Tag Archives: Author

Readers (and Writers) Beware!

The world of electronic publishing and reading has been a blessing to many people. My DH for instance. On his Kindle reader he can enlarge the font and enjoy reading without his glasses. I, too, like reading on my Kindle and getting ebooks at a cheaper price than print books most of the time. It certainly has eliminated a storage problem for me in that even before Kindle, I already had rooms full of books that I didn’t know what to do with and didn’t have room for more. Still the case, I might add.51nk+aSvOFL._AC_US327_QL65_

Electronic publishing has enabled me to publish my own books instead of going through the crap-shoot of trying to sell them to New York publishers, which is like wading through Saran Wrap. It has brought me income that I wouldn’t have received from traditional publishing, for which I’m grateful.

A couple of years ago, Amazon introduced the Kindle Unlimited program that was immediately recognized as a boon to readers, but an unknown quotient to authors. Nevertheless, authors embraced it and put their books in the program exclusively for 90 days, shutting down their listings in other retail venues such as Apple, Barnes & Noble, etc.


Around the end of last year or the first of this year, my book sales at Amazon started tanking and I couldn’t figure out why. I wasn’t doing anything different from what I’ve always done. Sales got steadily worse every month. Admittedly, I’m not one of those prolific authors who rolls out a new book every 2 or 3 months, but still, the books I had on Amazon had always moved steadily along.

Eventually, I started seeing comments on social media from other authors about the same dearth of sales. I was still scratching my head, trying to figure out what had gone wrong. (And I haven’t figured it out entirely.)

I  already had faced that my self-published books were competing with books being   published directly and heavily marketed by Amazon under its own imprints. Amazon now has several imprints in several genres. They work the  same way as the traditional publishers in New York, i.e., paid advances to authors for acquisition of a work, contracts and deadlines and editors.

In addition, they have created the Kindle World program in which some of their paid authors they have made into bestsellers now have their own Kindle Worlds and are bringing ebooks to the market at lower prices. These are books written by authors who haven’t quite made those bestseller lists, but are riding the coattails of an Amazon-made bestseller. Sort of a modified pyramid scheme.

Still, though common sense told me Amazon’s own products got preferential treatment in terms of rankings and publicity, I accepted that as just one of those challenges with which all entrepreneurs no matter what they’re selling have to contend.

Little by little, bits and pieces of another problem started to eke out.

Can you say CLICK FARM?

Click farms have existed for quite a while for all kinds of products, but the fraud hadn’t 5hf8bU3kJM0QRK6dreally leaked into book publishing except through weird book pirating sites. That has changed.  In the last year or so, Amazon book sales has been invaded by click farmers. Self-publishing authors in particular are competing with fraud and plagiarism on a scale not seen before. It’s insane. https://www.usatoday.com/story/money/business/2014/01/05/selling-social-media-clicks-becomes-big-business/4327905/

What is a Click Farm? Wikipedia says a click farm is a form of click fraud, where a large group of low-paid workers are hired to click on paid advertising links for the click fraudster (click farm master or click farmer). The workers click the links, surf the target website for a period of time, and possibly sign up for newsletters prior to clicking another link. http://www.businessinsider.com/silicon-valley-are-click-farms-real-2016-6

Here’s the definition from Google: A click farm is a business that pays employees to click on website elements to artificially boost the status of a client’s website or a product. Click farms are usually based in developing countries, where wages are extremely low by Western standards. https://kotaku.com/inside-chinese-click-farms-1795287821

Somewhere in China or Bangladesh or the Philippines or even Russia, a person beingwnus15o6tm4ekewlelgn paid a pittance is sitting at a computer that might be connected to 100 or a 1,000 phones or tablets or even more. All day and all night, they generate phony likes on Facebook, Instagram and other social media, to the tune of billions of “likes” in a year. When you look at a Facebook post that has many, many “likes,” you don’t know if they’re real or counterfeit.

The social media sites don’t really care as long as they’re getting traffic that, in turn, generates advertising dollars. The chances of someone, anyone, doing anything about this are pretty close to zero.

