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Wish Granted! Tips, Tools, and Templates to Write a Winning Grant
by Holly Rustick

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Kindle Edition published 2017-08-22
Bestseller ranking: 95983

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INCLUDES BONUS FREE E-DOWNLOADS: TEMPLATES FOR GRANT WRITING!

Grant writing shouldn’t feel like a trip to the dentist. Take the pain out of the process with this innovative and fun, yes fun, guide. Learn all the inside tips and tools of the grant-writing trade in this easy-to-read and upbeat book.
This book is definitely for you if:
•You break out in a cold sweat when your boss mentions the word ‘grant’.
•You’ve been tempted to throw your computer against the wall while writing a grant.
•You happily tell stakeholders there’s plenty of grants out there … but haven’t the faintest idea how to write and get one!
•You think you can send out a bog-standard letter to a bunch of organizations and get funded.
•Your eyes glaze over when you’re presented with grant writing jargon and acronyms.
•Your organization’s grant success A-game has r...

Author Topic: Inside a Click Farm  (Read 5488 times)  

Online David VanDyke

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Re: Inside a Click Farm
« Reply #25 on: July 12, 2017, 11:44:49 PM »
The scammers aren't ruining things, Amazon is.

If a police officer says "It's against the law to drink and drive, but then never pulls anyone over or gives them a ticket or arrests them... then it's not 'really' illegal to drink and drive in application." A "rule" is only as good to the degree it's enforced. So the fault lies with the police for not enforcing the law.

Amazon created a system knowing it would be abused. They continue with a system knowing it is currently being abused. They catch hardly anyone. I'm still watching books that are bot-borrowing for rank bump for like 5 months now. The only ones following the rules are authors who are genuinely authors and genuinely afraid of getting in trouble.

But Amazon has failed so badly at stopping scammers I'm now seeing genuine authors who should be afraid of getting punished, gaming the system anyway. And these authors aren't even being smart about it. It's clear they are paying service to bot them up in rank.

So it's hard to blame the scammers when Amazon does almost nothing to stop them.


This is the Prohibition Paradox (as in, the prohibition of alcohol in the US, 1920-1933). It was so thoroughly flouted that it was far worse than allowing it--it bred crime, undermined respect for the law, and perversely it allowed underage drinking by anyone of any age, since there was no incentive for the alcohol sellers to sell only to adults.

A KU ecosystem that allows systemic scamming is far worse than no KU at all.


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Offline Doglover

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Re: Inside a Click Farm
« Reply #26 on: July 12, 2017, 11:47:31 PM »
The scammers aren't ruining things, Amazon is.

If a police officer says "It's against the law to drink and drive, but then never pulls anyone over or gives them a ticket or arrests them... then it's not 'really' illegal to drink and drive in application." A "rule" is only as good to the degree it's enforced. So the fault lies with the police for not enforcing the law.

Amazon created a system knowing it would be abused. They continue with a system knowing it is currently being abused. They catch hardly anyone. I'm still watching books that are bot-borrowing for rank bump for like 5 months now. The only ones following the rules are authors who are genuinely authors and genuinely afraid of getting in trouble.

But Amazon has failed so badly at stopping scammers I'm now seeing genuine authors who should be afraid of getting punished, gaming the system anyway. And these authors aren't even being smart about it. It's clear they are paying service to bot them up in rank.

So it's hard to blame the scammers when Amazon does almost nothing to stop them.

While I agree with you, I am not sure what Amazon can do about it except to employ actual humans to vet every new publication instead of using a computer program. That would stop it, certainly, but the costs of doing this would then have to be passed on to the authors and publication would no longer be free.


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Re: Inside a Click Farm
« Reply #27 on: July 13, 2017, 01:16:18 AM »
While I agree with you, I am not sure what Amazon can do about it except to employ actual humans to vet every new publication instead of using a computer program. That would stop it, certainly, but the costs of doing this would then have to be passed on to the authors and publication would no longer be free.

Yeah I feel like there is an economy of scale problem. It would take a lot of money to root out the scammers by hand... and lets be honest, I don't think KU is really that high on Amazon's total agenda.

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Offline dgaughran

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Re: Inside a Click Farm
« Reply #28 on: July 13, 2017, 02:44:52 AM »
Come on, there is loads Amazon could do. For starters, it could act on the reports that it is continually sent about plagiarism, clickfarms, botted downloads, blocks of books for the same authors moving en masse into the free charts, shady authors repeatedly putting books to the top of the *paid* charts, not just free. Keyword stuffing, bonus stuffing, republishing.

Amazon always takes a softly softly approach to these guys. And then pulls down a genuine author's book for three typos.

