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Author Topic: ARC Question - New Reader Joining Mid-Series. Also, cheap.  (Read 760 times)  

Offline KinkyCat

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ARC Question - New Reader Joining Mid-Series. Also, cheap.
« on: June 13, 2018, 08:26:48 PM »
I was wondering how others would handle this problem:

I have a new reader to my ARC list, and I recently sent them the ninth book of an ongoing series.  The first book is free, leaving the previous installments to be purchased by new ARC readers for $2.99 apiece (all novels).  This new reader emails me saying they didn't have the other books, didn't have the money to buy them, and wanted me to gift the books to them.

To make matters worse, my ARC list signup requires they give me their Amazon Profile URL so I can verify their review (they're required to leave one at Amazon).  Other places are optional), and this person wrote in 'n/a' in the signup box.  They also stated that they buy at Kobo and Google, not Amazon.

So my question is: how the heck do I reply to this?
« Last Edit: June 13, 2018, 09:21:36 PM by KinkyCat »
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Offline Patty Jansen

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Re: ARC Question - New Reader Joining Mid-Series. Also, cheap.
« Reply #1 on: June 13, 2018, 08:35:31 PM »
Delete them

Offline LMareeApps

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Re: ARC Question - New Reader Joining Mid-Series. Also, cheap.
« Reply #2 on: June 13, 2018, 08:52:33 PM »
I was wondering how others would handle this problem:

I have a new reader to my ARC list, and I recently sent them the ninth book of an ongoing series.  The first book is free, leaving 2-8 to be purchased by current ARC readers for $2.99 apiece (all novels).  This new reader emails me saying they didn't have the other books, didn't have the money to buy them, and wanted me to gift the books to them.

To make matters worse, my ARC list signup requires they give me their Amazon Profile URL so I can verify their review (they're required to leave one at Amazon.  Other places are optional), and this person wrote in 'n/a' in the signup box.  They also stated that they buy at Kobo and Google, not Amazon.

So my question is: how the heck do I reply to this?

I'm pretty sure Amazon's TOS state you're not actually allowed to require reviews in exchange for ARCs, but then I've also never heard of an ARC team where the readers are required to pay for their review copies.


Offline kcmorgan

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Re: ARC Question - New Reader Joining Mid-Series. Also, cheap.
« Reply #3 on: June 13, 2018, 08:53:25 PM »
"Thank you for your interest, but I'm afraid you wouldn't be a good fit for my ARC team at this time."

Then block.

Offline ShayneRutherford

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Re: ARC Question - New Reader Joining Mid-Series. Also, cheap.
« Reply #4 on: June 13, 2018, 08:58:26 PM »
To make matters worse, my ARC list signup requires they give me their Amazon Profile URL so I can verify their review (they're required to leave one at Amazon.

Requiring a review for an ARC is against Amazon's TOS. You can ask for a review, but you cannot make it a requirement of receiving the ARC. And I believe it's also illegal, but cannot for the life of me remember the thing it contravenes.

ETA: Also, everyone I've ever heard of who does ARCs gives them away free. I've never heard of anyone charging for ARCs and then demanding a review on top of that.
« Last Edit: June 13, 2018, 09:06:13 PM by ShayneRutherford »
     

Offline David VanDyke

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Re: ARC Question - New Reader Joining Mid-Series. Also, cheap.
« Reply #5 on: June 13, 2018, 09:07:41 PM »
Simply do not reply. It appears this person is simply trying to get free books.


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Offline KinkyCat

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Re: ARC Question - New Reader Joining Mid-Series. Also, cheap.
« Reply #6 on: June 13, 2018, 09:14:44 PM »
Thanks for the replies!  Though I must admit some of them confused me. . .who's not giving out free ARCs?  What Amazon policy restricts ARC review requirements?  I was aware I could only request an honest review, but no review?  Fuhgeddaboudit.

EDIT: made the first post clearer. . .I hope.
« Last Edit: June 13, 2018, 09:22:28 PM by KinkyCat »
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Offline VLCooke

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Re: ARC Question - New Reader Joining Mid-Series. Also, cheap.
« Reply #7 on: June 13, 2018, 09:28:24 PM »
I was wondering how others would handle this problem:

I have a new reader to my ARC list, and I recently sent them the ninth book of an ongoing series.  The first book is free, leaving 2-8 to be purchased by current ARC readers for $2.99 apiece (all novels).  This new reader emails me saying they didn't have the other books, didn't have the money to buy them, and wanted me to gift the books to them.

