First Cup of Coffee – October 6, 2023

My strong – possibly unpopular – opinions on people out there selling classes, advice, and coaching to authors. How writing isn’t always fun when it’s your actual job. And happy news on the flip side of piracy.

First Cup of Coffee – April 4, 2022

Good morning everyone this is Jeffe Kennedy author of fantasy romance and romantic fantasy I am here with my first cup of coffee which those of you on video will note is Starbucks espresso still trying to figure out. What I can have that’s like not a latte so I had to come back to the room and heat up water to add more water to it I think maybe what I want is an americano I might try that next time. Ah because I’m not at home if you’re on video you could see I am in a hotel room today is Monday April. Fourth. And I am on mini break with my hubs and his siblings and behind me. That’s a little bit of a glare there with the rising sun but the beautiful Colorado rocky mountains behind me. So um, yeah, doing the podcast here from the hotel room kind of a dicey wireless connection. We’re on a very high floor which is cool. But um, yeah, apparently high floor means not so much with the internet but. We’ll see how it works out. Um, yeah, so we came up here yesterday Sunday and amazingly fast drive like faster than it’s been in years I don’t know if it’s like the price of gas or what it is. But um, there was like it was kind of a rainy Sunday afternoon but the roads were good and we have not made that drive from. We went up dinnerstate from Santa Fe to Denver and then cut over on E4 seventy for those of you who what? know. And just took e four seventy around to where it connects with 70 right at Golden there and then hop skip and the jump up the rest of the way and um, yeah, it was so fast. Ah. If. We had been going to my stepdaughter’s House. We would have made it there in 5 hours and we have not made that trip in only 5 hours and years I was talking with some people at um, the hot tub last night they have um, a rooftop pool here and. Which is I’m on the thirty first floor and the pool’s on the thirty fourth floor and so they had this this great rooftop pool and hot tub and they had fire pits which some of you may know is like my happy place so they were saying.

Asking me where I was from because they’re looking for somewhere else to move and they said yeah that they’re um, fifteen com minute commute or no their 5 minute commute I think 5 minute commute has become a 50 minute commute and either the traffic candior just terrible but not yesterday. So we lucked out. We leave here tomorrow and I don’t know I don’t expect it to be nearly that slick. We shall see I don’t know if I’ll do a podcast tomorrow. We’ll see how we feel might see how David feels but we might just um. Get up early and go so we’ll just see um probably if I do that I will um, do a podcast on Wednesday Wednesday to keep my mom happy I did get up and turn down the heat I think because I’m sitting like right. It’s coming out of the vents across from there I was like starting to swlter here so I did figure out what it was I’d meant to talk about on Friday and found my note it was like underneath other notes I’d written on the pad. I’m hot I might have to take this jacket off. Okay I took the jacket off. Its like pretty outfit though. So and it was corene. She she listened ah assistantrene she listened to the podcast later and she said well you didn’t promise anyone anything unless it was me. And I was like oh wait it was um, but by then I had found my no one so one of the big curfuffles in the author community at the moment. It’s kind of author reader community is that people. Apparently there was a viral tick to and you guys I’m just beginning to loathe the term viral you we have a highrell I don’t know and and and then I see people talk about how do you make something go viral. It’s like the whole point of something going viral is that you don’t know how you did it. Ah, but everybody wants viral I don’t reader I do not want viral I shouldn’t mess with my hair because then I just make it look worse I did at the casino last night um this guy sat down at the slot machine as I was getting up and. Yeah, what he said are you done and I was like yeah and go ahead. Good luck and heat and he paused and he goes you are an unbelievably beautiful woman I was so thank you I was like how much have we had to drink but still made me feel good. So um.

That was not my point so I talked about this before and my mom and a couple other people commented that they just didn’t know that people did this that they take advantage of Amazon’s very generous return policy and people read books and return them. Not everybody. It’s vanishingly small. Ah but it does happen and it becomes kind of a weaponized thing too. Ah, but apparently someone made a Tiktok video telling people how you could do this and advising readers to do this same. That it’s an author problem not a reader problem that it’s not their problem if authors are upset that readers read and then return their books. The problem is just to make this entirely clear in case people don’t understand the economics of this. Is that if somebody buys your book and returns it then the author does not get any money for that book. Ah, and there are some readers who apparently think that authors are really rich and there are some who are really rich and they’re very high profile. But most are not most are scraping by are just barely putting it together. Besides which if you read someone’s book then you should pay for it. You know at least something but there is some. You know a contingent of people out there who feel like if they get something if they can get away with something if they can get something for free then they will and Ebook pirating has been a thing since the beginning of ebooks.

