How to Spot Fake Authors

In my last post I mentioned that author Courtney Milan offers excellent suggestions to help writers whose work has been stolen. For readers, the question remains: how can you spot fake authors? You can’t rely on price alone, since many real authors and reputable publishers may hold short-term sales and post promotional offers. And some writers are truly prolific and turn multiple books out in a year. (Not me. In fact, I might be in the running for Slowest Writer on the Planet.)

For insight, I turned to acclaimed author Lynne Connolly who writes historical, contemporary, and paranormal romance through Kensington Publishing Corporation and Tule Publishing. She’s a dedicated writer who cares about the art and craft of writing, and about the readers who deserve the best we can offer.

I came across Lynne’s “how to spot a fake” in the comments section of Nora Roberts’ blog post and am sharing excerpts here with her written permission. I’ll note she’s writing this from the perspective of her genre. Clever readers (you!) can easily tailor the list for just about any genre.

While there’s no one guaranteed way to spot a fake, Lynne suggests readers dig a little deeper if they see three or more of the following traits:

1. An alliterative name (Lord knows why, but a lot of them do that).

2. Only on Amazon, and enrolled in KU.

3. Romance writer (because I haven’t looked at other genres).

4. Single woman on cover, taken from a stock site. For historical romance they use a woman in a wedding dress and then colour it. Very often with garish colours to attract the attention.

5. The book is permanently 99 cents.

6. No photo of the author, or one taken from a stock photo site.

7. Hundreds of 5 star reviews, with a bunch of 1 and 2 stars which say the book is badly edited, inconsistent, poor grammar etc. When a poor review is put up, they usually buy some more to keep it off the top.

8. Somebody you’ve never heard of, or met, but is, or claims to be, a USA Today best seller. She never goes to conventions, she isn’t a member of a professional organisation like the RWA, RNA or Ninc.

9. Recently they’ve started doing very basic websites, usually on Wix (presumably because it’s free and fast). But they do have the same pattern. The individuals who buy their books will take a bit more care, but the groups will not.

Oh yes, and you look at the excerpt, then at the 5 star reviews and wonder if they were reading the same book!

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You can find Lynne Connolly online at lynneconnolly.com or on her blog at lynneconnolly.blogspot.co.uk. She’s also on Facebook and you can follow her on Twitter @lynneconnolly.

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In my experience, real authors–from the Big League to the stumbling newbie–care about the craft and their readers. We have trackable digital footprints. Read our blogs. Follow us on social media. Subscribe to our newsletters. Check us out in libraries and bookstores. Send us email or invite us to your online discussion groups–we love to talk to readers almost as much as we love to write!

And speaking of real authors, come back next week to meet Sue Owens Wright and enjoy a blurb from her award-winning book Ears for Murder. If you love dogs, you’re going to love her Beanie & Cruiser series!

Sizzling Hot Reads!

We’re celebrating the dog days of summer by offering the Kindle edition of Deadly Ties at a special sale price of just $2.99 for a limited time. This is the first in the Waterside Kennels series; if you want to see how the story began, here’s your chance!Lab Silhouette

Book #2 in the series is due for release this fall, with book #3 on track for publication next year. While you’re waiting, here’s more dog-related mystery fiction to enjoy. Read on for a sample of some of my favorite authors who have been so generous to writers and readers alike. We all share the common bond of dogs in our books, but you’ll find considerable diversity in the way we write our traditional mysteries. I hope you enjoy browsing this list. Perhaps you’ll discover a “new to you” series!

Laurien Berenson

Gone with the Woof Laurien BerensonPoodle lovers, rejoice! Laurien Berenson‘s Melanie Travis mystery series continues, and it just keeps getting better. I’ve been a fan for years, and have been delighted to see new additions to this long-running series. (Want to read from the beginning? Start with A Pedigree to Die For.) Here’s the description for Gone with the Woof, #16 in the series:

Despite a toddler and a house full of Standard Poodles, Melanie Travis can’t pass up an opportunity to help legendary dog breeder Edward March pen his life story. But her enthusiasm flags when the breeder’s angry son Andrew demands she stop working on the book. Why becomes imperative once Andrew is killed by a seemingly intentional hit-and-run and Melanie becomes Suspect #1. To get herself out of the dog house, Melanie sniffs out every possible clue, only to run into dead ends as fast as she’s running out of time. And the longer the killer stays unleashed, the sooner she may end up in the dog house for good.

Susan Conant

Brute Strength Susan Conant

Brute Strength continues Susan Conant’s wonderful Dog Lover’s Mystery Series. (You can see the entire list of titles here, as well as other books written by this very talented author.)  Publishers Weekly said that “…series fans should enjoy spending time with familiar characters, the warm humor, and the dog lore.” Here’s the description from the Amazon book page:

When Dog’s Life columnist Holly Winter rejects applicants who want to adopt homeless dogs, she makes a lot of enemies. In dogs Holly trusts, and the dogs she trusts most are her beloved malamutes, Rowdy, Kimi and Sammy. But right now she could use a human friend. Lately, it seems wherever she turns, things go wrong: an anonymous call turns vicious, her husband is keeping secrets, and acquaintances die under mysterious circumstances. Then Holly’s own life is threatened. Can the brute strength of Rowdy, Kimi, and Sammy protect her?

