Maybe they’re right about us.

I really try to avoid saying bad things about anyone in this blog, because I believe that an artist’s platform should build up rather than tear down.  However, this morning I received a forward of an e-mail from a close friend of mine who is a writer with the note that it seemed to have been sent to everyone on a particular writing group list.

I am going to heavily redact this e-mail, because I don’t want to give the author any publicity, and because I feel a little better about saying something bad about somebody if I don’t really identify who I am talking about.

Here goes:

We’ve all known someone who has, or has had, cancer. Or we have had our own experiences. So this is a fairly stark and open pitch – please buy [book title and link]

And while I didn’t write [this book] as a “How to beat cancer” book, it does contain some practical information that may help. I sincerely hope it does. Depending on sales, I intend to contribute approximately 10-20% to various cancer centers and organizations; for example, [local references removed] and the American Cancer Society.

Go there now and purchase a copy. The sooner the better as I’m hoping to have a concentrated spike in sales which will then bring it to the attention of others. So now is the operative word.

In addition, if you honestly can, please leave a five star review, because it will help sales and therefore make us all feel good about contributing to the fight against cancer in all its forms. And maybe pass along this info to others, and post on Facebook, Twitter, LinkenIn, and so on.

Thanks to all of you, and good luck with your writing.

 [name removed]

PS: To those of you who are wondering why I chose to use Amazon CreateSpace instead of finding a “real” publisher, I offer the following excerpts from a recent blog. “Why waste all that dwindling time – a year or two, or ten – hoping for an agent or publisher when technology has taken much of the stigma out of ‘self-publishing?’ (Besides, my target audience may not last that long.) With current and readily available technology, you can write, format, and publish a book at no cost except your blood and sweat – writers should be used to sweating blood. Even the so-called legitimate publishers now require you to market. Researching agents and publishers and sending out queries is like throwing rocks into the Mississippi hoping to hit a catfish.”

Excuse me?  On the strength of a promise to donate part of the proceeds from your book to cancer related charities you claim that I will be fighting cancer by leaving you a five star review?

Maybe I’m just being a little bit oversensitive, but my initial response upon reading this was God Almighty, what a fucking ghoul!  You’ve got to act now because my target audience won’t last long?

Now, in the interest of full disclosure, I did follow the links in the e-mail, and the author is described as a cancer survivor, and the book is personal memoir about living with cancer.

I don’t think that makes it acceptable, though.  I think this letter is offensive, and I think it shows self-published authors in a very bad light.  For all the complaints we have about big publishing houses, I can’t imagine the PR department of McRandomPenguin greenlighting a mailing like that.

Honestly, though, I don’t know what else to do but ignore people like that.  I can’t imagine anything good coming out of confronting him with his behavior.


About MishaBurnett

I am the author of "Catskinner's Book", a science fiction novel available on Amazon Kindle.
This entry was posted in On Promotion, On Writing and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

17 Responses to Maybe they’re right about us.

  1. That’s a really tough one. On one hand, the author is a survivor and his action makes sense. I have heard of books being sold and all the profits going to a charity, but it’s written on the cover or a sign. The sense of urgency isn’t put there and the 5-star review request is strange. I think the author would have been bettered served leaving the letter as wanting to donate to charity and leaving out the urgency and reviews.

  2. I think the author would have been better served to put in his bio that a certain percentage of proceeds will go towards the American Cancer Society. Let people find out on their own that you are donating the money. Don’t blast the information from the rooftops, because even if you have the best intentions, you’re going to come off as you describe, a ghoul.

    • MishaBurnett says:

      Yeah, that’s my feeling, too. Now, I do plan to donate the proceeds from The Fauxpocalypse Project to charity, but to be honest that’s because it’s easier than to try to split proceeds up between the contributors.

  3. I think my reaction was pretty similar to yours when I first saw the original post. Lines were crossed, in my opinion. But this marketing scheme might actually work.

  4. O_O

    I just…who would think that a message like that was a good idea!? I agree with you: “ghoul” really sums up the impression I got from the email.

  5. The Hook says:

    You are a wise man, indeed, my friend.

  6. Dave Higgins says:

    I am not sure that marketing departments for major companies would not send messages of that type. Apparently Amazon’s message about the death of James Gandolfini had a link to buy The Sopranos at the bottom. Amazon pulled their message when the backlash hit claiming it was a mistake not a ploy, so maybe this is a genuine mistake too. Of course it might equally be a ploy.

  7. sknicholls says:

    I don’t think asking for honest reviews is a bad thing, but asking for a five star review for the purpose of likely increasing sales disturbs me. I don’t like people using sickness as a means for sympathy, it defeats the survivor theory and wallows in the victim theory. If you survived something tragic, then say so so others can possibly benefit from your courage, experience, hope and strength. But this comes across more like the threats that you get from acutely evangelical religious people…if you don’t you will be struck by lightening and poor souls will die…pass the plate.

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