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How to Spot a Spam on Facebook

Published January 9, 2020 by Maryanne

scam+alert28

Before I get into it, first I want to say that both Facebook and Craig’s List are great tools for people who work for themselves. As an author, ghost writer, blogger, editor, and public speaker, I’ve been successfully self-employed since 2008, in part thanks to Facebook and Craig’s List.

From time to time, I’ll post an ad on a Facebook community page seeking work as a ghost writer or editor. I’ve met many clients this way and it gets my name/info out there for referrals.

The other day I was thinking about posting in a local community again and I saw something suspicious. It was an ad offering a large sum of money for a simple task of posting real estate ads on to Craig’s List. After some investigation, I realized it was a scam. A person in real estate “hires” someone to do their busy work posting ads on Craig’s List. But then they don’t pay their hired help for doing the work (which is promised after a two-week period). The person makes all kinds of excuses why they can’t/won’t pay. If you Google “Craig’s List Real Estate Scam” you will find many stories about this scam.

Now, what makes victims fall prey to these scams is that the scam artist will create a beautiful Facebook page. They will steal photos of an attractive, approachable looking woman (or man) and create a fake page, with a fake name. The person will be featured in various photos taken over the years, on glamorous vacations, with a cute pet, with friends or a lover. The punchline is — LOOK CLOSER — there will only be a few “likes” for each photo and hardly any engagement with so-called friends/family. This is the dead giveaway! Do not walk away, RUN!

As we know, the majority of successful people on Facebook have reached their friend limit and engage with their friends/fans/family on a regular basis. For real accounts you’ll see hundreds of comments.

Scam artists can never have enough time to create a seemingly true picture because they are too busy scamming. This particular page I saw was one of the more elaborate ones I’ve seen. Others are the more obvious type of fake with just simply a few photos (of a very good looking female or male) with limited engagement. But those are the types that seem to want fake love and fake relationships, not necessarily money (or your time to work for them at no pay).

With what I already knew, and some further investigation, I exposed a scam artist and he/she was banned from the job hunting community!

It breaks my heart reading real stories about people in vulnerable situations (the one I read yesterday was home bound in a wheel chair) getting scammed.

If you’re self-employed, or seeking work in between jobs, or just need some extra cash, here are ways to avoid being scammed:

  1. Ask for a phone number and an email address. Do not EVER work directly from Facebook Messenger and/or Craig’s List addresses.
  2. When you get a phone number, call it at least once for any reason. Make up a dumb question. You need to make that verbal connection to know the person is real.
  3. Over the years I’ve worked with clients all over the country and in other countries. But I’d suggest if you first start working for yourself, remotely, stay as local as possible. Unless you know for sure the person you’ll be working with is honest and sincere.
  4. If you’re asked to create a fake Gmail account — DON’T DO IT! The person can use this to find out your passwords and get information to your other important stuff like bank accounts.
  5. Do not provide a social security number over the internet. Only send a W-9 form to a legitimate email address that belongs to a legitimate company/organization.

If you have anti-scam tips or stories you’d like to share, feel free to comment below! 

Maryanne Christiano-Mistretta can be reached at: maryannechristiano@gmail.com.

She is available for blogging, ghost writing, writing. She is also available for book signings and motivational speaking engagements. She is the author of the following books :

“Be (Extra)Ordinary: 10 Ways to Become Your Own Hero” is available on Amazon. To get your paperback or Kindle version, visit: https://www.amazon.com/Be-Extra-Ordinary-Ways-Become/dp/1733546227

“I Don’t Want to Be Like You” is available on Amazon. To get your paperback, Kindle or audio copy, go here: https://www.amazon.com/Dont-Want-Be-Like-You/dp/1726273261

“The Gypsy Smiled” is available on Amazon. To get your paperback or Kindle version, go here: https://www.amazon.com/Gypsy-Smiled-Maryanne-Christiano-Mistretta-ebook/dp/B074VC7MT9

 

Red Flags for Editors and Ghost Writers

Published November 20, 2019 by Maryanne

Ghosts

I’ve been self-employed as an editor and ghost writer since 2009. It’s been a wonderful journey. I’ve worked with some amazing people, who I remain friends with to this day. The written word is such a beautiful thing. Editing a book is as relaxing as doing a puzzle. It just doesn’t feel like “work” to me!

