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Author Topic: Box set scams on Passive Voice  (Read 91426 times)  

Offline Rick Gualtieri

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Box set scams on Passive Voice
« on: April 28, 2017, 02:13:08 PM »
Nothing we haven't really discussed here, but I didn't see anyone share the link. Apologies if it has been. The originating site has a ton more stuff on it, although I have no idea on the veracity of it all.

Even so, I think it serves as a good reminder that we're all business owners and as such need to be mindful of protecting that business.  Things like: being careful who we do business with, always being mindful of TOS, and never putting our businesses in a position where we can't get a refund for a service.

http://www.thepassivevoice.com/2017/04/the-bestseller-list-box-set-gig/
« Last Edit: April 29, 2017, 10:19:21 PM by Becca Mills »


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Online brkingsolver

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Re: Box set scams on Passive Voice
« Reply #1 on: April 28, 2017, 02:20:14 PM »
Oh, my, and I know exactly who the article is talking about. :( A whole bunch of Kboarders have had books in these sets.

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Offline Lydniz

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Re: Box set scams on Passive Voice
« Reply #2 on: April 28, 2017, 02:20:36 PM »
There's some scary stuff going on these days.

Offline Jena H

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Re: Box set scams on Passive Voice
« Reply #3 on: April 28, 2017, 02:31:46 PM »
Okay, dumb question time:  what does "getting the letters" mean?  Does that have something to do with NYT list or USAToday list?  (See?  Those are letters.   :P )
Jena

Offline JalexM

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Re: Box set scams on Passive Voice
« Reply #4 on: April 28, 2017, 02:34:53 PM »
I know who they are talking about and there's alot of back and forth going on between certain author groups. This article only list one side and there is a lot of misinformation and biases going on. The organizer is doing nothing wrong and I stand by them. There's is a lot of facebook drama, misinformation, and jealousy going on here and in the article the article links to.
Don't trust a random blog that has the amount of angst in the last two paragraphs as that one did.
« Last Edit: April 28, 2017, 02:38:14 PM by JalexM »

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Re: Box set scams on Passive Voice
« Reply #5 on: April 28, 2017, 02:36:24 PM »
Okay, dumb question time:  what does "getting the letters" mean?  Does that have something to do with NYT list or USAToday list?  (See?  Those are letters.   :P )
Those are the letters.

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Offline MyraScott

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Re: Box set scams on Passive Voice
« Reply #6 on: April 28, 2017, 02:38:48 PM »
What's crazy is a friend of mine had Amazon threaten to close her account for gifting one book to a friend who, unrequested, then left a review.  The email from Amazon warned her they "don't tolerate authors trying to manipulate ranks."

With a single gifted copy.

And yet a promo organizer buys a spot on the lists with thousands of gifted copies and claims to get a special call from an Amazon executives on Sunday telling her how much they love her and would never think of doing anything to hurt her?

It makes not one bit of sense.  Not even a little.
« Last Edit: April 28, 2017, 02:40:40 PM by MyraScott »

Offline JalexM

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Re: Box set scams on Passive Voice
« Reply #7 on: April 28, 2017, 02:44:01 PM »
What's crazy is a friend of mine had Amazon threaten to close her account for gifting one book to a friend who, unrequested, then left a review.  The email from Amazon warned her they "don't tolerate authors trying to manipulate ranks."

With a single gifted copy.

And yet a promo organizer buys a spot on the lists with thousands of gifted copies and claims to get a special call from an Amazon executives on Sunday telling her how much they love her and would never think of doing anything to hurt her?

It makes not one bit of sense.  Not even a little.
That's because she doesn't gift "thousands" like the article says.

Offline MyraScott

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Re: Box set scams on Passive Voice
« Reply #8 on: April 28, 2017, 02:47:54 PM »
That's because she doesn't gift "thousands" like the article says.

Oh, sorry.  Are you in this compliation?   I heard it was around 1500 but I don't have access to the actual numbers.  How many was it?

Offline Jena H

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Re: Box set scams on Passive Voice
« Reply #9 on: April 28, 2017, 02:51:02 PM »
Those are the letters.

