This is a true story.
Once upon a time there was a woman who wanted to tell stories, and hoped to eek out a minor living doing so, so that she could tell more stories. She wrote three books, and after much soul-searching deciding to go the route of independent publishing. The specifics of that particular adventure may be shared at a later date, in a flashback format where we can laugh together over her foolish decisions and rookie mistakes. Right now, we are skipping ahead to holding the awesome shiny first novel in our hand, and wondering how to advertise its magnificent existence to readers.
Feeling completely overwhelmed, in over her head and lost, the woman looked at the different options for marketing and selected a virtual book tour with a site called
Inquiring as to how she might become a client, and could they provide a sample of their tour itinerary, because this was her first book and she wanted to understand more of the details before committing cash to this plan.
When they responded they provided the requested information (three other sites that offer virtual tours provided only their price lists), and so she selected them to promote her first novel, Dreams.
She was informed that four weeks would be needed to find bloggers willing to review, and that the tour would begin on 9/21 with a list of sites to be provided to me on 9/19.
After she made my payment of $599.00, no further correspondence took place. No requests for information for interviews, no updates that made her feel this was money well spent, simply radio silence.
9/19 came and went. 9/21, the agreed upon start date of the virtual tour came and went. Three emails requesting an update later, at the reasonable rate of 1 per day, and someone who she had never corresponded with before, said that her representative from Books & Bear had been taken ill, and they were checking email on her behalf, and oh how sorry we are, etc.
She was very understanding, stuff happens, and she certainly doesn’t wish anyone harm. A week after that conversation, she is told, once again after she initiated contact, that they need another week extension for the virtual tour, and they would offer her $50 off, or she could get a full refund and cancel the tour.
Because communication had been almost non-existent and she had no tangible evidence that her $599 went for anything other than Cheetos and beer, she elected to cancel and get a full refund. It was all very amicable, and she was supposed to have her refund within 3 days.
I wish that were the end of this tale….
As of today, that was 16 days ago, and I still have not gotten my refund. On last Friday I was told it was an accountant error, and they thought I had it already, and was promised I would have it first thing Saturday morning. I still don’t have it.
I no longer believe they are going to return my money. This saddens me because while I know that I took the risk to hire them in the first place, I am just so tired of people doing reprehensible things to each other, and then pretending that nothing happened.
I wanted to warn all the other independent writers/publishers that this site is not what it seems to be, and wish you better luck with other marketing avenues.
It’s hard to admit that I made this kind of mistake. Aside from the loss off what to me is a significant amount of money, it bothers me most of all because for my whole life, all I ever wanted to do was write that book, and these people at Books & The Bear have tarnished the experience for me, at least to some degree. I think this was an expensive, but ultimately valuable lesson for me.
Fellow writers, protect yourself where you can. Stay away from these people, by all means, and I wish you the joy of storytelling and send you the warmest of hugs.
Thank you for your time.
**update- The money was returned to me less than two hours after this was posted.