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Author Topic: Box set scams on Passive Voice  (Read 93888 times)  

Offline Holly Dodd

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Re: Box set scams on Passive Voice
« Reply #150 on: April 28, 2017, 08:23:21 PM »
Shoot, this was true when I worked at Waldenbooks in the early 90s. Tradpub's churn created tons of pop-up bestsellers you've never heard from again. Doesn't make it right, but it did show me even back then that the bestseller lists were gamed.

Yes. Everyone has their own dreams, I'm not going to judge someone for achieving them in the way they can. Like I said earlier, I am not going to sacrifice my income just for a title that can be hacked/gamed. A lot of the authors in the box sets are exclusive to KU, and they might think the same thing. It's a lot of money to push out and maybe not get back. So, splitting that cost makes fiscal sense to me.

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Offline Holly Dodd

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Re: Box set scams on Passive Voice
« Reply #151 on: April 28, 2017, 08:26:13 PM »
This is a response I've heard before. What is the point of the gifting then? To get enough sales to get on a BS list? Um, it's not sales that get a book on the list, but a top 100 rank. Gifting hundreds of copies, to achieve the rank needed to get on a BS list, IS rank manipulation, pure and simple. Doing it to get on a list doesn't make it okay.

This confuses me. Rank means nothing. It is the sales that get the book on a list. Sometimes they go hand-in-hand, sure. But not all the time if they've had a ton of pre-orders. They can be sitting at like 1k Rank and still make the list because they have the pure sale numbers.

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Offline TheForeverGirlSeries

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Re: Box set scams on Passive Voice
« Reply #152 on: April 28, 2017, 08:26:20 PM »
Actually, I always consider the people going after me, even when they go after me. Will I prove their lie is a lie? YES. But I ALWAYS ALWAYS AWLAYS will tell people NOT to go after them. I've even recommended books by people who were harassing me. Readers, on their own accord after seeing the way those people treated me, has said "I'm not reading their books anymore" and I've told them NOT to do that. I've told them those authors are talented and that maybe they are going through something and to not deprive themselves of great books. I share the truth NOT to hurt others but to protect my family, those who work with me, and myself. And anyone who has followed this from the beginning knows I have been consistent about that from day one.

No matter HOW badly I am treated, no matter HOW many death threats I receive, no matter HOW many times I defend lies with truth, I ALWAYS want the best for others - even those hurting me - and I'm always willing to forgive and I always encourage my followers to be kind. And when I get carried away, as humans often do, I apologize. Because I know I'm not perfect. But I also know I want to help others, even those who hurt me. If anyone is ever suffering and thinks I can help, I don't care what they have done to me in the past, I will do anything I am ABLE to do to help them. And anyone who has followed me knows this is true.

Yes, even you, Sela. Even RIGHT NOW. If you messaged me in private and said "I hate your guts still but I really need help and you're the only one who can help me" - and it was something I COULD help with - I would help you in a heartbeat. I mean, I can guess you probably wouldn't WANT my help, but my willingness to give it to you will always be there.

You can say anything you want in the meantime, but if that day ever comes, it will still be true. I may not like how you treat me, but I value your life as a human being and want the best for you.
« Last Edit: April 28, 2017, 08:28:50 PM by TheForeverGirlSeries »

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Re: Box set scams on Passive Voice
« Reply #153 on: April 28, 2017, 08:28:06 PM »
I don't really think gifting sales should be counting towards ranking or any lists.

But, like, that's just my opinion, man.


Offline Holly Dodd

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Re: Box set scams on Passive Voice
« Reply #154 on: April 28, 2017, 08:29:48 PM »
I don't really think gifting sales should be counting towards ranking or any lists.

But, like, that's just my opinion, man.

I don't think they count towards rank, actually. I'm not 100% sure, but I swear someone I knew tried it out and their rank didn't change at all.

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Offline Jim Johnson

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Re: Box set scams on Passive Voice
« Reply #155 on: April 28, 2017, 08:30:09 PM »
Yes. Everyone has their own dreams, I'm not going to judge someone for achieving them in the way they can. Like I said earlier, I am not going to sacrifice my income just for a title that can be hacked/gamed. A lot of the authors in the box sets are exclusive to KU, and they might think the same thing. It's a lot of money to push out and maybe not get back. So, splitting that cost makes fiscal sense to me.

