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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
***After your input I have since solved this issue in a way that should be a winning situation for all. You can see my solution here, if you're interested: https://hollyannehook.wordpress.com/2015/03/26/a-solution-everyone-should-like/***

I have a few hundred subscribers on my mailing list. Most of them have been fantastic. When a new person signs up, I offer the gift of a free eBook, reader's choice. I allow the new subscriber to choose any one of my $2.99 books for free. I have all five books of one series to choose from, and the first two Deathwind Trilogy books available as choices at this time. I allow one free eBook per new subscriber.

You can probably see where this is going.

Lately, I've had a couple of users (possibly, just one user) who are trying to get multiple free eBooks by using multiple email addresses. I won't say how I found this out here on a public forum, but those of you who use Mailchimp may know how I caught this.

I pointed out to the first user that I allow one free eBook per person, but to make a long story short, this person kept trying to deceive and manipulate in order to get the rest of the books for free. I had to block this person's email addresses (three in total) to get the harassment to stop. I go into full details about this on my blog if you want to read them.

I thought it was over, but this week the same thing happened from another user. This might have happened in the past as well, but I can't be sure.

I don't normally get angry and I hated doing it, but I felt that I had to put my foot down. I had to send out a special newsletter to my subscribers to let them know what was going on and to let them know that I may have to make some changes. I made it clear that my complaints weren't about the majority of them at all and I let them know how much I appreciate their support. Many of my subscribers have sent me supportive emails which have been great, as I wasn't expecting that. I did have one angry email come back (I think, from a Noisetrade sign up) accusing me of treating them like a cheater. I don't think this message was from the abuser(s) so I really hope I'm not coming across that way. I did state both on my blog and my newsletter that I'll have to remove dummy email addresses from my list and that I won't respond to (and will block) those trying to deceive to get extra free books.

Has anyone else dealt with this sort of thing? I haven't seen any threads about it here. I'm thinking I might have to limit new subscribers to a single choice when they sign up, but I really don't want to limit which books they can choose from. Most of my subscribers really like the free books and don't try to game the system. I hate the idea of this ruining things for others. But I know if I don't stand up for myself, this sort of thing will only continue and get worse.

***

And off topic: It doesn't look like Noisetrade is a good way to get new sign ups for your mailing list. Ever since I started using them, I've had a flood of unsubscribes with each newsletter I send out. It seems that most people there sign up just for a free story, with no interest of staying on your list. Either that, or they don't realize that they're signing up for a mailing list in the first place. As I don't want to send unwanted emails, I probably will not be using them in the future.
 

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Sorry you're going through this but you made this mess by trying to offer too many freebies.
Change your policy and only offer ONE freebie. YOU pick the book. Or if you want to do a box set, then do that. Don't create a situation where you will have drama.

I have one freebie  I offer and I've only had one person unsubscribe since I started my mailing list a few months ago. The freebie is only available through me, and the cover has a bright yellow sunburst that says "subscribers only" so I know if it pops up somewhere, it's from one of my subscribers. Do I care? Not really. It's free advertisement.

I employ the KISS strategy: Keep it Simple, Silly!
 

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A) this is one of the reasons I don't offer anything for email subscriptions. I'd rather build my list organically than sign up people that aren't true fans.
B) Do you really think it was worth it to make a big deal about this? most people are honest. Making a big deal out of one or two losers reflects more on you than the unscrupulous readers unfortunately. I would have just let it go.
 

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I also think you should just pick ONE free book for signing up.  That should really take care of this issue.  If you'd like to do additional freebies you could give a random free book out for fun to your current subscribes at your discretion.  Or, perhaps switch which free book you give out once every six months or so.  Either way, I say come up with more of a system that you control vs letting your subscribers pick from your whole library.  It's nice that you're doing it, but it also isn't nice that someone is cheating the system while you have other loyal fans out there who are actually buying your books.
 