I was gonna pause but now it won’t let me because I it’s funny with the um dicecy internet connection pausing becomes more difficult I just realized they didn’t silence my phone I thought I’d better. Do that. So anyway, um, it’s It’s a conundrum. It’s a problem and a lot of authors are very upset about this just like people have been upset about piracy from the beginning you know piracy is when somebody takes your book. And uploads it to a torrent site or some other site and sometimes they charge people a subscription to the site you know and then it’s like oh you can read on all these books for free. The author does not get money for those reads either. So the thing is um. Even though I have seen some authors saying things like that she got like apparently there was one who said that she had um, a hundred returns of her book in one week ah but I think that this sort of gets to be a vindictive thing because um. Um, I’m have to look at all of my notes here. Yeah excuse me so I had coherent thoughts on this but I haven’t had enough coffee yet. So. I’ve seen a slight uptick in returns I happen to notice it especially on the most popular books. Ah, and by this I mean percentage wise um you know because obviously the most popular books have the most sales. And I did notice that on like on dark wizard and fire of the frost 2 of the newer and more popular books that there has been ah a few more returns on it. Um, but by this I mean each of them had 10 returns. Which worked out to like 3% and that was just in 1 1 slice that I went and looked at it and I didn’t really compare over time I don’t worry about returns. Um, but this is the same thing for me that I have never worried much about piracy. I wanted to say privacy I’ve never worried much about piracy. Um, and this is because I truly believe that those people out there that want to pirate books that want to read free books that.

Do this thing of reading and returning. Um I don’t think that those people would ever pay for my books in the first place they’re not the loyal readers and the good customers. Who have been so generous as to make my career possible because and you guys those people are not listening to this podcast either I can almost promise that ah you guys who are listening to this podcast would not do this kind of thing right? So you know they’re. Here we come around to preaching preaching to the choir right? But the readers who value and love my books. Um, they are willing to pay for it. They pay several times. Ah some of them get. Arcs of my books and then buy copies for themselves head to sneeze there. Um, so the thing is a lot of these authors are very upset saying why is Amazon doing this Um, and why why are they not prohibiting it. And I go back and forth on this and there’s like a petition out there which I have not signed because I think internet petitions are not worth much to get Amazon to change their ways and I don’t think this is how you get Amazon to change their ways. Ah there are some good options out there. That if somebody has read more than half of a book which we know Amazon can tell that there’s not able to return it. Ah the one that I’m mostly most in favor of is we know that Amazon can track reader activity and they can tell. If somebody is systematically buying reading and returning books and I feel like those people Amazon should not allow to do that anymore. You know like you maybe get 5 returns in a year or something like that and we know that they have the capability of doing this. Whether they want to do it is another question. Um, we can see because we have pretty real time sales activity on our dashboards you know like I can see somebody doing this working their way through my series where you know they’ll buy it. And two days later return it and then the next book in the series by two days later return and systematically works the whole series I can see it which means Amazon can see it. Um and I I do think that Amazon should consider um, limiting those particular.

Offenders because they are few and far between but they are also regular offenders and apparently one of the outcries has been that these people say well that they can’t afford to buy the books and read them and so that’s why they do this, you know and. And other people are pointing out. That’s why libraries exist because yes, this is why libraries exist and if you get the book from the library and you can get an ebook through overdrive from any library anywhere then the author gets paid. So that’s why you should do it which. I’m talking to all the people who are not listening to this podcast right? but that is why so the reason that Amazon does this is. It’s a very basic practice of serving the customer that the. No questions asked return and the reason that they do this is because Amazon is serving the 99% of good customers who do not abuse the policy and they know and this is ah you know fairly. I don’t know if I want to say basic but it’s well-known business practice that the businesses that focus on the criminals that are so worried about shoplifting and so forth and there’s been studies on this that they do more to. Alienate the good customers than they do to to control the bad customers. So for instance, when you walk into a store you being the wonderful lawabiding ah paying authors for books citizen who listens to my podcast. When you walk into a store and you see a bunch of signs that say shoplifters will be prosecuted and you’re on camera and we hate shoplifters and don’t you dare touch this you feel alienated right? You you feel bad about it. I know I do could be and you you get this. Bad feeling about the business. It’s like well how come they think I’m going to steal everything from them. It’s because they’re focusing on that like 1% or less than 1% I don’t know what the number is of people who shoplift they’re more worried about that than they are about the 99% of the people who come in and pay for the goods. Amazon is very very smart and that they’re putting their money on those 99% who don’t do this return. Don’t take advantage of it in an illegal way in ethical way unethical I was gonna say immoral. But I then I got confused with my Ms. And uns.

it’s um it’s it’s a it’s one of the very smart ways that Amazon runs their business.

