Author Topic: Category Pollution: Next Battleground  (Read 8271 times)  

Offline Key

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Re: Category Pollution: Next Battleground
« Reply #125 on: June 13, 2018, 02:38:46 AM »
And obviously some readers are looking in the WF category for their erotic romance fix, or the books wouldn't be ranking in the WF category and WF subcategories as high as they are. The actual genre may shift as a result of the technology used. And some shift in the genre -- every genre, possibly -- is probably inevitable.

These (purposely inaccurately categorized) books are being placed into genres they don't belong in for better visibility and "bestseller" status.  They are not necessarily selling as much as being downloaded through incentivized or botted methods. 

One sale is not equal to one borrow; Amazon's ecosystem says it is, but that's not the case. 

A mediocre "selling" book in romance may well be a "bestseller" in a small genre like Women's Studies or something, simply because there are less of those books out there. 

That doesn't mean it belongs in that list or that the list is an accurate representation of what's selling and what readers want. 

It's advertisement and part of a process of rigging the system. 

(That doesn't mean there's never any crossover between WF and romance, of course.)

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Re: Category Pollution: Next Battleground
« Reply #126 on: June 13, 2018, 05:59:04 AM »
It's often wrong for a person to do what they think is right. Everybody thinks they're right and yet so many, many people are actually wrong. "Thinking" you're right doesn't make you right. Otherwise, we would all be right all the time, and there would be nothing to debate, the end.

It will always be a conflict of interest for a KU author to report on other KU authors because they are all being paid out of a common pot. KU or no KU, it will always be a conflict of interest for a competing author to report on an author in their genre.  This is Ethics 101.  If there is a genuine problem with the book's category/description/whatever, readers will complain and ask for refunds. An author will not get where they want to be by tearing down the work of other authors.



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I never said anything about authors, KU or otherwise.  I was commenting about people in general.  In fact, to be more precise, I was replying to a comment that suggested a "brigade" (as in an organized group or contingent) would report these books.  Such an idea was never suggested or advocated.

Regarding the second point, authors are also readers, and often read outside their writing genre.  As such, they (we) have a right to complain when our reading genre's Top 100 page is "polluted" with crap that obviously doesn't belong there.  Most writers do not scour category pages looking for books they can report and eliminate from competition.  This isn't about that, and never has been.
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Offline RPatton

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Re: Category Pollution: Next Battleground
« Reply #127 on: June 13, 2018, 06:48:35 AM »
I never said anything about authors, KU or otherwise.  I was commenting about people in general.  In fact, to be more precise, I was replying to a comment that suggested a "brigade" (as in an organized group or contingent) would report these books.  Such an idea was never suggested or advocated.

It most certainly was. The topic title. Next Battleground. This following quote, which is the third or fourth post in this thread.

It's just insane. This isn't something they can monitor and control with tech. As they won't hire humans to do the job, it's up to us to AGGRESSIVELY report this mischief.

I did not capitalize any words for emphasis. That was the author.

Regarding the second point, authors are also readers, and often read outside their writing genre.  As such, they (we) have a right to complain when our reading genre's Top 100 page is "polluted" with crap that obviously doesn't belong there.  Most writers do not scour category pages looking for books they can report and eliminate from competition.  This isn't about that, and never has been.

A few of us in this thread have all pointed out why we hold the opinion it's wrong to aggressively report books. And this is the one argument that keeps coming back. I've tried to come up with an analogy as to why I believe other authors shouldn't report books even outside the genre. While this isn't perfect, it's the best I could come up with. Athletes are not allowed to bet on a game within their sport. (For the analogy sport is writing.) It's not restricted to their own team (own sub-genre), or their own division (genre - sci-fi, fantasy, romance, etc.), but the entire sport. They might never play another team, but they still can't place a bet on a game.

