Bookplate “Freebies”

After The Warded Man was published, I began to receive mail from readers who wanted autographed books, but were unable for whatever reason to meet me in person at conventions & signings, or find the signed copies I leave seeded at the local bookstores in any city I travel to. Lots of people live off the beaten path where its all-but impossible for an author to visit.

I wanted to do right by those people, but the idea of getting a PO Box so they could send me their books, and then signing them and mailing them back sounded slow, inefficient, and frankly a pain in the ass for all involved. I gave it some thought and decided a nice solution would be to offer free signed bookplates to any of my readers who might want them.

I spent a pretty big chunk of my own time and money working with the immensely talented Lauren K. Cannon to design the plates, calling vendors to print them, making custom return address labels, buying envelopes and postage, etc. I set aside 500 plates for this purpose to ensure I wouldn’t lose my shirt to keep a promise. The rest of the original print run of 2000 plates was used for appearances, signings, and given to close friends who travel a lot to stick in copies at out of the way bookstores in other countries.

The plates were a great success. Lauren’s design came out even better than I had imagined, and readers seemed to genuinely enjoy getting them. I left hundreds stuck in signed paperbacks of The Painted/Warded Man on store shelves all over the world, in case readers decided to go on to read Desert Spear and wanted a signed copy of that, too. With Dani’s help, we kept up with all the requests in a fairly timely manner, and have gotten hundreds of thank you letters from readers who received their plates.

By late October of this year, I was effectively out of plates, with just a handful left to fulfill requests from the site. I printed thousands more so I could continue to have them on hand for touring and the like. I also figured I would keep the freebie promotion going past 500. Sure, international postage and printing costs add up, but no one was abusing the offer, and I didn’t mind the time and expense if it meant I could give something back to those who have supported me. It felt like I was doing a good deed.

But as they say, no good deed goes unpunished.

A couple of days ago, some internet freebie site linked to the page, announcing that I had bookplates ABSOLUTELY FREE. This was picked up by a number of aggregators, and instantly spread far and wide on dozens of sites which basically just do bot searches for free giveaways and then post the results for people looking for a hot deal. One site even had the gall to put up a post pretending to be me, telling people to come and git them free plates! In the last four days, literally hundreds of requests have come pouring in, 90% of them from people who have never read my books and likely never will, but who just want to take advantage of free offers on the internet. Most of them are from countries where my books are not even sold.

Happy New Year.

I’ll be honest, it’s been something of a turd in my soup, and I haven’t been sure what to do about it. The plates were something personal, a special thing between me and my readers. I’m not inclined to spend all my spare time and disposable income shipping them to people all around the world who never heard of me before they found out I was giving away something for free. I’m busy enough as it is. I only promised 500 plates and I have lived up to that, so I am not obligated to keep on, and frankly this seems a good time to stop. I want to do right by people, but not be taken advantage of.

But on the other hand… fuck that. I want to keep the promotion going for my readers who are important to me, and I’m not going to be stop just because I hit some churny waters in the great internet sea and got pulled into a spammy current. So I will figure out a way to make it work.

Dani has been the one who had to wade through the deluge of e-mails, sorting out the “real” requests from the obvious freebie click-throughs. She’s been handling bookplate fulfillment since it started, and says that 99% of the requests from readers have always included a personal note, and not just an address. That let us sort the haystack much quicker and helped ensure that the least requests got lost in the shuffle. If you happened to submit a request with just your name and address and would like to make sure it gets processed, just send us a note.

I’m going to do a little research and see what I can do to the request page dissuade web-bots from flagging it. Hopefully the changes will involve a minimum of “I’m not spam!” steps for my readers.

In the meantime, feel free to keep requesting plates. Just throw up a demon cycle gang sign in your e-mail.

I’ll post the funniest ones on the blog.

Happy New Year!

Posted on January 6, 2011 at 1:45 am by PeatB
Filed under Appearances, Bookplate, Fans, Interviews, Life, Musings, Tech, World Traveler

20 responses to “Bookplate “Freebies””

  1. That’s rough buddy. Fortunatly I already got a plate 😉 But it’s sad for all those who haven’t and are now vanishing in the mass of emails you’re receiving. But With Dani, Im sure you can keep it up!

    Posted by Iris, on January 6th, 2011 at 4:59 am
  2. Maybe an option might be to make the people work a little for the bookplate….by sending you (via email) a picture of them holding one of your books…..I’m sure you’ll be bound to get some other interesting photos as well!

    Posted by Fazzy, on January 6th, 2011 at 5:06 am
  3. Hi Peat,

    Really sorry to hear about this. The fact that you are doing this out of the kindness of your heart, and that you have absolutely no obligation to offer free bookplates, makes this all the more heartbreaking.
    But, for the fact that you haven’t let this stop your generosity, I respect you even more than I already did.
    Thank you for all that you give us, Peat.
    Liz X

    Posted by Liz, on January 6th, 2011 at 5:20 am
  4. OK, thats kind of fucked.
    I didnt know about the free plates, and its something that I think is an awesome idea for real fans of your books. To have a bunch of seagulls screaming for free chips is…. on opportunity! Send them your junkmail! Send them expired coupons to McDonalds! Hell, send them a self addressed envelope and and an official looking letter asking foryour $50 in time waster fees!! Who knows how many seaguls might fall for it! Seagulls aint so bright!

    Disclaimer: I have nothing against ACTUAL Seagulls.

