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Messages - Becca Mills

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May I ask where I made an accusation?  Asking if somebody is affiliated with a website or service is not anywhere close to making an accusation.

"Asking" can certainly be accusatory, and the form of your question made it an example of such. Nevertheless, I left the question and DarkScribe's response to it in place. When another poster picked up the topic, I stepped in to put a stop to more such discussion.

Further posts on this matter will be seen as resistance to moderation and will lead to your being banned from the thread.

ETA: left out a word

What does a person's length of tenure have to do with anything, though?  I believe it to be a fairly reasonable question to ask.

Members' track records on the forum matter. Someone who's been around for six years without attempting to dishonestly exploit the forum for commercial gain should be afforded substantial benefit of the doubt that they are not suddenly doing so now.

If you believe someone to be posting on KBoards in a commercially exploitative way, you should use use the "report to moderator" link at the bottom of the post to bring the issue to our attention. Making evidence-free public accusations is not appropriate.

I hope this puts the matter to rest.

Seems odd you're dying on this sword for a service/website that everyone else has trashed and doesn't like.  Do you have a financial or ownership stake in the business/company you are talking about?
That's the feeling I'm getting. We've all seen these kinds of posts in forums all over the internet, where someone will pop up and say they are really enamored with a certain website, because it is the answer to all their problems. Only to find out later they are the owners of the website and they're just banging their own drums.

Folks, really. DarkScribe is a very long-time KBoards member. Let's not, please.

Speaking as someone who's spent far more time visiting and living in California that I really would have liked, that is entirely a matter of opinion.  ;)   I do wonder how many people live in California because they were born there and have never spent time anywhere else. I know a good number of people who were born in California and moved away--at least in some part specifically because of the weather/climate--and no people who have done the reverse for the same reason. (I've known people who moved to California for other reasons, like culture/career.) Some of these people who moved out of California didn't even know they wanted to until they visited somewhere with a nicer climate.

I feel like that might still have some parallel with KU.

Heh. That might be true. The part of CA I live in has nice weather six months of the year but is afflicted with terrible air pollution then. The other six months have less pollution but are exceedingly hot, and there are no clouds, which still weirds me out big time. The coastal areas, though, are absurdly lovely, weatherwise. My mother-in-law lived on the central coast, and visiting her always felt a bit like a sojourn in Eden.

Kinda depends on where you are. :D

My husband is retired Navy so we've lived in Many places: Orlando, FL; Iceland; Gainesville, FL; Kauai,Hawaii; Point Mugu, CA; London, England; and finally here in Arlington, VA. Honestly: California was our least favorite duty station.

Where we lived, it was often foggy until will into the early afternoon, after which it was often beastly hot and humid. O'Course, a couple miles inland and slightly up, it might be moderately dry and sunny.

Plus, we found, at least in the area where we were and where our son went to school, that people were really hung up on 'status'. Many were Very Judgy: your car is over 3 years old? Why do you drive that clunker? We were both used to 'drive a car until it dies' so we were happy to not have a car payment. But almost everyone introduced themselves by saying some variant of "Hi, I'm John; what kinda car do you drive?"

And it was EXPENSIVE. For the first few months we had a housing allowance so we could rent an apartment while we waited for housing on base, but it didn't come near to covering our expenses. Our monthly net cash flow was MUCH better when we got the house on base even though we lost the allowance.

OTOH, we LOVED Hawaii . . . . but we've met multiple military folks who were stationed there and pretty much hated it. They couldn't stand that they couldn't go away by car and that the locals are, as a rule, much less sticklers for time. We were on an outer island and our house was on the beach. But some of the others there couldn't stand that there were no malls or night life. We've talked to others who said they didn't feel welcome, or part of a community -- but we had a really good group in base housing and the locals were always very friendly and inviting.

tl;dr -- every place is different; some will love it -- some will hate it. 'Sokay either way. :D

Wow, sounds like you got some great assignments!

Yeah, I think cost of living is one of the main things driving people out of CA. When you determine poverty level by factoring in both income and cost of living, CA has the highest rate in the U.S. The cost of housing is a significant strain for many.

The state does have all these different climates, from beaches to the hottest deserts, the deep snows of Tahoe, drippy fog forests, endless agricultural flatness (which is where I live), and so forth. I know the Pt. Mugu area. It's ... um ... good for bird-watching. ::)

I know what you mean about the image-conscious stuff. Parts of LA feel that way to me. Lots of places in the state aren't like that at all, though. Where I live is more of a gritty, down at the heels farming town with a bedroom community glommed oddly to the top that's full of people too exhausted by their commutes to care what their houses look like. Lots of knee-high lawns and lingering foreclosures.

