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Very disappointing. I did give money to this new group with the hope it would help but haven't received any updates by email. I've missed the FB updates too as FB decides what I should and shouldn't see these days. Off to do some digging and try to find the update.

Thanks for reporting back.
Writers' Cafe / Re: Pathetic Peeves - Confess Yours
« Last post by Nic on Today at 06:09:04 AM »
As amusing--and TRUE--as some of these have been, I think we've gotten off the main subject: peeves we encounter IN BOOKS.  I'd rather read about those.

Well, a pet peeve of mine is "on" books.

I can't count the times that I have been immediately turned off buying and reading a book recommended to me due to a particularly crass, asinine or vulgar cover. The moment a cover makes my eyes bleed, the book could be Shakespeare's unmitigated best, I'd still not read. Especially with indie publishing, where the author has the last say regarding cover choices, crass and vulgar covers already tell me loud and clear that the author isn't of a like enough mind to enjoy.
Let's Talk Kindle! / Re: Kindle Voyage sale
« Last post by Ann in Arlington on Today at 06:08:02 AM »
The $$$ was what mostly turned me off the Oasis. I also personally don't see the need for the expensive charging case that's unique to the Oasis. I've not purchased an "official" Amazon case for any of my Kindles,  which tend to be a little more pricey than the aftermarket cases.

Actually, the newer oasis doesn't have that charging case. The only battery is in the device. If you read without a cover it is nicely ergonomic, and the larger screee is a boon to many. I have a Voyage and both Oases and have used a PW as well as the current basic Kindle. Of them all, Voyage is my favorite.
Writers' Cafe / Re: Why are Boxed Sets/Bundles/Etc Allowed In Select?
« Last post by Bill Hiatt on Today at 06:04:54 AM »
Yes. A box set is a collection of books connected in some way, either by being books x-y in a series, or by theme, like a Christmas collection, or some such. They also usually have a 3D cover, and are clearly labelled as a box set. Stuffing and bundles include unrelated, or very loosely related, material, and tend to look like a single title. The looser the connection, the more likely the extra material is just there as a KU money-making exercise.

A conventional box set, that is, a collection of several books in a series, is usually offered when sales of the individual books have dropped, to rejuvenate the series by appealing to a different customer, the casual value-oriented reader. It's targeting a different market, and it's obvious to the reader that there are two different ways to buy the same books, so there's less double-dipping.

But I agree with you in principle. A box set, where all the individial books are available in KU already, has no value in KU for the reader. The only benefit is to the author. And I like your description of KU as a shared market-place - sums it up very well.
Hopefully, we can all agree that what you describe is what a box set should be. The relevant question is whether or not scammers, if deprived of other means, will just relabel their their compilations as box sets. If this isn't really a possibility, then we should stop fretting about it. If it is, then it makes sense to try to stop them in some fashion.

Let's say a scammer relabels content as a box set. Can an Amazon bot distinguish between a true box set and a mislabeled one?

Genuine readers rarely, if ever, cause double-dipping. Who is going to read the same book twice in KU? Of course, click farms and bots might.

It doesn't work this way on all apps, but on the Kindle itself, at the end of one book, Amazon automatically shoves the next book in the series at you. Is this not true when a reader is in KU? If so, I would think a reader who liked the material would certainly continue.
This is everywhere in the country. It's a matter of what year you declare $30,000 in gross revenue from everywhere (not just Canada, I see a lot of people making that mistake), and when the Non-Registrant department notices your income tax account. If your worldwide gross income is below $25,000, you're not big enough for them to go looking for you. In between is iffy. But there is absolutely an algorithm in the system that looks for professional or business income above $30K and checks for a GST account.

I'm going to try to work with Wayne to get our royalties treated the same way natural resource royalties are supposedly treated, particularly since SOCAN gets special treatment and Amazon isn't acting any differently from SOCAN. (To be honest, I don't know why we call them royalties--they're business income, really--but it seems like that's the traditional way to refer to any money made in the arts)

I've also reached out to Amazon and requested something from them that can be shown to CRA if you get audited or contacted by Non-Reg. I have received a scanned letter, based on Appendix B Part B of this page stating that Amazon Digital Services LLC is not a registered entity with respect to the GST. I have no idea if it's going to be sufficient--GST Rulings told me it would be, but CRA right now couldn't find it's way out of a paper bag with a map and a flashlight, so I've sent it off to my accountant for his opinion. If you go the letter route, you'll need to have it escalated to their tax department.