Why? Because placing that bet, even for another team, is a conflict of interest and the organization in charge of the sport has determined this is the best way to keep the sport pure. Want to know how serious they take it? In 1919, baseball banned several players for fixing a world series. The ban includes playing baseball anywhere and any honors (no Hall of Fame). Ninety-nine years later, the ban still is in place, despite affidavits (independently corroborated) saying not all players (namely Joe Jackson) who were initially named actually participated. It wasn't whether an impropriety had occurred, it was enough for their to be a hint of an impropriety.

It doesn't matter what books an author reports or the reason why or if they never do, the mere hint of reporting books, especially because you can't say with complete certainty how Amazon will respond, can be seen as a conflict of interest by some.

But like Elizabeth, I've said why I think it's a bad idea and the counter arguments haven't changed at all, if anything they are just doubling down. I'm stepping out and away from this one.
« Last Edit: June 13, 2018, 07:29:29 AM by RPatton »

Offline Herefortheride

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Re: Category Pollution: Next Battleground
« Reply #128 on: June 13, 2018, 06:59:24 AM »
Of course brigading and bullying are wrong, but so is asking all to turn a blind eye to avoid the sins of the few. Slippery slopes run in more than one direction.

It is abhorrent that someone calling themselves a do-gooder, or a group saying they have similar good intentions, would murder a shoplifter, but their existence and extremist mentality doesn't negate the importance of reporting said shoplifting when you see it because of the broader harm caused by the crime of shoplifting itself.

That kind of mentality that says our actions are to be dictated by what the small percentage of extremists are up to only lends credence to the notion that might makes right. In that instance those who would act in the extreme are controlling all aspects, and that's no kind of solution either.

I agree.

If I see bad behavior I speak out. Whether that be littering, abusing another person, rudeness, or even this purposefully category behavior. These people thrive off of apathy.
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Online Jena H

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Re: Category Pollution: Next Battleground
« Reply #129 on: June 13, 2018, 07:19:55 AM »

A few of us in this thread have all pointed out why we hold the opinion it's wrong to aggressively report books. And this is the one argument that keeps coming back. I've tried to come up with an analogy as to why I believe other authors shouldn't report books even outside the genre. While this isn't perfect, it's the best I could come up with. Athletes are not allowed to bet on a game within their sport. (For the analogy sport is writing.) It's not restricted to their own team (own sub-genre), or their own division (genre - sci-fi, fantasy, romance, etc.), but the entire sport. They might never play another team, but they still can't place a bet on a game.

Why? Because placing that bet, even for another team, is a conflict of interest and the organization in charge of the sport has determined this is the best way to keep the sport pure. Want to know how serious they take it? In 1919, baseball banned several players for fixing a world series. The ban includes playing baseball anywhere and any honors (no Hall of Fame). Ninety-nine years later, the ban still is in place, despite affidavits (independently corroborated) saying not all players (namely Joe Jackson) who were initially named actually participated. It wasn't whether an impropriety had occurred, it was enough for their to be a hint of an impropriety.

It doesn't matter what books an author reports or the reason why or if they never do, the mere hint of reporting books, especially because you can't say with complete certainty how Amazon will respond, can be seen as a conflict of interest by some.

But like Elizabeth, I've said why I think it's a bad idea and the counter arguments haven't changed at all, if anything they are just doubling down. I'm stepping out and away from this one.

You're right on one point (even if you're not here to read it)...  the sports analogy is NOT perfect.  In fact, it's not even very good.  In one version of your analogy, an athlete places a bet for or against his own team, and then plays the game.  He's betting on future performance--an upcoming game.  In other words, an outcome in which he has some measure of influence. That's not so in the category-pollution situation.  We (readers OR writers) have no say in which categories other peoples' books appear.  Even if we report miscategorization, we have no say in whether or not it's changed.  We're more like the hecklers in the stands, booing a play or an umpire's call.  Also, we certainly don't have any influence on whether those offending books sell or not; we have no influence over that.