Susan J. Kroupa

Dog-Nabbed cover

Dog-nabbed is the third book in the Doodlebug Mystery Series. This author is one of my favorites!  Susan J. Kroupa writes a terrific, laugh-out-loud series featuring a dog as narrator. You can read them in any order, too. Here’s the description from the Amazon sales page:

What’s not to love about a trip the Blue Ridge Mountains? Doodle has a blast—biggest yard ever, plus wild turkeys to chase–while Molly visits her grandparents. But then Molly’s good friend, Lizzie, begs for help. Lizzie’s father, under the influence of a self-proclaimed prophet named Zeke, forbids Lizzie to see anyone not approved by Zeke–not even Lizzie’s desperately ill grandmother. Defying Zeke, Molly and Lizzie meet secretly in the woods where a discovery makes Molly think Zeke’s hiding something. But how can she prove it?

As for Doodle, he loves all these hikes through the woods. Until he and Molly, hot on Zeke’s trail, end up lost—seriously, not his fault—and Doodle discovers that while it’s no fun being lost, it can be even worse to be found—by the wrong person.

Marja McGraw

Final Awkward Moments

If you’ve visited my site before, you’ll know I’m a big fan of cozy mysteries that aren’t your typical “formula” novel. I enjoy light humor, minimal violence, and an intriguing story line. You get all three in the Bogey Man Mystery Series authored by Marja McGraw. Here’s the description of Awkward Moments, Book #4 in the series:

What might happen if you tried to bury the body of a small bird, only to find a body already buried in the hole you’ve dug. And what might happen if another body ended up in the same hole?

Join Chris, Pamela and Mikey Cross while they try to figure out why someone would be murdered during their vacation, on private property, during the middle of the night. Watch for Chris’s cranky brother to show up unexpectedly, searching for lost gold and running people off of his property.

The Cross family is at it again, just like the amateur sleuths they swear they never meant to be.

C.A. Newsome

A shot in the BarkIf you’re a fan of rescue dogs and enjoy mysteries that have a bit more suspense and a little more romance than your typical cozy, then you definitely want to check out the Lia Anderson Mystery Series. Author C. A. Newsome has rescue dogs of her own, and brings that experience to the table when writing the series. The first in the series is A Shot in the Bark and a great addition to the world of dog-related fiction. Here’s the description you’ll find on her website:

Would you recognize a serial killer if you met one? Talked to one every day?

Artist Lia Anderson doesn’t, and neither does anyone else who frequents the Mount Airy Dog Park. But a violent death brings Detective Peter Dourson into the close-knit group, and he is convinced someone is not who they seem. As the investigation uncovers secrets, Lia struggles to cope with warring emotions and a killer watches.

Sue Owens Wright

Braced for Murder

“Welcome to the Bark Side of Mystery!” That’s the greeting you’ll find on the website of Sue Owen Wright, a gifted author who’s earned the prestigious Maxwell Medallion by the Dog Writers Association of America. I absolutely love this series. (After all, who couldn’t love a Basset Hound?)

Here’s the description of Braced for Murder, courtesy of Sue’s website:

When Beanie volunteers to foster a homeless basset hound from Lakeside Animal Shelter, she’s headed for calamity one way or another. Beanie and Cruiser are on the crime trail once again after a reviled shelter manager is discovered euthanized. Tahoe Animal Impoundment Liberation Society (TAILS), is a prime suspect in her murder, but there are plenty of other suspects among South Lake Tahoe’s irate dog lovers, including the grieving owner of Gilda, an ill-fated basset rumored to haunt the shelter.

If Beanie doesn’t have enough trouble unleashed on her with another murder to solve and daughter Nona’s health scare, foster dog Calamity is living up to her name, creating havoc at the MacBean house. With all her behavioral issues, this crazy hound could make a dog whisperer scream. Beanie is eager to find an adopter for Calamity at the upcoming Basset Waddle fundraiser for a new no-kill animal shelter, but Calamity has other ideas.

 

There are many more great writers out there, just waiting for you to discover them! You can find these authors and other great books at the touch of your keyboard. Find us on Facebook, Goodreads, and Twitter. Try searching for “dog mysteries” at your favorite retailer. You can find us in digital and print editions online and in stores, to include independent bookstores (look for us on IndieBound as well as the major retailers). And more than one of us have audio editions of our books (or will have this fall), so be sure to browse Audible too. Now’s the perfect time to start your shopping list for upcoming holidays and special events–because books make the best gifts, of course!

Have another author and/or mystery series you’d like to suggest?

Leave a comment and recommend your own favorites! 

Much to Celebrate…

The Dog Writers Association of America’s annual awards banquet is fast approaching. One of the nominees is Sue Owens Wright, who’s garnered her 11th nomination for a Maxwell Award for her book Braced for Murder.  Congratulations, Sue!

Braced for Murder

Braced for Murder is the latest in the Beanie and Cruiser mystery series. If you enjoy mysteries with a regional flair (this one’s set around Lake Tahoe) and love Basset Hounds, this is a great book for you!  You can read an excerpt of the book and learn more about the series here.

And speaking of the Dog Writers Association of America, I’m honored to announce I’m now a member of that wonderful organization. Many thanks to my writing colleagues and friends who sponsored me, including Tracy Weber and Amy Shojai. Sue, Tracy, and Amy are all terrific writers who are passionate about dogs, so be sure to check out their websites!