There's also the issue of Rulings trying to tell me that I'm providing Amazon a service by uploading my books to them for sale, which by default makes everything I earn from them subject to GST at 15% (because I'm in an HST province) down to 5% for places like Alberta. In this case, I would argue it is Amazon providing the service and that any GST involved is a portion of their 65/30% that they keep for the service, in much the same way as a company with a working royalty interest in natural resource (our royalty interest in this interaction would be similar to a gross overriding royalty). I'm trying to be prepared on all fronts, because every single call I've had with them has devolved into me explaining something and them trying to turn it into a situation where I have to pay them money. Literally redefining things in the middle of the phone call, which is part of the pressure tactics I'm seeing used to get you to give up.

The upshot of it all is that nobody knows anything and the bike's on fire and we're on fire and everything's on fire. The Excise Tax Act was never built with our industry in mind and writers were always such small potatoes that we were easily ignored if we ran afoul of them, or easily allowed to slip under the radar. With current spending (and fixing Phoenix) there's a huge push to collect as much money from the Canadian taxpayer as is possible, to the point of some things I think are morally dubious, though still perfectly legal. But, we're a growing industry, just starting to be noticed. If there was ever a time to get together and say, "WTF, Justin?" this is it.

Back to taking all the swear words out of my report for Wayne... :-[
So, a handful of folk were asked to consult about the agenda for the meeting Marie Force (aka the Indie Author Support Network, aka IASN) instigated with two KDP executives on June 12. David Gaughran and I were two of those involved. Although the consultant group wasn't in agreement about what tone to strike with Amazon, we were all in agreement about which topics were priorities, and together we created a list of talking points and potential solutions. We had hoped to have at least one of the consultants also attend in person (they had volunteered to fly to Seattle), and to have David and/or myself call in.

We were told Amazon declined any other representatives of IASN to attend in person or by phone.

When Marie shared the outcome of the meeting with the consultants, it was pretty much what we expected: all platitudes we've heard before.

After her debrief to us, which was pretty much the same as the email that went out to the IASN membership, we each expressed our disappointment in not learning anything new, and in not being given any more clarity around the issues brought up.

One of the biggest disappointments was being told things weren't progressing as quickly as we hoped they would because Amazon was being very diligent and deliberate in their investigations. What we had hoped for was a follow-on conversation that asked why some are getting their books pulled down or rank-stripped immediately and their accounts suspended within a month or two for external behavior they can't control, while the most egregious offenders actively participating in such behaviors, with tons of evidence presented against them, are taking several months to years before action is taken against them -- and even then scammed money, bestseller titles and bonuses are not being remanded. Alas, those deeper dives on the issues that we had strongly encouraged were apparently not addressed.

We also were hoping for a commitment to developing more transparency in communications and due process for accusations made. That didn't seem to materialize either, with the same song being sung around not wanting to tip off scammers (news flash: they're already way ahead of you in the scamming, Amazon) and to direct all questions to Content Review (who, based on my experience, will reply that they can't comment any further on whatever issue you bring up).

Another issue was that while Marie was in Seattle discussing the aftermath of incidents such as Tiffanygate and Chance Carter, she herself was running an illegal pay-to-play sweepstakes -- with required purchases of 10 paperbacks to be entered for the grand prize of a trip for 2 (airfare and lodging), along with fewer purchases required to win gift cards and swag.

If my differing views about the meeting and IASN in regards to its organization and mission hasn't sealed my fate for not being asked to continue on as a consultant, I'm pretty sure my calling her out on the sweepstakes thing a couple of days after the meeting will. To be honest, my disillusionment with the IASN as it exists now and the lack of planning for its future is enough for me to decide to move on and direct my personal efforts elsewise. Such is the life of a whistleblower. ;)

I hope with the current and continued social media and regular media pressure, along with hearing from RWA and the Authors Guild on these and other issues (well, the AG isn't championing any indie-specific issues such as KU so far, but it has been involved with issues that simply happen to affect indies too), as well as the face-to-face with Marie, and the myriad reports, queries and complaints indies have been directing their way, that Amazon is, indeed, working behind the scenes to clean up the mess their storefront has become.