Amazon just doesn't care about this stuff. They think the market will just sort it out - even though that belief is demonstrably false. I keep getting told by Amazon that they take this issue seriously and they want people to keep reporting stuff, but then I see them do nothing.

I used to think there were holes in the fences, but there just are no fences. It's open season. And the scammers are being paid from our pot.

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Offline Doglover

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Re: Inside a Click Farm
« Reply #29 on: July 13, 2017, 03:25:19 AM »
Come on, there is loads Amazon could do. For starters, it could act on the reports that it is continually sent about plagiarism, clickfarms, botted downloads, blocks of books for the same authors moving en masse into the free charts, shady authors repeatedly putting books to the top of the *paid* charts, not just free. Keyword stuffing, bonus stuffing, republishing.

Amazon always takes a softly softly approach to these guys. And then pulls down a genuine author's book for three typos.

Amazon just doesn't care about this stuff. They think the market will just sort it out - even though that belief is demonstrably false. I keep getting told by Amazon that they take this issue seriously and they want people to keep reporting stuff, but then I see them do nothing.

I used to think there were holes in the fences, but there just are no fences. It's open season. And the scammers are being paid from our pot.
But surely that would take the same extra staff which would cost more money as I mentioned before. I think they are getting round to it, but it just cannot be done by computer which is why it takes so long.

We have on this forum recently seen a couple of people who have been caught out and have come here to complain, so they are getting it done. It just isn't getting done as fast as we would like and there is a danger of throwing the baby out with the bathwater.


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Offline dgaughran

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Re: Inside a Click Farm
« Reply #30 on: July 13, 2017, 03:36:23 AM »
But surely that would take the same extra staff which would cost more money as I mentioned before. I think they are getting round to it, but it just cannot be done by computer which is why it takes so long.

We have on this forum recently seen a couple of people who have been caught out and have come here to complain, so they are getting it done. It just isn't getting done as fast as we would like and there is a danger of throwing the baby out with the bathwater.

OK, let's take that person as an example. After she had her first run in with KDP, they slapped her on the wrist and she was able to republish all her titles. Then she put them free and used (it looks like) clickfarms to put them to top of the free charts, and then clickfarmed borros to put them to the top of the paid charts. She was in the Top 20 in Canada and Australia simultaneously and in the Top 100 in the UK and the Top 200 in the US... PAID, not free. Amazon did nothing. It was reported by loads of people, readers were complaining, and Amazon did nothing.

Then some people kicked up a stink on social media and Amazon did something. They seem to have stripped her books' rankings so she doesn't appear in the charts - but the books are still up, and she has still hacked her way into Kindle Singles somehow.

So they are doing the bare minimum to avoid PR fallout.

I've been working on this issue for 18 months and I haven't seen anything other than Amazon doing that bare minimum and managing the situation in a PR sense, rather than trying to solve it technically.

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Offline dgaughran

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Re: Inside a Click Farm
« Reply #31 on: July 13, 2017, 03:41:53 AM »
Another example:

I wrote this post in April 2016 - actually a guest post from Phoenix Sullivan: https://davidgaughran.wordpress.com/2016/04/15/ku-scammers-attack-amazons-free-ebook-charts/

Look at the book at #3 in the charts. That scammer is still operating, under the same author name and same book titles and covers. Still using the same tricks to crash the free charts and bounce up the paid charts and grab from the KU pot - despite being reported repeatedly by loads of people.

If you click to her author page, you will see "Customers Also By Books By.." and see the same names of scammers which always pop up over the last 18 months at the top of the charts with dodgy books and plagiarized content.

It's the same people, over and over again, using the same clickfarms. Amazon knows who they are.

Tell me again that Amazon is taking this seriously and it's just a matter of time until they... what?

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Offline Doglover

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Re: Inside a Click Farm
« Reply #32 on: July 13, 2017, 03:55:05 AM »
OK, let's take that person as an example. After she had her first run in with KDP, they slapped her on the wrist and she was able to republish all her titles. Then she put them free and used (it looks like) clickfarms to put them to top of the free charts, and then clickfarmed borros to put them to the top of the paid charts. She was in the Top 20 in Canada and Australia simultaneously and in the Top 100 in the UK and the Top 200 in the US... PAID, not free. Amazon did nothing. It was reported by loads of people, readers were complaining, and Amazon did nothing.

Then some people kicked up a stink on social media and Amazon did something. They seem to have stripped her books' rankings so she doesn't appear in the charts - but the books are still up, and she has still hacked her way into Kindle Singles somehow.

So they are doing the bare minimum to avoid PR fallout.

I've been working on this issue for 18 months and I haven't seen anything other than Amazon doing that bare minimum and managing the situation in a PR sense, rather than trying to solve it technically.
Fair enough. You obviously know more about it than I do, but the singles thing did puzzle me I must say. How do you suppose that happened? I submitted to them when I first started four years ago and am still waiting for a reply!


