There's been a bit of attention paid lately in the blogosphere to the "promotional" antics of everyone's favorite author mill, PublishAmerica.
As with other author mills, PA endeavors to turn its authors into customers. While it doesn't contractually require authors to buy their own books, it's relentless--and creative--in its efforts to persuade them to do so voluntarily. Among the latest of these efforts is the "buy one, get one" ploy that's a standard sales tactic for businesses that want to entice customers to spend more money than they might otherwise have planned to part with.
For months now, PA authors have been receiving email solicitations promising that if they buy X number of copies of their own books (at an AMAZING discount!!), PA will donate (FREE!!) X number of copies to (pick one) their local bookstore / their workplace / DreamWorks / Starbucks / Tom Hanks / Oprah / Random House / the New York Times Book Review / Borders (there's an additional "incentive" here of a $1 donation per book to help Haiti earthquake victims--talk about cynical marketing tactics). That's just the tip of the iceberg with these offers--author P.N. Elrod identifies several others, and breaks down the financial benefit to PA.
I don't need to detail what will happen to these books (assuming they are actually sent). At best, they will be dumped where all the other unsolicited books/merchandise/gifts go, and never seen by the intended recipient. At worst, they will be thrown into the garbage or the recycling bin. If you find it hard to imagine that anyone would be naive enough to fall for PA's pitch, the proof that it works is that the solicitations keep on coming.
But if you think the solicitations are outrageous, you ain't seen nothin' yet. Yesterday, PA authors received the following email:
From: PublishAmerica AuctionsWords fail me. Seriously, they do.
To: [name redacted]
Sent: Thursday, April 15, 2010 9:56 AM
Subject: Now Auctioning: Your Own Seat At Book Expo
Having your book visible at the Book Expo America in New York is good news. Hundreds of PublishAmerica authors have secured a spot for their book.
Having your own seat at our table is even better news! Who can better represent your own book than you?
We are now auctioning a ticket that allows you not only entrance to the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center, but a place in the two PublishAmerica booths as well, for all three days if you want: May 25, 26, and 27.
You can now have your own seat, and you can bring your own promotional material. And for three days you can spend quality time with PublishAmerica staff.
Just return this message with your amount. Everyone receives a response. Winners receive a phone call.
Auction ends Sunday night.
Enjoy the bidding!
PublishAmerica Author Support
PS: for details about the BEA, go to www.bookexpoamerica.com.
Makes you wonder how those "hundreds" of PA authors "secured" their spot.
(PA authors, be aware that a 3-day pass to BEA costs $140. Beyond that, I guess you have to decide what "quality time with PublishAmerica staff" is worth to you.)