Author Topic: do your homework  (Read 6330 times)  

Offline Carol (was Dara)

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Re: Buyer Beware
« Reply #25 on: November 18, 2017, 02:00:47 PM »
I think it's worth pointing out that David Gaughran recently investigated quite a number of rank-stripping cases (around 20) and found there was NO commonality, apart from the books having high rank. Not all were free, not all were in KU, not all had used a shady service, some hadn't had any promo running at all. So naturally, check out any site you use and avoid any that you can't be one hundred percent sure of, but ultimately there isn't much you can do to protect yourself from this. Sometimes it just happens, and it isn't anything the author did wrong.

So sorry this happened to you, Simone.

This. With all that's going on lately, I don't think we can put it down to any one promoter or protect ourselves by refusing to use a certain price point. We thought those things in the beginning, when authors first started getting these emails from Amazon. We assumed the author got careless and used a bad promoter and that using only familiar services and avoiding free would remove the risk. It's becoming apparent that the problem is too random for that, that even the biggest and most reputable promoters are being hit. No one's been able to trace it back to any single source. That's not to say we shouldn't discuss it and keep trying to figure out what's happening. But as far as preventing it, that seems to be out of our hands. All we can do is avoid the openly disreputable or unfamiliar and hope/guess that slightly lessens our risk. No amount of diligence on the part of the author can fully remove it, which is what makes the KDP emails putting the responsibility on the author such a problem.

Offline Travelian

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Re: Buyer Beware
« Reply #26 on: November 18, 2017, 03:07:21 PM »
Then I got an email from Amazon stating: we detected purchases or borrows of your book(s) originating from accounts attempting to manipulate sales rank.  As a result, the sales rank on the following book(s) will not be visible until we determine this activity has ceased.
From what I've read Amazon's rank-stripping seems more random than it should be - and not always the blame of the promoter. But if memory serves, the company usually cites "suspicious activity".

In this case Amazon goes a step further citing "accounts attempting to manipulate sales rank" i.e. click fraud.

Which makes this particular promoter more high-risk than most.
« Last Edit: November 18, 2017, 03:09:25 PM by Travelian »

Offline Doglover

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Re: Buyer Beware
« Reply #27 on: November 19, 2017, 12:38:59 AM »
As someone who runs a book promotion service, I'd just like to come at this from a different angle if I may. My service is still small, so it's unlikely that any of my promotions would draw the attention of zon as some of the big promo sites do, but nevertheless it concerns me.

Not just that books are being rank stripped for running promos, I'm an author first and foremost so this affects me too, but the rush to blame the promoter.

I'm not saying that in some cases this isn't the cause, but most often it won't be. Bookbub, Freebooksy, the big sites, they all invest a TON of money in their businesses, they're not about to use shady practices and risk everything they've worked to build up. One person raising a concern about them isn't likely to do them much damage though. But for someone like me, starting at the bottom and working 60 hours a week to get a business off the ground, all it would take would be one whiff, one suggestion, that my methods were unethical and that would be the end of it.

It seems the issue lies with Amazon so all I would ask is that please, before immediately jumping to the conclusion that the promoter must be at fault, though I'm not saying they can't be, consider the damage such suggestions can do and verify that the issue does in fact lie with them before posting publicly about it.
While no one is blaming genuine promotion services, the fact remains that some sort of promotion has been engaged in order to send these books to the top. So, while no one is blaming Bookbub, rank stripping has happened after a successful Bookbub. The same goes for you and your service, I'm sure.


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Offline Herefortheride

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Re: Buyer Beware
« Reply #28 on: November 19, 2017, 12:41:00 AM »
Hey guys,

It's pretty click-baity to have a title "Buyer beware" and no one will tell the buyers what they should beware of?

If no one is going to inform us then this thread serves no useful purpose.
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Offline Maalik

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Re: Buyer Beware
« Reply #29 on: November 19, 2017, 03:18:14 AM »
Hey guys,

It's pretty click-baity to have a title "Buyer beware" and no one will tell the buyers what they should beware of?