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Offline Colin

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Re: Inside a Click Farm
« Reply #33 on: July 13, 2017, 04:02:32 AM »

... So they are doing the bare minimum to avoid PR fallout.

I've been working on this issue for 18 months and I haven't seen anything other than Amazon doing that bare minimum and managing the situation in a PR sense, rather than trying to solve it technically.

That's also my take on it.  The trouble with Amazon's approach, is by managing PR and ignoring the root cause means that at some point PR control will not be enough. When that day comes the human waste product is sure to collide bigtime with the rotary cooling device.

Offline dgaughran

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Re: Inside a Click Farm
« Reply #34 on: July 13, 2017, 04:34:39 AM »
Fair enough. You obviously know more about it than I do, but the singles thing did puzzle me I must say. How do you suppose that happened? I submitted to them when I first started four years ago and am still waiting for a reply!

Not exactly sure, maybe some keyword-category hack. Should be simple to determine that on the Amazon side with their internal tools.

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Offline Doglover

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Re: Inside a Click Farm
« Reply #35 on: July 13, 2017, 04:51:34 AM »
Not exactly sure, maybe some keyword-category hack. Should be simple to determine that on the Amazon side with their internal tools.
I was under the impression that the singles submissions were chosen by an actual human with an actual brain, so I don't know how she got round that one unless by some strange fluke she really did get a book into it. Weird!


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Offline TessOliver

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Re: Inside a Click Farm
« Reply #36 on: July 13, 2017, 07:33:56 AM »
This is all so upsetting. The least they could do is set a firm page payout and stick to it. Then they can pay the scammers all they want (since they don't seem to mind) but at least then legitimate writers don't have to share the pot with them. I can only imagine what this next month's payout will be. It would also be nice if they dropped the KU term from three months to one month. Three months is interminably long when the payout shrinks and you have to watch the charts get swallowed up by fake books. Or drop the exclusivity clause altogether. A girl can dream...

I still don't see why they can't have real people vet the books on the way into the store. I'm willing to wait an extra week to have my book go up if it means they are stopping the crap at the door.

Offline Doglover

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Re: Inside a Click Farm
« Reply #37 on: July 13, 2017, 07:42:51 AM »
This is all so upsetting. The least they could do is set a firm page payout and stick to it. Then they can pay the scammers all they want (since they don't seem to mind) but at least then legitimate writers don't have to share the pot with them. I can only imagine what this next month's payout will be. It would also be nice if they dropped the KU term from three months to one month. Three months is interminably long when the payout shrinks and you have to watch the charts get swallowed up by fake books. Or drop the exclusivity clause altogether. A girl can dream...

I still don't see why they can't have real people vet the books on the way into the store. I'm willing to wait an extra week to have my book go up if it means they are stopping the crap at the door.
But are you willing to pay towards their wages? At the moment, kdp is free to publish; if they started employing gatekeepers, they would have to charge. Mind you, that might not be a bad thing if it wasn't too much. But, do the other outlets have these scammers? I mean people like Apple, Kobo and all the rest? How do they stop it? Or don't they sell enough to attract the scammers?


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Offline jcalloway

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Re: Inside a Click Farm
« Reply #38 on: July 13, 2017, 08:17:10 AM »
But are you willing to pay towards their wages? At the moment, kdp is free to publish; if they started employing gatekeepers, they would have to charge. Mind you, that might not be a bad thing if it wasn't too much. But, do the other outlets have these scammers? I mean people like Apple, Kobo and all the rest? How do they stop it? Or don't they sell enough to attract the scammers?

No one knows how much Amazon rakes in every month from KU alone, but we can be sure they're taking their cut from the pot before they divide it up amongst us. They also take 30-70% of our book sales. Not to mention the fact that they're now making a pretty penny off authors via AMS.

Amazon isn't some startup with zero resources to hire new employees or re-define the roles of existing ones.

These issues are cropping up on other retailers. Lately, iBooks has had problems with scammers publishing books stolen from top KU romance authors. These scammers aren't even changing the author names or covers, they're straight-up selling the books as is.

The actual authors are getting in trouble with Amazon over supposedly breaking the KU contract, of course.

iBooks has been removing the books, but I've heard:
A) it's taking them a while to address the initial reports since things are handled by actual humans (which hurts the KU authors even more)
B) there have been a few cases in which the same books that were already taken down once were allowed to be published again, presumably under a different publisher account.
C) the authors aren't sure if the scammers have ended up with payouts.

These problems aren't going to go away, so all the vendors--not just Amazon--need to sit down amongst their respective teams and figure out a way to deal.