I like California, but I'd move back to Wisconsin in a heartbeat. :)

First, it is not a universal truth that Amazon makes up the vast majority of an author's income. Many people on here have said that Amazon accounts for a relatively small percentage. So the idea that KU = profit and wide = destitution is a fear-based assumption that Amazon wants us all to believe.

Second, it's not a matter of doing what's good for you vs. doing what's good for the industry. It's about scrambling month-to-month vs. considering your own long-term welfare. If you (general you, those who are in KU and not wanting to risk change) are making money now and don't care if you'll be making money in twenty years, feel free to stay in KU.

Many people? I can think of some, but "many" seems a stretch. Maybe I'm just not in the groups I'd need to be in to meet all those folks. From what I've seen, non-Amazon sales account for a quarter to a third of total revenue for most of us who are wide. There's the visibility penalty on Amazon to take into account too; that could push up the off-Amazon revenue percentage by depressing sales on Amazon, but that wouldn't be a net revenue gain.

As someone who is wide, I do not think staying in KU is an irrational choice. I think people look at the fact that Amazon has 83% of the ebook market while Apple, for instance, as 9%, and they make a highly rational choice to focus on the majority market. I don't think the math of 100% of authors making 66% of their income from 17% of the market works. There's room for Patty Jansen and David VanDyke and some number of other people to do that, but not all of us. The readers are where the readers are.

And we don't know it's a bad choice, in the long term. It might be; it might not be. Google and Apple could probably kick butt in ebook sales, if they wanted to. Most of us have an i or Android device somewhere around our person right now, after all; we're ready markets for those two companies. And yet they're making little effort to compete. I suspect it's just not their thing. Who knows if they'll even be in the ebook business 30 years from now? Maybe people who are all-in with Amazon right now are the ones making the right long-term bet, and those of us who've tried to nurture those other markets will have wasted our time and money and set ourselves behind.

If you'd like to still be making money from your writing in twenty years, you've got to look at the bigger picture. And the bigger picture says letting Amazon get a monopoly on the book-distribution market is the same as giving up any hope of a life-long career as an indie writer. Personally, I'm young enough that what happens twenty or thirty years down the road matters to me right now.

You said that "it's not a matter of doing what's good for you vs. doing what's good for the industry," but you did come back to that very argument in the end -- that we should go wide to prevent Amazon from monopolizing the book-distribution market, to the industry's detriment. I just don't think this argument is going to work. By and large, people are going to go where they perceive their personal economic advantage to be, and the future state of the ebook market is too unpredictable for the possibility of long-term advantage to be enough of an attraction to outweigh short-term gain. And besides, there are many ways to plan for the future. Another rational way of approaching a long-term writing career is to make money in KU now and bank of chunk of it to bankroll a going-wide marketing push, should you get tossed out of KU, or should the program go belly-up. Could be that people who go that route would end up of people like me who've been wide the whole time. So, yeah. I don't think the "plan for the long-term" argument is going to move that many authors out of KU.

Amazon might shoot itself in the KU foot if it tosses around enough account closures, but I think it'd take a lot of them to frighten enough people to have the kind of impact Amazon would notice. Or particularly shocking ones -- that might do it. But I doubt Amazon will go that far. It doesn't want to blow up the program.

It is easier for people to leave KU if the page reads are small. However, it is much harder if the page reads are large so they are making a lot of money. Even if they get hit by a bot they can stand to lose half of their pages reads and still make money that month.

I live in Colorado where we don't get earthquakes. It amazes me that people in California live in areas where fault lines cause earthquakes. I would be scared to live there. However, those people are used to earthquakes and don't pay them any mind. They are perfectly happy to live where they do.

It is the same way with those people in KU. They may get hit, but they are going to ignore the possibility and figure it will hit someone else instead of them. Humans are positive creatures when the rewards are great.

Heh. Plenty of Californians do worry about earthquakes, or try their best not to worry about them too much. But if California were a separate nation, it'd have the fifth largest economy in the world(we surpassed the UK a couple weeks ago, I think). Which is to say, there's tremendous economic incentive for people to live here. Plus, the weather's nice. ;D (Which is to say, non-economic incentives have an impact too.)

