Sunday, February 12, 2012

Fraud is a Shape-Shifter

This week, I read an interesting—if not alarming article—by Angela Hoy, owner of, about an online course which is teaching writers how to write ebooks and become rich. Sounds good, doesn’t it? Can you see how newbies would be attracted to the pitch of no financial investment and guaranteed success?

The instructor of this particular course informed his students that they could quickly produce nonfiction ebooks by taking information from other books on a subject and compiling it to create their own book! But it gets worse. Said instructor also advised students to create a pseudonym that would complement their topic and purchase a portrait from a stock photography website. The implication was that students could take this a step further by adding letters behind their name to establish “credibility”. Are you kidding me? As Angela states, this is fraud, folks. And any writer who attempts to do this is setting themselves up for lawsuits, which they could quite possibly lose.

Apparently, there are several websites and online courses offering writers the path to riches by pilfering other writers’ work. Unfortunately, plagiarism, get-rich-quick schemes, blatant scams, and misleading promises targeting writers is nothing new. Remember those American poetry contests who tell you how wonderful your poem is, publish it as part of a collection than sell the book to you for fifty bucks? Remember those publishers who said your work needed a bit more editing and they gave a recommendation, only that individual had a business relationship with the publisher which involved grabbing as much of your cash as possible?

Fraud is a shape-shifter. It changes form to suit the needs and opportunity of the day. It’s always there, right before your eyes, all nicely packaged in a deal that sounds wonderful. I’m betting that most of you are savvy writers who know better. But I’m also betting that most of you know a newbie who’s just starting out and wonders about these courses. Guide them down the right path, okay? You can visit Angela’s website at, or go directly to her article at

THE OPPOSITE OF DARK, now available for iphones, iPads, and iPodTouch at Also available in paperback at and on Kindle at

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