To make matters worse, my ARC list signup requires they give me their Amazon Profile URL so I can verify their review (they're required to leave one at Amazon.  Other places are optional), and this person wrote in 'n/a' in the signup box.  They also stated that they buy at Kobo and Google, not Amazon.

So my question is: how the heck do I reply to this?

First, as many have already mentioned you need to ditch the requirement for your ARC readers showing proof of reviewing your work. Should Zon the Powerful find out you will receive a nasty electronic missive reminding you of the dreaded ToS with a warning to stop it immediately or face the consequences. This could include ending up in a dungeon cell next to some less than savory character like a click farmer, book stuffer, or *gasp* a trademark troll. Please, don't be an object lesson for the next generation of self-published authors and remove the qualification from your ARC group.

Second, did the reader happen to mention that they are a huge fan and they would love to read your other books but they are:

a.) recently unemployed
b.) on a fixed income
c.) dealing with some other financial hardship that makes it impossible for them to purchase your work one book at a time
d.) all of the above?

If so, I would say you found someone off my email list who has managed to complain to me every time I send out a newsletter because I removed my books from KU and they can't afford to purchase my books now.

Delete the person from your ARC group. There is nothing wrong with expecting an ARC reader to be familiar with the rest of the series before they read your most recent book.

Offline ShayneRutherford

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Re: ARC Question - New Reader Joining Mid-Series. Also, cheap.
« Reply #8 on: June 13, 2018, 09:36:03 PM »
Thanks for the replies!  Though I must admit some of them confused me. . .who's not giving out free ARCs?  What Amazon policy restricts ARC review requirements?  I was aware I could only request an honest review, but no review?  Fuhgeddaboudit.


In your original post, your phrasing makes it sound like you're charging your ARC readers $2.99 for the books. Did I misunderstand?

Also, somewhere in the TOS - I can't find it, but I did find an article quoting the relevant section - it says: "Book authors and publishers may provide free or discounted copies of their books to readers, as long as the author or publisher does not require a review in exchange or attempt to influence the review."  So, you can request a review when you give out the ARC, but you can't make leaving the review a requirement of getting the ARC.
« Last Edit: June 13, 2018, 09:38:02 PM by ShayneRutherford »
     

Offline kcmorgan

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Re: ARC Question - New Reader Joining Mid-Series. Also, cheap.
« Reply #9 on: June 13, 2018, 09:40:02 PM »
This is the ARC policy people have been referring to:

Although products may be provided to customers for free or at a discount, and those customers may write reviews, any attempt to influence or manipulate reviews is prohibited, including conditioning any future benefit on writing a review or the content of the review. Benefits include but are not limited to: future opportunities to receive free or discounted products, continued membership in a program or club, cash rebates or gift certificates, entry into contests or sweepstakes, bonus digital content or credits, and ratings or referrals that may affect the recipient's chances of receiving other benefits.

https://www.amazon.com/gp/help/customer/display.html?nodeId=202094170

Offline Patty Jansen

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Re: ARC Question - New Reader Joining Mid-Series. Also, cheap.
« Reply #10 on: June 13, 2018, 09:40:29 PM »
I simply presumed it was this:

Book 1 is free. The rest are $2.99.

Reader joins at book 9, demanding that all other books are also made available for free.

That sounds skeevy. I have given away books for free in this manner, but only to people who are nice and/or helpful.

As to the review requirement: I also ask for a link to a review before people can join the team. There are four free books, I don't care which book they review, as long as they show me that they review books, and are not simply out to get free books.

Online Bards and Sages (Julie)

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Re: ARC Question - New Reader Joining Mid-Series. Also, cheap.
« Reply #11 on: June 14, 2018, 06:00:08 AM »
Threads like this are why the entire concept of "ARC TEAMS" bother me. They are fraught with ethical problems. ARC Teams ONLY exist to manipulate reviews. I don't care how often authors claim, "Oh, I only want honest reviews." How many people with ARC Teams keep people on their team that leave bad or even neutral (three star) reviews? ARC teams are specifically designed to generate a high quantity of high star customer reviews. That is the very definition of review manipulation. Particularly when you are policing those reviews and providing direction on them.

These are not neutral reviewers. These are marketing people. The use of the word "TEAM" clearly implies they are a part of your organization, even if unpaid. They work for you in a capacity, and they are "paid" in access to you and free books.

And, yes, requiring a review does violate the FTC rules regarding endorsements. This is why even Amazon removed the requirement for reviews in their Vine program. Originally, you were required to review every product. Then the requirement was moved to 80% of what you selected. But they eventually had to remove the requirement entirely because you can't REQUIRE reviews. EVEN ON THEIR OWN SITE.