So what is happening with books listed for sale or borrow at Amazon? If you’re a Kindle Unlimited  member, you might find this article interesting: https://davidgaughran.wordpress.com/2017/07/15/scammers-break-the-kindle-store/  I couldn’t possibly explain the problem any better than the author of this article explains it.

THE IMPORTANCE OF RANKINGS

In other instances, fraudsters go into Amazon book listings under phony names and post reviews that affect a book’s Amazon ranking. Enough 1-star reviews will sink a book to the bottom of the list.

At the same time, if the click farmers post enough 4 or 5-star reviews on their own books, those books zoom to the top of the bestseller lists, thereby eliminating legitimate authors from competition and the opportunity to earn royalties. I’m not sure why, but apparently, Amazon’s bots do not know the difference between the artificial reviews and real ones.

The Amazon rankings are so important to authors. Sad to say, if you as an author have a book for sale and its ranking gets close to or drops below 500,000, you can bet that unless you can come up with a magic marketing formula that gets you back in the running, your book selling days at Amazon are over. Readers will simply never find your books, thus never buy them.

COUNTERFEITING

Then there’s the guy conducting seminars on how to hire some third world person to write a book for $200.  By this method, he “writes” at least a dozen books in a month, puts his name on them, lists them to borrow by Amazon KU members and collects a royalty. Because he’s successful, others are now doing the same thing. This isn’t exactly plagiarism. I don’t know if it even rises to level of fraud, but it might.

Here in the states, the same thing is happening, but probably not for as little as $200. It’s called “freelance writing” and there are several web sites promoting this service. For an agreed on fee, a ghost writer, by contract, gives away any rights he has to what he writes for someone who has hired him. He gets not a penny more than the agreed-on fee no matter if the book is a bestseller. In the end, he might or might not get paid the agreed-on fee. Plenty of instances exist where an author agreed to be a ghost writer, then got stiffed by the non-author who hired him or her.

VICTIMS OF PLAGIARISM

Real plagiarism is even more sinister and an even greater threat to legitimate authors. In some cases, somebody in a third-world country (or maybe somebody in the good old USA) copies a book’s content, changes words here or there, changes a few paragraphs, puts on a new cover showing a different title and a phony author’s name and markets it as his or her own book through Amazon for 99-cents. Much of copying of the books is done by software, so enough changes are made to prevent Amazon’s bots from catching the duplication and calling it plagiarism.

The fraudulent author then follows up by buying “likes” and/or phony reviews from a click farmer, which drives the book to the top of the bestseller lists. The click farmer, because he runs a sweatshop, puts up book after book and dominates the bestseller lists with several books, which qualifies him to receive substantial “bonuses” over and above royalties from Amazon.

With more exposure at the top of the lists, the click farmers sell more books, which forces legitimate authors whose books might be listed for more than 99-cents farther down the list. The only legitimate authors who can compete with them are the ones who have books for sale for 99-cents, but I don’t know how much competition they really present. No one who is really writing a book can do it that fast.

AMAZON’S ATTITUDE

Amazon doesn’t appear to care very much about who they’re paying royalties to. Their #1 interest is keeping the monthly KU subscription fee coming in from readers and or selling books to customers. If Amazon can somehow persuade authors to keep the inventory supplied for little or no money, so much the better for Amazon’s bottom line. Their payout is the same whether the recipient is a *real* author or a third-world-country fraudster.

Multiplied by tens of thousands, this tallies up to a lot of money.

This is fraud. This is plagiarism. This is crime.


THE FUTURE

What will happen eventually is that real books by real authors will have no more distinction and won’t be worth wasting your time reading. A lot of authors will probably bail. What is the point of continuing to write books if they can’t make any money?

I’m a good example. I spend many hours of a day in front of the computer trying to produce a quality, professional product. Do you think I or anybody else is going to keep doing that if something out of my control prevents my making a decent amount of money? ….. Writing a book is hard. If I’m going to work for nothing, I can find something easier to do.

When you start to buy a book that’s for sale for 99-cents, look at it closely. If it has an author’s name on it who released several titles just last week and has waaay too many reviews to have been on the market for only a week, maybe it’s been stolen from a legitimate author who spent a year of hard work writing it. Complain about it to Amazon.

