Dear Authors, I implore you to take a stand

If you are an author who DOES NOT support the methods of individuals engaged in buying/gifting rings, then you need to stand up and make your position known. I don’t care who you are or how many books you’ve sold, if you’re not making it clear where you stand, then you are part of the problem. If you’re supporting those who engage in these rings, sharing their podcasts, heralding their methods, then you’re part of the problem, and shame on you.

New authors, or those looking for advice: be aware of who your “idols” are in bed with. If your “marketing guru” is promoting a person who teaches others how to game the system, then move on to the next “guru”. There are plenty of experts in the publishing field who remain above board – I promise you, they are out there!

If you’ve been caught up in this nonsense in the past, you can still make a stand. In fact, there’s no better time to speak out then now. The buying/gifting rings are just one piece of the story.

Speak out.

I do not condone or support ANY of these methods, and I do not believe that indie authors must cheat to succeed. I believe that readers deserve better from authors they trust. Feel free to copy, past, or share if YOU feel the same way.

Related discussions on the www:

 

Buying & then gifting 1000s of books to influence sales rank is not the same as sending ARCs or gifting a handful of books to a few lucky readers.

Updated 2/3/18

Rebecca is going to work her butt off to get all 1000 copies given away…all of which will count as a sale. 1,000 copies given away in one day should get us into the Top 100! (from screenshot below)

If you’re an author who engages in this kind of behavior, I think you’re a disgrace.

Your opinion is that it’s perfectly fine? Good for you. Then you won’t be interested in my opposing opinion, so feel free to click away from this page. I’m not interested in hearing any whining about how “all the big 5 publishers do it,” or that’s how the industry “really operates”.  Take that nonsense and stuff it where the sun doesn’t shine.  And for those who think rank manipulation is the only way to hit the lists, I’ve had single-author volume books in the Top 100 (actually, the top 20) without gifting a single copy to manipulate sales rank- and so have MANY other upstanding authors I know.

FTR, we’re not talking about sending a handful readers ARCs via instafreebie, or sending readers a free copy of your book as a pdf or mobi file– we’re talking about authors BUYING thousands of copies through Amazon, itunes, B&N, and then doing massive gifting/giveaways with the express purpose of artificially inflating sales numbers with the goal of making USA Today and NYT Bestseller lists.  Those authors then organize themselves to spread out the gifting over multiple accounts (remember, we’re talking about box sets with 20+ authors involved) so activity with massive numbers of gifted books does not trigger scrutiny by Amazon on one individual account. Those who engage in this behavior will write long-winded explanations to conflate the issues, but they are not the same thing. Per Amazon TOS,  any activities that manipulate or artificially inflate sales rank are expressly prohibited.  If you are buying thousands of books to gift in order to ensure those “gifts” are counted as actual sales in order to inflate your sales rank, then yes, you’re violating Amazon TOS & I think you’re an utter disgrace.

It takes a lot to shock me, but the screenshots I’ve seen today have me stunned. Even more telling, when I questioned the practice directly to one of the authors who engage in this behavior, the author attacked me, questioned my character, insulted me, stated my question was irrelevant, implied that I was simply a mean person (for questioning him) and then defended his practices of buying books to gift to inflate sales rank as doing nothing wrong. Furthermore, one of his supporters then also chimed in to call me names, attack me, and excuse the sales manipulation behavior as “one” small issue that should be disregarded because that author supposedly does so much good for the author community.

Well, I disagree. I don’t think it’s “good” for the author community at all. I also find it disingenuous that any time someone speaks up and questions these behaviors, it turns into a personal attack on the character of the person asking the question. If an author is selling services and soliciting authors to come work for him, you’re damn straight it is relevant to ask him if he plans to teach those authors how to buy/gift thousands of books to manipulate sales rank. And if that person responds to criticism by attacking those who are asking questions, then that says more about what is really going on than I ever could.

Don’t come here to my page and try to defend any of this bullshit. If you think this kind of crap is a-okay and see nothing wrong with cheating your way onto bestseller lists, kindly remove yourself from my list and go pound sand.

Simple questions require simple answers.You buy thousands of books to gift to readers with the express purpose of artificially inflating sales in order to make USAT and/or NYT Bestseller lists (as you yourself have stated you do). Attempts to manipulate sales rank are a violation of the Amazon TOS. Is this what you teach other authors to do when they pay you for classes, or when you hire authors to work for you?

When authors who use these tactics can start answering direct questions without attacking the person asking the question, then I’ll start listening.

PS – I don’t blame those of you that have been sucked in by this stuff in the past. It’s easy to get taken when you’re in a FB group with everyone tooting the same horn. I’m proud of those of you that stepped away from the groups that are doing this. It takes a lot of courage, and I know how scared many of you were to make that break. I’ve seen the fallout now for years when authors try to distance themselves. Good for you, and glad you made it. Those of you who have not been able to break away, who are still afraid, now is the time. You have more support than you can image. Those of you that see nothing wrong with this and continue to support and defend it, however? Your choices DEFINE you.