If some find it a conflict of interest to report books (in their own genre, or in an unrelated genre), that's their decision and certainly they have a right to it.  Others see things differently, still with the same right.
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Offline Speaker-To-Animals

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Re: Category Pollution: Next Battleground
« Reply #130 on: June 13, 2018, 07:21:33 AM »
At some point, this kind of behavior is going to get the entire KDP platform shut down because it's just not going to be worth the trouble. In addition, this is a crime with victims and the victims are us: every KU borrow they get from miscategorizing is money out of the pockets of anyone who doesn't cheat. I'll continue to report bad actors, which in my case has most frequently been "adult dude transformed into a little girl" fetish erotica in the young adult section.

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Re: Category Pollution: Next Battleground
« Reply #131 on: June 13, 2018, 07:31:59 AM »
After three days the category of Fiction Classics is already looking much cleaner. Only five miscategorized books (down from fourteen):

Today:
https://www.amazon.com/Best-Sellers-Kindle-Store-Fiction-Classics/zgbs/digital-text/157050011/ref=zg_bs_nav_kstore_3_157028011?tag=viglink20273-20

June 10:
https://imgur.com/BgwurLl


Online Anarchist

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Re: Category Pollution: Next Battleground
« Reply #132 on: June 13, 2018, 08:03:06 AM »
My opinion on reporting other authors' books...

It's motivated by a desire for empowerment. Tattling on others makes one feel important and influential.

You see it in the workplace. You see it in the classroom. You see it wherever people feel constrained, discouraged, frustrated, and/or inadequate.

I can't imagine Stephen King or J.K. Rowling reporting other authors' books. Nor can I imagine Forrest, Hardt, or Riddle doing so. In fact, I'd be gobsmacked to learn that any 7-figure earner reports another's books.




(For some, schadenfreude may also be a motivating factor. But that's a whole 'nuther story.)


« Last Edit: June 13, 2018, 08:09:09 AM by Anarchist »
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Offline Hoop

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Re: Category Pollution: Next Battleground
« Reply #133 on: June 13, 2018, 08:07:43 AM »
So think of it as a customer going to Walmart and frowning when she sees rotten eggs on the shelf. The stockboy sees it, right? The customer, rather than complain to a physical person, buys their eggs somewhere else. The stockboy, however, goes to his manager and says "Hey we've got rotten eggs on the shelf and we're losing customers."

1. The stockboy should be fired, as it's his job to make sure the stock is rotated and eggs don't sit long enough to go rotten.
2. The stockboy works for the store. You (and none of the authors here) work for Amazon.
3. The reality of the situation is not your stockboy reporting...it's the owner of Freddy's Awesome Eggs complaining about Nancy's Inspiring Eggs.  And *that* is competition rivalry.

Authors should not be reporting other authors.  ESPECIALLY when Amazon's spiders/bots/algorithms are infamous for repeatedly mis-catting books.
It's petty, it doesn't make your own books any better or more successful, and there ARE lurkers out here taking notes on who goes on their "never, ever work with this person" list. You are all severely damaging your OWN careers with every book you gleefully announce you've reported.

Offline Hoop

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Re: Category Pollution: Next Battleground
« Reply #134 on: June 13, 2018, 08:18:37 AM »
Most writers do not scour category pages looking for books they can report and eliminate from competition.

And yet here we are, with six full pages of authors announcing that they've done exactly that and encouraging others to join in.

Offline katherinef

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Re: Category Pollution: Next Battleground
« Reply #135 on: June 13, 2018, 08:19:26 AM »
After three days the category of Fiction Classics is already looking much cleaner. Only five miscategorized books (down from fourteen):

Today:
https://www.amazon.com/Best-Sellers-Kindle-Store-Fiction-Classics/zgbs/digital-text/157050011/ref=zg_bs_nav_kstore_3_157028011?tag=viglink20273-20

June 10:
https://imgur.com/BgwurLl


Cleaner? The top 20 looks the same to me at the moment. Except a few romance books have been replaced by some westerns that definitely don't look like classics. Or am I looking at the wrong thing?  ???
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Re: Category Pollution: Next Battleground
« Reply #136 on: June 13, 2018, 08:22:56 AM »
My opinion on reporting other authors' books...

