The Brute Squad

Miracle Max: Go away or I’ll call the Brute Squad.
Fezzik: I’m on the Brute Squad.
Miracle Max: You ARE the Brute Squad!
~The Princess Bride


At 8:05pm last night, book blogger Amanda Copulos sent out a bunch of tweets to authors, letting them know that she had stumbled across an eBay seller with multiple listings of ARC (advance reader copy) auctions on eBay…including one for Enchanted.

I didn’t bother my publisher about this — these things happen all the time. Reviewers for big magazines get flooded with books. Some of those reviewers put up the excess unread review copies on eBay to make a few [hundred] extra bucks. Yes, it’s illegal (the books have “ADVANCE READING COPY x NOT FOR SALE” clearly printed in a starburst on the cover) and no, it’s not fair…but Mr. Goldman warned us that life was not fair many years ago. A few of us listened. A few of us still fight the good fight.

As Amanda requested, I RTd the tweet she’d sent me, and I posted it on Facebook. I went to eBay and dutifully reported the seller as best I could. I also sent her a personal email, politely asking that she remove the listing out of professional courtesy. I’d rather see the book given away on a blog than sold to some stranger six months before the release date. I was annoyed, but I was not distraught. And then I went back to Facebook.

I had received a few responses and DMs on Twitter about the subject, but Facebook exploded. My friends were trying to understand 1.) how this person could have done such a thing and 2.) how to take them down in the quickest way possible. My publisher doesn’t have a lot of review copies for this book, and reviewers who couldn’t get their hands on one were livid that someone else would do this with a book they’d been so desperately trying to get. Many folks were irate that the item was described as “unread.” In their eyes, my honor had been besmirched, and they frantically–and passionately–did all they could to set the world to rights.

By midnight, the seller’s auction had been removed from eBay.

I am shocked, pleased…and I have to admit, a little scared at the power of my own private little Brute Squad. It reminded me that even in this Unfair World where it always seems we’re swimming upstream, a tiny pebble can still start an avalanche. The way to make an example of people who sell ARCs on eBay is to take them down one book at a time. One small thing really can make a difference. In this case, a handful of people who treasure books came down like a hammer and made a statement. I love every single one of those people.

Do yourself a favor and don’t make them angry.