Is there any place on the form for comments or explanation, other than the 'other' box?

There is a box where you're supposed to state what evidence you're submitting, but that doesn't seem like a good spot for argumentation.

According to Kevin K.'s instructions, you are supposed to submit an actual letter as part of your package. You submit a single PDF that includes your letter, an index of evidence, and the evidence itself. But I get the sense including a lengthy chunk of reasoning might be counterproductive.

Writers' Cafe / Re: Amazon going the way of B&N?
« on: Today at 08:59:17 AM »
Boils the frost off my chin when I buy a product (not always book) on Amz, and immediately, that identical product (Just bought an air compressor) starts showing up on every page and every pop-up.  That very same compressor, which according to the PR will last me twenty years -- I just bought it folks, I don't need another one for twenty years ...   AT least sell me something else   :(

Pages must be in cahoots too - when I buy on Amz, it shows up on Google and FB right after I buy it.  Weird.

I think it's because Google knows you looked at the product page but doesn't know you bought the product.

I'm being stalked by endless pool ads right now, which feels sort of mean, since I fled the endless pool website as soon as I saw how expensive they are.  :'(

Well said, and yet there are still so many people who don't understand this pretty basic and obvious concept. Because they've allowed themselves to become dependent on Amazon. And they get angry at the messenger whenever someone tells them they should go wide. "I need Select to feed my family, so I'm gonna stay." They've gotten themselves so dependent that they feel it's too dangerous/risky to try to change. Which is exactly what Amazon wants.

Yes, but these factors are not going to change. People generally go in the direction perceived economic incentives push them. Asking people to sacrifice their livelihoods is not going to work. I don't depend on my writing to support me, but if I did, I'd probably be trucking along in KU, right with everyone else, rather than trying to wring half my living from 17% of the ebook market.

We need ways to extract improvements from Amazon that don't depend on people doing what most people will not do.

Lol, love that line. Mind if I steal it?

Heh. Go ahead. I adapted it from a somewhat more profane formulation.  8)

I'm not sure "descriptive" really fully captures the problem. The problem is that people shouldn't be able to copyright single English words or common phrases as related to books--which, by definition, are chock full of all sorts of words. It's one thing to trademark "Harry Potter" as relates to books. But just "Harry" or just "Potter"? No. Even "Twilight" shouldn't be trademarkable, even though it's a popular book franchise (if they'd wanted it trademarkable, they should have made it more unique). Writers work in words. They are our livelihood. The problem with trademarking any single words or common combinations of words in the context of books isn't something anyone should have to explain to the trademark office. It would be like allowing a science company to trademark the number 4 or "1 + 1 = 2".

I totally agree. Couldn't agree more.

At the same time ... the form has just a few little boxes. The letter of protest is not the place to make any sort of nuanced argument, apparently. They're looking for straightforward factual evidence that fits one of their categories. It has to be appropriate for ex parte consideration, meaning (I think) something that can be decided upon without hearing from both sides. I.e., objective, non-arguable stuff.

As I recall, there is an "other" box, and maybe you could put something like the above in there. But it's probably a good idea to *also* give them the kind of objection they're set up to accept. The workings of bureaucracies, etc.

To play Devil's Advocate... how does Amazon know which authors are knowingly using black hat techniques are who are collateral damage? Should they ban everyone caught in the first instance or no one?

For example, say we have two authors called Author A and Author B. Author A pays a marketing service we'll call X to use a range of activities to boost their book up the ranks, including paying for click farms and incentivised clicks/read throughs. The service Author A pays, also watches legit advertisers to find other books being advertised to click and disguise their activity. One day they pick Author B's title (completely unbeknowst to Author B) and bot that book up the ranks and generate lots of reads.

Then the Amazon bot (or whatever they use) detects the blackhat clicks/reads and removes all reads associated to X's account. Reads that are then wiped from both Author A and Author B's books as being generated from fraudulent activity. Fair enough we all say, they were never legitimate reads in the first place. Then Amazon goes a step further and bans both Author A and Author B as using fraudulent means. How is Amazon to know which author knew about the illegal activity used to boost their books? Or more importantly, how does Author B prove they did nothing wrong, since it's very difficult to prove a negative?

I can appreciate the situation Amazon are in. Authors wanted them to do *something* and as usual, Amazon have responded by using a chainsaw instead of a scalpel.

I think you're right, of course.