If no one is going to inform us then this thread serves no useful purpose.

I think the OP wants to avoid negative reprisal, also without definitive proof the mods will shut down the thread or edit the posts. Most people already know who the OP is talking about anyway. The service they ran was always a fraud, it gave a HUGE boost to rank but not sales. I think a lot of people secretly knew it was shady but they used it anyway because they liked the rank boost, hoped it would help them get sticky, and could use the excuse of not knowing where the traffic came from.

The most useful advice in the thread came in this post...

for those reading along, here are prices you should pay for list ads at services:

Bookbub: refer to their table.

Up to $70-100 for Freebooksy.
Most other services are $50 or less.

If they charge more, don't buy it.

Offline Doglover

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Re: Buyer Beware
« Reply #30 on: November 19, 2017, 03:45:07 AM »
Most people already know who the OP is talking about anyway.

I don't.


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Offline Herefortheride

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Re: Buyer Beware
« Reply #31 on: November 19, 2017, 05:23:14 AM »
I think the OP wants to avoid negative reprisal, also without definitive proof the mods will shut down the thread or edit the posts. Most people already know who the OP is talking about anyway. The service they ran was always a fraud, it gave a HUGE boost to rank but not sales. I think a lot of people secretly knew it was shady but they used it anyway because they liked the rank boost, hoped it would help them get sticky, and could use the excuse of not knowing where the traffic came from.

The most useful advice in the thread came in this post...

Good to hear you speak for "most people"... :-\
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Offline Mylius Fox

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Re: Buyer Beware
« Reply #32 on: November 19, 2017, 06:26:01 AM »
So Voldemort has entered the e-book promotion game, huh?  ::)

Is this about Rebecca Hamilton's services, or someone else?

Offline SummerNights

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Re: Buyer Beware
« Reply #33 on: November 19, 2017, 09:04:07 AM »
So Voldemort has entered the e-book promotion game, huh?  ::)

Is this about Rebecca Hamilton's services, or someone else?

I would like the answer to that as well.

Offline thevoiceofone

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Re: Buyer Beware
« Reply #34 on: November 19, 2017, 09:16:49 AM »
Anyone care to state who the advertiser was so we can stay clear of them? ( Yes i know you might not want to out them but without knowing this info, it's unhelpful to us folks )

And was this book ( in select or wide?)

Finally ( Did you only use this one advertiser or stack others on top?) It would be good to be clear on this.
« Last Edit: November 19, 2017, 09:28:18 AM by thevoiceofone »

Online Monique

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Re: Buyer Beware
« Reply #35 on: November 19, 2017, 10:07:16 AM »
So Voldemort has entered the e-book promotion game, huh?  ::)

Is this about Rebecca Hamilton's services, or someone else?

That's certainly the impression I'm getting.

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Offline Tilly

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Re: Buyer Beware
« Reply #36 on: November 19, 2017, 10:16:00 AM »
Is this about Rebecca Hamilton's services, or someone else?

I assume its that service, in which case 90 sales is pretty good as I believe it relies heavily on the FB click farm borrowing a title, not buying it. It's also the only promoter I can think of where people will hold their silence about results for fear of reprisal, in which case I completely understand the OP keeping quiet.

Offline SevenDays

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Re: Buyer Beware
« Reply #37 on: November 19, 2017, 10:20:04 AM »
So Voldemort has entered the e-book promotion game, huh?  ::)

Is this about Rebecca Hamilton's services, or someone else?

That's what I figured.

Not Voldemort; the other one.

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Offline Usedtoposthere

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Re: Buyer Beware
« Reply #38 on: November 19, 2017, 10:35:06 AM »
I assume its that service, in which case 90 sales is pretty good as I believe it relies heavily on the FB click farm borrowing a title, not buying it. It's also the only promoter I can think of where people will hold their silence about results for fear of reprisal, in which case I completely understand the OP keeping quiet.
Yep. Scroll down a couple posts and you'll see which book promoter in UF with covers by RF is getting sued. Among other things, for defamation against people who speak up. The radio silence on source + covers + genre all point that direction, but who knows.

