Author Topic: Nora Roberts responds to recent self-publishing issues  (Read 1766 times)

Lorri Moulton [Lavender Lass Books]

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Nora Roberts responds to recent self-publishing issues
« on: February 24, 2019, 10:23:07 AM »
I've always enjoyed the many books by Nora Roberts, but she is now my hero!

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Maggie Ann

Re: Nora Roberts responds to recent self-publishing issues
« Reply #1 on: February 24, 2019, 12:25:51 PM »
I've always enjoyed the many books by Nora Roberts, but she is now my hero!

http://fallintothestory.com/not-a-rant-but-a-promise/

 :tup3b

I've always enjoyed Nora Roberts, but now I love her. This is what it's going to take. A writer of her caliber outing these scammers and pressing Amazon to do something about them. Hopefully, other big time writers will get involved.

I think I'll go read Norther Lights again. It's one of my two favorite standalones of hers.

           
 
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CoraBuhlert

Re: Nora Roberts responds to recent self-publishing issues
« Reply #2 on: February 24, 2019, 12:38:57 PM »
Nora Roberts is awesome.  :clap:

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catowned

Re: Nora Roberts responds to recent self-publishing issues
« Reply #3 on: February 24, 2019, 01:36:02 PM »
Awesome that she wants to take down scammers.
And that she has a large enough platform that people may pay attention.
With so many romance writers plagiarized, perhaps RWA will step up as well.

Nora's earlier blog post on this plagiarism is here
http://fallintothestory.com/plagiarism-then-and-now/


In the current blog post, I'm disappointed but not surprised about the 'writer' who kept notes of competitors' phrasing and used that in her own books.
Schools need to teach copyright and intellectual property rights v public domain.
Study other writers to learn how to create effects, how to evoke emotion, how to use rhetorical devices. But write your own stories, with your own phrasing.
 
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idontknowyet

Re: Nora Roberts responds to recent self-publishing issues
« Reply #4 on: February 24, 2019, 02:29:52 PM »
It is impressive when one of the best authors of our time takes a stand for an issue that affects the indie community.
« Last Edit: February 24, 2019, 02:42:34 PM by idontknowyet »
 
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She-la-te-da

Re: Nora Roberts responds to recent self-publishing issues
« Reply #5 on: February 24, 2019, 09:19:19 PM »
This is righteous, and I commend Nora for speaking out. But some of the comments are ragging on all indie authors, many with only one book, or those with books in KU. It's rather disheartening to see people who've read Nora's post -- which doesn't get that message across at all -- and going full hurt on anyone who isn't Nora.

Oh, well. Reading comprehension is a lost art, I guess.
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okey dokey

Re: Nora Roberts responds to recent self-publishing issues
« Reply #6 on: February 25, 2019, 06:53:13 AM »
I think of this plagiarism case every time television reruns the famous series.

QUOTE::
From The Times

On December 14, 1978, (Alex) Haley admitted plagiarizing The African, a slave novel by prolific folklorist Harold Courlander, in Roots and paid $650,000 (worth $2,580,000 today) to make the copyright infringement case go away on the eve of the judge's decision. A page one New York Times story reported: 
Alex Haley settled a lawsuit yesterday by acknowledging that his world renowned book “Roots” contained some material from a relatively unknown novel about slavery that was published nine years earlier.

The settlement ended the six week trial of a suit by Harold Courlander, a 70 year old author from Bethesda, Md., who contended there were substantial similarities between “Roots” and his own earlier novel, “The African.” He sued in Federal District Court in Manhattan for more than half the profits of “Roots.”

As the trial was about to reach a climax with summations by the opposing lawyers, they issued the following statement: “The suit has been amicably settled out of court. Alex Haley acknowledges and regrets that various materials from ‘The African’ by Harold Courlander found their way into his book ‘Roots.’
 

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Re: Nora Roberts responds to recent self-publishing issues
« Reply #7 on: February 26, 2019, 01:57:54 AM »
I think of this plagiarism case every time television reruns the famous series.

QUOTE::
From The Times

On December 14, 1978, (Alex) Haley admitted plagiarizing The African, a slave novel by prolific folklorist Harold Courlander, in Roots and paid $650,000 (worth $2,580,000 today) to make the copyright infringement case go away on the eve of the judge's decision. A page one New York Times story reported:
Alex Haley settled a lawsuit yesterday by acknowledging that his world renowned book “Roots” contained some material from a relatively unknown novel about slavery that was published nine years earlier.

The settlement ended the six week trial of a suit by Harold Courlander, a 70 year old author from Bethesda, Md., who contended there were substantial similarities between “Roots” and his own earlier novel, “The African.” He sued in Federal District Court in Manhattan for more than half the profits of “Roots.”

As the trial was about to reach a climax with summations by the opposing lawyers, they issued the following statement: “The suit has been amicably settled out of court. Alex Haley acknowledges and regrets that various materials from ‘The African’ by Harold Courlander found their way into his book ‘Roots.’
"Found their way in"? You have to be amazed at that kind of verbal gymnastics. But at least he was willing to take some degree of responsibility.


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lyndabelle

Re: Nora Roberts responds to recent self-publishing issues
« Reply #8 on: February 26, 2019, 07:02:23 PM »
I really was happy to see Nora Roberts taking a stand like this. It did "smart" a little when she talked about selling a book at $0.99 and underselling yourself. I mean, I love how she is taking a stand, but maybe she doesn't understand how prawnie and starting out writers use pricing to help get noticed, though she does mention about giving away 700,000 books and having people buy around the same amount. That's pretty good sales considering when I give away books, I am getting 1-2 sales for like 100 giveaways. It's different out there. People want free and cheap now. It's like it's becoming a standard.