** This is all public record as part of the ongoing court case, and I urge any authors thinking of getting involved in a box set scheme like this to read the thread here on KBoards http://www.kboards.com/index.php/topic,252500.

**The court case documents can be viewed online (including the screenshot below and many others). The case # is BC664530 at the LA County Superior Court website here http://www.lacourt.org/casesummary/ui/index.aspx… 

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And more who advocate this practice HERE:

(Apparently it’s an “Awesome hack” and “easiest way to hack the system”)

How to use Amazon’s giveaway feature to spike sales rank and sell more books

Edit: This didn’t work for awhile, but right now (4/26) it DOES work – you can set up a giveaway for 1000 people, get 1000 people to claim it, and you should end up in the top 100 of Amazon.

 

Updates 2/3/2018

THE GOOD:

Derek Murphy at the CreativeIndie has revised his post to explain his stance on gifting books HERE. Glad to see he has clarified his position.

2018 Update: I often share book marketing tactics or “hacks” without fully explaining my entire creative ideology, which can lead people unfamiliar with my brand to confuse me with other authors who are doing unscrupulous things. So first, let me explain that I don’t believe in gifting thousands of copies to “hack” the USA Today or NYT Bestseller lists (those letters are meaningless to me, though I may start using them if I hit the lists with a single book of my own.)

THE BAD…and the ugly:

Those who are involved in these practices are (predictably) engaging in calling me names, attacking me personally with silly insults, musing that I have nothing better to do or that I’m not successful…yadda yadda. Typical behavior when one would rather deflect from the topic at hand. Those involved are also attempting to conflate the issue by making statements such as:

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What I actually said was:

we’re not talking about sending a handful readers ARCs via instafreebie, or sending readers a free copy of your book as a pdf or mobi file– we’re talking about authors BUYING thousands of copies through Amazon, itunes, B&N, and then gifting them with the express purpose of artificially inflating sales numbers with the goal of making USA Today and NYT Bestseller lists. 

And it’s not that I think they’re doing anything. It’s what these authors have clearly stated they are doing – gifting and/or giving away thousands of books to artificially increase their sales numbers and inflate rank in order to make USAT or NYT Bestseller lists. They are organizing thousands of single-entry giveaways for the same book, which are available to the first person to click on the link, and when it is claimed it counts as a sale. Which you can see for yourself herehere, here, here, here, here, here, “How-To” Videos HERE and HERE that specifically state it is done to boost sales rank, an interesting one that explains they are using a deceptive description HERE (also directly against Amazon TOS #19 here and Amazon TOS misuse of sales rank HERE), the additional practice of coordinated buying swaps here, and many more images here.

FYI, as referenced above:

AMAZON TOS #19 

19. How do I make sure that I follow all of the guidelines when hosting a giveaway?
We prohibit and/or discourage the creation of giveaways which will lead to a poor customer or entrant experience. Giveaways should be created with the intent to award prizes to customers who have fulfilled the entry requirements or to drive product awareness. Attempts to game our ranking system, confusing or deceptive messaging, or any other abuse of our terms and conditions can result in loss of entitlements to create giveaways.

Examples of such prohibited/discouraged actions include, but are not limited to:
• General Giveaway manipulation;
• Creating giveaways that are virtually unwinnable;
• Soliciting or inducing (fraudulently or not) customers into disclosing personal information;
Using giveaways to manipulate sales rank (i.e. by creating multiple giveaways for the same ASIN, rather than creating one bulk giveaway)

 

Amazon TOS misuse of sales rank:

Misuse of sales rank:

The best seller rank feature allows buyers to evaluate the popularity of a product. Any attempt to manipulate sales rank is prohibited. You may not solicit or knowingly accept fake or fraudulent orders, including placing orders for your own products. You may not provide compensation to buyers for purchasing your products or provide claim codes to buyers for the purpose of inflating sales rank. In addition, you may not make claims regarding a product’s best seller rank in the product detail page information, including the title and description.

I’m not sure how anyone can read the TOS and still insist that buying thousands of your own books, keeping an organized spreadsheet to ensure all copies are claimed in a timely manner to count as sales, and stating unequivocally that you are doing it to inflate sales numbers to make the USAT or NYT Bestseller list is not against the Amazon TOS.

And to this educated statement:

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Like I said at the beginning of this post, this is my opinion of  events involved in an ongoing court case involving members of the author community. This is a topic that affects readers who are being deceived and authors who choose to get tangled up in these practices without all of the facts. This is a topic that affects all authors who hope to make bestseller lists, when the lists are cluttered up with organized box sets that bought that placement. Use your “valuable” time however you see fit; I’ll use mine the same.

Your opinion is that it’s perfectly fine, and that anyone who discusses this topic is just jealous, unsuccessful, mean, stupid, or trying to be the Author Police? Good for you. And pretty please, keep proclaiming it loud and proud on social media, so authors and readers can see exactly what kind of behaviors you engage in and support.

 

You’ve been nominated for a prestigious award!