So one of the reasons that um that this came to my attention I mean a lot of the authors around me are talking about it. Ah, but Karine had mentioned that like this gal who like had a hundred returns in a week. Um. She had posted a long rant about it being very upset about it and part of what’s happening here. Is you know people talk about oh well, you know like it’s a toxic community on Tiktok and book talk but people do get personally involved. So. And I don’t know exactly what happened but here’s my guess from what people have told me is that you know like somebody put up this video or whatever on hey how you know here’s a way to read books for free. You know you go ahead and buy them and then read it and return and Amazon will let you and you should do this and then these. Authors or perhaps other readers came back and said hey this is really a shitty thing to do and the original people and their cohort doubled down and they were like let’s make this go viral. Everybody should do this. The reason that they’re doing that is they want to feel right? if. You can say well everybody’s doing it then it must be okay, that’s because they know in their hearts. Everybody knows that it’s a shitty thing to do that. It is stealing um and they want to rationalize it. That’s part of why they’re saying. It’s an author problem. It’s no. My problem but they know on their heart side. It is you know one of the things about human beings is that they almost always know when they are doing something wrong. They find ways to rationalize it and to excuse it. But that’s part of why our legal system makes. Such a big differentiation between whether or not the person is capable mentally capable of understanding right from wrong most human beings unless they are sociopaths or mentally afflicted in some way understand right? from wrong. So these people understand that it’s wrong. But if they can get more and more people to do this then they can feel more right because if everybody’s doing it well then it’s not that wrong, right? It’s still wrong. So anyway, this gal um, who’s getting tons of returns. It’s. Because she was going up against these folks and they were gonna punish her. Um and that’s their way of doing it but then somebody else took her post and shared it and that was where correne saw it and that person had finished up with this. Let this be a warning to you? um.

It’s ah it’s not entirely clear to me. What was a warning except I think that this a lot of authors very naturally want to go to the position of if everybody keeps returning my books I will not be able to make money and and some authors you know like they’re selling so few. That they’re like getting negative royalties which sucks I mean it sucks and they’re struggling and you know so authors want to take the position of if you do not pay for my books then I will not be able to write them anymore I won’t I won’t be able to make a living doing this. You have to pay out and you know it’s not exactly a viable profession and obviously I’m very much in favor of writers being able to make money writing their books. That’s the whole mission of sapwa. Um. It’s my personal mission since that’s what I do and it’s still preaching to the choir right? because if you go out there and you say let this be a warning to you. You are reaching your loyal readers. As Corine was for for this person and um, no longer felt friendly. So here. We are back to the same thing right? Ah coreine felt like she was being treated like. Ah, potential criminal right? like a shoplifter instead of like the loyal book buying fan that she is green spends money on books she buys paper books sometimes at prices that I can’t believe she wants to pay for things I like just read the book and because that’s what I do but she’s like no, it’s collectible I want this. We love you carring. So I know what’s the take home message here. Um, it’s kind of my same message that I’ve had all along about piracy which is you know, chill chill people. Ah, it’s not It’s It’s not that big of a problem and you’re better served by approaching this like a company like Amazon. It’s not an accident that Amazon is so successful and part of why they’re successful is is because they do not worry about. That small percentage that are trying to cheat things instead. They entirely focus on the people who are here take my money and they are taking the money. So so that that’s my whole thought on that. Um and I’m already over 20 minutes here so I’m going to head on my way.

But um I am going to get this posted and I’m going to do some writing this morning here in the hotel room going to sit the other way so I can look out at the mountains and be a good kitty cat and get my words in and and then yeah this afternoon I get to do a spa treatment. I get to have a body scrub and a body wrap. Ah which I’m really excited about I’ve been saving up my money to do. Um I feel like I have lizards skin and I’ve not been able to have a good expiliation for um I don’t know at 2019 and I don’t know when before that. So very excited for that. Thank you for buying my books to enable me to not have lizard skin and for me to be able to make a living doing this I appreciate each and every one of you and I think you know that I work. Very hard to make sure that you get that value for your money. So um, maybe tomorrow definitely Wednesday and you all take care bye bye.