It's motivated by a desire for empowerment. Tattling on others makes one feel important and influential.

I've wondered why I've been feeling so full of myself lately...

But I think you're overstressing "reporting other author's books". If I see someone has placed "Fifty Shades of Grey" in YA Fiction at the local library, I'd hand the book to the librarian suggesting it should really not be located in YA Fiction. That's the sum of it. I haven't smeared E. L. James. I have nothing personally against E. L. James. If anything, I've done her a service. People looking for her book will have a better chance of finding it. On the other hand, if E. L. James had snuck into the library and moved her book to YA Fiction, I would have probably frowned upon it. However, my actions would have been the same.


Offline Herefortheride

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Re: Category Pollution: Next Battleground
« Reply #137 on: June 13, 2018, 08:23:39 AM »
My opinion on reporting other authors' books...

It's motivated by a desire for empowerment. Tattling on others makes one feel important and influential.

You see it in the workplace. You see it in the classroom. You see it wherever people feel constrained, discouraged, frustrated, and/or inadequate.

I can't imagine Stephen King or J.K. Rowling reporting other authors' books. Nor can I imagine Forrest, Hardt, or Riddle doing so. In fact, I'd be gobsmacked to learn that any 7-figure earner reports another's books.




(For some, schadenfreude may also be a motivating factor. But that's a whole 'nuther story.)

Please don't slander our motivations. I doubt a single person is reporting the book to "empower themselves". I don't tell people to pick up their trash to feel empowered, I do it so we can have a cleaner city and I believe it's not only police officer's job to make society more livable.

Reporting blackhat habits on Amazon that also costs my fellow honest authors money will help clean up the categories and make things better for the reader and the honest folks.

It's already made a ton of difference in classic fiction as noted above.

I wonder what your motivation is to stereotype the thoughts of people you couldn't know anything about.
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Re: Category Pollution: Next Battleground
« Reply #138 on: June 13, 2018, 08:28:38 AM »
While this isn't perfect, it's the best I could come up with. Athletes are not allowed to bet on a game within their sport. (For the analogy sport is writing.) It's not restricted to their own team (own sub-genre), or their own division (genre - sci-fi, fantasy, romance, etc.), but the entire sport. They might never play another team, but they still can't place a bet on a game.

Why? Because placing that bet, even for another team, is a conflict of interest and the organization in charge of the sport has determined this is the best way to keep the sport pure.

It's not like placing a bet. It's like knowing the other people are doping and not reporting it, and allowing people who are breaking the rules to "win" while cheating other rule-abiding athletes of the prizes--in this case, visibility.

Readers want to see what they came for. I might love shopping for clothes, but if I go into the grocery store for milk and eggs, and some salesperson keeps shoving shirts in my face and blocking me from getting to the dairy aisle, I'll be a real unhappy shopper.
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Offline L_Loryn

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Re: Category Pollution: Next Battleground
« Reply #139 on: June 13, 2018, 08:31:20 AM »
1. The stockboy should be fired, as it's his job to make sure the stock is rotated and eggs don't sit long enough to go rotten.
2. The stockboy works for the store. You (and none of the authors here) work for Amazon.
3. The reality of the situation is not your stockboy reporting...it's the owner of Freddy's Awesome Eggs complaining about Nancy's Inspiring Eggs.  And *that* is competition rivalry.

Authors should not be reporting other authors.  ESPECIALLY when Amazon's spiders/bots/algorithms are infamous for repeatedly mis-catting books.
It's petty, it doesn't make your own books any better or more successful, and there ARE lurkers out here taking notes on who goes on their "never, ever work with this person" list. You are all severely damaging your OWN careers with every book you gleefully announce you've reported.