Overall though, it was nice to see someone with clout coming out and just giving the black hats a piece of her mind. I left KU last year because of all the problems with it. So, kind of glad that a popular, traditional published author was really standing up and saying her mind about what a lot of us have been saying has been going on for a few years now. Let's hope Amazon notices now. If RWA starts getting involved with it more, they just might too.

Though the whole ghostwriter thing, kind of sad with Serruya's book being called plagiarism, she really might have bought it from a ghost writer on Fiverr. And they took a section of Top Bestselling authors and just changed bits, sending it back to her. If she'd never read those authors, than she wouldn't have known. But doesn't mean it's right either.

Just proves that if you write it yourself, far less trouble. ;-)
 

sliderule

Re: Nora Roberts responds to recent self-publishing issues
« Reply #9 on: February 26, 2019, 10:56:23 PM »
What disappoints me is how the message is getting lost in the chum.

Nora makes some really good and valid points.

The commentors? Not so much. They're all over the place in what they think is a scammer and scamming behavior (which now according to the various comments includes not having a website and some degree that is not too little or too much social interactions,  free or $0.99 books, a bookbub? (I didn't get that one, either but it's there), using a pen name, writing in a fictional city/town/world (yeah, someone mentions that), writing too fast, publishing rapidly, using too many avenues of marketing, associating with people 'suspected' of scammy behavior (guilt by association), the list is getting longer by the moment) that anyone who self publishes will have the harsh light shined on them to make sure they're not engaging in scamming behavior.

If you're lucky enough to have a book that finds traction and elevates up the ranks, expect to have people crawling all over you in every aspect of your online life for 'evidence of scamming'.

It's a new fact of life for a writer.
« Last Edit: February 26, 2019, 11:02:09 PM by sliderule »
 
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quinning

Re: Nora Roberts responds to recent self-publishing issues
« Reply #10 on: February 26, 2019, 11:43:15 PM »
What disappoints me is how the message is getting lost in the chum.

Nora makes some really good and valid points.

The commentors? Not so much. They're all over the place in what they think is a scammer and scamming behavior (which now according to the various comments includes not having a website and some degree that is not too little or too much social interactions,  free or $0.99 books, a bookbub? (I didn't get that one, either but it's there), using a pen name, writing in a fictional city/town/world (yeah, someone mentions that), writing too fast, publishing rapidly, using too many avenues of marketing, associating with people 'suspected' of scammy behavior (guilt by association), the list is getting longer by the moment) that anyone who self publishes will have the harsh light shined on them to make sure they're not engaging in scamming behavior.

If you're lucky enough to have a book that finds traction and elevates up the ranks, expect to have people crawling all over you in every aspect of your online life for 'evidence of scamming'.

It's a new fact of life for a writer.

I saw this too, and it was unsettling.

I was planning on pubbing romance under a new pen name without much (if any) social media or website support. I had made this decision because I don’t particularly enjoy either of those things, but now? Guess I’ll be doing both. Or at the very least making my new pen name a variation that’s easily connected to me, so I can support both through one portal. But, good grief. I am hoping once the fervor dies down we can fight the scammers without catching innocent authors. But ugh.
 
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Tom Wood

Re: Nora Roberts responds to recent self-publishing issues
« Reply #11 on: February 26, 2019, 11:51:21 PM »
The discussion on Twitter is also nuts. There are people who claim that KU is just a scam anyway, so they advise everyone to cancel their KU accounts. I tried to push back and got crickets. Which, I suppose, is better than a pile-on.
 
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munboy

Re: Nora Roberts responds to recent self-publishing issues
« Reply #12 on: February 27, 2019, 01:54:48 AM »
The discussion on Twitter is also nuts. There are people who claim that KU is just a scam anyway, so they advise everyone to cancel their KU accounts. I tried to push back and got crickets. Which, I suppose, is better than a pile-on.

Brave man.  :hehe
 

dgcasey

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Re: Nora Roberts responds to recent self-publishing issues
« Reply #13 on: February 27, 2019, 03:59:44 AM »
I was planning on pubbing romance under a new pen name without much (if any) social media or website support. I had made this decision because I don’t particularly enjoy either of those things, but now? Guess I’ll be doing both. Or at the very least making my new pen name a variation that’s easily connected to me, so I can support both through one portal. But, good grief. I am hoping once the fervor dies down we can fight the scammers without catching innocent authors. But ugh.

Go ahead and use a pen name. All you read was one person's opinion on the matter and Nora would be the first to disagree with them. I mean, you know that Nora Roberts and J.D. Robb are the same writer, right? She's even written under the pseudonyms Jill March and Sarah Hardesty.
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sliderule

Re: Nora Roberts responds to recent self-publishing issues
« Reply #14 on: February 27, 2019, 12:31:09 PM »
I was planning on pubbing romance under a new pen name without much (if any) social media or website support. I had made this decision because I don’t particularly enjoy either of those things, but now? Guess I’ll be doing both. Or at the very least making my new pen name a variation that’s easily connected to me, so I can support both through one portal. But, good grief. I am hoping once the fervor dies down we can fight the scammers without catching innocent authors. But ugh.

Go ahead and use a pen name. All you read was one person's opinion on the matter and Nora would be the first to disagree with them. I mean, you know that Nora Roberts and J.D. Robb are the same writer, right? She's even written under the pseudonyms Jill March and Sarah Hardesty.

The issue isn't that one person disagrees. The issue is the amount of hysteria that was in the comments and how the entire thing was so confused that people didn't even know why they were pissed, what they were pissed at or who they were pissed at. Everything from pen names, to ghostwriting, to using newsletters, to running ads, to how they formatted books, to $0.99 pricing or permafreebies, to having covers similar to other covers in the same genre, to writing about a fictional town, to writing speed, to having one book out and zero 'social presence' as being 'evidence' they were a scammer.

