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,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… 



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


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:


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:


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:



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.


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

Wading through fake Facebook friend requests is starting to become a full time job

Three friend requests and two messages from Billy Currington telling me what an awesome fan I am and how we should chat.

Leave me alone, Billy, I only allow super famous people on my super private Facebook account. I didn’t accept Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen Joseph Dunford last week, nor did I accept Kit Harington this week. This is an exclusive club here, you gotta up your game. You can follow my E.B. Brown page like the others.

I continue to be shocked daily on how people have so much time on their hands to create fake accounts and send the same friend requests over and over. I don’t have time to keep up with the real accounts I have. 😂🤣


In other news, my legs went numb while I was sitting on the toilet peeing this morning and checking Facebook, and then when I got up I stumbled around like a newborn deer for five minutes until the blood flow returned to my legs.

This is what happens when I think I’m hitting snooze on my phone alarm, but instead I throw it across the room, crack the screen, and wake up an hour late.

This day is a total bust. FML.



Follow me on my FB page or my personal account.

Yes, I can spare a square

seinfeldspareasquareb1Apparently the re-post(FB) I made about bathrooms was so offensive to a person that she felt the need to slam my inbox with multiple messages and threaten me in several ways, including boycotting my books, because she claims I am a pedophile supporter (HER words). I guess I have to clarify my position if I want to get any work done today.

1. If you don’t like what I post, then stop reading and delete yourself from my personal page. Pretty simple. If you want to complain, put it on my fan page, where you may or may not be filtered.
2. I don’t care who is sitting in the bathroom stall beside me.
3. I don’t know what bathroom stalls you people use, but any stall I’ve ever used in a public place pretty much kept me from seeing the genitals of the person in the stall next to me. I mean, if I squinted real hard and looked through the crack in the corner, I could probably see a flash of skin, but I can’t recall ever routinely witnessing anyone waving a penis around like a banner when I happened to accidentally glance in that quarter inch gap in the door.
4. If someone is waving a penis around in the women’s restroom or made a move to assault me (if I’m there with my daughter or not), then I know I have every right to call the police. Just like I would if it happened in a dark alley or broad daylight. Do I think that sort of behavior is done by a specific group of people? YES, sexual predators. Are all priests sexual predators? No. Are all black people criminals? No. Are all gay people fashion savvy? No. Are all cops racist? No. Are all rednecks gun-toting vigilantes? No. Are all transgender people pedophiles? NO. I judge people as individuals, not as the sum of a label of which they have no control.
5. It’s none of my business what equipment is between the legs of another person. I have personal opinions about the subject, but this isn’t about what I believe or don’t believe about the mechanics/dna/physical state/psychological state/morality/or religious interpretation of transgendered citizens. My bottom line is that I believe in live and let live.  If man, you feel like a woman, sing it loud & proud, be happy, & live a good life. That’s the same thing I wish for anyone, so interpret that however you will.


6. I feel fortunate to live in a country where so many people spend time complaining about who is peeing in the stall next to them. I’ve been to other countries where my only option was to pee in a hole in the ground with a toilet seat on it, while in a row of ten with NO toilet paper….and the chick next to me offered me some of her leaves.
Was she transgendered? I have no clue. I smiled and took the leaf she offered and I didn’t think to look between her legs.

Seriously, people. Spare a square.