If I sounded less than sympathetic, it's from two years of watching the same thing going on. People turning a blind eye to misbehavior and mistreatment of others because they hoped to gain. At this point, the info on which promo services are dodgy is right out there (if you can't tell by those services' drama and shade-throwing). It doesn't take much googling to learn about the various shenanigans and author groups.

I suspect that in 2018, Amazon is going to start pulling the rug out from under some folks. (I hope so, but I also suspect it.) Don't be standing on the rug with them when it happens.

Thread will be locked soon I'm sure, but if you read this--do your research!
« Last Edit: November 19, 2017, 10:47:44 AM by Usedtoposthere »

Offline Tilly

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Re: Buyer Beware
« Reply #39 on: November 19, 2017, 10:48:54 AM »
If I sounded less than sympathetic, its from two years of watching the same thing going on. People turning a blind eye to misbehavior and mistreatment of others because they hoped to gain.

I wish people had spoken out two years ago, it would have saved me (and I'm sure a few others) a whole load of heartache and grief  :(

Offline Maalik

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Re: Buyer Beware
« Reply #40 on: November 19, 2017, 01:38:11 PM »
Good to hear you speak for "most people"... :-\

Pretty obvious it's Rebecca Hamilton's service the OP was referring to.

If I sounded less than sympathetic, it's from two years of watching the same thing going on. People turning a blind eye to misbehavior and mistreatment of others because they hoped to gain. At this point, the info on which promo services are dodgy is right out there (if you can't tell by those services' drama and shade-throwing). It doesn't take much googling to learn about the various shenanigans and author groups.

Agreed.

Edited. PM me if you have any questions.
Evenstar, Moderator
« Last Edit: November 21, 2017, 11:56:12 AM by Evenstar »

Offline C. Gockel

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Re: Buyer Beware
« Reply #41 on: November 19, 2017, 02:57:50 PM »
Pretty obvious it's Rebecca Hamilton's service the OP was referring to.

What name is her service going by these days though? It was GenreCrave, but didn't she change its name?

Quoted post edited.
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« Last Edit: November 21, 2017, 11:57:03 AM by Evenstar »


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Offline Tilly

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Re: Buyer Beware
« Reply #42 on: November 19, 2017, 03:04:56 PM »
What name is her service going by these days though? It was GenreCrave, but didn't she change its name?

I think its now OTOH Books (I think this is her? http://otohbooks.com/). The name of one of her groups has also changed to "Author Book Marketing for Kindle, Nook, iBooks, Kobo, & Google Play" as I nearly joined it by accident until I realised it was the same group with a different name.

Plus there are numerous different names she uses for boxed sets and other promotions, like Carter & Bradley.
« Last Edit: November 19, 2017, 03:08:10 PM by Tilly »

Offline Puddleduck

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Re: Buyer Beware
« Reply #43 on: November 19, 2017, 04:09:51 PM »
Yeah, I'm in agreement with those who think the whole "hush-hush" approach to discussing this is less than helpful. Because no, everyone does not know already. There are newbies coming in all the time. Saying "don't use this secret service we're not going to name" is just frustrating. I've heard the name Rebecca Hamilton, but just noting that her and her services are questionable doesn't necessarily do enough to warn people if no one knows what names she provides those services under. What are the names of the promotion services/sites that "most people" already know not to use?

I mean really, guys. I understand reasons people wouldn't want to name names and risk spreading false information or risking reprisal, but there's no point at all in talking in secret code language and then acting like people are ignorant for asking for clarification on what specifically is being discussed. I mean, yes, we are ignorant--that's why we're asking. Some of the responses to people's questions about who we're talking about even come across a little like you're accusing the asker of lying--as if "everyone already knows" so asking is disingenuous and only meant to stir up trouble.

Offline Tilly

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Re: Buyer Beware
« Reply #44 on: November 19, 2017, 04:41:37 PM »
What are the names of the promotion services/sites that "most people" already know not to use?