The issue is that other bigger name authors are calling out what they perceive (yet have no proof) are bad actors based on the conflicting set of rules everyone seems to think they're entitled to in order to control self-publishing and that if that happens enough times, a person can find themselves on the receiving end of reports and attacks and accusations of being a scammer when all they did was end up the unfortunate victim of a good AMS ad working.

The issue is that people are cavalierly waving the word scammer at anyone who doesn't look like them or sign on to their current crusade. If you're not for them, you're against them. If you aren't doing anything wrong, then you have nothing to worry about.

Well, tell that to the author who had her book held up as an example of scamming when there was no damn proof. I'm sure it's a real comfort to her now that her name was dragged through the mud before the tweets got pulled.
« Last Edit: February 27, 2019, 12:34:24 PM by sliderule »
 
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dgcasey

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Re: Nora Roberts responds to recent self-publishing issues
« Reply #15 on: February 27, 2019, 01:11:21 PM »
The issue is that people are cavalierly waving the word scammer at anyone who doesn't look like them or sign on to their current crusade. If you're not for them, you're against them. If you aren't doing anything wrong, then you have nothing to worry about.

Welcome to the current political landscape. Maybe you haven't noticed, but this is happening in just about every aspect of our lives and not just in the indie publishing world. Say that you don't appreciate Brie Larson's comments about 40-year-old white dudes and you won't go see her movie and you branded a misogynist and a sexist. Disagree with Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and you are called a Nazi and a racist. This is the world we live in until sanity regains a footing in the public discourse, because right now, the loonies are running the asylum.
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sliderule

Re: Nora Roberts responds to recent self-publishing issues
« Reply #16 on: February 27, 2019, 08:30:35 PM »
The issue is that people are cavalierly waving the word scammer at anyone who doesn't look like them or sign on to their current crusade. If you're not for them, you're against them. If you aren't doing anything wrong, then you have nothing to worry about.

Welcome to the current political landscape. Maybe you haven't noticed, but this is happening in just about every aspect of our lives and not just in the indie publishing world. Say that you don't appreciate Brie Larson's comments about 40-year-old white dudes and you won't go see her movie and you branded a misogynist and a sexist. Disagree with Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and you are called a Nazi and a racist. This is the world we live in until sanity regains a footing in the public discourse, because right now, the loonies are running the asylum.

Sad, but true.

So it seems to me the answer for writers in this instance is to focus on our own page and tend to our own business. If Phoenix and David G are good at sussing out bad actors in self publishing, then let them do that and stop leading the charge ourselves.

The battle cry when anyone stepped up, held up their hand and said "hold on a minute" was immediately shouted down with accusations of being scammers because they were supporting scammers, when all they wanted was for people to stop for a minute, take a breath and think about what they were saying and how it was easily starting to spin out of control in vitriol, rhetoric and hysteria.

They were told 'if this doesn't apply to you, don't worry about it, if you are worried about it, well then [wink nudge]'. I'm sure the author that was crucified in the court of public opinion only to have the accuser back off after the fact feels much better now.

I'm not angry with you dgcasey. I promise. What you say is true and was sort of my tirade launching point.  I'm angry at how this situation spun so crazily out of control, again, and how no one was thinking straight when they started with their hysterical shrieking with their hair on fire about all the scamming behavior when it was obvious they had no idea what they were saying. They were just parroting back what they were told as they were whipped into a frenzy by someone who should have known better.

I watched it happen in real time. It was horrifying. And all I could think about was all the times people were shouted down when they tried to defend, not scammers, but the legitimate author business models that were getting creamed and labeled as scamming, told that innocent people getting accused never happens. Or it rarely happens.

And to watch someone, someone in law, say, 'well, innocent people might end up getting hurt in these discussions' is outrageous. An innocent person was hurt. That's a disgrace.

Who knows when it will be one of them.

It's done now. The torchfires are simmering. I'm back to having a really good think on whether I even want to do this now. I love writing. I have stories to tell. I'd love to share them. I'm not a monster if I'd actually like to make back the investment of time, energy and money output to publish them and plan to use the accepted business practices to do so. Once I can figure out what those are. Judging from Nora's comments on her five posts, that really isn't clear any more.

The cost to do so rose exponentially these past few days with the implied threat that at any time I can fall under someone's gaze and I'll get thrown to the wolves with nothing as much as a 'wow, sorry about that, I was wrong' when I'm proven innocent.
« Last Edit: February 27, 2019, 08:49:22 PM by sliderule »
 
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quinning

Re: Nora Roberts responds to recent self-publishing issues
« Reply #17 on: February 28, 2019, 01:36:23 AM »
I think the real problem here is that people are finally starting to pay attention and not everyone is up to speed. Not everyone realizes that Phoenix and David have been doing this work for the past few years.

So, a large portion of the people new to the discussion think there will be (must be) and want a quick fix. But a quick fix isn’t coming! There is no quick fix.

And the readers that I’ve seen on Twitter really do want to help. They’re frustrated and just done with KU being a pit of garbage that sometimes contains a good book. They’re tired of the resold/rebranded/reauthored/recycled books and all of the other stuff we’re tired of. They want it fixed.

And so discussions are happening. Why does this author have a stock photo for her author image? Why is there no social media presence? Why no website? And yeah, these can be hallmarks of a scammer. It can also be a legitimate author who just doesn’t want their real identity out there.

Amazon has repeatedly shown that they are not interested in policing their own store. So, now they customers are policing it. And it’s just as bed.

As for me, I don’t know what I am going to do. I don’t want to use my own photo. I need to keep my identity to myself for my own reasons. I don’t want to give a big giant picture of who I am in real life. I really don’t want to spend the time or the money to maintain two websites for two different names. So, I’ll probably just do the best I can and hope to the publishing gods that the eye of Sauron doesn’t turn to me.
 