1. No one's perfect
2. I agree. I absolutely do not work for Amazon. It's the first example I thought of, but I could do a better one.
3. In my case, I dsagree, see below:

Authors shouldn't report authors in their same genre, sure. That's very tacky. Totally petty. However, I don't read my genre (I know, I know. Write romance, read romance -- no I don't do that). I read classics, Women's fiction, westerns.

If I go to classics and I see Daddy's Baby Momma's First Time, I would report it because now I'm a reader regardless of me being an author of romance. Is it petty? Um, no because it hurt my reader experience. I don't think you can miscategorize Daddy's Baby Momma's First Time into classics. Impossible. Honestly impossible, which was the original idea of this thread.

Being said, I don't report books. I actually don't care. As we discussed earlier (sort of), as a reader, I'm just going to go somewhere else. And I do.

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Re: Category Pollution: Next Battleground
« Reply #140 on: June 13, 2018, 08:33:01 AM »

Cleaner? The top 20 looks the same to me at the moment. Except a few romance books have been replaced by some westerns that definitely don't look like classics. Or am I looking at the wrong thing?  ???
That's what I'm seeing. I guess random westerns that aren't classics are much better than random romances that aren't classics. For some reason...

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Re: Category Pollution: Next Battleground
« Reply #141 on: June 13, 2018, 08:36:50 AM »

Cleaner? The top 20 looks the same to me at the moment. Except a few romance books have been replaced by some westerns that definitely don't look like classics. Or am I looking at the wrong thing?  ???

You are correct. Those westerns shouldn't be there either.


Offline Herefortheride

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Re: Category Pollution: Next Battleground
« Reply #142 on: June 13, 2018, 08:39:44 AM »
It's not like placing a bet. It's like knowing the other people are doping and not reporting it, and allowing people who are breaking the rules to "win" while cheating other rule-abiding athletes of the prizes--in this case, visibility.

Readers want to see what they came for. I might love shopping for clothes, but if I go into the grocery store for milk and eggs, and some salesperson keeps shoving shirts in my face and blocking me from getting to the dairy aisle, I'll be a real unhappy shopper.

As a reader years ago, I had to stop browsing books on Amazon because the epic fantasy and sci-fi categories were filling up with manchests, romances thinly-veiled as epic fantasy, and erotica (some that wasn't even trying to be epic fantasy like "Daddy don't touch me there" or some variant).

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Online Lilly_Frost

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Re: Category Pollution: Next Battleground
« Reply #143 on: June 13, 2018, 09:05:17 AM »
That's what I'm seeing. I guess random westerns that aren't classics are much better than random romances that aren't classics. For some reason...

You know how in a Western, the hero rides off into the sunset at the end? Well, apparently the Classics category is what's just over the hill...
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Re: Category Pollution: Next Battleground
« Reply #144 on: June 13, 2018, 09:58:23 AM »
One thing that it's important to remember is that a book's rank in a given category is based on how well it sells against other books in that category, not how well it sells from that category.

For example: Twilight is set in Forks, Washington-- a small town on the Olympic Peninsula. If it ended up categorized under "non-fiction, Olympic Peninsula local interest," it could easily be number one in that category even if nobody browsing that category ever bought it from there.

A billionaire bad boy man-chest can easily dominate lists in smaller categories even if nobody ever buys them from there simply because its absolute sales numbers are much better than those of everything else in that category. I don't personally know too much about that category, but I have family sharing arranged with my 25-yo stepdaughter and from what I can see of her account she goes through at least ten of those things a month.

Reporting miscategorized books isn't about hurting sales; it's removing irrelevant comparisons. Removing subcompact cars from a list of bestselling semis isn't going to hurt the sales of the subcompact cars; it's just going to clean up the list for people looking for semis who don't want to wade through pages of subcompact car listings to get to what they are really looking for.