At the same time, I think it's Amazon's responsibility to solve this seemingly unsolvable problem, and to do so ethically. They're the geniuses who revolutionized publishing and reading and retail itself. They pretty much created our industry from the ground up. They're some of the smartest, most innovative people around ... yet they made the leaky boat that is KU. A significant chunk of human beings will always try to cheat and steal, no matter the situation, but Amazon apparently didn't design KU with that truth in mind. Now they have a bit of a mess on their hands. Well, it's one of their own making, and it's not outlandish to expect them to clean it up in a way that doesn't damage innocent partners. Do I know how? Absolutely not. So what? It's 100% on them.

TL;DR: My field of sympathy has long since been harvested.

I just asked them to let one of my books out of KU and they responded saying no, all I can do is wait until the 90 days are over. Ugh.
Maybe try again in a week, phrasing it as though you're requesting for the first time. They have been letting people out.

Sent from my SM-G930V using Tapatalk

I'll just point out, one nice thing about Goodreads searches is it shows publication date in the search listings. So it makes finding prior art fairly easy.
Nice. I didn't know that.

I'm not sure the evidence all has to be prior. My understanding of what Kevin wrote is that the descriptiveness objection =/= the first-to-use objection Passive Guy discussed. Rather, you're just showing that the word is commonly used in books and series titles because it describes the books' contents.

I could be misunderstanding this, though.

Sent from my SM-G930V using Tapatalk

Placing some notes here, after reading Kevin Kneupper's tweetstorm about letters of protest:

A letter of protest consists of a brief factual letter, an index of evidence, and the evidence itself. You should compile this before you go to the USPTO website to begin submitting.

When you file a letter of protest, you have to check off the legal reason (click to see that part of the form) you're objecting. I filed one of these a while ago, and I wasn't sure what to check.

Kevin suggests "collecting evidence that the mark is GENERIC or DESCRIPTIVE." If you claim descriptiveness as the problem, you're claiming the proposed mark simply follows the dictionary definition of the word in question. The example he cites is "cocky" being in a book title because the book's hero is cocky -- the word is descriptive. If you claim genericness as the problem, you're claiming the proposed mark "describe(s) a class of goods." The example he gives is trying to trademark the word "books."

Thinking about it, it seems to me that descriptiveness is the course most authors' objections are likely take. Comparing "cocky" to, say, "Apple" as a trademarked name for the tech company ... there's nothing particularly descriptive about the word "apple" when applied to tablet, laptops, phones and so forth; these devices are not fruitlike. You could get allusive and connect "apple" and the Apple logo (a bitten apple) to the desire for knowledge (as in the Garden of Eden) -- like, the company's devices are the gateway to all knowledge, or something -- but that's a very non-literal connection. If you write a book about a person who is literally cocky and put "cocky" in the title, that's much more clearly, directly, and simply descriptive ... right? Same with "forever." If you're writing a romance about how two people fall in love and stay together for the rest of their lives and put the word "forever" in your title is a way of describing the book.

The evidence you submit should be concrete, factual material, Kevin points out. His suggestions:
- screenshots of websites where the term is in already use descriptively;
- dictionary definitions;
- Wikipedia entries;
- results of Goodreads searches on the term;
- Google results for the term.

He says you should precede the evidence with a brief, sticking-to-the-facts letter and an index, with URLs, of the evidence you're including, but the index itself is not sufficient; you can't just send a list of URLs and expect the USPTO people to look them up.

I know from having done this myself that you need to compile the evidence into a PDF file (or a set of JPEGs?). There are page and file-size limits. The filing is free. You DO NOT need to show the proposed mark will have a personal impact on you.

Once a mark has been filed for opposition, it's too late to submit a letter of protest. Letters of protest should be submitted as quickly as possible after @cockybot flags the application.

Writers' Cafe / Re: Someone drank the #CockyGate Kool-aid
« on: Yesterday at 01:46:55 PM »
Going to merge this into our existing cockygate thread ...

I hope they're serious about re-auditing in response to feedback.

(Why does typing that make me feel like a naif?)

Since Faleena Hopkins has said in her deleted 90-minute rant that she's autistic, maybe the lawyer is to blame. Filing cease-and-desist orders s/he knows are unenforceable, but continuing to charge Faleena for legal services?

Let's not hypothesize in this direction, Mark. I watched the entire video and do not recall Hopkins saying she has autism. Whether she does or not, let's stick with the assumption that she's the legally competent person she appears to be and is not being defrauded by her attorney.