Agreed 100%. I don't care about hitting the lists but I joined one of the genreCrave box sets to learn all I could about marketing at a level beyond where I was at the time. The buy in wasn't much more than other master classes and workshops I've taken, and so far, it's been money well spent. And based on the pre-order numbers I've seen, we might make all our money back, which is win-win for me since I got my education and win-win for any of my fellow box-mates that wanted to check the box of their dreams.

Offline Denise Grover Swank

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Re: Box set scams on Passive Voice
« Reply #156 on: April 28, 2017, 08:31:12 PM »
To me it sounds like a lot of you don't realize how much it costs to make a list in marketing.

When the big indies are pushing to make JUST the USA today, they've spent tens of thousands in a -week-.

Meredith Wild spent 6-figures (yes, over 100,000) when she pushed her Hacker series.

A friend of mine put together a box set (Not Rebecca). Her budget that she spent: 30,000 (and she didn't make NYT). All out of her pocket because she didn't do a buy in.

I don't have 30,000 to spend on marketing. I don't even have 5,000 to spend. What I do have is $500, and being that I want the letters, I'm A-okay with doing it in a boxset.

Really, really research things before you begin questioning about "Why it costs so much" or "Where does the money go". Because honestly, it costs a f*ckton.

My book TRAILER TRASH hit #38 on the USA Today list for it's debut last week. Guess how much money I spent on marketing?

$250 in Facebook post boosts
Approximately $100 in giveaways (Including priority mail shipping)

That's it. Unless you count the $250 I spend each month to maintain my newsletter subscriber list. 

You know what I do? I write the best damn book I can so my readers want to read the next one. I engage with my readers on Facebook and I set up preorders as soon as I can.

I realize it's harder for new authors to find readers, but I have yet to get a substantial number of new readers from a multi author box set. They were way more work than they were worth.

Offline crow.bar.beer

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Re: Box set scams on Passive Voice
« Reply #157 on: April 28, 2017, 08:34:26 PM »
ROFL. Yes, that has a great honest ring to it. But it looks ugly as hell!

Yeah, that extra syllable really adds a few stink lines.  :P

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Re: Box set scams on Passive Voice
« Reply #158 on: April 28, 2017, 08:35:51 PM »
This confuses me. Rank means nothing. It is the sales that get the book on a list. Sometimes they go hand-in-hand, sure. But not all the time if they've had a ton of pre-orders. They can be sitting at like 1k Rank and still make the list because they have the pure sale numbers.

Then you miss the point of what a BEST seller is. Or have been misled.

It's the top 100 selling books nothing more. You can't "be sitting at like 1K Rank" and be in the top 100. If there was a finite number required, let's say it's 1000 sales (or 10,000, doesn't matter), and 250 different individual books sell 1000 copies (or whatever) are all 250 books in the Top 100 Best Sellers?
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Offline Holly Dodd

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Re: Box set scams on Passive Voice
« Reply #159 on: April 28, 2017, 08:38:43 PM »
My book TRAILER TRASH hit #38 on the USA Today list for it's debut last week. Guess how much money I spent on marketing?

$250 in Facebook post boosts
Approximately $100 in giveaways (Including priority mail shipping)

That's it. Unless you count the $250 I spend each month to maintain my newsletter subscriber list. 

You know what I do? I write the best damn book I can so my readers want to read the next one. I engage with my readers on Facebook and I set up preorders as soon as I can.

I realize it's harder for new authors to find readers, but I have yet to get a substantial number of new readers from a multi author box set. They were way more work than they were worth.

You're a bit of a unicorn. You have a huge backlist and based on your monthly Nl spend a huge newsletter, and you're wide. While I'm surprised you were able to do it with such a small marketing spend, I can see how you did it too. Those numbers aren't for you! But for people like me who don't have a wide following.

Congratulations on making the list!

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Re: Box set scams on Passive Voice
« Reply #160 on: April 28, 2017, 08:39:08 PM »
Just starting to catch up with this thread, but have already heavily edited a couple recent posts for personal attacks and deleted some egging-on of such. No more of that, please.