But there is work involved. The three steps are: 1. Finding potential clients; 2. Convincing them to work with you; and 3. The third step, not many think about–but should! Interviewing the client and deciding, do you want to work with them? Back in 2013, I wrote an article, The Four Types of Clients You’ll Encounter (https://maryannemistretta.wordpress.com/2013/03/20/the-four-types-of-clients-youll-encounter/) and it still holds true today.

In the article, right off the bat I mention that bending over backward for each client is a big mistake. If you read the article you will understand why. In this blog, today, I’m sharing some of the red flags that will tell you, “DO NOT GET INVOLVED!”

When we’re working for ourselves, we may have a great run of clients. Things are going along so well, what could possible go happen? This is when they “get us.” When we least expect it. Someone comes along with little experience in the publishing world, thinks they know everything, and acts like they have you by the balls because they have money. WRONG!

1. The first red flag to say “no” is when someone is not respectful of your time. If you have an appointment to meet with someone and they don’t show up, it’s bad news. (Note, cancelling last minute is okay, because shit happens, and at least they had the decency to call. But if you have to chase someone down for a phone call or an email–BEWARE!)

Here’s an example of what happened to me just today…

I had an appointment at noon for a phone meeting, which was set up by an Assistant to the Writer. Prior to this phone meeting the Assistant said I was in the Top 3 for candidates. Looking good, right? The day before, I called the Assistant to confirm the phone meeting. All was well.

Today, 12:15, no call from Writer. … Which brings me to #2…

2. The second red flag to say “no” to a client is when they use patronizing speech towards you. Next, I called the Assistant, asking “What happened?” Like a child, he got defensive. He went off on me like a raving lunatic, defending the Writer. He was nasty towards me and said I was acting “desperate.”

WTF? Acting “desperate” because I wanted to know why the Writer didn’t keep his appointment? That’s not about desperation, that’s about respect. Was I supposed to wait by the phone all day long (and diss my other clients?!)  Who is the professional here? I believe it was me. I was waiting for a phone call that never happened.

I showed up. They screwed up. TWICE.

As soon as someone uses condescending words towards me, I call it a day. I simply said, “Never mind, I am not interested.” I hung up without giving him a chance to respond. If someone shows their true colors even before the first phone meeting, it’s only downhill from there. I never got a chance to talk to the writer. Which brings me to #3…

3. When assisting a person in writing a book, it’s best to work one-on-one. If there are more people involved, it gets sticky. There are too many personality conflicts. This happened to me very early in my ghost writing career. I was helping an elderly woman write a children’s book. She hired an illustrator that didn’t see eye-to-eye with me–and was downright nasty whenever I disagreed with her. (She couldn’t take constructive criticism and everything had to be her way).

I’m self-employed because I chose to leave the corporate world in order to avoid the stress of petty personality conflicts. Yet, here was this girl behaving like a child.

When accepting a job, be sure you know upfront who else is going to be involved–including assistants!

4. The final red flag is when a client is notorious for ripping people off. Boy, was I blind-sided by this one! A few weeks ago I was helping a girl write a book about coming to NYC, from another state, on a limited budget. While working with this woman, she shared many stories about hopping from loft to loft because she could never make rent. (The punchline is she felt she was entitled to skip rent because she was down on her luck and the tenants were being unfair!!) As a positive person, it never dawned on me that she was still doing the same thing years later. I was under the impression she was now a successful entrepreneur. Next thing I know, we have a phone session and then she stiffs me for money afterwards. She finally paid me and I told her it was best we part ways.

Now, money is not a big deal for me. When I work with clients, I give them freebies all the time. Free hours for their birthdays and Christmas. I give a $50 referral fee to anyone who brings me business. I direct my clients to publishers, places to do book signings, and help them promote their books. When someone hires me, they have a winner! In fact, 90 percent of the people I work with tell me they “love” me!

When you have a great ghost writer/editor and client relationship, the results are pure magic! A book that looks beautiful because you hired someone who has 20+ years experience. A book that is edited and proofread with no mistakes on the main pages (the cover, the back cover, the special thanks section, the dedication). And a book that is up on Amazon, so you can make money (royalty checks) while you sleep!

Is this something you want? Hire a professional today!

Maryanne Christiano-Mistretta can be reached at: maryannechristiano@gmail.com.