Or if you buy a book in which the syntax, the editing, the grammar, etc., are awful, you might be reading a book produced by a third-world person who doesn’t know English very well.

Just recently, on a book at Amazon I was thinking about buying, I read some reviews. Every reviewer spoke about how bad the spelling, the grammar and the editing were. The listing said the book was published by a real publisher, so my first thought was if a professional publisher released this book, why is it full of errors that could have been easily corrected? My next thought was some kind of fraud. I didn’t buy the book and the author lost that royalty. This is an example of what I’m talking about.

Royalties are the same thing as commissions. They are the only pay an author receives. If someone takes them away by fraudulent means, a real author can’t continue to exist.

Amazon knows this is going on and what have they done? Instead of meeting the fraud head-on, they’ve tightened their requirements for *real* authors who try to put up new books for sale by demanding that they prove they have legitimate copyrights, for one thing. That might be a good first step, but it causes real authors a lot of headaches and delays their book releases, while the click farmers go happily along collecting royalties on a book they didn’t write. So far, defense against this has proved to about as effective as that old needle in a haystack cliche.

WHAT CAN WE DO?

As far as I can tell, authors can’t do a damn thing about it. It’s up to readers to sort this out and complain. And complain. And complain. And return books you believe to be fraudulent to Amazon. Amazon responds only to customers. Believe me, they’ve already heard plenty from authors.

And bear in mind, Amazon now uses overseas call centers for customer service. If you have a complaint, don’t give up and pull your hair. If the individual you complain to sounds like he’s out to lunch, hang up or ask for a different person.


On a final note, I would add, if you read a book by an author whose name you’ve never heard, if the “voice” sounds like *my* voice, let me know. I can tell you in an instant if I’m the one who wrote it. I don’t know what I can do about it, but I can let you know you’ve been cheated.

Having said all of the above,  I’m painfully aware that a reader, at 99-cents, might not care if he’s reading something that has been stolen or counterfeited and that he or she might not care if an author gets cheated out of a royalty. And that is the most hurtful, scariest scenario of all.

SUPPORT YOUR FAVORITE AUTHORS. CALL OUT FRAUD AND PLAGIARISM.

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GUEST AUTHOR – DILYS J. CARNIE

I’ve decided to present a guest author occasionally on my blog. All authors need attention,  especially on the release of a new book. So today, I’m hosting Dilys J. Carnie and her new book, THE LOST SISTERS TRILOGY. And she’s giving away a prize. Read all the way through to the bottom.

07.14.2017_author photo

Dilys J. Carnie

Book CoverHere’s the blurb. Sounds like a good read to me.

Undone by His Desire
Micah King arrives in North Carolina with one goal—to verify that Daisy Wallace is one of the women his security firm as been hired to locate. He wants to tell her the truth about why he’s there, but first he needs to make sure that she is indeed who he’s looking for. He never meant to get involved with her, but she’s just so tempting.
Will Daisy be able to forgive Micah’s lie by omission? After all, he’s deceived her from the first moment she laid eyes on him, and she’s had her fill of deceitful men. And can she forgive the woman who gave her up for adoption thirty years ago?


Rejecting His Desire
Rose Eagleton has never let anyone penetrate her tough exterior. She won’t allow herself to be hurt again, nor will she let anyone uncover the secrets of her past. When she meets Jack Calloway he refuses to let her hide behind her shell, but she knows one thing for sure—she can’t let him become important to her.
Jack is intrigued by the beautiful young woman who fights so hard to keep him at a distance. As he discovers the secrets she’s trying so desperately to hide, it becomes clear that her life is in danger. Can he break through her shell and provide her with the protection she needs but refuses to accept?


Seduced By His Desire
Kent Lloyd steps onto British soil wishing he was anywhere else. But when Jasmine Owen refuses to visit her newly found sisters, giving them one lame excuse after another, even Kent knows something is seriously wrong.
The last person Jasmine expects or wants to see at her door is the super sexy man who walked away from her bed after one wild night. But when her sisters suspect something is wrong, they send Kent to check on her. Jasmine hasn’t told her family about the stalker who’s making her life a living hell and has her in a constant state of fear, but it looks like she might not be able to keep the truth from them any longer.

