Peevish Pen

Ruminations on reading, writing, rural living, retirement, aging—and sometimes cats. And maybe a border collie or other critters.

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Location: Rural Virginia, United States

I'm an elderly retired teacher who writes. Among my books are Ferradiddledumday (Appalachian version of the Rumpelstiltskin story), Stuck (middle grade paranormal novel), Patches on the Same Quilt (novel set in Franklin County, VA), Them That Go (an Appalachian novel), Miracle of the Concrete Jesus & Other Stories, and several Kindle ebooks.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Authors, Save Your Money

Warning: If you're not an author, today's post won't interest you. 
But there's a cute kitty picture at the end.
Monday's email brought this scam: "Sell More Books to Bookstores." Here's the header:

Why are they sending this to moi—a self-published/vanity-published/small press-published author? Since this info came to my inbox, I figured I'd share some screenshots of the email here:

Don't you love their graphic—gotta be a real bookstore because it says BOOKSTORE right on the third images as well as BOOK-something on the second image. And there are all those shelves full of books! Makes you kind of want to cough up from $150 to $350 right away so you can get in on the action, doesn't it?

Of course, even if this is a legit mailing, and even if all those bookstores want your book (highly unlikely—you'll have a better chance winning the lottery), how are you actually going to get to all those stores for signings? We're talking major book tour here—and gas prices are going up again. And will anyone even turn out if you're a self-published/vanity-published/small press-published author that no one has ever heard of outside your immediate neighborhood?

If you'd rather go the email route instead of paying $$$ for snail mail, for only $199, you can have this company spam bookstores. Or, if you'd rather contact the bookstores yourself, they'll sell you the bookstore list for only $99. Of course, this is info that you could look up online for free, but you're a busy author, right?

You'd think that a big PR company company would have a real person signing the email instead of "Staff." Isn't that a tip-off right there that the company might not be on the level? 

If your book is vanity-published or completely self-published, bookstores all over the country aren't interested in your book. Bookstores usually don't buy directly from authors. They deal with a distributor, and odds are good that you—if you're, ahem, underpublished—don't have one. Also, bookstores want the books they get from the distributor to be returnable. And they want a big discount on the book.

Some small presses have distributors, but if the small press used print-on-demand technology to print your books, the books are unlikely to be returnable. Hence, bookstores aren't interested.

Just for the heck of it, I poked around on the spammer's  company's website, where I found pdfs of the "print advertising" they sent to bookstores. On the Dec. 2011 release, the books listed were published by Lulu (a self-publisher), West Bow (the Thomas Nelson vanity press), Createspace (another self-publisher), Trafford (an expensive vanity press), and a small press that has no distributor. Two of the books have no retail price listed; a 66-page book is priced at $14.95. Even if bookstores were interested, they're unlikely to order these books. (Don't believe me? Go into your favorite bookstore. See if you can find any books by these publishers on the shelves.)

I'm not the only one who noticed this particular, um, service. Scambuster Victoria Strauss blogged about it last week on the Writer Beware blog: Beware Spam PR Services

The message is pretty clear: Authors, don't waste your money! You'd be better of plugging your books for free on your blog from time to time, just like I'm going to do right here:

Ferradiddledumday and Stuck are available from Cedar Creek Publishing. They're also available from, as are my four vanity published-books. My self-published book, Patches on the Same Quilt, is available from me as long as the supply in the boxes under my bed holds out. One of these days, I'll do a Kindle version of it.

The above promotional paragraph didn't cost me a cent. 

I was going to get my kitties to help advertise my books, but they were too embarrassed to be part of such a blatant promotion.

Unless I paid them $350.
~ ~ ~



Blogger Franz X Beisser said...

Thanks for the info.
I'll be wanting serious advice before long on e-publishing.

11:52 AM  

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