Unfortunately, fraud is part of the writing game–as it is a part of many other sectors of our economy. People are unfortunately willing to defraud each other for pennies, just for the knowledge that they got that extra ten-cents ahead. Just get used to it, because I have; however, in this case the fraud might have caught you in its grips, as well. Long story short, you might have received a copy of my book which is not fit for your possession. It certainly might not meet my own standards. If you don’t want to know how this happened, just skip to the end to find out how to get a free (!) replacement.
Prior to release of From a Broken Land (book 1 in the Broken Throne series), as is standard for the industry, several copies were sent out to reviewers. No, let me back this up a bit, and cover the ‘why’ before I cover the ‘what’.
When the proofs came in for the book, I had a dilemma. I was far away from the proof, but Westwind Media needed copies ASAP for their reviewers. My solution? I had my son take pictures of the book, and then text them to me. Sure, it’s not the most efficient way to verify proofs, but I already knew that everything inside the cover was correct. I just needed to verify the cover was good. It looked good to me in the pictures, so I shipped 25 copies off to the publicist.
The next day, I arrived home and held the proof in my hands. That is when I noticed that the back cover had undergone some… how do I put this… stretching. The back-cover copy was off-center (not by much, but enough that I noticed it), and the copy itself had undergone enough of a transformation that the letters of several words were now broken apart with spurious spaces. It was totally unacceptable to me, and I immediately alerted Westwind of the problem. I corrected the problem and shipped them a new set of books. All good, right? I asked that the paperbacks not be circulated. Destroy them. Donate them to a reading program. Just don’t send them to reviewers.
When Scott Lorenz at Westwind received them, he did a quick quality check. He assured me that he could correct the problem by simply placing ARC COPY stickers over the offending copy, thereby forestalling any poor reviews that the error might generate. All good, I approved the action, and the copies went out.
See, reviewers get tons of these copies, from authors all over the world. What do you do with the sheer volume of dead tree that drops into your post-office box? Do you burn it? Do you use them for door-stops? No, you sell them to a retailer, who then sells them on Amazon. This is what a number of the reviewers did with the ARC copies. Please note that this constitutes infringement of copyright. The author receives no credit for the sale (as far as tracking sales is concerned), gets nothing of a monetary nature in return for his or her work, and actually had to pay for the books to be printed in the first place. People who do this do not deserve to call themselves reviewers, or friends of the arts, or even book-lovers. They should be tarred, feathered, and hung on YouTube for public derision. Next time, I’ll number the copies and track them so that I can call out the culprits by name.
So, these copies have been showing up on Amazon.com as sold by a number of different retailers in the UK and US. I have been scrambling to buy them up before the books get into anyone’s hands, but it is likely that one or more have found their way to the end-customer. This is unacceptable to me.
If you have received one of these copies (perfect-bound, paperback, suggested retail price $16.95), I will replace it free. Contact me here, send me a picture of the back of the book, and I will send you a hard-cover replacement (retail price $31.95). No, you do not have to send me the old book. I will take your word that you either destroyed it, donated it to charity, or gave it to a fish-monger who had run out of newspaper. I hope that this will convince you that fraud does indeed happen, that sometimes good people get caught in its vices, and that it is never too late to make things right. I also hope you decide to continue with the series, despite the fact that you received a sub-standard copy.
My sincerest apologies.