Tag Archives: books

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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A Rocky Journey…

At last, I’m sneaking up on the end of THE HORSEMAN, Book #3 of the Sons of Texas trilogy and below is the blurb. I hope to release the e-book in July or August at the latest. I think the cover, designed by the wonderful Kim Killion, is awesome.

AnnaJeffrey_TheHorseman_200px (2)     Troy Rattigan devotes most of his time and energy to horses— rescuing them, training them, understanding them. Some might say he has a spiritual connection to the equine species. Because of a brutal schedule and an escalating series of attacks on his family, his own connections haven’t gone beyond meaningless hookups….His current workshop a week before Christmas, which is an inconvenient favor for an old friend, introduces him to a   fractious, blood-bay horse in his current workshop that raises all kinds of red flags. There’s something about that horse and something about the crippled, unassuming beauty on the other end of his lead rope that ignites his instinct to fix what’s broken—in both woman and horse.

     Single mom Samantha Karol is barely back on her feet after almost losing her life and her leg to a rattlesnake bite. One wrong step could cripple her for life. The worst step she could make? Accepting the too-rich, too-handsome, too-sweet-talking horse whisperer’s offer to teach her horse-crazy young son to work with her best friend’s problem horse….Having seen the worst of life, Samantha is too old and too jaded for her years. Yet, she can’t resist giving her son his wildest dream. ….. Is the deep, instant fit she feels with Troy simply a mutual understanding of loss and grief? Or is it a solid foundation upon which to build a lifetime of happiness? Is becoming connected to the wealthy and dynamic Lockhart family another risk to her own life as well as her young son’s?

THE TRILOGY

Those of you who might have read THE TYCOON and THE CATTLEMAN, Books 1 & 2 of the Sons of Texas trilogy, might recognize Troy Rattigan who is the hero in THE HORSEMAN. Troy, the bastard son of the Lockhart family’s current patriarch, William Drake Lockhart, Jr, (or, as he is referred to in the books, Bill Junior) is less than a heroic character in Books 1 & 2. In THE HORSEMAN, he strikes down the demonic forces that are affecting his life and comes to terms with the good man that has always resided within him.https://www.books2read.com/u/3kZrgW

https://amzn.com/B00N24Z2R2THIS TRILOGY MAKES up a family saga at the same time they are romance novels. Click on each picture on the left for more information. ….. THE HORSEMAN will bring the story to an end. It will complete the arc that has continued through the 3 books, which is the resolution of the rocky relationship between Bill Junior and his wife Betty, the parents of the 3 heroes. The villain who has been harassing the family and why will also be revealed.


THE IDEA

The basic idea for the story as I first imagined it was triggered by a conversation I read between F. Scott Fitzgerald and Ernest Hemingway that went as follows:     Fitzgerald: The rich are different from you and me.     Hemingway: Yes, they have more money.    

The premise of the story is to show that the rich really are not different in fundamental ways. They experience triumphs and joys, suffer weaknesses and tragedies just like everyone else. Hemingway, a master of irony, a student of human nature and the expert at saying the most with the fewest words, nailed it in 5 words.


IN CLOSING…

Writing THE LOVE OF A COWBOY was a writing journey for me. A dozen romance novels later, writing the 3 books  of the Sons of Texas trilogy has been no different. I’ve tried to show strengths and weaknesses of the main characters, be they heroic and laudable or less than admirable.  I hope I’ve succeeded. I hope readers will enjoy the characters and the story and will recognize the premise. After you read it, let me know…..

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The Hazards of Offering a Book for Free…

It’s probably because I’ve spent a lot of time at the dentist lately, but I seem to be in a grouchy mood and more eager than usual to climb up on my soapbox. But what are blogs for, Fellow Bloggers, if not to vent?

First of all, as I’ve posted before, when I offered “The Love of a Cowboy” for free for five days on Amazon, an unbelievable number of people downloaded it. I’m very grateful that so many people had an interest in the book. The “free book” promotion produced a much better result than I expected.

Even so, today, I’m ranting about Amazon reader reviews. As much as I love the people who take the time to write them, I’m amazed by some of the things they write.

This one, for example, showed up night before last:

“1.0 out of 5 stars Uninteresting, August 19, 2012  By “tom”

This review is from: The Love of a Cowboy (Kindle Edition)

Less than half star for originality. Nobody but Texas bible toting Republicans in a dream talk or live like this.”

Now I ask you. What does this mean? And what is this poster’s motive? I clicked on his link to see his other reviews. He’s made 5-star comments on two non-fiction books about bleeding heart causes, which probably support his political opinions.

No doubt he downloaded the Cowboy book because it was free, but why did he bother to read a fictional romance novel? Furthermore, politics is not a part of this story and neither is religion and he should have been able to spot that on about Page 5.

So, I’m filing his review along with some others that said things like, “What does this author have against fat people?” ….. “This author’s treatment of a character who suffered from FAS was offensive” … And the one who gave it one star because it had too much sex.

I asked Amazon to take the one about “Republican bible thumpers in a dream” down, but they wouldn’t.

On the upside, another reader posted a 5-star review just above “tom’s”.

This is one of the hazards of so many people downloading a book when their only interest in it is the fact that it’s free. I’m not complaining about that. I like free books. I download free books myself. If I don’t like them, I simply stop reading them and start something else. I don’t feel a need to go on Amazon or Goodreads or some other venue and trash the author.

I do have to admit that when it comes to reviews, my books have generated some far-out criticism. Much harsher than most romance novels and I’m not sure why. The premise from which I write a story is how ordinary people handle sudden and out-of-the-ordinary circumstances, with a little romance and a few steamy love scenes thrown in. None of that seems controversial or venom-inspiring to me. Jodi Picoult does the same thing, but without the romance. My books seem to arouse downright anger in some readers. So I go back to my original question: If they hate the book so much, why read it?

I’ve developed a pretty thick hide over the years. As Nora Roberts said once, hateful reviews are like someone slapping your kid. If I couldn’t swallow the criticism and move on, I’d just have to give up writing. I guess the balm comes from readers like “SNOONIE,” who made a nice comment and gave it 5 stars.

So thank you SNOONIE and all other reader reviewers who made nice comments.

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