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I also wouldn't make a big deal of it. Change to offering one thing free and leave it at that. I send out a link to download a free novella that hasn't been published. As soon as I write another, I'll send the new one out and publish the current one. I confess I'm with you in attitude, though, people so determined to get my books free they'd do what you're describing are not my desired customers. If I could frustrate them, I would on general principles.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
I do like the idea of having a novella for free that isn't available anywhere else for some time.  Once I have one ready, I think I'll try that. 

Yes, I do think that cutting down on the choices will have to be what I do until then.  I don't want to end up doing a lot of fighting over this.  I have too many other things to worry about. 
 
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1) Don't punish 98% of your readers because 2% are dishonest.

I know it's tough because the 2% can be rather annoying. However, it's important to not cause stress with the other 98% who are good readers.

2) Is there a reason you offer any book free? Is it because you don't know whether these are new to you or whether they've already read some of your books?

I think it would be cleaner to offer #1 or #2 free to all.

If they are already your readers then offering them a book free to sign up - yeah, i can see why you give the option in that case. Perhaps you ask them to mail you an invoice of a previous purchase if they want something other than Book 1 or 2. Thought that would consume tim.

3) Novella is a very good idea. My concern there would be that a novella holds far less appeal than an entire free book.

 

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YodaRead said:
A) this is one of the reasons I don't offer anything for email subscriptions. I'd rather build my list organically than sign up people that aren't true fans.
B) Do you really think it was worth it to make a big deal about this? most people are honest. Making a big deal out of one or two losers reflects more on you than the unscrupulous readers unfortunately. I would have just let it go.
Once I have the first couple books in draft stage, I plan to focus on free shorts for email subscribers. Maybe like a short every few months, each new short then comes in set so new email subscribers can get the whole set? Either that or if there is a way to make it so the longer that someone is subscribed the more shorts they get?

I dunno, I haven't thought about it too much yet, but if they like the series enough to subscribe I'm sure they'd like exclusive content.
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
ireaderreview said:
1) Don't punish 98% of your readers because 2% are dishonest.

I know it's tough because the 2% can be rather annoying. However, it's important to not cause stress with the other 98% who are good readers.

2) Is there a reason you offer any book free? Is it because you don't know whether these are new to you or whether they've already read some of your books?

I think it would be cleaner to offer #1 or #2 free to all.

If they are already your readers then offering them a book free to sign up - yeah, i can see why you give the option in that case. Perhaps you ask them to mail you an invoice of a previous purchase if they want something other than Book 1 or 2. Thought that would consume tim.

3) Novella is a very good idea. My concern there would be that a novella holds far less appeal than an entire free book.
I'm definitely looking to avoid punishing everyone at all costs, because I hate that. My issue isn't so much that people are trying to get free books, but that they're trying to harass me into doing it and they're filling my mailing list with fake email addresses. The users who were doing it were sending me personal emails and it was getting stressful.

Those who are signing up are mostly already readers.
 

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YodaRead said:
A) this is one of the reasons I don't offer anything for email subscriptions. I'd rather build my list organically than sign up people that aren't true fans.
How is this NOT a real fan? He loves books that much. Yeah, it's a bit duochy to be cheapskate but at the same time this is a sign that this strategy is working and fans are loving the books. For every one dumbo like this one there are many many great subscribers joining, real fans. Tim Ferriss used Torrent websites to PROMOTE his book into bestseller list.. so even those can be used as marketing tool. Everything is an opportunity.

This 'Organic' and 'not organic' is nonsense? Not organic would be automated bots filling up sign up forms.. otherwise it is organic. People choose to get freebies themselves, they aren't forced to sign up. Even if they are a little less active and responsive than supposed 'Organic' sign ups, that can still be huge boost for book sales, reviews etc. Each sale or review just increases chances for book to succeed, not working to get additional subscribers from any possible sources is a bit crazy.

Otherwise, this is a sign that people love the books and that is great!
 

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I agree with Yoda. Though, occasionally I have a contest with my subscribers and someone might win a free signed paperback, the only real incentive they have to sign up is that they'll be the first to know when my next book comes out and that it'll be priced at $.99 for 24 hours. If they liked the book they're likely to sign up. Dangle the word free out there and you'll get more subscribers, but how motivated to push you up in rank on the first day will they be?
 