She is available for blogging, ghost writing, writing. She is also available for book signings and motivational speaking engagements. She is the author of the following books :

“Be (Extra)Ordinary: 10 Ways to Become Your Own Hero” is available on Amazon. To get your paperback or Kindle version, visit: https://www.amazon.com/Be-Extra-Ordinary-Ways-Become/dp/1733546227

“I Don’t Want to Be Like You” is available on Amazon. To get your paperback, Kindle or audio copy, go here: https://www.amazon.com/Dont-Want-Be-Like-You/dp/1726273261

 

Freddie Mercury, Bullied as a Young Boy

Published July 3, 2019 by Maryanne

Freddie Mercury as a BoyFarrokh Bulsara (photo found via Google Search)

The other night, my husband and I once again went to see our favorite Queen tribute band, Almost Queen (http://www.almostqueen.com/). Note that they have been around long before the successful Bohemian Rhapsody film. That said, if you’re a true Queen fan who loves the deep tracks, as well as the hits, be sure to check them out, as you will definitely hear some rare gems.

Anyway, before the show, I thought about how I’ve heard the stories of Freddie Mercury being bullied as a young boy because of his overbite. He was called a donkey by school bullies.

But did that stop him from becoming Freddie Mercury? Absolutely not.

If you’re having a hard time and being bullied, perhaps you have that special something that you can bring to the table by being YOUnique!

Check out my new video, where I speak about Almost Queen, Freddie Mercury, and how being bullied didn’t stop him from becoming a household name! (And if you like it, give me a thumbs up).

Maryanne Christiano-Mistretta can be reached at: maryannechristiano@gmail.com.

She is available for blogging, ghost writing, writing, and motivational speaking engagements. She is the author of the following books (in which she mentions Freddie Mercury in both, and how he inspired her as a child, teenager, and still today!):

“Be (Extra)Ordinary: Ten Ways to Become Your Own Hero” will be available October 2019. To pre-order, go here: https://kicamprojects.com/shop/be-extraordinary/

“I Don’t Want to Be Like You” is available on Amazon. To get your paperback, Kindle or audio copy, go here: https://www.amazon.com/Dont-Want-Be-Like-You/dp/1726273261

Youngsters Do Vinyl

Published June 30, 2019 by Maryanne

SinglesMy tattoo of the 45 rpm spindle

If I had a nickle for every middle-aged or old person who stopped me in the street and commented on my tattoo, “I bet young people don’t know what that is,” I’d have a hellavu lot of nickles. It’s almost as bad as people asking me, “How’s Gilligan?” whenever I say my name is Maryanne.

I’ve never been a fan of redundant comments, especially when they are incorrect.

Allow me to school MY generation (Generation X), and those who are slightly older (Baby Boomers)…

YOUNG PEOPLE LISTEN TO VINYL.

Yes, they do! This is not something I am making up. It’s a fact.

My husband and I are vinyl listeners and buy on a regular basis. We score records online, in record stores, and in antique/vintage shops. We always see young people buying vinyl. On Record Store Day there are more young people around to buy vinyl than older people. Young bands put out vinyl records. And they’ve been doing so for some time now.

Here’s a link to a recent article about the vinyl revival: https://www.classicfm.com/discover-music/millennials-are-going-nuts-for-vinyl-revival/

But I didn’t need an article to tell me that. In my line of work (writing/journalism/speaking) or even shopping for groceries, I chat with many young people who share their love for vinyl with me. Most of them get their vinyl/music passion from their cool parents. We’re living in a time where the generation gap is closer than ever. Kids are no longer at war with their parents. They bond. They do things together (especially going to concerts). So of course they share the same taste in music. That’s not surprising at all. Thanks to tribute bands, rock movies, radio stations that didn’t cave in to modern music yet, Sirius, You Tube, and many music stream stations, kids are exposed to the good stuff. Plus, there are so many bands around that emulate music from the 1970s, 1980s, and 1990s. Like all good things, you may have to dig for it, but it’s there.

Maybe 15 years ago young people disrespected parents, and older people in general. When I was in my late 30s and early 40s, I truly felt a gap from those 15, 10, and even seven years younger than me. It was uncomfortable and not fun. But young people today are the best younger generation ever. As a 50-something adult, I have to say I’ve never enjoyed talking to 20-somethings as much as I do now!

From those 30 and younger I’ve heard amazing things like:

“I’m sick of texting and considering giving up my phone.”

“Don’t underestimate me because I’m young. My parents have a record player in the basement.”

And in response to me sharing my story about oldsters commenting on my spindle tattoos, saying that young people don’t know what it is: “Of course I know what it is. How old do they thing my parents are?”

Young people checking out vinyl is also a matter of curiosity and exploration. During evolution, we have set backs, but life becomes full circle again. Young people have ears just like we do. They want to explore the sound on a record. Young people see a movie about Queen and they want more than what is just spoon-fed to them. Like it was when I was young, they want the records, they want the liner notes. It’s not just about Freddie Mercury and Queen’s greatest hits, they want to hear the deeper tracks.