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Re: Nora Roberts responds to recent self-publishing issues
« Reply #18 on: February 28, 2019, 03:44:08 AM »
I think the real problem here is that people are finally starting to pay attention and not everyone is up to speed. Not everyone realizes that Phoenix and David have been doing this work for the past few years.

So, a large portion of the people new to the discussion think there will be (must be) and want a quick fix. But a quick fix isn’t coming! There is no quick fix.

And the readers that I’ve seen on Twitter really do want to help. They’re frustrated and just done with KU being a pit of garbage that sometimes contains a good book. They’re tired of the resold/rebranded/reauthored/recycled books and all of the other stuff we’re tired of. They want it fixed.

And so discussions are happening. Why does this author have a stock photo for her author image? Why is there no social media presence? Why no website? And yeah, these can be hallmarks of a scammer. It can also be a legitimate author who just doesn’t want their real identity out there.

Amazon has repeatedly shown that they are not interested in policing their own store. So, now they customers are policing it. And it’s just as bed.

As for me, I don’t know what I am going to do. I don’t want to use my own photo. I need to keep my identity to myself for my own reasons. I don’t want to give a big giant picture of who I am in real life. I really don’t want to spend the time or the money to maintain two websites for two different names. So, I’ll probably just do the best I can and hope to the publishing gods that the eye of Sauron doesn’t turn to me.
This is a very perceptive post, but the future may not be quite as bleak as that.

Actually, Amazon has sometimes stepped up. It doesn't do it as consistently as we might like, but it does try. Some of the threads on here bear witness to that. The problem is identifying scamming isn't as easy as we'd like it to be. I think botting activity is pretty easy to detect, but with bots also targeting books of authors who haven't used a botting service in order to camouflage the bot's activity, even bot detection isn't a sure thing.

If anything, sometimes Amazon overdoes efforts to weed out some kinds of behavior, using the chainsaw rather than the scalpel.

All of that said, Amazon hasn't solved the problem, for whatever reason. Having the customers rise up and demand change might actually be a good thing. The trick is to filter the crazy out.

We all agree that pen names in and of themselves aren't evil. If you want to be a writer and a private person, there's no reason you shouldn't have a pen name. There are also a wide variety of more specific reasons someone might like to use a pen name. Pen names only become a problem when banned authors use them to get back onto Amazon or in some other way use them as cover for scamming.

Not having social media presence isn't evil, either. Nor is not having a website, though I think both can be useful tools.

If Amazon and other distributors respond to customers without giving into hysteria, there's a possibility things could get better.


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bookworm

Re: Nora Roberts responds to recent self-publishing issues
« Reply #19 on: February 28, 2019, 04:26:58 AM »
I was planning on pubbing romance under a new pen name without much (if any) social media or website support. I had made this decision because I don’t particularly enjoy either of those things, but now? Guess I’ll be doing both. Or at the very least making my new pen name a variation that’s easily connected to me, so I can support both through one portal. But, good grief. I am hoping once the fervor dies down we can fight the scammers without catching innocent authors. But ugh.

Go ahead and use a pen name. All you read was one person's opinion on the matter and Nora would be the first to disagree with them. I mean, you know that Nora Roberts and J.D. Robb are the same writer, right? She's even written under the pseudonyms Jill March and Sarah Hardesty.

The issue isn't that one person disagrees. The issue is the amount of hysteria that was in the comments and how the entire thing was so confused that people didn't even know why they were pissed, what they were pissed at or who they were pissed at. Everything from pen names, to ghostwriting, to using newsletters, to running ads, to how they formatted books, to $0.99 pricing or permafreebies, to having covers similar to other covers in the same genre, to writing about a fictional town, to writing speed, to having one book out and zero 'social presence' as being 'evidence' they were a scammer.

The issue is that other bigger name authors are calling out what they perceive (yet have no proof) are bad actors based on the conflicting set of rules everyone seems to think they're entitled to in order to control self-publishing and that if that happens enough times, a person can find themselves on the receiving end of reports and attacks and accusations of being a scammer when all they did was end up the unfortunate victim of a good AMS ad working.

The issue is that people are cavalierly waving the word scammer at anyone who doesn't look like them or sign on to their current crusade. If you're not for them, you're against them. If you aren't doing anything wrong, then you have nothing to worry about.

Well, tell that to the author who had her book held up as an example of scamming when there was no damn proof. I'm sure it's a real comfort to her now that her name was dragged through the mud before the tweets got pulled.
Are you referring to that fake review site? That was a while ago. I think this new ruckus will blow over soon enough. It usually does.
 

Lorri Moulton [Lavender Lass Books]

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Re: Nora Roberts responds to recent self-publishing issues
« Reply #20 on: March 01, 2019, 02:05:09 AM »
I decided to raise all the prices on my books. If I lose sales, I can reduce the prices this spring.   :angel:

ETA:  I just finished a FREE and 99c sale last weekend.  I'm hoping higher prices will make the sales (when I do have them) more appealing.  Also, I think it would be wonderful if we were paid more for our books...waiting to see what happens next.
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David VanDyke

Re: Nora Roberts responds to recent self-publishing issues
« Reply #21 on: March 01, 2019, 10:04:56 AM »
I decided to raise all the prices on my books. If I lose sales, I can reduce the prices this spring.   :angel:

ETA:  I just finished a FREE and 99c sale last weekend.  I'm hoping higher prices will make the sales (when I do have them) more appealing.  Also, I think it would be wonderful if we were paid more for our books...waiting to see what happens next.

To what, pray tell?

