imageAs I’ve mentioned, we run advertisements on our front page here at TeleRead, but we do have our standards. I just noticed an interesting-looking ad pop up from an outfit called Barefoot Writers Club, clicked through to where it offered a “free report” in return for an email address, and got suspicious.

A quick Google turned up a cautionary report on Writer Beware, a writing-scam-report blog of impeccable reputation. Victoria Strauss made a good case that the Barefoot Writers Club was basically a come-on:

The Barefoot Writer’s Club, in other words, belongs to the category of enterprises that are designed to sell you things under the guise of helping or instructing you. The Internet is rife with such schemes: “experts” offering courses or webinars that are really vehicles for pimping their own products, “authorities” whose only claim to knowledge is that they’ve written whatever ebook or coursepack they want you to buy. There may or may not be useful information involved–but the information isn’t the point. These are commercial enterprises, and their primary goal is to make a profit–from you.

The consensus she got from reports from people who’d taken the courses was that the advice was solid overall but basic, and required a considerable investment in time, energy, and money to get the most out of them. And the language about being able to earn “a Very Good Living as a Writer” sounded an awful lot like get-rich-quick scheme material, and we all know those never work.

As a result, we’ve decided to ban ads from that outfit from appearing on our site. You shouldn’t see the ad pictured in the above inset on TeleRead again. I’d like to ask that if you, the readers, see any other advertisements that don’t pass the smell test, please let us know. Email robotech [at] eyrie [dot] org, with a cc to davidrothman [at] pobox [dot] com, and tell us about it.

Note that I’m not including the James Patterson writing course ad which I see pop up every so often in that category. We have pooh-poohed Patterson’s course here, but I have no objection to that advertisement. Even if there are other places to get writing advice that might be just as good and cheaper, Patterson at least sells you what he says he will for one price and doesn’t keep asking you for more money partway through it. Maybe his material is overpriced, but it’s not a scam.

But if you see anything that might be, let us know. We’ll look into it.

Publisher’s note: Let me reinforce what Chris says. Tell us about the scams and the other dreck—send us the URLs of the offenders. At the same time please bear with us if it slips through. We’re working on refining our blocking technology. Adding to the complexity of the task, Ezoic is already serving up ads for our mobile and tablet versions that differ from those for our desktop version. But both we and Ezoic are eager to get this right. We don’t want ads for get-rich-quick, gambling, astrology, dating services, and other offerings that do not fit the character of the TeleRead site. – David


  1. And now we’ve zapped and as well. Thanks, Nate! Someone should really put together a comprehensive list from Writer Beware so all the major e-book sites can feed a bunch of URLs into AdSense. By the way, you might skip the www to make the block more inclusive.

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