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Re: Category Pollution: Next Battleground
« Reply #145 on: June 13, 2018, 10:01:15 AM »
To use an analogy. (true story)

I buy my perishable groceries from a store that is renowned for its quality products.
I carefully check the sell-by dates to find the freshest items.
While doing so I found a product that was two days out-of-date. Very unusual for that store, so I reported it to an employee, who was most grateful. Had a customer taken it home and found it was below the expected standard, or had even gone off, the store would have had an irate customer who could have made trouble and given the store a bad name..
I didn't even look to see the name of the product's manufacturer. To me, the fault lay with the store.

Replace store with Amazon.
Replace product with book.
Replace product manufacturer with author.

The average reader who complains about incorrect categorisation will be blaming Amazon, not the author.  So it is in Amazon's interest to sort out the categories irrespective of who reports the problem.



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Offline Speaker-To-Animals

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Re: Category Pollution: Next Battleground
« Reply #146 on: June 13, 2018, 12:39:26 PM »
Quote
Authors should not be reporting other authors.  ESPECIALLY when Amazon's spiders/bots/algorithms are infamous for repeatedly mis-catting books.

Yet with all this miscategorization, I've never had to report an adult thriller or SF book that ended up in young adult. It's always erotica.

Quote
It's petty, it doesn't make your own books any better or more successful, and there ARE lurkers out here taking notes on who goes on their "never, ever work with this person" list. You are all severely damaging your OWN careers with every book you gleefully announce you've reported.

That's simply not correct. This stuff hurts other authors and hurts us directly in the pocketbook. For every miscategorized erotica in a top 100, there's an author that legitimately writes in that genre being bumped off that list. And for every KU page read that miscategorized book gains from its miscategorization, it's money out of my pocket from my page reads.

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Re: Category Pollution: Next Battleground
« Reply #147 on: June 13, 2018, 02:57:50 PM »
For every miscategorized erotica in a top 100, there's an author that legitimately writes in that genre being bumped off that list.

That points to another Amazon situation that pushes authors of Erotica and Erotic Romance into inappropriate categories/genres (even Romance)--the omission of Erotica from AMS eligibility. Putting a book in Erotica now means those authors have no on-site promotion opportunities. I suspect this is why Romance>New Adult is so congested with erotic, insta-love three-beat novellas weighing in at 120 pages or less* (which of course have to be stuffed to make money, but that's covered on another thread). If they could promote them via AMS in Erotica, they would most likely put their books there (not all, of course, and it would involve a lengthy transition).

I realize Amazon doesn't want Erotica spreading throughout the store via Sponsor Ad carousels, but they already screen covers and ad copy before an ad is approved (which then circulates throughout all the book sections). So, why not just go ahead and admit Erotica to AMS? It looks like controls are already in place.


*About a year and a half ago, another forum focused on erotica figured out if they tacked an HEA onto their erotica, they could plug their erotica into romance categories and gain more visibility. This was in large part due to the AMS embargo.
« Last Edit: June 13, 2018, 03:08:09 PM by Dpock »


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Re: Category Pollution: Next Battleground
« Reply #148 on: June 13, 2018, 05:05:42 PM »
And yet here we are, with six full pages of authors announcing that they've done exactly that and encouraging others to join in.

Lol, even if every person who posted on this thread reported one or more of those books (and obviously that's not the case), but even so, it would likely be a double-digit number, and still be less than 0.5% of all self-published writers.  (And even if someone did suggest it on the 1st page, that doesn't make it a horde, or a brigade, or any type of coordinated effort....   ::))
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Re: Category Pollution: Next Battleground
« Reply #149 on: June 13, 2018, 05:24:59 PM »
For example: Twilight is set in Forks, Washington
Oh, good grief. No wonder poor Bella was so bored.

20th Century & Western Historical Romance
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