Since I have somewhat of a name online, I'm frequently contacted by random people wanting to give me free shit, presumably so I'll write about it. Mostly beer and books. Cool with me. It's not spam if you're offering me free stuff (unless the free stuff is Spam). I accept all the beer with no prejudice because even a bad beer will still get me drunk, and I accept any books that sound interesting to me. I never guarantee that I'll read the books (I always guarantee I'll drink the beer), I certainly never guarantee I'll write about the beer or books, and I absolutely don't guarantee I'll write about them in a positive manner...but the breweries and publishers and the like never have issue with this and keep sending me shit.
Well, lately, ever since my book came out, and now that I have an even bigger name, and am getting sent even more shit, I decided to start flipping things on the publishers and publicists that write me. Just to see what would happen. I now say something along the lines of:
"Sure, I'd love a copy of your book. And, here, have a copy of my book too!" and attach a HOW TO FAIL ebook.
At best this gets a mild thanks from these corporate robots, though often not even a response, but yesterday I got the best response ever:
"We don't accept unsolicited material."
Oh, but you do accept your employees unsoliciting little ol' me using form e-mails?
I couldn't let this one go, especially because the book this major publisher was trying to get me to read and review on my blog, was a book I happened to know had sold quite worse than my own book over an even longer amount of release time. (And mind you, this book comes from a major publisher/mine from an indie minor; this book had a solid marketing budget/mine, squat; this book had a publisher with enough employees to dedicate one to spending all week sending out unsolicited e-mails/mine, I'm not sure even has an e-mail account).
"My book isn't any more unsolicited than your book. And it's not like I'm sending you a manuscript. I'm sending you a free copy of my published book. You note in your form letter that 'based on my blog I seem to be the target audience for [redacted book]' and I'd have to say based on me being the target for your book, then you must be the target for my book. Right?"
Didn't matter, he didn't want a copy and advised me to "consult a local library" to find books on pitching publishers and landing publishing agents if I'd like to pitch projects to him in the future. You'd think this publishing person would have at least sucked it up and tolerated me, hoping it would lead to a good review of his author's book, but no, he just wanted to use me as easily as possibly. He didn't want no lip. More importantly, he didn't want to exist in a world where a no-name like me with an indie book could try to turn his own Big Six publisher tactics on him, to ram my book down his face.
This is what the Domino Project is going to help address. The Domino Project isn't going to just find a massive list of names, of random people that have blogs somewhat related to the material, and then throw them all on a massive BCC'ed e-mail form letter hoping on a wing and a prayer that someone will bite, accept a free book, and then quid-pro-quo praise it. The Domino Project is going to actually figure out and find the people that want the books before they are even marketed and ultimately sold to. Seth Godin's latest idea for doing this is a real beauty, lowering the pre-release price of "Poke the Box" based purely on the number of opted-in fans. What a revelation!
I'm sure I'll still get that major publisher's free book sent to me. And, I might or might not read it and review it in this space. But, whatever the case, it doesn't matter, I just went on Amazon and saw my book is still selling much better than his author's, and I've never once solicited some random person using a form letter to make that happen.