Offline Perry Constantine

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Re: Box set scams on Passive Voice
« Reply #161 on: April 28, 2017, 08:40:38 PM »
I was talking to Monk, who was saying that people using her services were morally bankrupt (My words) and now he is attacking some woman somewhere whose child had surgery today and who is pregnant.

I'm sorry, but what does this have to do with anything?

First off, I wasn't aware there was an international broadcast every time a person has a sick child or is pregnant. It's not our job to know that information nor is it in any way relevant to this discussion.

Second, regardless of what condition you're in, unethical business practices are still unethical. Being pregnant and having a sick child doesn't suddenly shield you from criticism of unethical business practices. If the United [expletive deleted]s who beat that guy to a pulp said, "you have to understand, my child was sick at the time," how many people would have said, "oh, well that changes everything"?

Quote
Let's all get over ourselves. It's not that important, really!

Actually yeah, it is important. Not only does it make those "NYT/USAT best-selling author" titles completely meaningless, but it also reflects poorly on all indies as a result. Every time an indie behaves unethically, it reflects poorly on all of us. Doubly so when other indies rush to justify that unethical behavior.

Call me crazy, but I'd rather earn those letters than buy them.

Offline Holly Dodd

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Re: Box set scams on Passive Voice
« Reply #162 on: April 28, 2017, 08:41:56 PM »
Agreed 100%. I don't care about hitting the lists but I joined one of the genreCrave box sets to learn all I could about marketing at a level beyond where I was at the time. The buy in wasn't much more than other master classes and workshops I've taken, and so far, it's been money well spent. And based on the pre-order numbers I've seen, we might make all our money back, which is win-win for me since I got my education and win-win for any of my fellow box-mates that wanted to check the box of their dreams.

I am all about the money. So, I don't care about the titles either perse, but I do want the letters and I don't want to spend a ton to do it. So will I be in a boxset at some point? You bet your ass!

Also, learning how people market wide would be so damn beneficial if I ever decide to slip out of KU and go wide. (I keep bouncing back and forth about it. I write to the KU market).

I look forward to seeing your shiny new letters!


Edited for profanity. - Becca
« Last Edit: May 07, 2017, 11:09:02 AM by Becca Mills »

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Offline sela

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Re: Box set scams on Passive Voice
« Reply #163 on: April 28, 2017, 08:43:38 PM »
My book TRAILER TRASH hit #38 on the USA Today list for it's debut last week. Guess how much money I spent on marketing?

$250 in Facebook post boosts
Approximately $100 in giveaways (Including priority mail shipping)

That's it. Unless you count the $250 I spend each month to maintain my newsletter subscriber list. 

You know what I do? I write the best damn book I can so my readers want to read the next one. I engage with my readers on Facebook and I set up preorders as soon as I can.

I realize it's harder for new authors to find readers, but I have yet to get a substantial number of new readers from a multi author box set. They were way more work than they were worth.

This -- so much this.

I may be unpopular for saying this but here it is:

Getting USAT or NYTs after your name will not, in itself, make you a success. It may help you get a promotion. It may encourage a reader to click on your book's preview when they see the letters on the cover. Even Bookbub acknowledges that having those letters improves your chances of your book being purchased or downloaded. So by all means, go for a list in a boxed set. It can be useful for marketing. It looks nice on your cover and in your blurb.

But the bottom line is this: if your book's premise (as stated in the blurb) doesn't hook the reader, they won't buy despite the letters. If they buy and it doesn't satisfy, they will not buy more and may leave a negative review.

There is no trick. There is no cheat. There is no scam. Not one that will work in the long term. The only thing that works in the long term is writing books that satisfy big hungry markets or writing many books in lower selling markets and doing it consistently. It's not easy to sell books despite how easy it is to publish them. Publishing books is the easy part. Not everyone can do it. In fact, very few authors can. Vanishingly few. Look at the Author Earnings report. There are very few authors making a living selling books. Fewer still make six figures. A minuscule number make seven and eight.

There are 4.7M ebooks on Amazon. How do you get to the top 100 or 1000 even? How do you  get a book to stick and stay high in the ranks and keeps selling?

You can't cheat your way there. You may be able to get your book high in the ranks for a brief moment by buying legitimate promotions, but if your book doesn't satisfy a big audience of readers enough for them to talk about your book to their friends or post about it on Facebook or on Goodreads, your book will sink back into the ranks and lose visibility fast.

