Update: As of June 6, 2023, the channel discussed in this article did not appear in a YouTube search. Although this might suggest a suspension from YouTube or similar consequences for unethical business practices, two days later, the channel was back in business. Go figure!
Question of the Day: Do you think it’s ethical for a Booktuber to charge for interviewing guest authors on his YouTube channel?
Between acclimating to a substitute position that’s turned into a full-time gig and mounting what might be my first-ever civil lawsuit (a situation totally unrelated to anything in this post), I try to spend at least 30 minutes a day promoting all my little words. Some days, this means posting a promo on YouTube or Twitter or scheduling paid advertising, but every day, it means dropping links in a ton of Facebook groups, especially those dedicated to promoting Kindle Vellas.
All that promotion is time-consuming, especially if you have more than one work to share, other stories to work on, hair to pull out, etc.; and paid advertising can be expensive. Ridiculously so. Therefore, I gravitate to any free promotional method available, including author interviews.
At least, I’d thought these were always free.
Having just completed one last week with a YouTuber who didn’t charge a fee, seeing another post from someone on Facebook this morning really excited me! After firing off an email with book links, partial bio, etc., the owner of the channel emailed back. Like, back within a few minutes (which should have been my first clue). Everything in his email looked encouraging, at first.
Then I hit this paragraph:
Also, the making of an interview cost $35. Let me know if this is something you would love to do. Kindly reply (Interested or Not Interested) to this email. Your response will help us determine if you will receive future email from us or not.
Say what? This Nigerian-based YouTuber is trying to charge me $35 for an interview? NFW! Oh, and if you don’t, they don’t want to know you. No money, no honey.
Seriously, WTF? What is wrong with some people?
For legal reasons, I’m not going to reveal the name of the YouTuber or that of his Nigerian-based channel. But since it has about 6K subscribers with over 250 videos produced thus far, there’s a good chance his content could be monetized, which makes this all the more hinky. Additionally, he’s not forthcoming about the interview charge in his “About” section:
A lot of good books by independent published authors languish in silence because of lack of awareness, while some not-so-well books are performing well because of good exposure. As an independent published author of six poetry collections, and a soon-to-be novelist. I created this channel to enable fellow indie authors gain awareness of their works through a promotional video book review, and interviews as marketing sometimes can be very difficult. I don’t review books that I considered to be bad. I’ll kindly communicate my feedback to you if I reject reviewing your book after I’ve received it. I also review books that are not self-published, I am receptive to things relating to literature, academic conversation, etcetera. Having said that, welcome to (channel name) it’s a perfect place for you if you’re a literature enthusiast seeking some book recommendations, author, and writers generally.
Nope. Nothing in there about an interview fee. If this were on the level, you’d think it would be there. This description above is copied directly from the channel, so the grammar and punctuation gaffs are all his.
I don’t believe charging someone for an interview is an acceptable practice. In fact, it’s really skeevy. The free interview process model already is a mutually beneficial transaction: the host gets content while the author gets exposure and free publicity. That’s how it’s done. Okay, so, maybe I’m overthinking or stressed out from the RL legal sh*t, but don’t indie authors have enough scams to avoid? Why to the myriad of money-sucking ruses around writing, editing, and publishing, must we now add marketing?
With that in mind, I found some foreign-based freelancers on Fiverr, recently. Make those freeloaders. You know, the ones who claim they’ll make your Kindle Vella or e-Book go “viral” on their million-plus-follower social media accounts? The Vella one’s a total scam.
Why? Because Vella, after launching the platform two years ago, is still available only in the US.
Good on them for having boatloads of followers! But if none of them can access the Vella platform or even know what that is, how’s that supposed to benefit you? Another good question: how many of their followers are US-based readers? To date, I’ve found about a half-dozen of these service ads on Fiverr, too. All have essentially the same wording and same price tiers (which points to a larger-scale scheme). And, unfortunately, too many of those are Nigerian-based, too. (Guess the prince there got tired of asking total strangers for transaction fees. #iykyk).
Sorry for the tangent.
So, while waiting to hear YouTube’s take on this, I’ll keep looking for legitimate free promo ops.
Until next time, stay safe and scam-free!