According to the latest Smashwords info, 3.99 and 4.99 are running neck and neck on profitability. My sales haven't been hurt by raising most of my books to 4.99, so I've actually profited more.
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Lorri Moulton [Lavender Lass Books]

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Re: Nora Roberts responds to recent self-publishing issues
« Reply #22 on: March 01, 2019, 10:33:39 AM »
I decided to raise all the prices on my books. If I lose sales, I can reduce the prices this spring.   :angel:

ETA:  I just finished a FREE and 99c sale last weekend.  I'm hoping higher prices will make the sales (when I do have them) more appealing.  Also, I think it would be wonderful if we were paid more for our books...waiting to see what happens next.

To what, pray tell?

According to the latest Smashwords info, 3.99 and 4.99 are running neck and neck on profitability. My sales haven't been hurt by raising most of my books to 4.99, so I've actually profited more.

From 99c, $2.99, $3.99 and $4.99  to $2.99, $3.99, $4.99 and $5.99.  We'll see what happens.

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David VanDyke

Re: Nora Roberts responds to recent self-publishing issues
« Reply #23 on: March 01, 2019, 01:22:10 PM »
Personally, I've found permafree, and straight to 3.99 or 4.99 makes me the most money. Like, "your first taste of the book-crack is free, but after that you gotta pay."

99c and 2.99 seem to be black holes for me, but I'm in adventure sci-fi and (separately) mystery-thrillers.
Never listen to people with no skin in the game.
 
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She-la-te-da

Re: Nora Roberts responds to recent self-publishing issues
« Reply #24 on: March 01, 2019, 07:15:39 PM »
Quote
she really might have bought it from a ghost writer on Fiverr

Except, she didn't get scammed by someone on Fiverr, she handed legit ghostwriters a mass of random stuff (which turns out to have been taken pretty much wholemeal from respected authors) and told them to fix it. So, she's lying.

My feeling is the woman isn't even real. I suspect whoever is not from or living in Brazil, either. Amazon will know, and if it gets to the level of subpoenas, the truth will come out.

Those of us with social reach and the chops to stand the whirlwind should educate readers about how it works to be indie, why we sell cheap or give away books, why pen names are used, and whatever else Ms. Roberts has gotten them worked up over in her ignorance. I appreciate that she's upset, but she's talking about stuff she's barely learned about herself, and she has so much influence over readers. I wrote a response over on her site the other day, but I imagine I got cut down pretty quick, even though I was respectful about it. I don't feel like slogging through the replies to check, but the way those readers are foaming at the mouth, it wouldn't surprise me.
I write various flavors of speculative fiction. This is my main pen name.

 
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sliderule

Re: Nora Roberts responds to recent self-publishing issues
« Reply #25 on: March 02, 2019, 09:17:07 PM »
I was planning on pubbing romance under a new pen name without much (if any) social media or website support. I had made this decision because I don’t particularly enjoy either of those things, but now? Guess I’ll be doing both. Or at the very least making my new pen name a variation that’s easily connected to me, so I can support both through one portal. But, good grief. I am hoping once the fervor dies down we can fight the scammers without catching innocent authors. But ugh.

Go ahead and use a pen name. All you read was one person's opinion on the matter and Nora would be the first to disagree with them. I mean, you know that Nora Roberts and J.D. Robb are the same writer, right? She's even written under the pseudonyms Jill March and Sarah Hardesty.

The issue isn't that one person disagrees. The issue is the amount of hysteria that was in the comments and how the entire thing was so confused that people didn't even know why they were pissed, what they were pissed at or who they were pissed at. Everything from pen names, to ghostwriting, to using newsletters, to running ads, to how they formatted books, to $0.99 pricing or permafreebies, to having covers similar to other covers in the same genre, to writing about a fictional town, to writing speed, to having one book out and zero 'social presence' as being 'evidence' they were a scammer.

The issue is that other bigger name authors are calling out what they perceive (yet have no proof) are bad actors based on the conflicting set of rules everyone seems to think they're entitled to in order to control self-publishing and that if that happens enough times, a person can find themselves on the receiving end of reports and attacks and accusations of being a scammer when all they did was end up the unfortunate victim of a good AMS ad working.

The issue is that people are cavalierly waving the word scammer at anyone who doesn't look like them or sign on to their current crusade. If you're not for them, you're against them. If you aren't doing anything wrong, then you have nothing to worry about.

Well, tell that to the author who had her book held up as an example of scamming when there was no damn proof. I'm sure it's a real comfort to her now that her name was dragged through the mud before the tweets got pulled.
Are you referring to that fake review site? That was a while ago. I think this new ruckus will blow over soon enough. It usually does.

I was referring to Courtney Milan's ill-advised targeting of a book she "suspected might" be a scammer, listed out all the things she felt like made it a scamming incident and dragged the author out for everyone to pile on.

She later retracted with a half apology but the damage had been done. The author's name was out there and people were piling on.
 
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Ash

Re: Nora Roberts responds to recent self-publishing issues
« Reply #26 on: March 04, 2019, 11:21:44 PM »
I was planning on pubbing romance under a new pen name without much (if any) social media or website support. I had made this decision because I don’t particularly enjoy either of those things, but now? Guess I’ll be doing both. Or at the very least making my new pen name a variation that’s easily connected to me, so I can support both through one portal. But, good grief. I am hoping once the fervor dies down we can fight the scammers without catching innocent authors. But ugh.

Go ahead and use a pen name. All you read was one person's opinion on the matter and Nora would be the first to disagree with them. I mean, you know that Nora Roberts and J.D. Robb are the same writer, right? She's even written under the pseudonyms Jill March and Sarah Hardesty.