Thanks.  Talking about "the letters" sounds like a grandiose way to refer to it.  Why not just say "on the list"?  And one of the comments in that article mentioned putting "the letters" on "my CV."   :o    ::)
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Re: Box set scams on Passive Voice
« Reply #10 on: April 28, 2017, 02:53:44 PM »
Thanks.  Talking about "the letters" sounds like a grandiose way to refer to it.  Why not just say "on the list"?  And one of the comments in that article mentioned putting "the letters" on "my CV."   :o    ::)
You know, NYT, PhD, QED... It all sounds impressive. ::)

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Offline JalexM

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Re: Box set scams on Passive Voice
« Reply #11 on: April 28, 2017, 02:54:51 PM »
Oh, sorry.  Are you in this compliation?   I heard it was around 1500 but I don't have access to the actual numbers.  How many was it?
No, not this one.

Offline Rick Gualtieri

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Re: Box set scams on Passive Voice
« Reply #12 on: April 28, 2017, 03:02:51 PM »
I have heard from people on both sides who I consider reputable. Some say it didn't happpen for the set they were in. Others say the opposite, that there is indeed gifting.  My guess is the truth is somewhere in between. Perhaps it doesn't happen for every box set, but in others who knows? Maybe preorders aren't what's hoped for, etc etc. But I have heard enough to make me think it is wise to spend my business dollars elsewhere.

As for the jealousy argument. I call bs. There's tons of successful indies and marketers on these boards you barely hear a peep about with regards to anything negative. If someone is courting so much controversy, again it tells me perhaps my marketing dollars are best spent elsewhere.


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Offline JalexM

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Re: Box set scams on Passive Voice
« Reply #13 on: April 28, 2017, 03:08:29 PM »
I have heard from people on both sides who I consider reputable. Some say it didn't happpen for the set they were in. Others say the opposite, that there is indeed gifting.  My guess is the truth is somewhere in between. Perhaps it doesn't happen for every box set, but in others who knows? Maybe preorders aren't what's hoped for, etc etc. But I have heard enough to make me think it is wise to spend my business dollars elsewhere.

As for the jealousy argument. I call bs. There's tons of successful indies and marketers on these boards you barely hear a peep about with regards to anything negative. If someone is courting so much controversy, again it tells me perhaps my marketing dollars are best spent elsewhere.
I've seen both sides and I can tell you that there is for a fact some jealously and malice involved. Not for everyone, but some based on their actions i saw before and after they began to have a problem with the organizer.

Offline Lydniz

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Re: Box set scams on Passive Voice
« Reply #14 on: April 28, 2017, 03:11:27 PM »
As for the jealousy argument. I call bs. There's tons of successful indies and marketers on these boards you barely hear a peep about with regards to anything negative.

This is true. There are many successful authors who post on here KBoards, and I never hear anyone say a bad thing about them. In fact, I've noticed that most people (on KB at least) really appreciate what the successful authors have to contribute, and find them nothing but inspirational. If you ask me, most people have more sense or are too busy writing to waste time on jealousy.

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Re: Box set scams on Passive Voice
« Reply #15 on: April 28, 2017, 03:11:50 PM »
I have heard from people on both sides who I consider reputable. Some say it didn't happpen for the set they were in. Others say the opposite, that there is indeed gifting.  My guess is the truth is somewhere in between. Perhaps it doesn't happen for every box set, but in others who knows? Maybe preorders aren't what's hoped for, etc etc. But I have heard enough to make me think it is wise to spend my business dollars elsewhere.

As for the jealousy argument. I call bs. There's tons of successful indies and marketers on these boards you barely hear a peep about with regards to anything negative. If someone is courting so much controversy, again it tells me perhaps my marketing dollars are best spent elsewhere.

Pretty much this.

But there is enough info out there for people to make up their own minds if they think the risk is worth it. Worth what? I look at these USA Today Bestseller! people and their own books sell diddly squat, so, yanno... But hey, if that makes them happy. And they think it's worth the risk...

But what I cannot stand is the blackballing and bullying for no good reason at all.

I admit. I was stupid enough to sign up for one of these, because, Hey! Readers!

I asked one question "I have a clash of dates, can I possibly send to my list after the weekend?" for which I was banned, unfriended, and booted from the set.

I was lucky. I got my money back. I know some people who did not get featured and did not get their money back for doing things as simple as asking about aspects of the contract.

