Who Believes This Stuff?
For the past week I’ve been keeping track of unbelievable
offers arriving in my mailbox. They’re
not rated as spam (YET!) by my reputable mail server, although it manages to
find fifty to sixty others a day that it automatically removes for me. No, these appear to be genuine offers from
talented and wise sources – until you read the small print.
I received ten offers from printing companies , all of whom
seem to think I need business cards, brochures, posters, billboards,
newsletters, and postcards to advertise my latest book. OK, I’ve used some of
those products in the past, but when a company insists you buy at least 500 business
cards at a time, how many times do they expect you to have to re-order?
I also received three offers to let me access new
collections of genealogical records – free all during the current holiday
weekend. Obviously they think their target audience includes lots of people
with no place to go and nothing to do while others are partying. Still, the offer sounds generous, doesn’t it?
This was one offer I actually checked out.
It promised to provide wills from millions of people in all 50 states.
Did it? Well, I found a couple of listings from my family tree, but that’s all
there was – just a listing. A will
exists for John Smith of Anytown. Can I see
it? Well, here’s a picture of the listing.
Now you have to travel to Anytown and have the County Clerk try to find
Another promises to help readers de-clutter and organize
their lives with worksheets. They’ll
even send you the first 17 worksheets for free.
They arrive, fresh and colorful, as downloads you can print off as
needed. For the most part, these
worksheets have an interesting title at the top --: “Things To Do,” “Chores,” “Box
Contents,” and “Closets” – followed by a page of blank lines. If you want more
information, you’ll have to pay to take the whole course.
Others are “free” video courses. Turn up your sound and watch while we
tell you how to:
Market Your Book for Free
Create Content Everyone Needs
Create Your Own Webinar
Write a Blog by Filling in the Blanks
Automate Your Book to Audio
Every one of then spends over an hour talking about other
people’s success stories. And at the end, you’re told to accomplish your goal
by ordering an expensive book, a course, or a private coaching session.
Here’s the worst one I found this week. The seller is a
college drop-out who claims to have written several best-selling books before
he was old enough to drink. And he offers to teach you:
How to develop an idea for your book in thirty
How to write that book in two hours.
Write, publish, and market your book in three
Go from “no idea” to published author in ninety
How to write a best-seller, even if you are bad
at writing and can’t type.
Earn a six-figure income instantly
Time to Take
I’m going to give you a list of qualities and
characteristics you will need if you are going to succeed at this writing
business. It won’t be complete, but it will give you an idea of how well-prepared
you are for the next steps. So go through this list and check off the items you
can claim for yourself. Then we can start talking about them in more detail.
And remember, it’s not just important to know what you can do. You also need to
understand what you can NOT do.
What kind of a writer are you? How’s your
grammar? Did you get A’s in English class? When you read a book, do you see
other writers’ mistakes?
What about spelling? Can you use a dictionary,
or are you one of those people who can’t look up a word because you don’t know
how to spell it?
What about punctuation? Do you have a firm
opinion about the Oxford comma? Do you even know what an Oxford comma is?
How’s your manual dexterity? Can you type? [I’m
assuming you don’t have a private secretary to do your dirty work.] Can you
What about other computer skills? Have you
mastered Microsoft Word? [The answer to
that is “No” because they just put out a new version and we all get to learn it
over again!] Can you convert a document into a PDF file? Do you already have a
favorite word-processing program?
Is your computer new enough to run the latest
programs? And does it have enough memory to store several versions of a
Do you have access to a library? Do you have a
library card? Have you ever used it?
Do you have a place to write, a desk you can
call your own, not a corner of the dining room table?
Do you have the time to write? Can you look at
your day-to-day schedule and identify some time that belongs to you alone?
you write because you can’t imagine not writing? Or does the idea of actually
having to put words on paper scare you?
These are elementary questions, but this is where we need to
start. What if your answer to some of these is “No!” That’s OK. You are
identifying the areas you need to work on, not receiving a final rejection
notice on your qualifications.
Take some time this weekend to think about your weaknesses
and what you might do to correct them. Then next week, if you’re still around,
we’ll tackle some other requirements.
Have you noticed how many ads there are on Facebook recently for foreign language instruction and translation software? There's also a popular article circulating that argues that when we speak a different language, we become a different personality. Apparently failure to communicate affects even the world's cats.
I've been wondering about the validity of that finding, and it occurs to me that the change may work in the opposite direction.
Since I started writing full time, I've developed a whole new vocabulary--one that may be fairly meaningless or hopelessly confusing to others. For example:
- I talk about arcs and ARCs, but I'm not talking about mathematical curves or geophysical phenomena, or even a biblical boat.
- Today I've been creating a bookmark, with lots of talk about trim size, which has nothing to do with the way my clothes fit, and bleeding, which does not call for a bandaid.
- I'm waiting for a proof, but I'm not looking for incontrovertible evidence or a geometrical argument.
- Spine width has nothing to do with a backbone.
- Trade paper does not mean I'll check yours and you check mine.
- Smashwords is not nearly as violent as it sounds.
- Twitter can sometimes express profound truths.
- Cloud computing does not require a bird-like ability to fly.
- Scapple is not a badly spelled version of a surgeon's knife.