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Wayne Stinnett said:
I agree with Yoda. Though, occasionally I have a contest with my subscribers and someone might win a free signed paperback, the only real incentive they have to sign up is that they'll be the first to know when my next book comes out and that it'll be priced at $.99 for 24 hours. If they liked the book they're likely to sign up. Dangle the word free out there and you'll get more subscribers, but how motivated to push you up in rank on the first day will they be?
Maybe you shouldn't worry about short term and think more long term about this?

Even if giveaways might get less active or buying subscribers, so what? Will they like the book? Who knows. Some won't, some will. Some will unsubscribe. Some will go on to become die hard fans.. All that matters are people who will become your fans. And you're losing them with not having a giveaway. Point is to get as many fans, not pick and choose which strategy you like or not. You can look at this as 'bribing' or as 'giving people opportunity to discover you'. Some will take it, some wont. But to not use this chance at all.. it just doesn't make sense..

Let's say you make a separate list of 1000 giveaway getters. Only 100 of them go on to buy books in future. How is that 100 sales impacting your rankings? How is it impacting sell-throughs? That might be less impact than supposed ''real ,organic'' or whatever you want to call those subscribers but that is still big impact. It's still free sales from Amazon rankings. It's a perpetual engine that can feed itself and grow.

And what if only 50 of the 1000 buy, but another 10 are heavy readers and don't buy but they are recommending the book for friends, posting reviews or sharing it on social media, Goodreads etc. How is that impacting the sales?

Maybe people should be less concerned with instant stats, ''big sexy ROI'' and think bigger, longer. These things are interrelated, even 10 sales can make a huge dent in your Amazon ranking because they trigger Amazon to promote the book more. And that creates more sales. And maybe they are missing exactly because there are not enough subscribers on email list. Your job is to go out and find them. And finding them might mean doing giveaways if other tactics aren't enough.

If person thinks that 'giveaway list' is less active, responsive and less buying and that means there is no point in it, then it's the same mindset as saying that 'people who only buy one book are worthless and I should sell only to those who buy multiple books'. Or the same as saying that those who read your Perma-free book and don't buy it aren't worth the giveaway. It was worth it, they just didn't like the book, but it still gave you rank increase, etc.

From the side, it's crazy to see how it's proven that email giveaways work, but yet some people want to stand in the corner and stomp their foot to the ground saying 'No, this is not right'... imagining some kind of 'real vs unreal' fan thing. Or some moral issues.. whatever it is.. not seeing much logical arguing that giveaways don't work.. It's another vehicle to find fans, if people give you time and attention to sign up for your freebie, then they are already intrigued. That means a compliment and an opportunity. You can ignore it for some reason, or appreciate it and try to use it.

Guess it's each author's choice..
 

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RBC said:
Maybe you shouldn't worry about short term and think more long term about this?

Even if giveaways might get less active or buying subscribers, so what? Will they like the book? Who knows. Some won't, some will. Some will unsubscribe. Some will go on to become die hard fans.. All that matters are people who will become your fans. And you're losing them with not having a giveaway. Point is to get as many fans, not pick and choose which strategy you like or not. You can look at this as 'bribing' or as 'giving people opportunity to discover you'. Some will take it, some wont. But to not use this chance at all.. it just doesn't make sense..

Let's say you make a separate list of 1000 giveaway getters. Only 100 of them go on to buy books in future. How is that 100 sales impacting your rankings? How is it impacting sell-throughs? That might be less impact than supposed ''real ,organic'' or whatever you want to call those subscribers but that is still big impact. It's still free sales from Amazon rankings. It's a perpetual engine that can feed itself and grow.

And what if only 50 of the 1000 buy, but another 10 are heavy readers and don't buy but they are recommending the book for friends, posting reviews or sharing it on social media, Goodreads etc. How is that impacting the sales?