Getting that NYTs or USAT designation alone won't change your life but if you have a good solid commercially appealing product, it can help you get more visible.

BUT: the goal of getting the designation and getting more visibility is sales and brand awareness. If actual people aren't actually reading your book, because they didn't actually choose to buy it, but were paid to, and they don't actually read it? That's wasted effort.

You want real people who are looking for a book like yours to find and read your book.

I'm speaking from experience here. I have a USAT that I got via a boxed set promotion back in 2014. We spent $200. Maybe if we spent more, we might have hit the NYTs also. Did it make the difference in my career as an author? Nope. By then, I was already making six figures. My books had already hit the top 100 in the Kindle store and top 20 in my categories. The designation looks nice, but it came AFTER I already had six-figure success.

In fact, you don't need to be in the top 100 or even top 1000 or have a USAT or NYTs designation to have a great career as an indie, if you write books that sell consistently and you keep doing that, keep getting your books in front of new readers, you can make a living -- even a great living. The USAT or NYTs designation on the cover can't make a book a success. If that were the case, all my books would be bestsellers in stead of only 3. The other 10 sell well but not as well as those three because letters alone will not make any given book or author a success.

In the end, the purpose of being in a boxed set and hitting a list is to get your book out in front of a wider audience of hungry readers who will go on to buy your other books or upcoming books. If that isn't the result, the letters will mean little to nothing.

Focus on the books. Focus on the writing and understanding your readers.

DON'T sacrifice your ethics and reputation by doing unethical things to get rank or sales or page reads or hit lists. It may feel like it's necessary to compromise your ethics and skirt TOS or look for loopholes or use black hat techniques, but it isn't. Both in terms of possibly losing your author account if Amazon brings the hammer down or because all that work and money may not result in any improvements in your position and you've done shady things.



Offline Holly Dodd

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Re: Box set scams on Passive Voice
« Reply #164 on: April 28, 2017, 08:45:39 PM »
Then you miss the point of what a BEST seller is. Or have been misled.

It's the top 100 selling books nothing more. You can't "be sitting at like 1K Rank" and be in the top 100. If there was a finite number required, let's say it's 1000 sales (or 10,000, doesn't matter), and 250 different individual books sell 1000 copies (or whatever) are all 250 books in the Top 100 Best Sellers?

You are missing what we are talking about. The USA today bestselling list requires 6-7k books sold. You can get those in pre-order. On Amazon, Pre-orders do not effect rank on release day. So yeah, if they have had a 3 month pre-order, and spread those 6k books out, they won't be in the top 100 on Amazon. More like top 300-500. (At this point I am not talking about Nook or Apple because I don't know how their lists/ranking works)

NYT isn't even a best selling list. It's curated. So, what are you talking about?

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Offline TheForeverGirlSeries

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Re: Box set scams on Passive Voice
« Reply #165 on: April 28, 2017, 08:47:39 PM »
For those interested, this is what Amazon says about gifting:

Gifting for Kindle

"Customers can gift all titles available through KDP on Amazon.com, through wish lists or book detail pages. The only current exception is for titles that are not available in the country where the customer lives.

"Your royalties will be based on the price and royalty option selected at the time the Kindle gift was purchased. After the gift recipient downloads your title, your royalties will accrue, and the sale will show on your reports. A gift sale counts toward a sales rank only if it is redeemed within 24 hours by the recipient.

"You are welcome to gift your book to as many people as you like to help promote it. Be aware that gift recipients have the option of choosing a gift certificate instead. Also, as with all Kindle sales, gift recipients have the option to return the gift within 7 days of downloading. Learn more on the Amazon Help page, Give and Receive Kindle Devices and Books."

https://kdp.amazon.com/help/topic/A2SPN65RHEW2G

If a reader doesn't actually want your book, they can get a gift card instead. If they claim a gift card, it doesn't count toward your rank OR book sales. So if you don't have a book readers want, I don't care WHAT you do, you're not gonna move enough copies. IF you have a book readers do want, there's nothing wrong with giving away free copies.