The issue isn't that one person disagrees. The issue is the amount of hysteria that was in the comments and how the entire thing was so confused that people didn't even know why they were pissed, what they were pissed at or who they were pissed at. Everything from pen names, to ghostwriting, to using newsletters, to running ads, to how they formatted books, to $0.99 pricing or permafreebies, to having covers similar to other covers in the same genre, to writing about a fictional town, to writing speed, to having one book out and zero 'social presence' as being 'evidence' they were a scammer.

The issue is that other bigger name authors are calling out what they perceive (yet have no proof) are bad actors based on the conflicting set of rules everyone seems to think they're entitled to in order to control self-publishing and that if that happens enough times, a person can find themselves on the receiving end of reports and attacks and accusations of being a scammer when all they did was end up the unfortunate victim of a good AMS ad working.

The issue is that people are cavalierly waving the word scammer at anyone who doesn't look like them or sign on to their current crusade. If you're not for them, you're against them. If you aren't doing anything wrong, then you have nothing to worry about.

Well, tell that to the author who had her book held up as an example of scamming when there was no damn proof. I'm sure it's a real comfort to her now that her name was dragged through the mud before the tweets got pulled.
Are you referring to that fake review site? That was a while ago. I think this new ruckus will blow over soon enough. It usually does.

I was referring to Courtney Milan's ill-advised targeting of a book she "suspected might" be a scammer, listed out all the things she felt like made it a scamming incident and dragged the author out for everyone to pile on.

She later retracted with a half apology but the damage had been done. The author's name was out there and people were piling on.

The Courtney Milan issue shows why these discussions can get so crazy, practically McCarthyist. It's bananas to say that having a stock photo, not having social media or a website are hallmarks of scammers. A website costs nothing (practically) to put up, same for a social media profile. If people think it'll help them disguise their scam, they'll do it.

Plus, if the 'scammer' is making so much money from Amazon, then the costs will be minimal anyway.

But the thing is, for many KU authors, social media and websites are kind of unnecessary. Success is driven by AMS, the Kindle recommendation engine, or both. JN Chaney, for example, dominated SF with his book Renegade something or other for about a year, and he has like 2000 email subs. Is he a scammer? No. He just wrote a high-converting, successful book that happened to get lucky.

Courtney ascribed nefarious intent to something she couldn't explain - the heavy use of AMS ads. It's not far off burning scientists to death for being witches.

And jesus, historical romance isn't exactly contemporary romance, i.e. it's not catering to a social media savvy crowd.
 
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TimothyEllis

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Re: Nora Roberts responds to recent self-publishing issues
« Reply #27 on: March 04, 2019, 11:37:23 PM »
Courtney ascribed nefarious intent to something she couldn't explain - the heavy use of AMS ads.

This has to be quantified.

From what I've heard, the scammers were/are pouring $10,000 plus a month into AMS. I call that heavy, and I call it suspicious.

But I do know some authors who do regularly spend several thousand on AMS every month. And they are not suspicious. I have no actual idea how they do this, since I have a lot of trouble getting AMS to spend $5 a day at the moment, and I'm not sure why it works for them, but apparently it does.

So yes, any claim about AMS has to be quantified.

AmHere

Re: Nora Roberts responds to recent self-publishing issues
« Reply #28 on: March 05, 2019, 12:25:58 AM »


From what I've heard, the scammers were/are pouring $10,000 plus a month into AMS. I call that heavy, and I call it suspicious.

But I do know some authors who do regularly spend several thousand on AMS every month. And they are not suspicious.


Why is spending less than $10,000 not suspicious but spending $10,000 plus is suspicious? We have no idea what their AMS strategy is. If we now say that spending a lot of money on AMS is suspicious, then we are going down a very slippery slope.

(Have already read folks saying that not having a website and a social media presence is suspicious. Wow!)

 
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TimothyEllis

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Re: Nora Roberts responds to recent self-publishing issues
« Reply #29 on: March 05, 2019, 12:34:39 AM »


From what I've heard, the scammers were/are pouring $10,000 plus a month into AMS. I call that heavy, and I call it suspicious.

But I do know some authors who do regularly spend several thousand on AMS every month. And they are not suspicious.


Why is spending less than $10,000 not suspicious but spending $10,000 plus is suspicious? We have no idea what their AMS strategy is. If we now say that spending a lot of money on AMS is suspicious, then we are going down a very slippery slope.

(Have already read folks saying that not having a website and a social media presence is suspicious. Wow!)

It's a matter of scale I think. 2000 is a very active author doing a lot of advertising. 10,000 is an excessive amount. But it is subjective. One reason for the 10k is what's been said of how much actual scammers have been spending.

Websites are often a total waste of time. And a lot of people hate social media. Nothing at all suspicious about people avoiding both. IMO. Not all authors like to chat with their readers after all.

Anarchist

Re: Nora Roberts responds to recent self-publishing issues
« Reply #30 on: March 05, 2019, 12:36:22 AM »
Courtney ascribed nefarious intent to something she couldn't explain - the heavy use of AMS ads.

This has to be quantified.

From what I've heard, the scammers were/are pouring $10,000 plus a month into AMS. I call that heavy, and I call it suspicious.

But I do know some authors who do regularly spend several thousand on AMS every month. And they are not suspicious. I have no actual idea how they do this, since I have a lot of trouble getting AMS to spend $5 a day at the moment, and I'm not sure why it works for them, but apparently it does.

So yes, any claim about AMS has to be quantified.

My AMS monthly spend is well into five figures.

It's not because I'm doing anything suspicious (admittedly, there's no reason to believe me as I'm anon on the interwebz). Nor am I promoting 50+ books.

I've always focused on scale.

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Re: Nora Roberts responds to recent self-publishing issues
« Reply #31 on: March 05, 2019, 12:40:03 AM »
My AMS monthly spend is well into five figures.