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Offline Anarchist

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Re: ARC Question - New Reader Joining Mid-Series. Also, cheap.
« Reply #12 on: June 14, 2018, 06:06:59 AM »
Like Patty and David said, purge them.

Don't reply. Don't inquire about circumstances. Don't even give this person a second thought.

Purge.

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Re: ARC Question - New Reader Joining Mid-Series. Also, cheap.
« Reply #13 on: June 14, 2018, 02:39:21 PM »
I would also probably purge this person, since he/she is requesting eight free books, but here are two things that go through my head in this kind of situation:

1. This is an unreasonable person or at least someone who has a skewed vision of reality. Someone like that is more likely to go postal when rejected, and by "go postal" I mean post vicious one-star reviews of your books. As a warning, see this thread: http://www.kboards.com/index.php/topic,259239.msg3608806.html#msg3608806

From that thread:

He then launched into a tirade about how I think I'm the next Shakespeare, etc etc and saying how he's going to flood social media with allegations about me ...  Turns out he ... has a number of convictions for assault and battery, cyberstalking and abusive phone calls.

That thread was interesting to me, because I'd been contacted by the same crackpot, but I'd sent him a free book.

2. A few years ago I gave away 33,600 copies of a book and paid Bookbub hundreds for the privilege. One of the benefits was about 300 reviews of the book (1% of downloaders).

So, if one of my fans requests a free book or two, why not just give it to him? He's already a fan, he's much more likely to leave a review than the Bookbub downloaders, and it costs me very little.

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Online boba1823

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Re: ARC Question - New Reader Joining Mid-Series. Also, cheap.
« Reply #14 on: June 14, 2018, 04:55:18 PM »
Just to echo what some others have already mentioned: Be sure that you are not making any statement that might be construed as requiring reviews from anyone who receives an ARC of your books. While it's probably not overly likely that you would get into trouble, it's better safe than sorry.

However, here are some things you can do: You certainly can require that a person provide a link to their reviews on Amazon (or wherever) before letting them join your ARC team. Or samples of reviews they have written for other people's books - just as long as you aren't requiring that they have reviewed, or that they will review, your own books in order to be on the team.

Also, as far as I'm aware, you can require ARC team members to send you, privately by email, feedback on the ARCs you send them. You'd probably want to specify "You are not required to post this feedback in the form of an online review, although you are certainly welcome to and I would be grateful if you do." I imagine this would help to cull freebie seekers, who won't bother to send you the required private feedback. And you're still not technically requiring reviews in exchange for the ARCs - not any more than those companies that send you free samples in exchange for you filling out a private marketing survey about the products.

Is it worth the trouble? I dunno, I don't bother with any of that. I figure that if some freebie seekers are willing to sign up for my ARC team, they are sufficiently committed to the seeking of freebies that there is very little chance they would pay for my books anyway. Maybe some small fraction of them would, but the extra time isn't worth the extra sales.


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Re: ARC Question - New Reader Joining Mid-Series. Also, cheap.
« Reply #15 on: June 16, 2018, 06:09:50 AM »
My feeling is this:

* You can ask for a reviewing link to make sure the person actually reviews stuff, no matter whose books it is.

* You don't require them to leave any sort of particular review, but only a review. I personally don't see an issue with requiring a review for a free book, so long as the author stays out of it and doesn't try to influence the review, accepting whatever they get. Of course, people who don't like any of the books is taken off the ARC team, because what's the point?

* Anyone who wants to jump in on an ARC team starts wherever you are in the series. So, if it's the first book, then they get that one. If it's the twenty-ninth book, they get that one, and after that if they remain on the team they get the rest.

To me, this person is out for free books. And that's it. Expecting an author to drop seven other books in their laps for whatever reason seems a bit much. But I'm like Julie, I'm skeptical of the whole thing anyway. ARC teams are meant to get a lot of good reviews up fast.
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Online Bill Hiatt

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Re: ARC Question - New Reader Joining Mid-Series. Also, cheap.
« Reply #16 on: June 16, 2018, 08:17:34 AM »
My feeling is this:

* You can ask for a reviewing link to make sure the person actually reviews stuff, no matter whose books it is.

* You don't require them to leave any sort of particular review, but only a review. I personally don't see an issue with requiring a review for a free book, so long as the author stays out of it and doesn't try to influence the review, accepting whatever they get. Of course, people who don't like any of the books is taken off the ARC team, because what's the point?

* Anyone who wants to jump in on an ARC team starts wherever you are in the series. So, if it's the first book, then they get that one. If it's the twenty-ninth book, they get that one, and after that if they remain on the team they get the rest.