For a very long time, we were experiencing a me-me-me generation. But that’s now a thing of the past too. In a month, I’ve had several young people ask me questions about my life, rather than just talk about themselves. This new generation is flipping the switch to something more positive and genuine. So why wouldn’t they listen to something more authentic like vinyl?

So, to all my middle-aged peers…

If you see someone cool in your age bracket with a 45-rpm spindle tattooed on them (and there are many — since I got mine in 1996, I’ve met at least three people with the same tattoo!) think twice before inserting foot in mouth…

  • I’m not dating myself. Young people know what a spindle is. And I predict within the next three years you’ll see young people getting spindle tattoos themselves.
  • Young people are COOL. Give them a chance and pay some attention to them!

Maryanne Christiano-Mistretta can be reached at: maryannechristiano@gmail.com.

She is available for blogging, ghost writing, writing, and motivational speaking engagements. She is the author of the following books:

“Be (Extra)Ordinary: Ten Ways to Become Your Own Hero” will be available October 2019. To pre-order, go here: https://kicamprojects.com/shop/be-extraordinary/

“I Don’t Want to Be Like You” is available on Amazon. To get your paperback, Kindle or audio copy, go here: https://www.amazon.com/Dont-Want-Be-Like-You/dp/1726273261

 

The Happy Writer!

Published May 20, 2019 by Maryanne

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Putting down an author just because they are not YET a “best-selling” author is a poor man’s mindset. It’s those who do not give up who win. Even if they don’t become best-selling authors, sustainability accounts for something too. Royalty checks, book signing events, and interviews on radio shows all add up. Getting offers to write blogs from all over the world and helping people write books to make their dreams come true is a blessing. It’s super fun earning money while you sleep too!
I’m living the dream and have been earning a living as a writer since 1995! I’ve been in magazines all over the world. I’ve interviewed some of the most incredible people including Henry Winkler, Tommy James, and Peter Murphy. 
I’ve had free meals in restaurants all over New York City. I’ve been on the guest list at countless concerts. And best of all, it doesn’t feel like WORK because I LOVE what I do.
Unstoppable with no plans of retiring! Because if I stop living my dream, I will DIE inside! 
So, when you meet a writer, do not ask them if they are a Best-selling author. A better question is “Are you happy?” And be prepared for an answer that will give you the greatest contact high ever!

Maryanne Christiano-Mistretta can be reached at: maryannechristiano@gmail.com.

She is available for blogging, ghost writing, writing, and motivational speaking engagements. She is the author of the following books (which both mention how she was inspired by Freddie Mercury): 

“Be (Extra)Ordinary: Ten Ways to Become Your Own Hero” will be available October 2019. To pre-order, go here: https://kicamprojects.com/shop/be-extraordinary/

“I Don’t Want to Be Like You” is available on Amazon. To get your copy, go here: https://www.amazon.com/Dont-Want-Be-Like-You/dp/1726273261

Be Your Own Hero: Motivational Workshop

Published May 6, 2019 by Maryanne

DSCF3631Maryanne Christiano-Mistretta Presents “Be Your Own Hero” 

I was extremely honored to present my workshop “Be Your Own Hero” for Toastmasters District 83 Spring Conference. It was an excellent turn out and extremely well received.

“Be Your Own Hero” provides tools on how you can be yours using Law of Attraction, faith, and not repeating mistakes you made in the past. There’s interaction, sharing, an exercise in creative manifestation, and a Q&A. To book this presentation, contact Maryanne Christiano-Mistretta at: maryannechristiano@gmail.com

DSCF3641

Maryanne Christiano-Mistretta can be reached at: maryannechristiano@gmail.com.

She is available for motivational speaking engagements and is the author of the following books: 

“Be (Extra)Ordinary: Ten Ways to Become Your Own Hero” will be available October 2019. To pre-order, go here: https://kicamprojects.com/shop/be-extraordinary/

“I Don’t Want to Be Like You” is available on Amazon. To get your copy, go here: https://www.amazon.com/Dont-Want-Be-Like-You/dp/1726273261

Take the High Road, Don’t Low Ball!

Published January 31, 2019 by Maryanne

Maryanne summerDon’t let anyone low-ball you! 

As a self-employed business woman (ghost writer, blogger, Facebook updater, author, speaker) each year I compare the market as to what others in my genre are making. That’s how I come up with my prices. I’ve been self-employed since 2009 and for the most part, I’m living the dream.