Offline 555aaa

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Re: Inside a Click Farm
« Reply #39 on: July 13, 2017, 09:56:08 AM »
There's two aspects here that I think are key enablers - lack of control on accounts (hacked / stolen and fake accounts) and the ability to get benefits from free or freely returned content. I agree with David that there's a lot more that can be done on the Amazon side on authenticating that downloads / page reads are from real accounts and not from either fake (not a human person) accounts or accounts of real people who don't actually have kindles (buy, download, then return = no credit card charge). You'd think with all their fancy-schmancy AI they could figure this out.

Offline Jan Hurst-Nicholson

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Re: Inside a Click Farm
« Reply #40 on: July 13, 2017, 10:24:17 AM »
We're already there. First, readers couldn't trust book tags on the product page (anyone remember those?). Then it was reviews. Now it's ranks. Authors shooting authors in the foot, over and over again. 

I remember the tag thread.

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Re: Inside a Click Farm
« Reply #41 on: July 13, 2017, 11:17:43 AM »
I've just answered a survey from KDP. At the end they asked what else they could do to improve things for authors. I started with "Get rid of the scammers"  >:(.

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Offline Athorn

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Re: Inside a Click Farm
« Reply #42 on: July 13, 2017, 12:54:01 PM »
Well then, that explains how certain books get highly ranked that obviously look like they were written and published within an hour. (Yikes...) Quality control is a difficult monster to tackle with this being a reality.

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Re: Inside a Click Farm
« Reply #43 on: July 13, 2017, 01:18:44 PM »
But are you willing to pay towards their wages? At the moment, kdp is free to publish; if they started employing gatekeepers, they would have to charge.

No one knows how much Amazon rakes in every month from KU alone, but we can be sure they're taking their cut from the pot before they divide it up amongst us. They also take 30-70% of our book sales. Not to mention the fact that they're now making a pretty penny off authors via AMS.

Amazon isn't some startup with zero resources to hire new employees or re-define the roles of existing ones.

I agree.  30% of every single sale on the site (or more) is hardly a free service. 

I'm not saying those are bad terms, but their cut would have to be in the single-digit percentile before I would remotely consider Amazon "free."  (I'm sure hosting costs something...and staff and tech etc etc, but not thirty percent or more of every dollar readers spend!)

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Online Rosie A.

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Re: Inside a Click Farm
« Reply #44 on: July 13, 2017, 01:22:33 PM »
Ok...while I understand these people live in poor countries and are trying to do what they can to support themselves and their families, I have a serious issue with the fact that they're deceiving people. Under no condition should that be okay. Also, they're taking food out of OUR mouths when they push scam books to the surface and mercilessly rob authors of hard earned visibility. Nope.

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Re: Inside a Click Farm
« Reply #45 on: July 13, 2017, 01:54:23 PM »
And in the middle of it all... Lucius Fox.


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Re: Inside a Click Farm
« Reply #46 on: July 13, 2017, 02:12:50 PM »
No one knows how much Amazon rakes in every month from KU alone, but we can be sure they're taking their cut from the pot before they divide it up amongst us.

No. I've never seen any data indicating that KU subscriptions are anywhere near their monthly payout. It's a loss leader for them.

Show me the subscription numbers if I'm wrong.

Offline LAStriker

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Re: Inside a Click Farm
« Reply #47 on: July 13, 2017, 02:28:41 PM »
I may not be understanding all of this, but if Amazon is indeed paying a large amount of money to scammers, it seems to me they could take the money they are paying the scammers and use a portion of that to weed them out. it might save them money in the long run and make things better overall for the actual authors.

Offline Dolphin

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Re: Inside a Click Farm
« Reply #48 on: July 13, 2017, 02:31:20 PM »
I may not be understanding all of this, but if Amazon is indeed paying a large amount of money to scammers, it seems to me they could take the money they are paying the scammers and use a portion of that to weed them out. it might save them money in the long run and make things better overall for the actual authors.

It's not clear how much they pay to scammers. We know of some who've been paid, and we know of some who've gotten nothing but an account closure when payday rolled around. They're taking action. They've always been taking action. I just think people don't grasp how enormous and ravenous is the horde of barbarians at their gates.

Offline Anarchist

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Re: Inside a Click Farm
« Reply #49 on: July 13, 2017, 02:49:30 PM »
Amazon's top priority is to grow membership. Revenue and profit come second.

Given the vast amount of data at Amazon's disposal, along with the stratospheric rise in shareholder value since 2000, I assume its decisions regarding what to focus on and what to ignore are well-informed.

"Opportunity is missed by most people because it is dressed in overalls and looks like work." - Thomas Edison

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