It's not as black and white as "here's a list of promoters, don't ever use these services." Everyone runs their business differently and everybody has a different line in the sand. Some of us won't touch services that use blackhat, greyhat, unethical or methods that violate retailer TOS. Other authors don't have an issue with such methods as its all about results. To use RH as an example, she has thousands of authors in her groups who have no problem paying for her services and there are numerous threads here saying what great results authors had from her promos. Launch threads quite often include her promotions in the line up.

Everybody here is an adult and you can make up your own mind about where you will promote your books. That means doing your research and understand how services work and spend your money with those run in a fashion consistent with how you do business.

Offline Usedtoposthere

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Re: Buyer Beware
« Reply #45 on: November 19, 2017, 05:00:59 PM »
People are trying to keep the thread from being locked, so the warning will actually be of use.

If you see a promo site advertised and are wondering whether to use it, Google it or ask other authors. There were several links on Page 1 of the results, when I Googled this service's new name, that would have given me pause. (Including one to a thread here on KBoards.)

Also, what Tilly said. Even this service, whose owner had her account closed by Amazon some time ago, has scores of ultra-loyal adherents. There is no practice you can name on KBoards that won't bring adherents out, telling you that you're stupid if you DON'T use this to-you-blackhat practice, because "Amazon doesn't care," or "Amazon specifically told us book stuffing/gifting circles/buying circles/whatever-the-new-scheme-is is fine." There's a bestselling romance author who taught a whole group of others via a Mastermind setup how to game KU, and they have--to the tune of domination of the romance, UF, (and, I hear, cozy mystery now) lists.

Look behind the scenes before plunking your money or your reputation down. Check out Facebook groups. Figure out how the promo actually works. Pay attention to the promoter's tone. We're in a Wild West of a business, but there IS a powerful sheriff out there who can run you out of town. You do have to check things out. If something seems like a shortcut to wealth and fame--unless it's "write a hooky book and present it well"--it could well be shady. Does that matter to you? I dunno. You'll have to decide.
« Last Edit: November 19, 2017, 05:02:44 PM by Usedtoposthere »

Offline ireaderreview

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Re: do your homework
« Reply #46 on: November 19, 2017, 06:48:04 PM »
1) Responding to Maalik's wrong claims i.e.

Quote
Books Butterfly is another service that is a scam, a dozen threads about them too, and my last three posts that mention it have been edited.

1) We are not a scam. We are a 100% legitimate business. Referring to what AJC said - We've been curating books since January 2008 and building Apps for Books Discovery since 2011 and building Twitter Accounts since 2014. We would not risk all that work to scam a few authors

For reference, we have 7 disputes for the last 2,700 promotion packages sold. A dispute rate of less than 0.5%

Claiming that a legitimate business with less than 0.5% dispute rate is a scam is disingenuous and detached from reality
Doing it in a thread about some entirely different promotion service, with no relevance at all to us, shows bad intentions

*****************

2) Again, referencing what AJC said, it's not right to claim a legitimate service is a scam just because your book didn't do well

We help 300 to 400 authors reach 5.1 million readers every single day
Of those 200+ are indie authors
100+ are curated indie authors

We're helping a lot of indie authors. Trying to get in the way of that, for a personal reason i.e. my book did not do well. That's not right


3) If your book didn't do well and you never read Terms of Service that does not mean a service is a scam

It might give you some short term satisfaction to write - Books Butterfly is a scam (because my book didn't do well with them and that must mean it's a scam)

However, in the long term you're trying to hurt a service that helps 200+ indie authors every day and 100+ curated indie authors. There is no other service that meets both criteria

A) Helps 200+ indie authors a day
B) Has 5 million+ readers


***
Yes, you can point at AMS Ads and Facebook Ads, but do any of them have a curated section that gives visibility to indie author books for no charge? I'd reckon not

************************

Unfortunately, we are in a world where a small percentage of authors start claiming the company selling the shelf space must be a scam. It's shelf space. Sometimes you can put a product on the most popular aisle, right at eye level, and people still don't buy

Get 50 to 100 Sales for Your $1 Book! Get 2,000 to 5,000+ Downloads for your Free Run Books! Get 200 to 400+ Sales for Your $1 Box Set!