Every now and then, I get a potential client who wants to price haggle. That’s when I have to pull the reins in and say, “This is not a good fit.”

You can read my article “The Four Types of Clients You’ll Encounter” and see why you shouldn’t say “yes” to every potential client: https://patch.com/new-jersey/verona/bp–the-four-types-of-clients-youll-encounter

I am writing this blog to encourage self-employed people, especially those who are just starting out, to not let anyone low-ball you. Know your worth and increase your prices each year, or every other year.  AND I would also like clients to stop price haggling business professionals like they’re at a yard sale! It is not cool!

Since 2009 I’ve been helping people write their books. Many of them are now on Amazon; some doing incredibly well. I’ve written four books myself, two picked up by a traditional publisher. My fifth is a self-help book. It’s is going to be published by KiCam and is set for an October 2019 release (see here: https://kicamprojects.com/shop/be-extraordinary/).

With all that, it’s safe to say I know a thing or two about the publishing industry. So, it’s highly insulting when a potential new client asks me, “Is that your final price?”

Yes, it is. Or should I go much higher so you can haggle me down to my “final price”?

A few days ago I met a woman who had an incredible story. In fact, it was so incredible that one of my friends in the traditional publishing industry said she’d take a look at the story and possibly publish it.

Do you know what that means? As opposed to self-publishing (which most unknown authors do) it means the publisher was going to consider taking on this project and financing it. So, to use me as an editor, this potential client would still be way ahead of the game even though she thought my services were pricey. She wouldn’t have to pay thousands of dollars to a self publisher. She wouldn’t have to pay an agent to find her a traditional publisher. I could have helped her save so much time and money. But, no, because my per-hour price was too high, she took it upon herself to disrespect me and yell at me. Whoa, what a foolish woman!

I politely told her, “This is not a good fit. If you are worrying about money now, the project may never be finished.” And I hung up on her.

Nothing comes easy in life. If you want singing lessons, you pay by the teacher’s price. If you want therapy, you pay the psychologist’s price. If you want a health consultation, you pay the nutritionist’s price. So, if you want a good ghost writer/book editor, you pay their price. Get it? Got it? Good!

Try price haggling your doctor next time you go for a flu shot. (Or whatever it is that people do when they go to doctors. I don’t know, I don’t do doctors…but that’s another blog). My point is, if you want a good product, from a professional (that would be me) who has over 20 years in the publishing industry, you are going to pay for top quality.

Clients who have succeeded in working with me, from start to finish, have nothing but good to say about my work ethic. If I wasn’t that good, I wouldn’t be in business for so long. And it just keeps getting better because everyone who I helped write a book, tells their friends about me and I get their service too.

I’ve had many happy customers over the years, but I have to say, the happiest was Antoinette and Domenic Lombardi. I helped them write and publish their book 200 Letters, 62 Years and a War which was their love story. Soon after they started dating, Domenic went to serve in the Korean War. During that time, he wrote Antoinette 200 love letters. When I wrote the book in 2015, they were together 62 years. To this day, they send me a Christmas card every year, with a handwritten note, “Come visit us.”

But that’s besides the point. I don’t have to convince readers how good I am. I know I’m good. If I wasn’t, I still wouldn’t be doing something I love all this time!

So, if you hire me–or any professional–take the high road, don’t low ball. If you can’t afford a service, it may be God’s way of telling you to “wait, it’s not time yet.” But that’s between you and God, not you and the professional.

It’s more respectable to say to someone, “I can’t afford this…yet” instead of taking a shit fit over a price you feel is not affordable (as that lady did to me.)

If you want a ghost writer to help you write a book, it’s simple. Save your money. Or just own up to the fact that you’re not ready to write a book. If you want to do something, you’ll make it a priority. It’s as easy as that. Otherwise, this is not something you’re dying to do. Unless you want something so bad you can’t breath, you probably should be dreaming about doing something else.

Maryanne Christiano-Mistretta is a motivational speaker and the author of “I Don’t Want to Be Like You” which addresses her experiences with being bullied. You can order the book from Amazon here: https://www.amazon.com/Dont-Want-Be-Like-You/dp/1726273261

Her next book “BeExtraordinary” will be published in October 2019 by KiCam. To pre-order or visit the landing page, go here: https://kicamprojects.com/shop/be-extraordinary/

To book Maryanne for a speaking engagement, contact her at: maryannechristiano@gmail.com