Most of the readers who get free copies from me have told me they are disabled and living on a fixed income and that the books I give them are the only joy they have. If that means I'm unethical, tell that to those readers, not to me. Because I don't feel bad about it. You literally CAN'T game the system with a book readers don't want, and that's fact - because you will NOT get credit toward sales or rank no matter how many copies you gift if the reader doesn't want it. And saying that only readers who can afford books deserve their sale to contribute toward USAT/NYT is classist IMO and not cool. But, you have the right to feel differently.

Most people against gifting don't know the actually terms of service (last time we tried to share with someone on FB, she delivered the TOS and link to the TOS about it...not sure why she wanted to hide the TOS from her followers, but hey, it's her timeline!) But the facts remain fact. It's not even just about TOS about this point, anyway. There's an ethics issue when people try to hide TOS from others, there's an ethics issue when someone says that readers on a fixed income who can't afford books shouldn't be given free books or that their "purchase" shouldn't count (because they COULD trade that in for the money if they didn't want the book). There's just so much information being completely ignored, and it's sad, because I know it's an effort to have a go at ME specifically, but it's hurting a LOT of people in the process - including readers.

Offline jaehaerys

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Re: Box set scams on Passive Voice
« Reply #166 on: April 28, 2017, 08:52:30 PM »
I honestly cannot believe this thread. Whatever happened to writing a great book, telling a great story and being organically rewarded for that by way of healthy sales and friendly word of mouth? All of these manipulation games and 'you need to spend x to hit this list', it's quite upsetting to be frank.

Here I am working hard to write the best stories I can, that I feel passionate about, and want to share and hopefully succeed with and instead of a marketplace full of ethical authors all trying to do the same I'm finding out that I'm forced to compete with gamers.

I suppose I shouldn't be surprised, but man, it's a kick in the teeth to see what some people are saying in this thread and the contortions they're putting themselves through to excuse away their unethical behavior...all in the name of accomplishing something that they're not honestly earning.  :'(


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Re: Box set scams on Passive Voice
« Reply #167 on: April 28, 2017, 08:56:10 PM »
If I bought 50,000 copies of my books and gave them to people living on Skid Row, or orphans living in refugee camps and got the NYTs designation that way, it wouldn't make any difference. I would still have bought my way onto the NYTs bestsellers list.

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Re: Box set scams on Passive Voice
« Reply #168 on: April 28, 2017, 08:57:23 PM »
I honestly cannot believe this thread. Whatever happened to writing a great book, telling a great story and being organically rewarded for that by way of healthy sales and friendly word of mouth? All of these manipulation games and 'you need to spend x to hit this list', it's quite upsetting to be frank.

Here I am working hard to write the best stories I can, that I feel passionate about, and want to share and hopefully succeed with and instead of a marketplace full of ethical authors all trying to do the same I'm finding out that I'm forced to compete with gamers.

I suppose I shouldn't be surprised, but man, it's a kick in the teeth to see what some people are saying in this thread and the contortions they're putting themselves through to excuse away their unethical behavior...all in the name of accomplishing something that they're not honestly earning.  :'(

How is spending money on marketing unethical?

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Offline Usedtoposthere

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Re: Box set scams on Passive Voice
« Reply #169 on: April 28, 2017, 08:58:15 PM »
Once again, Sela nails it. I still don't "get" how achieving letters could possibly be personally meaningful unless you actually had x number of people buy YOUR book, but OK. In terms of success--any ad, any promo, any boxed set can at most get some eyes on your book. After that, it's on the book.

And if some of the people who "bought" the book did so with gift cards or gift copies and never read your book--you haven't even got that shot. They aren't even reading your book. What use is that? Hundreds or thousands of dollars' worth? Does that work? I doubt it.

I have my doubts in any case about how many readers actually get to your story if you're #9 or #14 or #19 out of 20 authors. I know cross-promo, like increasing your mailing list numbers by any means, is all the rage, but . . . I wonder. If you're awesome, maybe. But then, if you're awesome, something is probably going to work anyway.

Offline Perry Constantine

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Re: Box set scams on Passive Voice
« Reply #170 on: April 28, 2017, 08:58:53 PM »
If I bought 50,000 copies of my books and gave them to people living on Skid Row, or orphans living in refugee camps and got the NYTs designation that way, it wouldn't make any difference. I would still have bought my way onto the NYTs bestsellers list.