If you are one of thousands of authors who was “nominated” for this award unfortunate spam campaign sent out on Christmas Day by New York Literary Magazine, shoot over & read the report here on Writer Beware.  (I’m still wondering how they obtained my private email address, but I’m guessing we’ll never get a straight answer to that question.)

And no, the NYLM is not endorsed by the New York Times or Writer’s Digest, despite the misleading quotes they’ve included in this email or have splattered creatively all over their website.

PS – Happy Holidays 😉

Love, E.B. Brown, Best Story Award 2017 Nominee
#beststoryaward2017nominee

** edited to add link to an excellent blog post with updated detail by Foz Meadows HERE.   I’m proud to be part of the indie author community. This community is strong because authors ask hard questions, they are knowledgeable about how the industry works, and they freely share information to prevent other authors from being taken advantage of. #proudindieauthor

nylm

ON SALE: Time Walkers Complete Collection $0.99 or FREE w/Kindle Unlimited

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See why readers are falling in love with Time Walkers

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“Perhaps I will cut your throat as you tried to cut mine. Will I still want to touch you when your blood is on my hands? Or will it chase your ghost from my thoughts?”
He held his hands out and considered them for a moment, shaking his head.
“I think not. I think still you would haunt me.”

TIME WALKERS

Maggie is a modern day woman with all her flaws, thrust back into a time when men were carving out the history of America. She has just enough knowledge of the past to know trouble is coming, yet soon she is kicking herself for not paying better attention in history class. When she is captured by Winn, a warrior who is torn between his duty to kill her and his desire to keep her, she must adapt to a life she had only read about in history books.

Winn is a seventeenth century Paspahegh warrior, born in a time before the English settlers arrived on the shores of Tsenacomoco. He has learned the ways of the English and uses his knowledge to ensure the survival of his people, but when he finds a wounded woman in the woods his loyalty is put to the ultimate test.

Hunted and feared by both the Powhatan and the English, Maggie struggles to find a way home while Winn plots to keep her there. Maggie fights to survive as she finds herself entangled in the Massacre of 1622, and Winn sees everything he ever believed in shattered by the knowledge she holds. With ties to both the past and future, their lives unfold among the stirrings of a new nation. Maggie and Winn risk everything to survive as the once powerful Powhatan Nation crumbles and the English build a country from the ashes.

This eBook includes:

  • The Legend of the Bloodstone
  • Return of the Pale Feather
  • Of Vice and Virtue
  • A Tale of Oak and Mistletoe
  • An excerpt from E.B. Brown’s Ghost Dance, the first novel in the Time Dance series
  • Bonus content notes from E.B. Brown

Praise for the Time Walkers series:
The Legend of the Bloodstone – 2013 Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award, Quarterfinalist
A Tale of Oak and Mistletoe – 2013 RWA/NYC We Need a Hero Contest, Finalist
“Time travel and romance converge in this tale of star-crossed love” – Publishers Weekly on The Legend of the Bloodstone
“This was beautiful! Time Travel at its best!”- Romance Novels in Color
“Absolutely consuming” – Amazon reviewer
“I love this series. I didn’t want it to end!” – Amazon Reviewer
“I can easily see where this story could be a fantastic movie.” – Amazon Reviewer
“My complaint with this book is I couldn’t stop reading this one and the next one in the series which resulted in late nights and tired mornings!!” – Amazon Reviewer
“An epic historical saga in brilliant cinematic technicolor” – Amazon reviewer

Amazon’s Hall of Spinning Knives

David Gaughran

Phoenix Sullivan is well-known in the indie community – I’ve known her myself since 2009 or 2010 and consider her a close friend.

Aside from being exceptionally generous with her time and knowledge, tirelessly sharing her insights on marketing and algorithms, Phoenix is also well known as a vocal campaigner against scammers and cheaters – particularly on the current big issues of book stuffing and clickfarming.

And now she is being targeted.

Phoenix made a box set free for a few days back in September, advertising on Freebooksy, KND/BookGorilla, and Digital Book World – all legitimate sites – and there was no other promotion involved with this title. No BookBub CPM ads, no Facebook campaign, no tweets, no newsletter swaps, no mailing lists.

On the third day of her free run, Phoenix’s box set was rank-stripped by Amazon, a punishment normally reserved for those who have used clickfarms or bots…

View original post 1,563 more words

NEW RELEASES! + FREE w/Kindle Unlimited

A few new releases are now available:

 

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Praise for the Time Walkers series

The Legend of the Bloodstone
2013 Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award, Quarterfinalist
A Tale of Oak and Mistletoe
2013 RWA/NYC We Need a Hero Contest, Finalist

“Time travel and romance converge in this tale of star-crossed love”
-Publishers Weekly on The Legend of the Bloodstone

“The strongest aspect is the author’s creation of a spunky, sympathetic heroine whose abrupt tumble Alice in Wonderland-style into a perplexing (but some how familiar) world is humorous and intriguing.”
-ABNA Reviewer

“This was beautiful! Time Travel at its best!”
-Romance Novels in Color

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