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Applies to Following Genres: Mysteries, Thrillers, Suspense, Romance, Christian, Non-Fiction, How To, Cookbooks, SciFi Thrillers, Memoirs, Romantic Erotica, Steamy Romance.
Please Note: We also promote in other genres.


Offline Seneca42

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Re: do your homework
« Reply #47 on: November 19, 2017, 07:02:46 PM »
There's a handful of reputable promo outlets. They are all well known. I'm not sure people really need to do much "homework" to stay in the clear.

But somehow, in this industry, being desperate for visibility is somehow an excuse for taking risks you shouldn't take. If you walk down a dark alley in a dangerous neighbourhood, you can't be all that shocked when you get robbed. Similarly, if an unknown promoter is offering you the sun and the stars, expect to get taking for a ride.

 

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Re: do your homework
« Reply #48 on: November 19, 2017, 07:14:42 PM »
Look behind the scenes before plunking your money or your reputation down. Check out Facebook groups. Figure out how the promo actually works. Pay attention to the promoter's tone. We're in a Wild West of a business, but there IS a powerful sheriff out there who can run you out of town. You do have to check things out. If something seems like a shortcut to wealth and fame--unless it's "write a hooky book and present it well"--it could well be shady. Does that matter to you? I dunno. You'll have to decide.

The promoter's tone can be a very telling factor. If I run a promo on say Bookbub or Freebooksy and then post that the results were totally underwhelming, they are never going to reply, let alone reply in a way that's defensive or disparaging. "It's not my service, it's your book" type of comments coming from the promoter are just ick. Completely different to if I'm asking advice on here about my promo flopping and hearing that from other authors. Even if a promoter is entirely aboveboard, getting defensive about their service when people have negative things to say is not something I want to deal with.

If I'm dealing with things that seem shady, I often won't name names because if it's just a gut reaction from me, then that's not enough to make a negative public statement about the service or person. Eg. I sometimes see people offering newsletter swaps saying they have 50K+ subscribers. Looking at their results, even with lukewarm subscribers, things just don't seem right. I'm not going to call them out on that but I'm not going to get involved either. Sometimes, just sitting back, keeping quiet and watching is the best thing to do.

Offline ireaderreview

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Re: do your homework
« Reply #49 on: November 19, 2017, 07:27:37 PM »
Also, just to be absolutely clear, the reason we have only 7 disputes out of the last 2,700 promotion packages sold is very simple

A) We have 5.1 million readers and are adding 1 million+ readers every year
B) We have ultra focused apps and blogs - 67+ genres including things as narrow as - Cowboy Westerns, Clean Romance, BDSM & Kinky Romance, Spy Thrillers, Herbal Remedies, Travel Books
C) 92% of books promoted at $0.99 and $0 hit the target
D) For the 8% that miss, most authors are fine with taking store credit and running some other book with the store credit

So you have a very clear path to getting good results, or getting a resolution

Close to 99% of complaints you see here at KBoards have to do with

a) Author did not ever contact us for a solution
b) Author wants us to apologize for why their book didn't do well, when it is shelf space. It's not like we push a button for the 8% of books that miss and say - Mess up Results for these books
c) Author came up with their own terms and NEVER TOLD US these special terms of service
d) Author can't wrap their head around the fact that it's a multi day promotion with Apps, Blogs, Twitter Emails all across various days and it is not going to be 100% of results in the first 5 hours after email list gets sent out. In fact, in most cases Day 2 and 3 are going to be the busy days. Almost all other big services are email newsletter based so people are fixated on 'what happens in the first 5 hours'

********************************

Terms of Service are on website and also emailed to you. If you don't agree you don't have to work with us. It's a free country. A free world. No one is forcing you. We wish every indie author the best of luck

However, if you do not agree to Terms of Service that are listed on website and are also emailed to you, then please take your business elsewhere

