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This month we have advice from a new expert, Margaret Adams, on Google Author Rankings, Ten Top Tips is about protecting yourself online, Useful Websites covers, freelancing, story writing and the dreaded grammar and Inspiration is as inspiring as I can make it!

Ten Top Tips For Protecting Yourself Online

Some writers are wary of using the internet because of the scare stories they hear about unscrupulous goings-on. You are right to be cautious, but with a sensible approach you can take advantage of all the internet has to offer without making yourself susceptible to those who would take advantage of you. Here are some tips of what to look out for:

1. Before accepting any writing commission, check the payment and decide whether you are prepared to do the amount of work involved for that fee.

2. Don’t respond to ads asking for free samples of writing without checking with the advertiser first.

3. Think hard about putting any writing up on your website which you might wish to enter in a competition or which you hope to have published elsewhere. If a publication or website wants ‘first rights’ you may have jeopardised your chances of selling the work to them. It may also prevent you from using that particular piece in a competition if the rules stipulate that entries must not have been previously published.

4. Get part payment upfront for any writing commission – or negotiate for commissions through sites such as Elance and Guru which hold money from the customer in an account for you and pay it over when the job is completed to the satisfaction of both parties.

5. If it looks too good to be true – it probably is. Don’t be tempted to pay large sums for ebooks promising you can make thousands of pounds from your writing overnight.

6. Be wary of competitions with very high entry fees as they may be a money-making exercise rather than a genuine competition. But, don’t think, as some writes do, that any competition that charges is automatically a scam. Some of the best known ones charge, so use your judgement. Also be wary of those producing an ‘anthology’ of winners and charging for it – you may find yourself out of pocket and in the company of some poor quality writing. For the purposes of such anthologies, everyone’s a winner!

7. You should, rightly, be wary about sending money to any organisation online (or indeed, through the post.) Check that they offer Paypal or other secure methods of payment. These are the safest ways of sending money online and offer some come-back if things go wrong.

8. Keep up to date virus software on your computer and don’t open any email attachments if you do not know their source.

9. Don’t respond or click on links in any emails purporting to be from your bank or other financial institution unless you are 100 per cent certain they are genuine.

10. The best advice is always: If in doubt – do nowt!