She's since backed down. Claiming on FB that it was all a miscommunication between her and her agent, and that the TM application will be withdrawn.

 :)   :)   :)   :)   :)   :)   :)   :)   :)   :)

Edit: The smilies were unevenly spaced. Not acceptable.

FYI, the form for filing a letter of protest, which is a free action:

And Kevin Kneupper's tweetstorm guide on how to file one:

Looks like a writer and/or publisher has applied for a trademark on the word "forever." As with "cocky," the mark is for "standard characters without claim to any particular font style, size, or color."

Serial No.: 87927993

Goods covered are "Audio books in the nature of novels; Downloadable fiction e-books on a variety of topics; Fiction e-books on a variety of topics recorded on computer media"; "Fiction books on a variety of topics."

Date of first use is listed as December 1, 2012.

Filer is Wicked Literary, LLC, of Wilmington, Delaware (full address available in the trademark application)

Attorney is Marisa Corvisiero of New York, New York (full address, email, and phone number available in the trademark application)

Status: The site lists the status as "LIVE/APPLICATION/Awaiting Examination" and says, "The trademark application has been accepted by the Office (has met the minimum filing requirements) and has not yet been assigned to an examiner. ... New application will be assigned to an examining attorney approximately 3 months after filing date." The "Status Date" is given as May 22, 2018, but I'm not sure that's the same as the filing date.

To find the application for "forever," go to, choose "Basic Word Mark Search," and enter "forever." If there's more than one listing for that mark, cross-check the serial number to find the right application.

I haven't finished reading up on this situation, so there may be more to it than what I've said (all of the above is drawn from public records), but wanted to add it to this thread, so we can keep track of this ... groundswell?

My favorite was that the online plagiarizer detector marked my bibliography as plagiarized. The instructor was lazy, and graded my essay as though it didn't have any citations. Needless to say, I received a grade that wasn't passing for that final, and even though it only brought my class grade down to a "C," I brought it to the dean, and she graded it independently, and updated my grade to reflect. I almost dropped below a 3.8GPA!

That is bad. Should not happen.  >:(

Writers' Cafe / Re: Very useful free website for book marketing
« on: Yesterday at 12:11:26 PM »
LOL -- Indeed I did, Becca!



No prob -- it's awfully easy to do! I've inserted the correct link into the OP.

That's a pretty neat site, IMO. Useful for coming up with fun interactive questions to ask on Fb, perhaps ...

For me, turnitin had a deterrent effect over time, but it definitely required a human eye to work effectively. The statistical information, by itself, was proof of nothing.

Fakespot is entirely algorithm-dependent. I'm sure Amazon's algorithms are just as sophisticated as Fakespot's--and they don't always work well, either. There are some things a human brain is simply better at.

Sadly, just looking at the reviews isn't enough to proof fakery, though there are certainly some signs that are suspicious. I'd never be sure a review was fake, though (short of people who announce they are selling or buying reviews :P), unless I read at least part of the book. Some glowing reviews sound suspect, but if I read the book and like it, I'm not going to call fraud. In general, I think passing judgment on reviews without reference to the book or product being reviewed is likely to produce some false positives even if a human evaluation is involved. (That's a nice way of saying we probably can't sort out fraudulent reviews with any degree of accuracy.)

That sounds right to me. Finding problematic reviewers by looking for those "mutual admiration" groups Phoenix described, and other suspicious review-posting patterns, sounds more productive than looking at the reviews themselves. It's just very hard to tell anything about provenance from an isolated bit of text. People tend think they can tell all sorts of stuff about someone based on their writing -- their gender, education level, age, truthfulness, etc. -- but those sorts of determinations are pretty unreliable, so far as I know.

Writers' Cafe / Re: Amazon going the way of B&N?
« on: Yesterday at 11:56:59 AM »
If they ever showed me anything I am interested in, I'd be a lot more sympathetic with them. They insist on showing me authors and novels that I would never consider buying, often by authors I whose work I dislike and have never purchased from them.

I do think also-boughts could be tailored more effectively. Once they've showed me a particular book a hundred times, and I haven't bought or borrowed it, it's time to serve me up something else, IMO. But they don't seem to adjust them that way; they're the same for everyone who lands on the page, so far as I can tell. Some algorithm that cross-referenced my individual buying quirks against the habits of everyone else who's bought the book I'm looking at and found the areas of commonality would be ideal.

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