*******************************

This is an ACTUAL list of demands by KBoards Authors

1) Count only the first 3 hours after email list goes out
2) Count only Day 2 of a 7 day promotion
3) Count only Day 5 of a 5 day promotion
4) Count only Day 1 of a 7 Day promotion
5) Subtract what downloads I got the last time I ran my book free
6) Attribute 50% of results to author's twitter account (of just 3,000 followers)
7) Attribute all 30 sales to friends and family
8) After price mistake, run the book again IMMEDIATELY or I'll go on KBoards and claim you're a scam
9) Midway through promotion, on the 6th promotion booked with us, do refund or I'll go on KBoards and claim you're a scam
10) A book promoted at $5 didn't do well. Yes, I know there was no guarantee, but refund or I'll cause trouble

******************
And the two thing that are common to these requests -

A) These are all in the author's mind and never communicated to us. It's after the promotion is done that authors want us to retroactively go back and change terms
B) The authors genuinely don't see a problem with this. As in, they 100% believe they are justified in saying things like - I will only count the 3 hours after your email list went out, and rest of the promotion days don't count

****************

We don't cater to this sort of 'after the promotion has started' shifting of the goal posts. It's impossible and it's not right
We also never work with these authors again, after the issue has been resolved, which means we basically have created a set of authors who dislike us. However, that's life. If you stick to your principles there will always be some people who are unhappy with you

We do our best to get you good results
If you're in the 8% of authors that miss we will give you prorated refund in store credit

If that doesn't work for you then kindly do not purchase a promotion package with us. There are hundreds of promotion sites. Also if you want millions of readers, you're not forced to work with us. Bookbub has 11 million on email lists and 3.5 million on Facebook. AMS Ads and Facebook Ads have millions and billions respectively

If you do not agree with our Terms of Service and with the idea of prorated refund in store credit if the book misses, then you do have some excellent options. You don't need promotion to our 5.1 million readers

****
We're very happy working with our regular customers and with reasonable authors. Terms of service are on website and are also emailed to you. You can't just make up stuff ion your head, never tell us, and then claim - You don't agree to my terms of service which I had made up in my head and never told you, so your web service, which has had only 7 disputes from the last 2,700 promotion packages sold, is a scam
***********************************************


1) Responding to Maalik's wrong claims i.e.

1) We are not a scam. We are a 100% legitimate business. Referring to what AJC said - We've been curating books since January 2008 and building Apps for Books Discovery since 2011 and building Twitter Accounts since 2014. We would not risk all that work to scam a few authors

For reference, we have 7 disputes for the last 2,700 promotion packages sold. A dispute rate of less than 0.5%

Claiming that a legitimate business with less than 0.5% dispute rate is a scam is disingenuous and detached from reality
Doing it in a thread about some entirely different promotion service, with no relevance at all to us, shows bad intentions

*****************

2) Again, referencing what AJC said, it's not right to claim a legitimate service is a scam just because your book didn't do well

We help 300 to 400 authors reach 5.1 million readers every single day
Of those 200+ are indie authors
100+ are curated indie authors

We're helping a lot of indie authors. Trying to get in the way of that, for a personal reason i.e. my book did not do well. That's not right


3) If your book didn't do well and you never read Terms of Service that does not mean a service is a scam

It might give you some short term satisfaction to write - Books Butterfly is a scam (because my book didn't do well with them and that must mean it's a scam)

However, in the long term you're trying to hurt a service that helps 200+ indie authors every day and 100+ curated indie authors. There is no other service that meets both criteria

A) Helps 200+ indie authors a day
B) Has 5 million+ readers


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Yes, you can point at AMS Ads and Facebook Ads, but do any of them have a curated section that gives visibility to indie author books for no charge? I'd reckon not

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Unfortunately, we are in a world where a small percentage of authors start claiming the company selling the shelf space must be a scam. It's shelf space. Sometimes you can put a product on the most popular aisle, right at eye level, and people still don't buy
« Last Edit: November 19, 2017, 07:33:14 PM by ireaderreview »

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