Maybe people should be less concerned with instant stats, ''big sexy ROI'' and think bigger, longer. These things are interrelated, even 10 sales can make a huge dent in your Amazon ranking because they trigger Amazon to promote the book more. And that creates more sales. And maybe they are missing exactly because there are not enough subscribers on email list. Your job is to go out and find them. And finding them might mean doing giveaways if other tactics aren't enough.

If person thinks that 'giveaway list' is less active, responsive and less buying and that means there is no point in it, then it's the same mindset as saying that 'people who only buy one book are worthless and I should sell only to those who buy multiple books'. Or the same as saying that those who read your Perma-free book and don't buy it aren't worth the giveaway. It was worth it, they just didn't like the book, but it still gave you rank increase, etc.

From the side, it's crazy to see how it's proven that email giveaways work, but yet some people want to stand in the corner and stomp their foot to the ground saying 'No, this is not right'... imagining some kind of 'real vs unreal' fan thing. Or some moral issues.. whatever it is.. not seeing much logical arguing that giveaways don't work.. It's another vehicle to find fans, if people give you time and attention to sign up for your freebie, then they are already intrigued. That means a compliment and an opportunity. You can ignore it for some reason, or appreciate it and try to use it.

Guess it's each author's choice..
I guess it depends on what it is you're cultivating your mailing list to do. Mine has but one goal and I never said it was one size fits all. It's just what I cultivate my list to do. And that's to sell as many books on the first day of a new release as possible and garner reviews from them. My last release debuted in the Amazon Paid Store at #436, with 260 sales in the first twelve hours. That was on 2/14. Since then, it's sold a total of 1566 copies and is ranked #4,003, with a 4.8 average over 71 reviews. I think my mailing list is working.
 

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I agree with others advising not to worry about it. Yes,. It's annoying, but handling the way you did can cause more headaches by offending honest subscribers and even giving others the idea to do just that.

If you really feel strong about trying to stop this from happening you should install a download protection software that puts up a wall around your download.

You can limit the duration that the download link works, you can put a limit on how many times a person can download, and you can limit via IP address. I would imagine it won't stop the most savvy techie type but it will make it harder and usually that deters them.

If you use Wordpress there is a plugin in called "Download Manager"

https://wordpress.org/plugins/download-manager/

If you don't use Wordpress there is DL Guard. It's not cheap software but it should stop what you're describing. http://www.dlguard.com

Sent from my iPad using Tapatalk
 

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Wayne Stinnett said:
I guess it depends on what it is you're cultivating your mailing list to do. Mine has but one goal and I never said it was one size fits all. It's just what I cultivate my list to do. And that's to sell as many books on the first day of a new release as possible and garner reviews from them. My last release debuted in the Amazon Paid Store at #436, with 260 sales in the first twelve hours. That was on 2/14. Since then, it's sold a total of 1566 copies and is ranked #4,003, with a 4.8 average over 71 reviews. I think my mailing list is working.
Your list was doing very good, I know that, I've seen your promo threads. You quote those numbers as if you've ''arrived''. It didn't go to No.1 spot on Amazon. Why settle for less? Why not build such a list that it launches your book into Top 100 every time before going to buy advertising?

What other kind of 'point' for email list are you talking about? It's the same.. Again, where is this attitude coming from? You are an exact person who could benefit greatly from having even more subscribers but for some reason choose not to? You got the money, you got the books, you got a good base. What's keeping you from adding more subs and multiplying your success is beyond me.. You're not that far away from launching into top 100 I think.

Ask yourself this question, how much more successful your last launch would have been, if you had a 2nd list of Giveaway fans, that would have brought another 100 sales?

Whatever you do is whatever you do. But you clearly are holding yourself back from even more success.
 

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My list has tripled since October. I only started it ten months ago and it's closing on 1000 subscribers. All buyers. I also don't do perma-free. Tried a free promo once and it didn't work as well as paid promos, so for me, in my genre, I prefer subscribers who don't mind paying a dollar for a book.
 

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I tell my subscribers that if they want another of my books free, they can leave a review of the free one on Amazon. Then I send them a review copy of another book of their choosing. I've had some readers read and review my entire series.

Win/win.
 
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