They are listening, of course, and have been. There has been sloooow progress. But so far, it's barely been more than a one-way monologue, with the execs providing nothing more concrete than the scripted answers the KDP chatbots deliver with aggravating sameness.

Note: If you're not a member of IASN and want to read the full debrief, you'll be forced to join Marie's Author Support Network FB group. (Note that Marie's old group, which is similarly named, has become the official FB group for IASN as well.) Marie is not allowing the email contents or her FB post there to be shared and is apparently not posting it to the public IASN website. Transparency extends only so far...
Writers' Cafe / Re: "How we measure page reads" KDP notice
« Last post by Nate Hoffelder on Today at 06:01:02 AM »
I can format my book five different ways and get five different KENPCs, and that's without using any number of formatting hacks to artificially boost it.

It's neither robust not accurate.

you should document this; it will be important later.
Again, bonus content was a “win more” strategy, and is unnecessary to support ad spend.

Ad prices aren’t coming down because people finally found something concrete to attack Chance with.

As someone who runs ads every day, there has been no effect on ad prices by amazon mall cops tearing people and their books down.

No effect on kenpc, no effect on CPC.

The same crowd is going to continue to dominate the lists. Hell, Chance will probably be back with a new account and corporation and end up right back up there like nothing happened (probably under a new name, but you get my point).

I don’t think anything particularly good comes from these pitchfork and torch moments. People get hurt, the damage inevitably spreads to those who don’t deserve it, and many hours of productivity are wasted chasing tails for little to no tangible benefit. The straw man you’re building about a world where amazon doesn’t care about people abusing their system is silly. Amazon polices their store without my help. And even those old changes didn’t particularly help us. I don’t remember CPC going down or kenpc value going up in the wake of clickfarmers being stopped.

Amazon sets the page rate. They juice the pot to whatever number they want. Amazon has added extra cash to the KU pot every single month, in varying amounts. People abusing the system hurt amazon, not me. If taking down carter or stuffing causes the pages read to drop by some tiny fraction of a percent, amazon will reduce their month-end juice and the end result is the KENPC rate amazon decides to pay regardless.

If tearing peoples books and accounts down over relatively minor infractions makes you feel good I guess carry on mall copping, but don’t fool yourself into thinking it’s going to help your catalog unless you’re using your righteous indignation as a sales pitch for some how-to books.

Excitica strikes me as amateurish.

It has good intentions, but isn't really anywhere close to being a solid distribution platform.
Writers' Cafe / Re: Why are Boxed Sets/Bundles/Etc Allowed In Select?
« Last post by SeanHinn on Today at 05:49:04 AM »
Do you release 3000 KENPC books twice per month? If the answer is no, then there's no way you're winning under the current system. Your long standalone will always be at a disadvantage against the twenty or so megastuffers in romance who push every book to the page cap, duplicate content in bundles that recycle the same books and then spend enormous amounts on ads to ensure they win a disproportionate number of KU bonuses. Your 300k epic will always lose against "collections" rushed out and spun together in different combinations every two weeks by the same people. Unlike you, some of these people are also willing to run illegal giveaways and format their books poorly to make sure they wind up on top. Their ethics only start where Amazon's tolerance for cheating ends.

I get it if you're not on board with a page cap. But do you really have anything to lose by abandoning the status quo? If Amazon begins enforcing the duplicate content rule on these fake compilations, authors like you win. I think you're pinning blame on the wrong people. The bookstuffers slinging waves of badly formatted junk are where most of the All Stars bonuses have been going for months.

I'm behind a solution that targets bookstuffing and bad actors. Anything else is a thinly veiled money grab by those who don't write epics and series vs those who do.

Legitimate, one-time collections of works and serials are not your enemy. The content mills who are bookstuffing are.

Readers like collections, cheap or in KU. Legit authors do well with them. It's a great tool we indies have to gain exposure vs the trads. One of the few. We just need enforcement of the rules and a 2x cap on the number of times content can be in KU... once as a standalone, once in a collection. Anything else is throwing the baby out with the bathwater.
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