The product is to make lists. OK. The methods may or may not be questionable. That's up to you. Making a list gets you readers. It's an OK goal to shoot for. People do this with their own sets + Bookbub.

It's the lousy customer experience that gets me.

Offline AliceW

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Re: Box set scams on Passive Voice
« Reply #16 on: April 28, 2017, 03:13:25 PM »
Oh, sorry.  Are you in this compliation?   I heard it was around 1500 but I don't have access to the actual numbers.  How many was it?

I've heard from a couple of people in different sets that the amount of copies gifted varies from 500 to 2,000 (depending on set obviously). It certainly does happen in huge numbers, there are loads of screen shots where she has stated that the 500, 1,000 or 2,000 goal of gifted copies has been reached. More disturbing is the math that doesn't add up. 2k buy in for 20 authors equals $40,000. Even if the organiser gifted 5,000 copies (which would be sufficient to hit the lists on low weeks) that still leaves $35,000...

With regard to gifting - Amazon doesn't care about it. Think of it from their point of view, you still have to buy a copy to gift it. There is talk that strictly speaking it is against TOS as "rank manipulation" but to counter that, Amazon even have a pop list now that shows the "top gifted" ebooks. So the more you gift, the better apparently  ::)

Quit apart from that issue, it's the bullying that's hard to stomach. You have to question why a promoter needs to use fear and intimidation tactics to shut anyone down if they dare ask basic questions. Customers problems, complaints, issues and refunds are simply a part of doing business. It's very telling how a business deals with day to day issues. If a customer asks a questions or requires a refund and the business owner immediately throws up a smoke screen, screams victimisation, threatens lawyers and sends their followers to harass the customers, it really makes me wonder what are they hiding?
« Last Edit: April 28, 2017, 03:16:56 PM by AliceW »

Offline MyraScott

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Re: Box set scams on Passive Voice
« Reply #17 on: April 28, 2017, 03:18:07 PM »
My point is that my friend gifted a SINGLE COPY and got a warning notice from Amazon that they don't tolerate rank manipulation.

ONE COPY.

It makes no sense.

Offline lilywhite

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Re: Box set scams on Passive Voice
« Reply #18 on: April 28, 2017, 03:19:17 PM »
Don't trust a random blog that has the amount of angst in the last two paragraphs as that one did.

Conversely, don't trust someone that has drama and angst with at least one new person every few days.

You say potato, I say ... well. I don't want to get moderated, so.

Offline Robyn Wideman

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Re: Box set scams on Passive Voice
« Reply #19 on: April 28, 2017, 03:20:56 PM »
I usually avoid these topics as they tend to annoy me, but since I was in one of the boxed sets that this person runs I have first hand insight.


First off, that article is, as mentioned earlier, very one sided. I've also seen several facebook posts of similar comments, suggesting that they are a scam and she is ripping the authors off. And that simply isn't the case.

I was part of the Dark Humanity boxed set. I had a buy in of $500. I also added more in later. We had a very large and aggressive ad campaign. At it was very effective. We sold a [crap] tonne of books during the pre order period. Aside from the money spent on advertising, we also had our mailing lists at our disposal, which if I had to hazard a guess, combined for at least 200,000 readers.

A lot of time and energy went into making that boxed set a success, we had a group of determined writers and maximized our efforts. We ended up reaching the top 10 (7 if I recall correctly) in all of the amazon store, and made both the USA today and New York Times lists. And that is an accomplishment I am proud of.

I've already made my investment back, and have one of my books in the hands of 30k+ new readers. I consider the entire venture a complete success.

I've also heard comments about gifting and 'cheating'.  We were in contact with Amazon often during the process of releasing this book and gifting was never an issue. They were concerned about authors trying to double dip by having books in set that were already in KU. Which we dealt with.

I know there have been boxed set scams where authors have lost money by unscrupulous promoters. That is an unfortunate thing, and I feel bad for the authors who get ripped off. But I can say without doubt, not all boxed sets are scams, and the promoter that that article is alluding to is not out to rip anyone off.



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Re: Box set scams on Passive Voice
« Reply #20 on: April 28, 2017, 03:21:05 PM »
My point is that my friend gifted a SINGLE COPY and got a warning notice from Amazon that they don't tolerate rank manipulation.