I've only tried to do this once. And I stopped it after 1 day, when I'd spent more than $700 with zero effect on the days income. I got more effect reducing it down to a $30 a day ad, where AMS didn't even spend that much.

I guess you know what you're doing, and I don't.

Anarchist

Re: Nora Roberts responds to recent self-publishing issues
« Reply #32 on: March 05, 2019, 12:49:55 AM »
My AMS monthly spend is well into five figures.

I've only tried to do this once. And I stopped it after 1 day, when I'd spent more than $700 with zero effect on the days income. I got more effect reducing it down to a $30 a day ad, where AMS didn't even spend that much.

I guess you know what you're doing, and I don't.

There are lots of ways to do Amazon PPC.

Some authors set up a single campaign for each book with a $10 daily cap and move on. If that works for them, great. Most of my books have 100+ campaigns. One has 800+ campaigns.

Everyone should do whatever makes them comfortable. I've always been a "scale" guy. If something works, do it x 1,000 (and monitor the metrics along the way).


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Ash

Re: Nora Roberts responds to recent self-publishing issues
« Reply #33 on: March 05, 2019, 01:27:14 AM »
Tim why is heavy spending on advertising "suspicious"?

Ultimately publishing is a marketplace, and within any marketplace there is competition. If I could spend 20 grand a month on AMS ads to make 40 I otherwise wouldn't have made, I would do it. Frankly if I had the free cash, wasn't doing anything else with it, and had the opportunity to make even 25 grand, or five grand additional profit, then it would be worthwhile.

Now I hasten to add that I'm not very good with AMS ads. At best I'll spend a thousand dollars this month, although I have spent six or 7000 in a month before. What I basically don't understand is why you consider say $10,000 as being an "excessive" amount to spend.

Mark Dawson, for example, freely states that for the past couple of months he has been spending about $30,000/month on AMS ads. He's pretty much the prime example of someone who has purchased his way to success. What's your opinion on him?
 

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Re: Nora Roberts responds to recent self-publishing issues
« Reply #34 on: March 05, 2019, 01:35:10 AM »
Tim why is heavy spending on advertising "suspicious"?

Ultimately publishing is a marketplace, and within any marketplace there is competition. If I could spend 20 grand a month on AMS ads to make 40 I otherwise wouldn't have made, I would do it. Frankly if I had the free cash, wasn't doing anything else with it, and had the opportunity to make even 25 grand, or five grand additional profit, then it would be worthwhile.

Now I hasten to add that I'm not very good with AMS ads. At best I'll spend a thousand dollars this month, although I have spent six or 7000 in a month before. What I basically don't understand is why you consider say $10,000 as being an "excessive" amount to spend.

Mark Dawson, for example, freely states that for the past couple of months he has been spending about $30,000/month on AMS ads. He's pretty much the prime example of someone who has purchased his way to success. What's your opinion on him?
I'm trying to figure out which scams it is that large ad spends would benefit. Obviously, the bot can flip pages in KU regardless of how much or how little someone spends on AMS ads. In the days of KU 1, it made sense to drive people to just open the book on a short scamphlet to get automatic credit, and I guess the same thing can still be done to inflate rank, but encouraging ghost borrows that way seems awfully expensive.

I think there is a tendency to identify anything a scammer does as part of a scam. So if some is engaging in unethical behavior and also has a big ad spend, the ad spend gets lumped in with the actual scam, when really they're two different things.

Perhaps there is a way to scam using large ad spends. If so, I'm sure someone will clarify for us.


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TimothyEllis

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Re: Nora Roberts responds to recent self-publishing issues
« Reply #35 on: March 05, 2019, 01:37:04 AM »
Perhaps I need to reassess my opinion.

I have no opinion on Mark Dawson, seen nothing about him doing that, but it makes me wonder how many people are, and if its why the rest of us cant get AMS to work.

I've obviously not seen some of the figures floating around out there. Just figures known scammers were spending.

So yes, maybe that one needs rethinking.

But I do wonder if people doing 100 ads at a time, are not competing with themselves, and driving up the costs when they dont need to. Just a ponder.

Ash

Re: Nora Roberts responds to recent self-publishing issues
« Reply #36 on: March 05, 2019, 01:44:33 AM »
Bill I do not believe that the banned authors were using bots to flip through their work. It doesn't make any sense. The way that strategy works best is to get bots to read through long books no more than a few times a day, each, and to have hundreds if not thousands of those books. You never want to have your books come above rank 30,000, (or something equally obscure) so that no-one ever notices. For a scammer, sunlight is the worst disinfectant - they prefer the shadows. Which is why hitting top 100 would be the last thing they want!

Let's say you had a thousand books, each 1000 KENPC, so approx $5 per full read. Get your bots to read through all of your books just once a day, and that's $5k. Per day. And all of this can be easily automated - I believe that a couple of years ago there was an article on just how someone had automated tens of thousands of bot accounts to do just this.

Even at their peak, the top romance authors from the MM were making $100-200k/mo (see the Empire Flippers listing - and that account if I'm right would have been the very TOP earner), and at least 50%+ was going on ads, whether FB or AMS. You can/could see the ads on both platforms. They drowned everything else out through dint of spending power.

If you're using bots, wasting all your ill-got winnings on ads is extremely dumb. Much better would be to invest in opening more LLCs, AWS servers and whatever else you need to further your scam.

 

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Re: Nora Roberts responds to recent self-publishing issues
« Reply #37 on: March 05, 2019, 01:56:51 AM »
Everyone should do what legally works for them.

That being said...I have never used AMS ads or Facebook ads. I don't have the money and I saw what happened with internet advertising.  Keyword costs went through the roof and the big companies usually became the only ones who can afford to be in the top listings.

