This week our encouragement for writers comes in the form of a reminder about internet safety. Tune in each week for more encouragement, support, and great self-publishing tips!
Hi, Christian indies!
When I was a child, the Publisher’s Clearing House (PCH) entry form was still sent by U.S. Mail. It was a glorious, fat envelope, with promises of potential for great fortune stamped across the front. Inside was an enormous sheet of perforated, full color lick-and-stick stamps, each representing a magazine subscription one could purchase by affixing the stamp to the appropriate place on the order form, which doubled as an entry form for the Sweepstakes. My Mother would never even open this alluring piece of mail-into the trash can it would go. Somehow, one day, I discovered this fascinating packet. Maybe I saw the mail before my Mom got to it. More likely, I saw the captivating red letters beckoning me to “enter to win” peeking out from the can when I was asked to take out the trash. Whatever the case, I was immediately intrigued and excited about this correspondence.
You see, I had watched the PCH people in commercials on tv, showing up at someone’s house with a gigantic cardboard check made out for millions of dollars. I could not believe my Mother would just throw away this chance at winning big bucks!
I tried to convince my Mom to enter, but she thought it a waste of her time. After all,entering was not as easy as just filling out a form-you had to actually find the entry stamps, hidden well among all the catchy and colorful magazine ads, and affix them to the appropriate places on the order/entry form, and then mail it back to PCH. However, she did consent to my filling out the entry form and sending it in.
Thereafter, instead of tossing the entry into the garbage, she would leave it out on the kitchen table for me to fill out. Entering the Sweepstakes became a fun past-time for me. It was fun to hunt for the entry stamps. It was relaxing and satisfying to break the perforation away around each one. The glue on the back of the stamps had a unique flavor I can still taste today, if I try hard enough. And, then, of course, there was the thrill of expectation as I sealed the envelope, placed it in the mailbox, and put the little red flag up to alert the postman that my winning entry was ready to be sent to PCH.
Now, older and jaded as I am, I know that the true purpose of the contest was to:
1)Sell magazine subscriptions
2)Cultivate a mailing list of “interested” people (r.e. Potential future buyers)
My Mother knew this, of course, but she saw no harm in letting me fill out the entries. She did not see the point of bursting my bubble of enthusiasm, nor did she see any reason to take away the obvious pleasure I had in completing the entry forms. While there could be arguments made against the “rightness” of Christians partaking in any game of chance, PCH was (still is!) a legit company, running their contest as an advertising campaign. There is nothing to really “beware of” while interacting with them.
Sadly, this is not the case with many companies, who are in business purely to fleece as many gullible sheep as they can. Furthermore, many of these bad actors are experts at identifying and targeting new writers, often
- times praying on every writer’s secret wish
- instant fame and fortune.
So, how do you know what companies are legit? How do you know who to stay away from?
Join us as we discuss this important topic this week.
See you then,