Content Warning: contains adult language and explicit sex


And here’s an excerpt from UNDONE BY HIS DESIRE:

Micah watched the emotions cross Daisy’s gentle features. The shock was evident, the pain recognizable, and the realization she had family was priceless. She folded the piece of paper and put it back in the envelope. She looked up at him, the tears in her eyes tugging at his heartstrings.

“I have sisters,” she whispered.

“Yes, two. You are part of triplets.”

“I always wanted a sister, and now…now I have two. How insane is that?” She shook her head. “What is Poppy to you?”

“A friend. I’ve known her for a few years. She’s such a sweet lady, and she wants to make things right, she wants to try and bring you all together.”

“Have you found them?” Daisy asked.

He nodded. “Rose lives in Wilmington, and Jack has already made contact with her. Jasmine lives in Chester, UK. Kent landed in Manchester a few hours ago. I’m not sure yet if he’s made contact yet.”

“Jack and Kent are your business partners?”

“Yes, we were all in the Navy SEALS together.”

“I need a little bit of time on my own, Micah…I need to think.”

His gut clenched. “Do you want me to leave?”

“No, but I’m going to go walking for a little while.”

She turned and put her hand against his unshaven jaw, the heat of her skin making him turn his face into the warmth and close his eyes for a second.

“I don’t blame you, Micah.”

His eyes flashed open.

“You’re only trying to help a friend out, but this is so big. Can you understand how hard this is for me? I always knew I was adopted, but sisters…” She shook her head. “I’m thirty years old, all that time has passed and I never knew and that’s what I don’t know if I can forgive Poppy for.”

He covered her hand with his own and turned it over, kissing the palm. “Think about it, Daisy. I’m not going to push you into anything. It’s entirely your decision whether you want to meet Poppy and your sisters.”

She smiled at him, such a warm, caring smile. “You misunderstand me. I will definitely meet with my sisters, that’s unconditional.” She pulled her hand away. “It’s Poppy I’m not sure about.”

He turned as she made her way out of her sitting room.

“Daisy?”

She stopped in the doorway, her hands shoved into the pockets of her sweats, her head slightly leaning to one side.

“Promise me one thing.”

“What?”

“You’ll think about the circumstances surrounding why you were given up for adoption.”

She nodded.

“And…”

She raised her eyebrows.

“Last night.”

She blushed furiously, a lovely pink shade.

“Last night was beautiful and had nothing to do with why I’m here. I really do like you and would like for us to see where whatever we feel takes us.”

She shrugged. “There is no us.”

“Yes, there is. You just don’t want to admit it.”

She walked out the door without replying.

Damn it all to hell and back, he hoped he hadn’t blown it, not just for Poppy but for himself as well.


TourBanner_TheLostSistersTrilogy

AUTHOR Bio and Links:

I live on Anglesey which is a small island in North Wales.My life here is busy as I help with the family business (general dogsbody lol) and try and fulfill my writing contracts.

My office is under the stairs of our small welsh cottage and this is where I let my imagination run riot.

I love to write and be creative with my characters.

At the moment I am in awe of the people who have read my book, It is great to meet people who have taken the time to buy it and read it and I love meeting new fans.

http://www.dilysjcarnie.com/

https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/6575559.Dilys_J_Carnie

http://www.facebook.com/dilysj.carnie.3

https://twitter.com/dilysjcarnie

http://pinterest.com/autumnleaves09/


Amazon link:

https://www.amazon.com/Lost-Sisters-Trilogy-Dilys-Carnie-ebook/dp/B01N9S3JE0


Barnes and Noble link:

https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/the-lost-sisters-trilogy-dilys-j-carnie/1125483417

~~~~~~~~~~~~~

GIVEAWAY INFORMATION and RAFFLECOPTER CODE:

Dilys J Carnie will be awarding a $20 Amazon or Barnes and Noble GC to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour.  

<a class=”rcptr” href=”http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/28e4345f2354/” rel=”nofollow” data-raflid=”28e4345f2354″ data-theme=”classic” data-template=”” id=”rcwidget_i9hw7gbi”>a Rafflecopter giveaway</a>

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The Most Important Element…

As some of you know, I sometimes invite other authors. So today, my guest is Caroline Clemmons, author of western romance and adventure set in Texas.

I’m also featuring my cover designer, Kim Killion. Most marketing gurus tell independent authors that the most important element to selling a book is a good cover. If you can’t create one yourself, it’s worth the money to hire someone who can.

Taking that advice to heart, I was lucky enough to stumble across Kim. The day I found her was one of happiest in my independent publishing life. Not only is she a great graphic designer, even though I’m pretty sure she hasn’t had time to read my books, I feel we’re on the same page. To show my appreciation for her and her talent, for the next few weeks, I’ll be featuring some of my author friends who have also had Kim design their covers.

Below, read how Caroline Clemmons came to be an author and take a look at some of the beautiful covers Kim has designed for her.Caroline Clemmons - Dreamin in Dallas - 4-1-11

As long as I can remember, I’ve loved the written word. My dad, who had taught me to read, told me a good storyteller could create a story about anything. As examples, he mentioned a grain of sand. Where had it been, how did it get where it is today? Or, he added, a fly on the wall—what has the fly seen and heard? He encouraged me to read and to write.

CarolineClemmonsFront_TheMostUnsuitableCourtship_POD_1000pxThose early lessons stuck with me. I loved English classes and then took journalism to express myself. I won awards as editor of our school paper, and those encouraged me to stick with that type writing for many years. I even worked for a small newspaper as a reporter and featured columnist. The urge to create my own stories was relieved by composing long, long, anecdote-filled letters to my family.

What started me writing fiction? Oddly, it was my mother in law. On one trip to visit us, she brought a grocery bag filled with old Harlequin and Silhouette novels. She insisted that if I could write letters like mine, I could write romance novels. Secretly, I’d had an idea in my head for some time, but hadn’t the confidence to write it into novel form. My husband encouraged me and I launched into the story. I had never been to a writers group or taken formal creative writing classes. Do I need to tell you the story was awful? Not the basic idea, which I used later, but the higgledy piggledy execution.

Finally, I heard about and joined Romance Writers of America (RWA). Attending a local chapter, I heard excellent workshops. I learned about point of view, characterization, plotting, and the myriad of other tools for creating a story. What a shock to my muse.front cover MUH

I temporarily put aside my original book. Another contemporary novel idea hit me as my family was driving home from visiting our parents in West Texas. By this time, I’d also taken classes in creative writing. I sold the second novel in 1998. Hooray, I was a published author.

My dad had shared tales of his family coming to Texas from Georgia in 1876 and some of the family adventures in the late 1800’s and early 1900’s. Probably that’s why I enjoyed history, especially Texas history, so much. My brain finally got the message. Why not write historical novels set in late 1800’s Texas? Historical novels require immense research, of course, but remember I love history. Reading about the Old West was pleasure. I consumed it like chocolate, and I adore chocolate.

One thing I’ve realized, I’ll never run out of ideas. What a relief! In the future, I’ll be writing contemporary, paranormal, and historical novels. And now I’m stepping into audio books, always stretching to keep up with the times. But no matter what authors write, a good cover is one key to success. This is why I’ve switched from my Hero husband and me designing my covers to Kim Killion.

FrontcoverTheMostUnsuitableWife_POD_1000pxWhether an author is published with a “big six” New York publisher or self published, the author must be active in social media. I’m on Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads, Pinterest, WattPad, and LinkedIn. I have a website, I blog three times a week, and I’m on three team blogs: Smart Girls Read Romance, Sweethearts of the West, and Cowboy Kisses.  Yes, I’m everywhere.

Picture me banging my head against my desk. Yes, that’s how most authors feel about promotion. I genuinely love and am grateful to my readers. Although authors love meeting readers and love them for buying our books, we resent the time social media requires for promoting our work. We just want to write! Who knew we’d need an MBA in marketing to do so?

So now, thanks to getting acquainted with Caroline’s great covers, you’ll recognize her books instantly. And you’ll know the name of the cover artist as well as hers. And that’s a good thing. If you like tales of Texas with a dash of authentic history, you’ll love Caroline’s books.

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