Exactly. If this was really about altruistically giving disabled people on fixed income some joy, you wouldn't be gifting them (which provides benefit to you)--you'd be giving them the books outright.

How is spending money on marketing unethical?

Spending money on marketing isn't unethical. Spending money to artificially inflate sales rank is. This ain't rocket science.

Offline TheForeverGirlSeries

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Re: Box set scams on Passive Voice
« Reply #171 on: April 28, 2017, 08:59:01 PM »
Things Trad Publisher do or have done with "Household Name Authors" - including JK Rowling, Stephen King, Nora Roberts, you name it.

- Spend tens of thousands of dollars marketing their new releases
- Giveaway Advanced Reader Copies
- Cross promote with other authors
- Some big name authors are even part of anthologies with other big name authors

I guess those authors don't deserve their letters either? I mean, I'M not saying that. Personally I think someone deserves what they earn. The authors in the sets aren't writing garbage, and I feel for them that anyone would insinuate that. I think maybe, just maybe, it's possible some have gotten swept up in the drama and have lost sight of all the people they are hurting in an effort to get to one person.

Several authors in my sets have been approached by big name agencies. I don't think they are garbage writers. I think they wanted to reach a lot of readers, invested in doing so, and did.

And def contracts to those who have made a list with little marketing budget. That rocks, and they totally deserve every success. I hope it continues for them <3

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Re: Box set scams on Passive Voice
« Reply #172 on: April 28, 2017, 09:00:40 PM »
Once again, Sela nails it. I still don't "get" how achieving letters could possibly be personally meaningful unless you actually had x number of people buy YOUR book, but OK. In terms of success--any ad, any promo, any boxed set can at most get some eyes on your book. After that, it's on the book.

And if some of the people who "bought" the book did so with gift cards or gift copies and never read your book--you haven't even got that shot. They aren't even reading your book. What use is that? Hundreds or thousands of dollars' worth? Does that work? I doubt it.

I have my doubts in any case about how many readers actually get to your story if you're #9 or #14 or #19 out of 20 authors. I know cross-promo, like increasing your mailing list numbers by any means, is all the rage, but . . . I wonder. If you're awesome, maybe. But then, if you're awesome, something is probably going to work anyway.

All of this is assuming that is what is going on/happening. All we have are unverified rumors that people gifted enough copies to make a list. There's a lot of assumptions in this thread, unfortunately.

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Offline Holly Dodd

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Re: Box set scams on Passive Voice
« Reply #173 on: April 28, 2017, 09:01:53 PM »
Exactly. If this was really about altruistically giving disabled people on fixed income some joy, you wouldn't be gifting them (which provides benefit to you)--you'd be giving them the books outright.

Spending money on marketing isn't unethical. Spending money to artificially inflate sales rank is. This ain't rocket science.

I'm aware of that. However, he was grouping -all- marketing into the unethical category. I'm staying out of the gifting/unethical debate and wanted clarification.

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Offline TheForeverGirlSeries

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Re: Box set scams on Passive Voice
« Reply #174 on: April 28, 2017, 09:04:43 PM »
If I bought 50,000 copies of my books and gave them to people living on Skid Row, or orphans living in refugee camps and got the NYTs designation that way, it wouldn't make any difference. I would still have bought my way onto the NYTs bestsellers list.

No one is gifting 50,000 copies. No one is gifting enough copies to affect rank. And I'd love to know how you will gift these books to those people, but if you can do it, you should. That would be awesome for those people to get books to read on... I guess we're gifting kindles to go with it? I'd love to help get books to people living in those situations, if that's possible. No list making necessary - just because everyone deserves books if they want them.

That said, if you are talking about gifting books to make a list, good luck with that. I don't see how that would even be possible. When I gift for purposes of drumming up excitement, it has very little impact on rank and doesn't do much to cut into the numbers needed for a bestseller list. And with NYT, they curate anyway - so even if somehow I cloned myself 5000 times to be able to give anyway 50,000 copies in such a short amount of time, they would just curate me off the list anyway.

There seems to be a lot of facts being ignored here, but hey, I guess I have my reasons for wanting authors to succeed, and other people have their reasons for ignoring reality. To each their own. Have an awesome night :)