We may not have gatekeepers saying who can publish, but the bottom line is the cost of advertising is pushing many books out of the market.  Yes, there are other ways to promote our books and again...I do not think there is anything wrong, illegal or immoral about using AMS ads or Facebook.  I'm just saying that as larger pockets discover the effectiveness of any form of promotion, it will probably go up in price.  Basic economics. 

For now, I'll stick with social media and building an organic following.  Not as fast, but hopefully it will survive the ups and downs of advertising costs.
   
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Bill Hiatt

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Re: Nora Roberts responds to recent self-publishing issues
« Reply #38 on: March 05, 2019, 02:22:44 AM »
Everyone should do what legally works for them.

That being said...I have never used AMS ads or Facebook ads. I don't have the money and I saw what happened with internet advertising.  Keyword costs went through the roof and the big companies usually became the only ones who can afford to be in the top listings.

We may not have gatekeepers saying who can publish, but the bottom line is the cost of advertising is pushing many books out of the market.  Yes, there are other ways to promote our books and again...I do not think there is anything wrong, illegal or immoral about using AMS ads or Facebook.  I'm just saying that as larger pockets discover the effectiveness of any form of promotion, it will probably go up in price.  Basic economics. 

For now, I'll stick with social media and building an organic following.  Not as fast, but hopefully it will survive the ups and downs of advertising costs.
Yes, that's the problem--financial resources become a virtual gatekeeper. It's sad, but somewhat true. It becomes more true as the number of authors competing continues to increase.

Hopefully, your approach can still work. Time is a resource, too, and patient use of it may still lead to eventual rewards.


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angelapepper

Re: Nora Roberts responds to recent self-publishing issues
« Reply #39 on: March 05, 2019, 02:47:19 AM »
...
Mark Dawson, for example, freely states that for the past couple of months he has been spending about $30,000/month on AMS ads. He's pretty much the prime example of someone who has purchased his way to success. What's your opinion on him?

Is it really so little? I've spent hundreds a day at times, and gotten my ranks up significantly, but it's a lot of $$ to claw up from top 1000 to top 500 and higher.

He's had his book in the Amazon top 100 recently. I don't think you get it there on a mere 1k a day. Hell, I'd spend 1k a day in a heartbeat if it got me on the top 100 reliably.

 

Ash

Re: Nora Roberts responds to recent self-publishing issues
« Reply #40 on: March 05, 2019, 03:08:44 AM »
Here's where he says it, Angela: https://imgur.com/a/jisfbFQ

You can absolutely spend $1k a day to be IN the top 100, although not the higher reaches. The most important thing is you need a huge spike of sales in the first few days, enough to drive yourself into the top 100, and then back that up with high ad spend. You will only generate about 10-20% of overall unit downloads directly through your ads, the point is just to hold your position with the algo.

Also at least IME this only works with new releases in large genres (top hit top 100 I mean), although the principle holds true for any launch. Ads will not spike your book, but they're amazing for holding rank, and holding rank is how you make the big bucks. Being in the top 10 for a day and then f*cking off to the #5000s is pointless. Holding at #90 for a month will make you probably dozens of times as much.

It's important to note that Mark makes a large proportion of his income from the UK market, where there's less competition and his ad spend would be enough to drive him into the top 100 and hold there. Sometimes he has multiple books in the UK top 100.
 
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angelapepper

Re: Nora Roberts responds to recent self-publishing issues
« Reply #41 on: March 05, 2019, 04:38:49 AM »
Here's where he says it, Angela: https://imgur.com/a/jisfbFQ

You can absolutely spend $1k a day to be IN the top 100, although not the higher reaches. The most important thing is you need a huge spike of sales in the first few days, enough to drive yourself into the top 100, and then back that up with high ad spend. You will only generate about 10-20% of overall unit downloads directly through your ads, the point is just to hold your position with the algo.

Also at least IME this only works with new releases in large genres (top hit top 100 I mean), although the principle holds true for any launch. Ads will not spike your book, but they're amazing for holding rank, and holding rank is how you make the big bucks. Being in the top 10 for a day and then f*cking off to the #5000s is pointless. Holding at #90 for a month will make you probably dozens of times as much.

It's important to note that Mark makes a large proportion of his income from the UK market, where there's less competition and his ad spend would be enough to drive him into the top 100 and hold there. Sometimes he has multiple books in the UK top 100.

Ah. And I have to assume he's a lot better at getting cheap clicks than I was, not being the expert. :-)

You are right that we can't discount the algorithm love, the synergy of his ads working in tandem with the ads from similar authors who populate each other's alsobots, as well as the Amazon recommendations.

I had the algorithms working for me briefly in the summer of 2016, following a Bookbub. It was a bonanza. It didn't last forever, but it sure was nice. The algorithms are real!

I'm too niche to employ the Full Mark Dawson. What I found with my own ad spends on a series, even when I was firehosing money, was that I had to sell every book myself, once the book was over 90 days old. Like pretty much every copy, with no algo love. It could still have worked, but I got fatigued by the grind of tweaking ads with ever-diminishing returns, so I just quit cold turkey and gave up. I'm not maximizing my potential income at the moment, but sanity has its value too, LOL.

Marketing techniques definitely vary by genre! You are sure right about that!!

« Last Edit: March 05, 2019, 05:03:04 AM by angelapepper »
 

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Re: Nora Roberts responds to recent self-publishing issues
« Reply #42 on: March 05, 2019, 11:33:27 AM »
But I do know some authors who do regularly spend several thousand on AMS every month. And they are not suspicious. I have no actual idea how they do this, since I have a lot of trouble getting AMS to spend $5 a day at the moment, and I'm not sure why it works for them, but apparently it does.

I have limits of $2 a day on the two ads I'm running right now and Amazon seems to have no trouble at all spending it all. I'm averaging around 2 clicks per thousand impressions, which I'm told is a good number.
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