ONE COPY.

It makes no sense.

Amazon is not known for making sense. Clearly, there are substantial risks involved in what they determine may or may not be "rank manipulation" or "review manipulation". They wield the hammer unevenly and suddenly.

Offline Crystal_

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Re: Box set scams on Passive Voice
« Reply #21 on: April 28, 2017, 03:29:35 PM »
I have heard from people on both sides who I consider reputable. Some say it didn't happpen for the set they were in. Others say the opposite, that there is indeed gifting.  My guess is the truth is somewhere in between. Perhaps it doesn't happen for every box set, but in others who knows? Maybe preorders aren't what's hoped for, etc etc. But I have heard enough to make me think it is wise to spend my business dollars elsewhere.

As for the jealousy argument. I call bs. There's tons of successful indies and marketers on these boards you barely hear a peep about with regards to anything negative. If someone is courting so much controversy, again it tells me perhaps my marketing dollars are best spent elsewhere.

I think most of us know the organizer the blog post is referring to. I don't have any experience with her personally, but having just been in a multi-author box set organized rather rag-tagly with one of the authors taking charge, I have to say that $500-2000 dollars is a perfectly reasonable buy in cost given how much most of these sets spend on advertising. It takes a lot of money to keep a preorder ranking for eight weeks.

As to gifting, I'm not a fan, but the people organizing my box set did decide to gift copies during launch week. A lot of copies. It's not the choice I would have made if it was up to me, but it's a very common practice.

Offline DexyDoo

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Re: Box set scams on Passive Voice
« Reply #22 on: April 28, 2017, 03:46:19 PM »
I would sincerely like to understand why people are calling these sets a "scam". What's the scam?

The buy-in might sound high, but it all goes to marketing the set. The coordinator does NOT pocket the money. It pays for the cover, formatting, Bookbub ads, AMS ads, FB ads, Bargain Booksy, ENT, ILVN (and TONS of other newsletter ads - I can attest to that personally because I booked at least half of them for the set, and I was paid back from the marketing money within an hour or two each time).

All the authors in the set work their asses off by volunteering for FB parties, creating tons of promotional images, doing newsletter swaps, FB group posting, HeadTalkers, Thunderclaps, Wattpad, Reddit, creating html blog posts, blogging, tweeting, setting up features with iBooks, Nook, Kobo, etc.

I was in a set that made USA Today last week. Guess what? Even though the set was marketed as a "list-aiming set" I was more interested in the experience, the exposure, the networking, and the possible profit. Everyone's motive is different, but that was mine.

It's a lot of work, but it's fun. It's a learning experience. It's exposure. I simply can not see where the "scam" part of it comes in. (At least, not in the set I was in. I know there are people out there who prey on others, but not this organizer, not this set.)

Oh, and as to the gifted copies. Yep, it happened in the set I was in. BUT NOT THOUSANDS! We were doing great with the preorder numbers, but were a little shy of the minimum to hit the list, so we gifted some iTunes copies, and hosted some Amazon giveaways. Amazon, iTunes, B&N all make that feature available to users, so I'm thinking that's not going against their terms.

Anyway, I usually stay out of this sort of thing, but I simply don't understand why people are calling it a scam. :(


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Offline Usedtoposthere

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Re: Box set scams on Passive Voice
« Reply #23 on: April 28, 2017, 03:59:58 PM »
Pretty sure gifting is against TOS and I'd sure be mad if anybody with whom I was in a boxed set was doing it. Sketchy as heck and risking your KDP account as i understand it. Everybody can do what they want, though, and everybody has their own moral scale and risk tolerance level. Personally, stuff like this is why I don't cross-promo. And yeah, I'm aware that some publishers also do shady stuff.

I also know a number of authors who've been targeted as described in this article. I've found that lots of smoke over a long time generally means fire. Before I spent my money, I'd google any organizer or service provider, and I'd avoid if I found significant evidence of feuding and drama. There are bad actors in any industry. Buyer beware.
« Last Edit: April 28, 2017, 04:24:29 PM by Rosalind J »

Offline JalexM

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Re: Box set scams on Passive Voice
« Reply #24 on: April 28, 2017, 04:03:38 PM »
Pretty sure gifting is against TOS
It isn't though, only in terms of manipulating rank.