So, the next time you complain that your friends and family do not understand what it is like to be a writer, maybe it's because you now speak a different language.
Can you think of other examples? Feel free to add to this list.
is the copy the customers who bought Beautiful Disaster have reported
getting from Amazon (you can read it on the thread I linked to above):
Hello from Amazon.com,
want to let you know that the edition of Beautiful Disaster that you
purchased is no longer available. You can order a new version that is
now available here:
can also request a refund on your original purchase by responding to
this email. After the refund is issued, you will no longer be able to
access this item.
The Kindle Team
what I gather from it, and if you take away something different or can
shed more light on the thread, feel free. I read through the thread a
couple of times to understand what is happening (but I'm human and might
be missing something).
Okay, so from the email I quoted above, it sounds like the self-published version of Beautiful Disaster is no longer available to read. If I had bought this book when it was
self-published, I would assume (from the way this email is worded) that I
don't have this on my Kindle anymore. It sounds like if I were to turn
my Kindle on and search for it, the book would be gone. Since I didn't
Beautiful Disaster, I
have no way of seeing whether or not this is true, but scrolling down
the thread, it sounds like customers do still have access to the
self-published version they bought.
what I think is happening is that the average customer is thinking they
have lost the self-published version and are being told the only way
they will get the book back on their Kindle is to buy the new edition
(provided by the publisher) at a higher price. This has caused some
upset from some of the customers on the thread (I linked to above). I
would be upset, too, if I bought a book at a low price and was told I
needed to pay more to keep it on my Kindle. BUT, this is not the case.
The people still have the original book.
I think Amazon is just letting people know a new version is available for
purchase if they want it. However, they are leaving key items out.
Not only do they fail to assure the customers that their book is still
on the Kindle, but they aren't telling the customers HOW they will get
their refund and extra money to make up for the difference in cost for
the new edition of this book. They are making her pay for their
"generous" offer. The customers assume Amazon is paying for all of this
(and I would, too, if I hadn't read Jamie's blog post
Some of those customers are saying they won't buy any more of her
books because they think they're being ripped off in having to pay more
for the same book in order to keep it on their Kindles. I can only
imagine the emails she's getting right now, and this isn't even her
fault. But how many customers will take the time to find out the truth?
still don't like this tactic that Amazon is using, and I still think we
should let others know what is going on here. In my opinion, Jamie's
only crime (and it's not even a "crime") was giving her successful
self-published book to a reputable publisher. Amazon should send
another mass email letting her past customers know that the original
version they bought will still be available on their Kindles so they
haven't lost the book. If Amazon wants to offer a refund and
compensation to buy the new book or a credit if the customers opt to buy
the new version, then fine. But Amazon should be the one to pay it.
They're the ones making the offer, not her. And I see no need to
bother the customers over a version that has nothing wrong with it.
Customers think they are getting ripped off, and this isn't the case.
feel horrible for Jamie and hope things work out in her favor. In my
opinion, she should be refunded the money Amazon's been taken from her.
| March 3, 2013 at 11:08 pm | Categories:
A Publisher Offers You a Contract for Your Self-Published Book, Will
You Be Forced (By Amazon) To Refund Past Customers Who Bought It?
by Ruth Ann Nordin
answer just might be yes because this is exactly what is happening
to Jamie McGuire. Jamie originally self-published her book Beautiful Disaster and
the sales were so good that a publisher wanted the book. So now the
book is with a publisher. Cool, right?
You'd think so except for this
thorn that cropped up. Amazon is sending out mass emails to people who
bought Beautiful Disaster
when it was self-published. Amazon is offering a full refund for the
$3.99 price it was when it was self-published PLUS the difference in
price that the publisher is charging ($7.99). And Jaime McGuire is the
one paying the bill. So Jaime is now paying every customer who wants a
refund about $8. Amazon's not paying it. She's made it clear the
publisher isn't behind this.
My thoughts on this:
So what are we looking out here?
it now a liability to accept a contract with a publisher who wants your
self-published book? Your book took off and became such a big hit that
you got the attention of a publisher. So you unpublish the
self-published edition and sign a contract with the publisher who then
gets your rights and republishes the book. Everything should be roses
from there, but I guess it might not be. Because Amazon might send out
mass emails to your previous customers and offer to refund the book +
the difference in what the publisher is asking.
what point do we say, "This is ridiculous?" It's ridiculous as soon as
it happens. Is this a sign of things to come? Will there be some
other reason we'll end up owing past customers money on books they
bought months or years ago? Where does this end? At what other job
would the person be required to pay back customers for services or goods
they received far back to who knows when?
Can you imagine if your boss
came to you and started taking money out of your current paycheck
because your boss decided to refund some customers? Like I said, the
whole thing is ridiculous. And yet, it's happening. So not only is it
ridiculous but it's also a nightmare.
What can we do to help?
1. I think we should spread Jaime McGuire's story as much as possible.
I ask that you Tweet, Facebook, Google + (or do whatever you can to
inform other authors about this). Here's the direct link to her
2. If you bought Beautiful Disaster when it was self-published, please don't ask for a refund. She's
the one who pays the bill, not Amazon. It's not fair that they're
doing this. I implore you to do what you can to lighten her burden.
*If I have misunderstood this situation at all, please correct me. I tried to get my facts straight before posting this.