virtual office space is a perfectly legitimate option for a business that needs a physical mailing address. But there was no discernible trail that the address had ever been associated with any sort of publishing or book promotion at all. And considering that the site claimed that it was founded by people with years of experience in the industry, there should have been some connection.
In truth, despite claiming to be founded by experienced veterans, no names are given. The only name that can be found is that of Sally Anderson. But again, searches for a Sally Anderson, alleged industry veteran, turn up nothing related to Authoroffer.com or similar projects.
The company also has no Facebook or Twitter presence, an enormous red flag for an internet-based company. Facebook and Twitter links on the website don’t take you to any information on the company, but instead prompt you to tweet or post about the website.
All very odd. So an author actually emailed the company to try to get additional information.
“Thank you for your interest. Let me give you detailed information about our project.
We’ve worked tirelessly for several years to collect our readers’ list. During this time, the project operated in stealth mode as we collaborated with authors and publishers privately. We were happy to put in these hours because we want to serve you as best we can. The company stayed private as we worked out potential bugs and problems – this way, our customers could experience a superior product. Because our active subscribers list grew exponentially, we can immediately offer our customers’ great and significant advertising results. We’ve been open to the public for fewer than six months – and we’re pleased with the results!
Words like “stealth mode” should send off warning alarms to any person with sense. And how do you build a mailing list without being open to the public? Reading the response, we are left with two options. Option One, the company is blowing smoke about the size of its email subscription list OR it has a scrapped list that it bought from elsewhere. Option Two: a company that nobody has ever heard of has secretly managed to accumulate a mailing list of over a half a million avid readers and they have been secretly working with authors and publishers for years to promote books.
If you selected Option Three, the company might be legitimate and really have a half a million subscribers, keep reading.
Around the same time, many authors started to report getting a variant of the following message through Goodreads.com’s private message system:
Hello [name redracted]. I thought I’d send you a quick message to see if you might want to take and use my AuthorOffer.com coupon. It’s for $30 off and valid until April 30. I can’t use it. I’m in a dispute with my writing partner about getting a publisher. So until that gets resolved we won’t be doing any new promotions. It’s a long and complicated story.
Anyway, we did use Author Offer during the last month and the results were pretty good. We sold about 900 copies in just two days as a result and got quite a few ‘likes’ on our Facebook page. So I would use them again in a heartbeat and may well do so in the future if we don’t go with this publisher. The code is ‘Cxdc30u’ if you want it. If not, I hope you’ll pass it on. Thanks. Goodbye!
Hello [name redracted]. I like your books! So I chose you to get this coupon I got from AuthorOffer.com. I hope you can use it. I’d love to use it myself, but my daughter is going into the hospital for surgery tomorrow and I’m going to have my hands full dealing with the aftermath of that for several months, so I don’t have time to monitor my ebook for a while.
The last time I used AuthorOffer.com, I got about 900 sales from it, so I know it works and will definitely use them again. But this coupon code ‘4xdc30u’ expires April 30. I hope you can use it. If not, please pass it on. So long!
I don’t think we’ve ‘met’ here yet, but I have a coupon I can’t use and thought you might want it. I don’t have anyone else I can give it to, so I chose you sort of randomly. Anyway, it’s for $30 off at AuthorOffer.com, a site that helps with publicity and helped me sell more than 1050 copies of my book.
The problem is that my book includes lots of instructions on doing things in Windows, and that all has to be updated for Windows 8. So I’m taking it down for a while. Anyway, the code is ‘3xdc30u’ if you’re interested, and it expires April 30. I hope you can use it. If not, please pass it on. Thank you!
Hi [name redreacted]. Have you used www.AuthorOffer.com yet? I have a coupon for $30 off of their services that I can’t use because I had to take my book down. It was about traveling to Russia for the Olympics, and now I need to redo it to be more generic for a relaunch as a regular travel book.
Anyway, I managed to sell 900 copies of my book as a result of working with www.AuthorOffer.com, so I’m sharing this as random act of writer-to-writer kindness, if you will. Fiona Rawsontile, the code is ‘2xdc30u’, if you can use it. If not, I hope you’ll pass it on. The code expires April 30. Goodbye!
Apparently the “stealth mode” employed was spam!
In none of these cases did the messenger have an actual author profile. For folks unfamiliar with Goodreads, members who are authors can set up author profiles for free that link to all of their books and activity. So a person can click your name and see all of your publications. You can see an example of an author profile by visiting mine here: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/808647.Julie_Ann_Dawson
So around the same time that Authoroffer.com started to promote its service, dozens of “authors” started to spam people on Goodreads with various sob stories while offering the same $30 discount expiring at the same time.
And let’s go back to all of those authors and publishers the company has been working with privately. Just what sort of books are being promoted in the newsletter, anyway? Several authors signed up for the newsletter in order to see the sort of stuff that was being promoted. Imagine the surprise of several authors when they saw their OWN books promoted in the newsletter, and they had not even purchased an ad!
Several authors who had recently had ads run with a different service called Book Gorilla noted that it appeared Authoroffer.com was simply scrapping promos off of competitor newsletters and adding them to the list to create the appearance of customers. So despite having worked in “stealth mode” to generate a 500,000+ mailing list of eager readers, they have to scrap listings off other services to fill their newsletter.
Bottom Line: The Sith Witch advises caution. There is no evidence that this company can do what it claims to do, nor are their prices such that it would be wise to take a chance. There are too many read flags and too much money at risk to consider this service. There are other established services that have proven track records. I’ve listed a few below to get you started.
Ereader News Today