    Posted by Coggsa, on January 6th, 2011 at 6:01 am
  5. Hi Peat,

    to read this really makes me mad!!!
    I hadn’t heard about those plate, either. Still, it’s very nice and generous of you to try and keep up sending the plates to your fans, that couldn’t make it a signing for any reason. Thank you and Dani for going through the hassle of all those spam-mails in order to make your true fans happy!
    With all my respect for both of you 🙂


    Posted by Vesselina A., on January 6th, 2011 at 8:25 am
  6. First of all let me say, your wife rocks (which of course you already knew) 😀 I LOVE my bookplate and was so impressed that you would spend your time and money on something like that so it makes me really mad for you that people are taking advantage!
    I think the above posters idea of having people send a pic of them with one of your books is a great idea! It would probably be very entertaining at least 😀 (And if they dont have a camera or something at least a note saying that)

    Posted by Yelie, on January 6th, 2011 at 9:41 am
  7. That sucks! I’m really sorry this is happened to you. I was absolutely delighted when I received mine since I live on an island in the middle of nowhere, so the chances of me seeing you in person are slim to none. Thanks for doing what you do!

    Posted by Beth, on January 6th, 2011 at 12:38 pm
  8. I totally agree with everyone else on this point,
    I luckily got a bookplate when you first started triallling the idea months ago, and loved it!
    Having hundreds of people just trying to get a free bookplate, who probably dont even know who you are…thats just terrible. A pox on them all.
    I totally agree with Coggsa on this point, that is a brilliant idea, Aha!
    But anyways, good luck with trying to work out this idea Peat, it was a brilliant idea, showing how much you care about your fans!

    Posted by Liam G, on January 6th, 2011 at 6:38 pm
  9. Hey! is there any chance you might be coming to spain too sign?? I doubt it but ya gotta try.

    Anyway where abouts in…. where are you? England or America, can’t remember, would I have to go or is it only by email and post?


    True Fan.

    Posted by Adam, on January 7th, 2011 at 4:20 am
  10. Dear Peter,
    Happy New Year. I suspect you are in a no win situation.
    Best Regards,
    Lew Jaffe

    Posted by Lew Jaffe, on January 7th, 2011 at 7:46 am
  11. That sucks. I don’t get why someone would want a signed bookplate from someone they’ve never heard of before. Maybe you can add a requirement that people who request one have to tell you their favorite part of one of the books?

    Posted by Tyson, on January 7th, 2011 at 8:01 pm
  12. I guess there are hoarders everywhere. They’ll take anything they can get for free despite whether they know you or need it. You just keep up your honorable intentions and a pox on the sites that pushed your kind offer for your fans and on greed for greed’s sake. Love, Mom

    Posted by De, on January 8th, 2011 at 1:56 pm
  13. Man, to have something lame like that happen and still have the determination to carry on? You rock Peat!

    I was one of the lucky few in your first, test-run. Opening that envelope put such a cheesey grin on my face….I was happy for a solid 24 hours. Which is why I’m glad you’ve decided to try’n wade through the crud [Way t’go Dani!].

    We, the folk who go fanboy when they open correspondence from their favourite authors, salute you!

    PS. I imagine it sucks, quite heavily having that done t’you – if you need a retaliative strike, you know were to find us, hah!

    Posted by Elicius, on January 8th, 2011 at 8:33 pm
  14. lol, turd in my soup ….. he, that will keep me smiling for days.

    Posted by Blindshadow, on January 14th, 2011 at 2:28 am
  15. Just wanted to say a huge thank you for my signed plate which has just arrived. I wasn’t sure you would still be sending them out, as I have only just discovered your books so it was a thrill to receive it!
    Love the idea of having to give you an “in” gag to get one but so glad I didn’t have to think one up!
    Thanks again … and if you are reading this .. stop it! and start writing …!

    Posted by Ellen Hiller, on January 24th, 2011 at 5:32 am
  16. Dear Mr. Brett,

    I contacted you a couple months ago to ask for a bookplate for my girlfriend (if possible, since she is a big fan of the series) but didn’t get an answer. So, if you don’t mind me asking, will it be possible, if you still have any, to have one for her? Please keep in mind that I’m a foreigner (Spain), so I don’t want to put you in a bad spot here due to any limitation no shipping outside your country.

    Please keep up your excellent work.

    All the best,

    Posted by Yago González, on November 8th, 2011 at 8:33 pm
  17. Hi Yago,

    There are still plates, but I lost my assistant over the summer and there was a bit of a backlog when her replacement started this week. If your request was in there, it should be processed soon. Sorry for the delay.

    Posted by Peat, on November 9th, 2011 at 8:49 am
  18. Ouch 🙁 Sorry, I didn’t know. No worries for the delay, I will wait patiently 🙂 Thanks for answering my request.

    Posted by Yago González, on November 10th, 2011 at 4:14 am
  19. Hi Pete, I know I sound like a fanboy goof but I left a decent length personal note in my request because I wanted to thank you for writing such great books but I didn’t know any other method of contacting you. My request was not only a request for a book plate but also kind of like just a reader email to you as well so please read it if you can. It would be bummer to me if was just your assistant who read the email.

    PS, do you have an email or mailing address where your readers can send you things?

    Posted by Robert Park, on February 20th, 2012 at 6:43 am
  20. It is one of the greatest and nicest ideas I have heard off , it’s not a bad thing your getting too well known to cope ! . I have requested a plate then thank you if not i can see your very busy .. It’s not much but if you have an email I have three poems I have written during one of my illnesses I have never shown any1 but as a kind of thank you I’d like to share them with you .. Thank you for the journey so far

    Posted by Craig smart, on November 3rd, 2015 at 6:35 pm