I received an e-mail today from an author telling me she could get free promotion for her book if she'd send a copy to a site that gave e-books away for free. It's only one copy and the site has lots of traffic and they "pay 70%." Isn't that good? she asked.
It didn't seem to occur to her that the "only one copy" of her whole book would be copied and given out as many times as someone clicked on the button, all while earning her nothing. I did wonder how they could pay 70% of nothing, for if they were giving the books away free, then sales would earn nothing. After checking the site, I discovered that the payment was for advertising, which they were perfectly will to sell me, if I'd give them my books for -- well, for nothing.
The author is the copyright holder. I cannot legally stop her from doing this and creating a site where people can get for free, what I'm trying to sell on various distributor sites so as to make her money. Worse, this web site isn't even a "pirate" because they ask permission of the authors and so what they're doing is perfectly legal.
Now, if they have her permission to post her book, and if she sends it to them it constitutes permission, they have a perfectly legal right to give it away as many times as they want to. Setting it up in competition with any and all legitimate outlets that pay us.
This is not promotion folks -- it's just another way for a web site to take advantage of authors, especially inexperienced and self-published authors.
This web site has been recommended on some of the authors lists as a good place to promote and authors appear to believe they are a legitimate market.
Please, please don't fall for this kind of scam.