To me, this person is out for free books. And that's it. Expecting an author to drop seven other books in their laps for whatever reason seems a bit much. But I'm like Julie, I'm skeptical of the whole thing anyway. ARC teams are meant to get a lot of good reviews up fast.
I don't see anything wrong with expecting a review in exchange for a free copy, either--but Amazon does. From Amazon's perspective, you can give away copies if you like--Amazon itself does that a lot with its imprints (like Kindle First reads, for example). If some of the people who receive copies leave reviews, great. If not, great (from Amazon's perspective).

Authors always hope that ARC teams will produce good reviews, but it is possible to give people copies and hope for the best, with no questionable interaction on the author's part to tip the scales. That said, it's probably better to use an ARC service. That way the author has no direct contact with the reviewers. When I've used Hidden Gems, the reviews come out about the same way my organic reviews for the same book do. Those reviewers are not even remotely out to please the authors whose books they review--and that's how it should be.


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Re: ARC Question - New Reader Joining Mid-Series. Also, cheap.
« Reply #17 on: June 16, 2018, 06:51:20 PM »
Threads like this are why the entire concept of "ARC TEAMS" bother me. They are fraught with ethical problems. ARC Teams ONLY exist to manipulate reviews. I don't care how often authors claim, "Oh, I only want honest reviews." How many people with ARC Teams keep people on their team that leave bad or even neutral (three star) reviews? ARC teams are specifically designed to generate a high quantity of high star customer reviews. That is the very definition of review manipulation. Particularly when you are policing those reviews and providing direction on them.

These are not neutral reviewers. These are marketing people. The use of the word "TEAM" clearly implies they are a part of your organization, even if unpaid. They work for you in a capacity, and they are "paid" in access to you and free books.

And, yes, requiring a review does violate the FTC rules regarding endorsements. This is why even Amazon removed the requirement for reviews in their Vine program. Originally, you were required to review every product. Then the requirement was moved to 80% of what you selected. But they eventually had to remove the requirement entirely because you can't REQUIRE reviews. EVEN ON THEIR OWN SITE.

A lot? I don't have any requirements for my ARC team and I don't do anything to police the team. I think a lot of people are the same.

Offline kathrynoh

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Re: ARC Question - New Reader Joining Mid-Series. Also, cheap.
« Reply #18 on: June 16, 2018, 07:31:28 PM »
I don't see anything wrong with expecting a review in exchange for a free copy, either--but Amazon does. From Amazon's perspective, you can give away copies if you like--Amazon itself does that a lot with its imprints (like Kindle First reads, for example). If some of the people who receive copies leave reviews, great. If not, great (from Amazon's perspective).

Well technically, you can require that they review just not that they review on Amazon :)

Offline kathrynoh

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Re: ARC Question - New Reader Joining Mid-Series. Also, cheap.
« Reply #19 on: June 16, 2018, 07:34:39 PM »
A lot? I don't have any requirements for my ARC team and I don't do anything to police the team. I think a lot of people are the same.

Seriously, I've seen a couple of authors who really police their team talk about their ARC team management processes. It can get crazy. With the amount of time they put into making sure their ARC readers review, don't pirate books etc, you could write an extra book or two a year.

Online Bill Hiatt

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Re: ARC Question - New Reader Joining Mid-Series. Also, cheap.
« Reply #20 on: June 17, 2018, 09:05:52 AM »
Well technically, you can require that they review just not that they review on Amazon :)
Julie indicated that it also violates FTC rules. That would make sense, since a large part of Amazon's review requirements echo FTC requirements.


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Online Bill Hiatt

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Re: ARC Question - New Reader Joining Mid-Series. Also, cheap.
« Reply #21 on: June 17, 2018, 09:12:06 AM »
Seriously, I've seen a couple of authors who really police their team talk about their ARC team management processes. It can get crazy. With the amount of time they put into making sure their ARC readers review, don't pirate books etc, you could write an extra book or two a year.
The question--which none of us can probably answer--is what is the more typical pattern? Heavy ARC management to avoid piracy isn't a problem. Monitoring the ARC team too closely clearly is a problem if it looks like requiring reviews. I'm sure we could cite examples on both sides. I have no idea what the norm is, though.

I was going to start an ARC team at one point, but after reading enough threads like this, I decided it wasn't worth all the extra problems. Just the fact that so many people perceive it as a manipulative device is a problem in itself. Using an ARC service avoids the management issues and, in doing so, also prevents an author from exerting any kind of influence over reviewers. I would like to think most people with ARC teams aren't exerting such an influence, but sometimes we need to avoid not only evil, but the appearance of evil.


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